The Lost Art of Going Backwards

The Lost Art of Going Backwards
Carly Jacobs

I was sitting on my friend’s couch, listening to a funny story he was telling and I was crocheting as I was listening. I was trying to make a triangle shape but after 20 minutes of playing with my stitch placement, I realised it wasn’t working so I started pulling the piece apart and wrapping the kinked yarn back into a ball.

My mate stopped dead in the middle of his story and shrieked ‘What are you doing???’

I realised everyone in the room was staring at me.

‘Oh, I’m just taking it apart because the triangle corners weren’t pointy enough…’

‘But you spent AGES on that!’

I hadn’t really. It was like 20 minutes tops and I was just experimenting. Everyone seemed horrified that I would make a thing and then take it apart. It was like I had set fire to time right in front of them.

Since I started crocheting, I’ve tried to avoid undoing my work in front of people. They almost always freak out. Non-crocheters and crocheters alike – no one likes seeing anything being undone. People like progress. Watching hours upon hours of crochet work being wound back into a ball of yarn is weirdly distressing. I don’t like watching people do it either. I watched a video of a woman unravelling an amazing knitted dress and it made me very uncomfortable, even though I do this myself almost daily.

The question is… why is going backwards so awful?

There’s the obvious answer of wasted time, compromised productivity and generally feeling like a chump because you failed the first time but most people have an almost physical resistance to starting things again.

Think about that time (and we’ve ALL experienced this) when your computer deleted that almost finished essay or report. Your stomach dropped as you realise the whole thing is gone. You frantically Google ways to restore old files and you click around trying to find the last saved version of the document. If you’re like me you might scream and throw some things and then lie on the floor and sob as you realise you have to start again.

going backwards

Then you start again, you do the thing in a quarter of the time it took you the first time because you’re practiced at it now and when you’re done you think ‘Yeah well that wasn’t ideal but it also wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened… why did I get into such a state about it?’

This week on Straight & Curly, Kelly and I are talking about the lost art of going backwards and how we can change the way we think about our time.

Our discussion is based around this piece from The Craft Sessions, and how resistant everyone seems to be about going back and starting again.

Topics discussed –

* The lost art of going backwards

* Is going backwards seen as being pedantic?

* Do we connect our productivity to our self-worth?

* Can we change the way we think about our time?

You can listen here or on your favourite podcast app.


How do you feel about going backwards? Are you okay with it? Or do you chuck toddler style tantrums?

P.S Also you should totally sign up for my newsletter. It’s full of cool stuff.
P.P.S Don’t forget Crochet Coach has a free trial offer period at the moment so make sure you sign up!


  1. Reannon 11 months ago

    I would say I’m ok with going backwards. Im 39 & back at Tafe trying to get a qualification I should have got 20 years ago. I’m also back in a job I was started doing 8 years ago & when I left 5.5yeqrs ago said I’d never go back to it. When I look at my lie the whole thing is ass about tit. None of it has been ideal but it’s not the end of the world either.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      That’s excellent to hear! It’s so much better than being afraid of doing something again. People are so obsessed with moving forward that standing still or going backwards is seen as failure when it’s anything but. I’d much go backwards than barrel on forwards in the wrong direction!

  2. Dee 11 months ago

    I think we probably all need to stop thinking about our lives as linear. Humans ebb and flow and sail off in different directions depending on what’s going on their lives at different times. I feel we make the best decisions for the information we have at the time. In terms of things like a creative activity or a piece of work, sometimes you have to undo to redo better.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 11 months ago

      Oh definitely – I feel this way about weight gain/health. It’s totally unreasonable to expect people to ‘stick’ to a health regime. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t and it’s because we’re human not machines.

  3. Sarah 10 months ago

    Maybe it’s more that revisiting or reworking something isn’t necessarily going “backwards”. I would suggest that people who believe that productivity is achieved only through “forward” (ie new) activity don’t understand human beings very well. We grow and learn through experiences which, to others, might appear to be the same thing again or “backwards”, but to the individual is an opportunity to have another chance, to build on previous attempts, and get it better this time. How else can we evolve if not through trial and error?

Leave a Reply