I have made many, many, knitting mistakes over the years. Purled where I should have knit. Sewed something in or on crooked. Made things too long, too short, too small and too big. I’ve learned that is almost always better to fix mistakes, no matter how frustrating. I am, right now, sitting here writing this blog post while wearing a sweater I knit several years ago. I made it too short and I sewed the sleeves in slightly crooked. I have always regretted not fixing these defects– and it’s way too late to do it now. So I have a sweater, made of really beautiful yarn, that I hardly ever wear. If you want to see it you can go to Ravelry and look at the Greek pullover in my projects page (tiltedwhirled is my ravelry id.)
Most recently I realized that when I sewed on the spikes for Owen’s mittens I gave him two left handed mittens. Sewing the spikes on correctly wasn’t hard and it only took me about 15 minutes but it still required some menta effort to start. To unsew. To pick out my stitches and start over again.
Making mistakes also means that I have figured out many ways to fix them, without tinking back or frogging. If I knit the wrong color in stranded colorwork I can usually ladder down to the stitch that was knit in the wrong color and pull up a stitch in the right color using yarn that was stranded behind on that row, then ladder back up. This works best when I am only a row ahead of where I made the mistake. For mistakes in lace work, laddering down and reknitting works too. You can also easily add a missed yarn over on the row above.
But sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, dig deep, and frog. I did this three times when I was making my Ivy League Vest. First, I screwed up the corrugated rubbing and had to start over. Then I knit most of it, put it down for about a year, and when I came back to it, I had shrunk a couple of sizes so frogged back down to yarn and started over again. The third time I chose the right size and I really had the corrugated ribbing technique figured out by that point. I reknit the sweater and I am so glad that I did. I wear that vest several times a month through the winter. All of that work paid off in the form of a garment that I love wearing. I remember that whenever I am tempted to not fix a mistake. I remember that I would much rather put in the work to make the knitting right then regret not doing it for years afterward.
Knitting reminds me regularly that I am imperfect. I make mistakes. Usually when I am not paying attention to what I’m doing. Not being mindful. That is how the spikes on Owen’s mittens were sewn on the wrong side. When I am mindful of what I am doing– giving each task it’s proper allotment of concentration– mistakes are certainly less. And when they still appear sometimes you just have to be strong enough to start over again.