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The power of mistakes

April 20, 2012

There are a lot of things I like about knitting. I like picking out colors and projects. I like starting something new, where there is this potential for something amazing. I enjoy the process of knitting the item, however long it may take. I enjoy the fact that I can knit and have a conversation with someone. I love the knowledge that I am doing something that millions of other people have done, turning the heel of a sock, making a blanket for a new child, providing warmth on a cold day. One of the things I love about knitting, is the chance to do over.

I normally seem pretty calm about ripping out a project (mohair and lace aside) and so it surprises me when someone becomes upset when they see me frogging (ripping out) a project. This happened recently with a pair of socks. I wasn’t very far into the pattern, probably a good two or three inches is all. When I realized a giant mistake in my project, something that couldn’t be resolved by tink-ing(knit spelled backwards, used to when you “un-knit” a something stitch by stitch) and it wasn’t something I was willing to live with, and so I slipped the needles off and started to unravel the project. I had a few people around me at the time and three of them made their feelings known. One asking if I had to unravel it all, and why. Another stating that they wouldn’t be able to do that if they had spent that much time on project. Finally the third one said something along the lines of how sorry they were that I had to unravel the whole thing. I don’t know how to explain to someone else (without sounding crazy) that this is one aspect of knitting I enjoy.

I love having the ability to look at what I am making and realize if I made a mistake or if I decide I don’t like how something is working, I can un-knit it or even rip it completely out and start again, and I love the fact that doing this does not create a lot of fall out (unless it is a gift on a deadline, but that’s a different story.) So much in life is controlled is affected if we make a mistake. Lives can be shattered, hopes destroyed, fear instilled. If I were to make a mistake in driving it could end up affecting a lot of people’s lives. If someone makes a mistake and cheats, or steals, or breaks the law in some other way, it can affect so much. Knitting isn’t like that. Sure there are times when a mistake means the difference between finishing a project and not, but no one will die if I make a mistake, or if I chose to rip that project out. I love the having the ability to change be able to redo something, there are far too few places in our lives where this chance to redo is possible. There are a lot of things I like about knitting, the ability to create, to protect, to provide and to allow myself to make mistakes. That freedom to try new things, to challenge myself and to go beyond my comfort zone, knowing that a mistake is  something that can be resolved. Where else can you do that?


From → Knitting

  1. Oh wow – what a concept! If only we could tink or frog our mistakes in life?? Mind you, it would certainly slow my life down a whole lot 😉

  2. I love how you put that first thought of doing an activity that is so completely ancient. It ties us to the past in a beautiful way, I think. There’s a track I used to walk everyday when I was in high school. Anytime I walk there now, I almost feel like I can see myself across the track as a young kid, walking with my walkman. Time travelling, in a sense. It’s kind of like that with knitting too. Some young lady just like you was doing that same very thing ages ago…feeling the same feelings, thinking the same thoughts and knitting the same stitches. It’s comforting.

    And it’s always nice to get a fresh start, isn’t it?

    • I agree, the ability to feel so connected with the past and even in the present is a wonderful aspect of knitting. Thanks for the comment.

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