Knitting Complications: When You’ve Made a Mistake

Mistakes always happen. Well, that might be too broad of a statement. With my knitting, mistakes always happen. The question is this: What do you do when you realise you have made a mistake?

My knitting is full of crazy mistakes. The Selbu mittens I love so much have a fairly dramatic one. One of the thumbs is an inch shorter than the other. It looks weird, but hardly anyone ever looks at my thumbs. When I realised the mistake, though, I was on the second mitten and saw that the first mitten had the error. I could have cut the thumb, ripped all the way back, and re-done the thumb. It would not have been too difficult, as thumbs are not that big.

I kind of wanted to preserve this mistake. These mittens were my first attempt at mittens and challenging colorwork. I’m so proud of what I accomplished, even with the thumb. In fact, the thumb is my measuring gauge to see how far I have come since then. It was also a little lesson on how I could love something that I knew was imperfect, which helped me a smidge in the self-esteem department.

Another piece I made huge, ghastly mistakes in was my mother’s shawl. Lace work can be so difficult, especially for beginners. I have not yet gotten to the point where I can look at a chart and visualise what’s going on around me. I can do that easily with a colorwork chart (okay, most people probably can). In the case of the lace shawl, I did rip back.

The appeal of lace is the precise alignment of the holes and slants. They create the design. I knew that if I left my mistakes, they would mess up the design, potentially ruining the piece. To help minimise the mistakes I made, I placed stitch markers (in my case jump rings) between each lace repeat. This way, if I did make a mistake, I could figure out exactly where it happened without having to rip out an entire row, which got up to 500+ stitches by the end.

I have been making mistakes with the latest shawl I have been working on as well. This time, I tried to correct as I went along. If I was missing a stitch, I picked one up near the edge of a repeat, where I thought it would be less noticeable. I was starting to think I’d have to rip the whole bottom lace part out until I started my second repeat of the rows. Turns out, the knitting looks right, even though I know it’s not. I’ll have to go a few more rounds before I’m sure I want to rip back or not.

How do you handle your knitting/crafting mistakes? How do you decide when to leave it as is, rip it out, or chunk the project altogether?

3 thoughts on “Knitting Complications: When You’ve Made a Mistake

  1. Sometimes I turn it into something else! My first attempt at a bracelet bag is now a cute little fabric basket, and a few of my attempted clothing refashions are now pretty pillows. But my seam ripper gets a good workout, too! 🙂

  2. I am always fighting the urge to want my knitting to be perfect. I used to rip back every time I found out I made even the slightest mistake, as even knowing there was an error somewhere would bother me greatly. But I’ve come to realise that most of the time, minor mistakes are not noticeable. Often, even I can’t see them unless I go looking specifically. Sometimes, even when I know there is a mistake I can’t find it anymore. So I’ve become more relaxed about leaving minor mistakes in. As for big ones, lifelines are my friend!

    My mother used to say that it was okay if a handmade item had a few mistakes in it; it was proof that it was hand made.

  3. Your story about the mittens made me smile–I have a story-I crocheted an afghan that was a larger size on one end, due to the fact that I mistakenly changed needle size which encreased the guage. Do you know , I won afirst prize on it at the local county fair? So you never know how your work will turn out in the end. Still have that ripple afghan!

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