Learning From Your Wisdom

When I asked you to send in stories about your biggest knitting mistakes, what I expected were tales of cables mis-placed, lace gone horribly wrong, and feltings that produced beautiful miniature sweaters instead of anything that would actually fit a human being. What I got were tales of wisdom, with a unique knitterly take on the place of mistakes in our lives.

Here is a sampling of what you taught me:

  • If it fits, it was knit correctly and is mistake-free. I have to say that this philosophy makes a lot of sense to me. Anything you can wear without the sleeves dragging on the ground or folks mistaking you for a circus tent is by definition a correctly-knit garment. (Bonus points if people tell you that said garment looks fabulous on you.)
  • All mistakes are simply “design features.” Many of you wrote to tell me that the error I made was akin to the planned mistakes include in the handcrafts of many native cultures. These intentional errors signify that the item was indeed handmade by a human being and are thought to show respect to the supreme Being.

    In a modern culture that worships an often unattainable perfection in terms of appearance, performance, and achievement, the idea that we knitters might intentionally make a (small) mistake in order to celebrate our shared humanity is both radical and deeply inspiring. Knitting is one of the most human tasks we can undertake—creating garments to warm and clothe those we love, stitch by stitch, from sheep’s wool and cotton fiber. Mistakes can be viewed as our common human “signature”—and how we view the mistake once it is made can be a way of further defining what sort of person we are (and wish to be).
    The mistake that wasn't…

  • “What mistake?” This was pretty amusing, and humbling, response for me to read in your emails, over and over and over. For the curious, our oh-so-talented graphics person Kat has done another version of the infamous photo. See? The spokes are supposed to line up, not be all jaggedy. (Oh well. At least the instructions are correct.)

    Apparently, I have been mooning over lace shawls done by the masters (like Evelyn A. Clark, Cheryl Oberle, and so forth) waaaaayyyy too much. I have forgotten that there are Big Mistakes, and then there are Minor Mistakes. I thought the boo-boo I made was HUGE, but after so many of you wrote to tell me you couldn’t see it, I got a grip and realized that it wasn’t such a big deal.

    I think sewing two sleeves into the same armhole poses a much more challenging problem after all is said and done.

    Thank you so much for all you taught me in your knitting stories.

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