Making knitting mistakes might not be as bad as you think
Devastation. Denial. Frustration. More frustration. An attempt at acceptance. Knitting is an emotional rollercoaster, some might even go so far as to say a grieving process, when you get so far into a new craft project only to realise an hour later that you’ve made a fatal error in your design plan, or perhaps didn’t quite follow the knitting pattern correctly.
You swear a lot and maybe banish your project to the naughty step for a half hour. Or in my case stick it in Studio Cotton’s cupboard and not revisit it for several months… It is, in fact, still there waiting patiently for me to pick it back up (!).
Perhaps you even entertain the idea of just carrying on knitting regardless? Maybe you can get away with it? Make it work somehow? But as much as your entire being revolts against it, no matter how much you kick, or scream, or cry or protest, you’re left with only one choice… to frog the woollen fruits of your labour and try again.
‘To frog’? Soph, u okay, hun?
Simply put, frogging is the process of ripping your yarn work out because you made a mistake. ‘Rip it, rip it’ geddit?!! And whilst the name has a sense of humour, frogging itself isn’t always quite as much fun.
Don’t get me wrong, the benefits in the long run are undeniable not to mention it’s oddly cathartic – or should I say, masochistic?! – to see hours of knitting or crochet work ripped apart in a matter of seconds, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it’s one of the most frustrating, and frankly upsetting techniques you can employ as a maker.
However, there’s a little more to this painful and humbling process than initially meets the eye. Once we get over the heartbreak, we can take a step back and realise that our craft is actually presenting us with one of the most valuable lessons we can learn; mistakes happen and, more importantly, that that in itself is okay.
It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to fail at things. It’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time. (That and never frog a project in the height of emotion. Trust me, it doesn’t end well for either of you…).
Knitting experiments and knitting mistakes
I know for me, every time I frog a piece of knitwear it’s a learning curve. It serves as an opportunity to realise that we aren’t always successful or get things right straight away.
Rationally we all know that expertise is something that comes with time. Knitting mastery involves practise and hard work, so why are we so hard on ourselves when we don’t nail something first time? In fact, experimenting and making mistakes is the one thing that has helped me to improve my crafting skills.
That’s right, its not the projects that I can do in my sleep that help me expand my knitting knowledge. It’s those that see me replaying youtube tutorials because I can’t quite get that new knitting stitch. It’s the ideas that I have tried out and discarded because they were great in theory, but didn’t work with the yarn weight, or fibre in reality.
Picking up new knitting tricks and techniques
In the process of messing up my knits, I’ve unintentionally learnt how to pick up stitches and rectify slip ups that would have thrown me off when I was a newbie. Furthermore, it’s also bought a sense of intuition to my work; I know what a knit stitch looks like, I know what a purl stitch looks like. I don’t need to go back to count the stitches if I pick up my work half way through a row of seed stitch. Rather I know where I am and what stitch comes next without thinking anything of it.
Admittedly, I go wrong all the time and have made SO many knitting mistakes in the past, but the process of learning how to fix them has made me an altogether better knitter.
We can embrace and learn from our mistakes
They help us to improve our craft and practise those tricky techniques that leave us so frustrated it becomes advisable to step away from the knitting needles.
Frogging teaches us the importance of checking our knitting gauge. It encourages us to swatch so we’re not left with a garment that’s waaaay too small after hours of work (we’ve all been there). The frustration of realising I need to rip out an evenings work has also taught me it’s probably not the best idea to try and tackle that complicated colour work whilst sat in front of an intense Black Mirror episode…
They’re what teaches us to read our knitting so that designing and creating becomes intuitive.
We know what we’re doing so we can challenge ourselves with delicate lacework. Maybe even tackle a fairisle sweater, or even start designing our own knitting patterns for ourselves. We can afford to take risks and experiment and try something different safe in the knowledge we can rectify it if things don’t quite work out.
It’s not as bad as you think
So, yes, I’ll admit, making mistakes is never exactly going to be fun, but it’s definitely not as bad as you think. Next time you find yourself in the same familiar and infuriating situation, welcome the opportunity to refine your skills.
Once those initial emotions die down – and do let them die down – it’s 1000% unadvisable to frog your knitting project in a state of heightened emotion, I cannot stress that enough. We want to save our work, not destroy it completely.
When you’ve found clarity in the aftermath, you’ll realise that frogging those 10 rows of knits and purls isn’t so bad as you thought.
Retrieve your work from aforementioned cupboard or naughty step. Take a deep breath and enjoy each satisfying little croak as each stitch is released.