Knit Picky: A Perfectionist’s Guide to Knitting

Why as knitters do we judge our knitting so harshly? We produce beautiful shawls, sweaters, socks, bags — and we still find things to nitpick about.

Woman Wearing Beautiful Knit Lace Shawl

Photo via Bluprint class New Directions in Lace

The nitpicky knitter

When I’m complimented on a knitted garment I’m wearing, the dialogue inevitably goes something like this:

Friend: That shawl is gorgeous! Did you make it?

Me: Yes, but it has a few spots where I forgot to do a yarn over. And I think I knitted it too tightly over on this side. Do you see that hole? I was distracted while watching TV and messed that part up.

Awkward.

This fall, the height of my knitted-garment-wearing time of the year, I’m proposing that we perfectionist knitters enjoy knitting and stop judging our work as if we’re being graded.

Here’s what I plan to do. I hope you’ll do it, too:

1. Make knitting fun again.

Invite some of your knitting friends over to work on projects together. Focus on friends instead of your projects. So what if you make a mistake?

2. Focus on what looks great.

Maybe you knitted a sweater and you grafted those shoulder seams perfectly, but the gauge in the sleeves is a little too tight. Instead of focusing on the sleeves, focus on the fact that you have all-star grafting skills (and if you really want to improve your skills with gauge, you can review how to measure your gauge in knitting before your next project).

3. Take compliments graciously.

When someone compliments your knitted garment or accessory, simply reply, “Thank you.” No need to give a laundry list of things you messed up. The person complimenting you is not going to use a magnifying glass to inspect your work. Neither should you.

Yellow, Green and Grey Domino Knit Garment

4. Let the creative juices flow.

Worrying too much about making a mistake can block your creativity. Try a free-form knitting technique, like domino knitting (pictured above), so that you’re not following a pattern. There is no wrong way to knit free-form, so if you make a mistake, it’s just part of the design. It’s also good practice for experimenting in your own knitting, possibly even veering away from patterns.

5. Remember why you started knitting.

Did you learn to knit so that you could have one more thing to worry about? Nah. You started knitting because it was fun and made you feel creative. Remember when you did a happy dance just because you did two rows of purl stitches without dropping any of them? Try to bring back some of those old feelings.

6. Try something new.

Sometimes reliving our beginner knitting moments means trying a brand new technique that definitely won’t be perfect the first time around.

Check out a few Bluprint classes to get inspired, like Brilliant Knit Beads with Betsy Hershberg, Entrelac Knitting with Gwen Bortner, or Explorations in Brioche Knitting with Nancy Marchant. You’ll get back in learning mode and forget all about that silly mistake you made on your knitted gloves.

Woman Wearing Pink Knit Scarf

Photo via Vogue Knitting

7. Learn from past mistakes.

The first time I saw a pattern that purposely used a dropped stitch as part of the design (like this Dropped Stitch Scarf by Vogue Knitting), I was floored. “But dropped stitches are meant to be fixed,” I thought with concern. Who would ever make them on purpose?

I like to think that at some point, a knitter accidentally discovered how beautiful a dropped stitch could be and incorporated it into a design. You can do the same. Remember your past mistakes and learn from them. You may even discover a great new design!

Are you a perfectionist knitter? Do you have tips for other picky knitters?

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