Friday, September 2, 2011

Knitterly Wisdom on Mistakes

Hand knitting is an art and sometimes it gets screwed up.  The wonderful thing about mistakes in knitting as opposed to charcoal, oil painting or even sculpting is that when you do screw up it is easier to fix.  All you have to do is rip back your knitting to the part before the mistake or even all the way to the beginning.  I'd like to see someone put back marble from a sculpture when the artist took too much off of the nose ;)

Source pinterest via tracysthoughts

Now mistakes aren't fun but they are normal and to be fair learning tools.  When one makes a mistake one should learn from it, hopefully, to avoid making it again.  A mistake is exactly what I made with my sweater.  Perhaps mistake isn't the right be honest I ran out of yarn.  Yarn that I had in my stash, bought over 2 years ago from an online company, my chances of getting more are slim to none and I really don't feel like I should try.  So last night when I looked down at my second sleeve and noticed that I had about 10 yards left but about 50 yards worth of knitting to go I realized my problem.

Source pinterest

I thought about my options: make the sleeves 3/4 length, adjust the sleeve cap, or rip out completely and start again.  I went with the ripping out.  3/4 length just wasn't gonna cut it for the sleeve style as the sleeves were highly patterned and it wouldn't look good.  I really don't want to mess with the math for the sleeve sycthe so that left me with option 3, starting over.  As I spent the next 15 minutes ripping out an entire sleeve (over 20 inches in length) and about 3/4 of a second sleeve I thought back to when I cast on the sleeves.

Source pinterest via amy tangerine

I remembered the conversation I had with myself then...that I was afraid of this moment, of not having enough yarn. I knew that the sleeves would use more than the average sleeve in yarn because it had a bobble texture section and a cable section...two things that eat up yarn like garter stitch.  I wasn't completely sure I'd even like the sleeves with all that texture but I opted to go with the pattern anyway and hope for the best.  There lies in my mistake.  Not the hoping but the going against my preference.  I remember hearing some well known knitwear designer (though not well known enough as I can't remember who) say that the biggest mistake knitters make is following the patterns exactly.  I can't agree more.

Source pinterest

The part of hand knitting that appeals to most people is that ability to make things fit to you but if you fail to recognize your preferences in sleeve styles, or know your measurements and knit exactly as the pattern states you miss this opportunity for a truly unique garment.  So as I frogged (rip-it. rip-it, rip-it) my sleeves I made a mental note to myself that the next time I questioned myself if I would like something on a pattern I'm gonna go with my gut.  I'm going to learn from my mistake and work on something made just for me and not always what the designer had in mind...well at least for the next couple of projects.

Source pinterest via yahoo

In the meantime I'm going to cast on for a teddy bear sweater for a Christmas gift just because I really need a little knitter instant gratification and because the sweater and I need a few days apart to repair our friendship but mostly because it's the advice I gave a friend when she was at the breaking point in a sweater she was almost finished with.  Yes, a mini break is just what we need cause this photo makes my heart hurt right now...

My sleeves...all ripped out


Have you made a mistake lately that you're still cringing over?  Have a bad run of project luck where nothing turns out right?  I'm off to make a pumpkin spice latte so let's visit about our creative blunders and how we turn the corner on creativity.


  1. oh buffy! i'm so sad you had to rip out your sleeves! :( it's a good idea to switch projects in the meantime though. i completely agree. i always find that fitting in an "instant gratification knit" helps during the big projects. i was so very dissapointed when i finished les' sweater while he was away last summer..... only to find that it really really didn't fit. i still have yet to rip out that sweater..... is there another style of sleeve that will fit with the body of the sweater, and that you do have enough yarn for?

  2. Great post. Sorry about the ripping out. I have made more craft fails than I would like to admit! I'm trying to resurrect one right now...a screen door! Ugh!

  3. Becca, thanks! I know you truly understand the frogging. Bummer about your hubby's sweater as that is a real time commitment! I loved the one you made for Father's day though :) I actually am planning on just sticking with the simple texture pattern for the entire sleeve. It is pretty much just stocking stitch except that every 4th row you K1, P1 across. It shouldn't use too much yarn and I'm certain that I'll have enough for the whole sleeve this way...the cable repeats on the sleeve and the bobble pattern really suck the length out of the sleeve so stocking stitch will go faster and with less yarn.

    Michelle- boy do I know all about abismal failures with crafts. I've just really been on a craft fail kick! Hope it doesn't last and that your screen door goes smoothly.

  4. Oh no! So sad but all your knitterly friends are in your made the right choice. Great post and good reminder to follow our instincts. Speaking of Fails, I broke up w/ a cardi at the beginning of summer and think I'm almost ready to speak to it again (sleeve issues, too).


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