How to Rip Back with a Smile


So I had to rip back about 200 yards of knitting. I admit to ripping back often. In fact, I may qualify as a professional ripper-outer. I have been known to rip out hundreds of yards of knitting (and crochet) without

  • saying any cuss words
  • attracting the attention of a certain devious feline roommate
  • getting my yarn into a snarled mess


Yes, ripping out all my work and starting over is sort of my thing, particularly when I’m trying to design something. Now that I consider the issue, I might start to worry about myself if I ever knit something from beginning to end in one shot and didn’t need to disappear hours and hours of my stitch work along the way.

Fortunately that has never happened. I always need to restart a project at least once. Its how I work out what I want to be knitting. And I’ve given up feeling like that part of me should be improved upon. As someone famous said (I think it was Virgil) “a woman is a fickle and changeable thing”.

Yes I am.

So I had this future stole.

I love the yarn and the way it works up. Its a two-ply handspun that I made years ago, before I started blogging. Its been sitting waiting for me to make up my fickle mind about what it should be. I also like the needle I’m using, a size 9, because that makes the fabric loose and drapey but not so loose it looses the pattern. And I do like the pattern(s). I’m combining two traditional Dutch laces here: Marriage Lines and (what I have always called) Dutch Diamonds. What can I say, I’m in a Amsterdam sort of mood.

But I hate the shape of my knitting. A rectangular stole is just too boring for this yarn. It deserve something more. I hate the size of it. What I have going on here is wide enough to lap blanket. Its got to go.

But before I started ripping, I took a few preliminary steps that helped me to rip with a smile on my face.

Step 1: Make coffee.

Making coffee is a key preparatory step for succeeding at all sorts of things including, but not limited to, engaging in spoken conversation with another human being, facing your email inbox, driving on any public road any where, and avoid having a judge mandate anger management classes. It will also help you rip out 200 yards or so of knitting.

Step 2: Make Fudge

Coffee will help you to face the ripping out. Fudge, homemade fudge, will make it so you don’t freaking care about loosing all that work. Fudge is magical that way.

My magical fudge recipe comes from my mother the back of a can of sweetened condensed milk. Actually it does come from my mother… who got it from the back of a can of sweetened condensed milk. This is how cheaters make fudge:

  1. A bag or two of cookie chips in any flavor you like. ( I like milk chocolate and peanut butter)
  2. A can a sweetened condensed milk.
  3. Pour it all in a pan and melt it. Add a little salt if you like (I like). Add some vanilla extract if you like (I add LOTS of vanilla extract).
  4. Once its all melted…
  5. Pour it into a casserole dish that is lined with parchment paper. Stick it in your freezer for however long you want.
  6. Ta-da! Fudge!

Eat until you are getting a little queasy from all the sugar. Then you are ready for the next step.

Step 3: Pull out your needles and carefully… gently… rip out everything out as fast as you can. Really go for it. If you’ve ingested enough caffeine and enough sugar you can get through this step quite fast.

Step 4: Re-wind your yarn into a nice pretty ball.


Step 5: Go make more coffee and nibble on some fudge while you think about what you might like to try knitting with your yarn next. Keep at that until you have a stroke or until inspiration strikes.

Me? I still need more fudge.


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46 Comments on "How to Rip Back with a Smile"

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And how do you keep the yarn from getting all tangled when you un-knit as fast as you can? Or is it that you just don’t care after all the caffeine and sugar? It’s good to have a plan.


That was my question as well. If I rip with abandon, there WILL be cussing and many, many bad words as I then try to rewind what has become a snarled mess of bad word inducing, tangled yarn. And by that point, there’s not enough coffee and fudge in the world to soothe my ruffled feathers. Especially if Kitten My Kitten has taken it upon herself to lend a helping paw!


I used to start over 3 times, max. Now I’m finding patterns that I will give at least 4 do overs. And, I have succeeded in placing safety lines.

You are a better person than me Jenn. I usally loose stitches when my female chihuahua jumps up and over my lap unexpectedly, pulling the yarn out of my hand and off the needles with the presumption I want to play because I have had my eyes glued to my knitting for way too long. After a few times of that in one day, I have steam erupting from my ears. At that point, I have to put her on a leash and take her and her daddy for a walk in order not to cry over lost work. Gotta… Read more »

My toy poodle likes to nudge under my hands for attention. She settles down and is content as long as she can touch me. The 22lb Tuxedo cat will just plop himself in between me and the knitting until I give him the attention he demands. If Hugo doesn’t get the attention he thinks he deserves, his busy paws will start pushing my tools, books or even my coffee cup off my side table. All of this leads to distracted knitting. Then comes the ripping!


I can go for the coffee as long as I have enough Hazelnut creamer to go along. The fudge however, will have to be a sugar-less version nowadays since being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Beautiful Blue yarn though; quick, knit up a nice triangular shawl!


The lace did look pretty, but I’m not the one you have to please, only yourself. Maybe a top down, raglan cape. I’ve made a few, but wish I could embellish them. Working out where to put cables or lines of lace is way beyond my skills, unfortunately. I’ll still make more for myself though.