Learning what not to do…

14 Jul
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
                                                                     ~ Thomas Edison

I have posted on my blog about frogging before and about how it may seem like a necessary evil; however, it is not necessarily evil at all.

Reader Lissa posted a comment on my ABC Blog “J is for Jewelry” regarding how failure is part of learning and it reminded me of the above quote from Thomas Edison.

How true is it that our mindset, how we view the glass, is important to our crafting and artistic abilities? I do agree with Lissa that when we do not succeed at a final result, that we learn. We should be learning from our mistakes, because in the wise words of Albert Einstein, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Could you imagine how insane you would feel if you took the same yarn, did the same stitches, to come up with the same piece… that you didn’t like? Only to frog it and do the same thing again?

But the positive spin Edison put on ‘failure’ (oh, I do not like that word!) is exactly what we need to preserve our sanity but move on to another technique or method. An example would be my work on a cabled scarf – I started with a certain pattern but frogged it enough to know that the yarn didn’t want to be *that* cabled scarf, so I came up with my own pattern. In the end, I have a cabled scarf, yet I learned of one way to not make a cabled scarf out of this particular wool.

I did not fail… I learned.

What is your take on frogging and/or failure to complete an item on time, first try? Do you fret over it and keep trying or do you look for a new angle?


Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Rambles and Reflections


18 responses to “Learning what not to do…

  1. Tink

    July 14, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Having frogged a couple of things now, and gone on to make something great afterwards, I am totally ok with “failure” like this. I don't see the point in slogging on with a project that is never going to work. That said, it's still a bit disheartening to undo all those hours of work!

  2. florencefrazier2002

    July 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    You know, living in this day and age where no one is a “failure”, your statement and her's are refreshing.  My mother always told me she didn't want me to make mistakes because she didn't want me to get hurt.  I told her that we learn from our mistakes and are stronger for it.  There are things I have tried and been a failure at…coming from me that's hard to say because I am a perfectionist…but there it is and it's the truth.  We learn from our failures so losing at a game, losing a job, losing a friend it all teaches us some thing.  Wouldn't the world be a boring place if we didn't have something to learn or if we didn't learn from our mistakes?  Thank you for posting this, it's very thought provoking.

  3. Cris

    July 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    So much negative connotation is attached to the word “fail” now – and it's sad. It is just a word and it only means you did not achieve the desired end result….. well, in reality, we have to think of all the things that really were failures that ended up being great things on their own.

    It is kinda like that old Reese's commercial where two people trip and the accident occurs (the 'fail') and then one says “HEY You got peanut butter on my chocolate” and the other says “HEY, you got chocolate on my peanut butter” – and then they take a bite and they both love it.

    Failure is not necessarily bad. Sometimes a fail actually yields something BETTER than the original desired result (such as frogging something and ending up with something better than you started). It would DEFINITELY be boring if there were nothing to learn because none of us made the mistakes that teach us so much.

    BTW – if you could please reply to this with your blog (if you have one). You make some wonderful comments on my blog and I'm not 100% I'm following yours. I would love to read it (if I'm not already).

  4. Cris

    July 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I completely agree. I replied to florencefrazier with the thought that sometimes, the “fail” is actually better than your desired original outcome. That tosses the idea that fail is bad to the wayside very quickly.

  5. lissa

    July 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    frogging? I've not heard the term berfore but failure to complete something is always part of me. I've abandon and restart so many things but I've learned by my mistakes. If only I remember all that I've learned.

  6. Cristina Barnes

    July 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Great post! As I am designing a Moses Basket right now and Have frogged it several times I never really looked at it as failure just a learning process of what not to do. I actually like to do it wrong in a way because I've used those “failures” in other project that have been  “winners” I think that without failing you'll never learn. BTW I like your blog :)

  7. florencefrazier2002

    July 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you, that is really nice of you to say.  My blog is

    I really enjoy your blog!

  8. florencefrazier2002

    July 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Frogging is a term we use for tearing something out.  You rip it, rip it, rip it which we equate with a frog, so hence the frogging.

  9. florencefrazier2002

    July 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I'm not sure if I am doing a duplicate post or not.  Tried to post it earlier but something funny came up.

    Thank you…that is very sweet of you to say.  My blog is  Come visit anytime you like.

  10. Lily Razz

    July 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    First of all, I love your post! It makes me rethink about how I feel about frogging/failure. Being honest, I do have a “frustrated moment” when something doesn't work out perfectly as I thought of in my mind. It's just me liking to do a good job at once! But you're right – you always have to see it as a learning experience – and mostly I do! I like the idea of having more experience by learning from my mistakes. Even better: I like to think that a different outcome can be even better then the initial idea! And with crafts/art, it's sometimes more about the progress than about the final result. Although I love to wear a pretty selfmade scarf of course! ^_^

  11. CrochetConcupiscence

    July 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Great points made here. Typically I am open to taking a new approach with something that isn't working. However sometimes I keep working on something stubbornly long past the point when I know I should frog it and then I'm a little sad when I finally admit that I need to undo all of those hours of work. I'm still learning. :)

  12. Keri 500miles2nowhere

    July 14, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    I had to mess up a thousand times (my father always said I was queen of exaggerations!) before I really GOT what I was doing with my first Doris Chan pattern. Once I did, things went along swimmingly, but I'm so glad I did a lot of frogging, rather than just giving up. This year of Block a Day for 365 is going a long way toward teaching me to try something new if the pattern isn't working out for me. Another good experience to have, I believe. All good things to think about!

  13. Sakkasie

    July 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    It always seems to take me four or five starts anytime I begin knitting a new lace pattern. That's not failure, that's “getting into the groove.”  =)

  14. Cris

    July 15, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I like the way you think :)

  15. Cris

    July 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    There is that “moment” when you get it and then it all comes together. And you are right, all of these things are experiences that are good to have. Thank you for commenting!

  16. Cris

    July 15, 2011 at 12:56 am

    oh I have done that too – and no matter how much you learn, it still feels kinda sad

  17. Cris

    July 15, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Oh I love your statement that its more about the progress than the final result !

  18. topperarnold

    July 16, 2011 at 3:35 am

    This is about the third time this has come up for me today! It's a great message. So many times I get down about my less than perfect finishes or my “fails”, but if I go back and look at them I can at least learn from them and do better next time :-)


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