When you are a beginner to crochet, you'll often hear people reference that they have been "frogging" their crochet work, and you will probably have no idea at all what this odd term means. It isn't an official crochet term that you will find written into crochet patterns. However, it's common parlance among people who crochet (and is also used regularly in knitting and cross-stitching too). If you join the online crochet community, you will almost definitely see blogs and social media posts about frogging crochet. So what is it?
What is Frogging in Crochet?
Frog can be used as a verb. In this sense, "to frog" means "to rip out stitches."
When used this way, the word is slang, and it is also a play on words. It pays tribute to our amphibious friends, the frogs, and their choruses of "ribbit, ribbit, ribbit". When you discover a mistake in your crochet work, you rip it, rip it, rip it – hence, you frog it.
So, frogging in crochet refers to the act of ripping back stitches that you have already crocheted. One of the biggest differences between knitting and crochet is that it's easy really easy to frog crochet, allowing you to go back to where a mistake is and quickly fix it.
Why Do You Frog Crochet?
There are a couple of reasons that you might frog your crochet work. The main one is to repair errors but a secondary reason is to reclaim yarn from a project you don't want anymore.
Frogging Crochet To Repair Errors
The most common reason to frog crochet, of course, is that you have made a mistake in your crochet, and you want to go back and fix it. How often you frog for this reason really depends on what kind of a crafter you are. If you are a perfectionist in your work then you will probably frog crochet often in order to get each stitch looking perfect. If you are more about the process than the end product, you might sometimes leave mistakes in your work, in which case you will frog less. Either way, there will certainly be some times that you see a major boo boo in your stitching and you need to fix it to move forward ... which means that you need to "rip it, rip it" back to where the mistake is and start there.
Frogging Crochet to Reclaim Yarn
Another reason that many crafters frog their work is because they want to reclaim the yarn from one project to use in another project. Maybe you started a WIP and realized that you didn't like it all that much after all so you don't want to finish it. Maybe you used the item for a long time but it has worn out its welcome in your home and you don't want to keep it anymore even though the yarn is still good. Maybe you made something that never quite fit right and you know that you just aren't ever going to wear it. Or maybe you found crochet items in a thrift store made by someone else and you just want to use the yarn. Regardless of the reason, you may decide to frog an entire crochet item, ripping back those stitches to the very beginning to recycle the yarn.
How to Frog Crochet
So, you want to engage in this crochet frogging thing. How do you do it? Most of the time, it is super easy. You simply pull your hook out of the work and tug on the end of the yarn that you were working from. This easily rips back the stitches, which you can then re-wind into a ball of yarn if you end up frogging the entire item. If you're only frogging a portion of the work, you pull the yarn back to where you want to begin again, re-insert your hook and resume your pattern. If you are afraid of ripping back too far, you can insert a stitch marker into the spot where you want to stop frogging so that you don't rip back past that point.
It's easy ... except when it's not. The most common reason that frogging becomes difficult is when you are working with certain types of yarn that don't frog easily. Some yarn catches on itself when you try to unravel it, creating knots instead of fresh yarn to work with. Mohair yarn is an example of a yarn that is difficult to frog; worsted weight cotton is an example of a yarn that's easy to frog. In most cases, being patient and pulling very gently will allow you to frog all types of crochet projects. In some cases, the frogging becomes a tangled mess and you might have to give up!
The other time that frogging crochet can be difficult is when you've worked with unusual stitches. Most stitches do rip back easily, especially all of the basic crochet stitches such as single crochet and double crochet stitches. But occasionally you have done more complex things inside of your work, implementing different crochet techniques, and it becomes harder to frog the work. Again, patience tends to be key.
Tips for Frogging Crochet
Here are a few tips that might help if you get stuck when frogging your crochet work:
- Work slowly.
- Pull stitches down from the base of the stitch, rather than pulling the yarn directly out sideways or even upwards. A downward angle facilitates smoother frogging.
- If you reach a knotted area, try to work out the knot. If you can't work it out, cut the work before the knot and re-join it after the knot. This works best if you are reclaiming all of the yarn, not just working back a few steps to fix an error.
- If you are working back to a specific point to fix an error, attach a stitch marker to that point. This will allow you to frog back without accidentally going too far!
Other Crochet Frogs
We have been talking about frogging crochet with the word "frog" used as a verb. This is the most common way that you are going to see frogging used amongst crocheters. However, it isn't the only way. Frog can also be used as a noun.
Of course, we all know what a frog is, and indeed you can make a "crochet frog", meaning a frog-shaped amigurumi or frog pattern crochet item. It is simple to know what frog crochet is in this case!
But frog is also a term that is used to describe a fancy closure for a garment. Frogs can enhance dresses, sweaters, vests, tops, shirts, robes, and other articles of clothing. Like buttons, frogs can be either functional or decorative. They typically include two parts, one attached to each side of the garment. One part functions as the button; the other part functions as an external button loop.
Frog closures can be made using fabric, cord, gimp, thread, yarn, string, fiber, or similar material. You could even crochet your own frogs. (See this crocheted frog closure tutorial, which includes photos.) Frog closures often feature some sort of knotwork. For example, many frogs incorporate Chinese knots, also known as Mandarin knots.
Summary of Frogging in Crochet
So, if you want to know what "frog" means in crochet, you have to know first whether you are talking about frog as a noun or a verb. If it's a noun, are you talking about a frog made from crochet or a button-type closure for an item? But, most likely, you are talking about frogging your work, a verb that's all about how you rip it, rip it, ribbit out those stitches!
This article updated by Kathryn Vercillo.