Taking the Long View

What do you do when you want to knit and not be talked to? Do you think people ever put their headphones on with nothing playing, simply with the goal of listening to no talking? I’m not saying I’ve done this or even seriously considered it, but the idea does pop into my mind from time to time. It might have popped into my mind today when I was knitting one of the counting rows on the Lizard Ridge Afghan for the third time while someone was talking to me.

I’m not averse to talking. In fact, I generally like it. But sometimes there’s unexpected talking. And if I happen to be knitting along—oblivious to any looming interruption, happily counting things that need counting—when this guerrilla talking occurs, and if I mess up that particular section (for the fourth time), I might begin to get ideas about headphones. But anyway . . .

About having crashed and burned on my Lizard Ridge Afghan square (because someone was talking to me) . . . It wasn’t anything that wasn’t fixable, but when I finished what turned out, after a little extra work, to be a perfectly fine looking square, I realized I had an extra stitch. What?! Yes. I counted three times. I even ripped back once thinking maybe if I just ignored the count and reknit that section, it would somehow be right when I finished. It wasn’t.

I know myself well enough to know that if a mistake is going to show, I must fix it. Otherwise, it will be like a stone in my shoe forever. I will NEVER forget that it’s there. Even if it’s something that probably wouldn’t be noticed by someone else, even if it’s something that even I can only find upon close inspection and because I know where it is—if it is discernible at all, I must rip back and redo it. The difficulty arises when I’m pretty sure that I won’t find it once I lose track of where it is. Then what?

My knitting guides are strangely silent on this topic. Maggie Righetti, Vogue, even my new hero Mary Thomas—they offer no helpful advice about the progress versus perfection dilemma. As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been reading Jean Miles lately, and I was very interested to find that she had this to say in one post:

I can now “read” lace well enough that when I’m a stitch out here or there, either too many or too few, I can compensate in the right place. I was pretty old before I acquired that skill.

On one hand, I find this encouraging. Even though she’s talking specifically about lace, the lesson would seem to be that if an error can be corrected along the way with no noticeable effect on the finished piece, then there’s no harm, and perhaps even some benefit, in allowing it to remain.

When I read this and see Jean’s lovely work and realize that she is able to maintain such equanimity in the face of extra stitches, I want to be like her. It seems very mature to take the long view. What could it possibly matter that one afghan block out of 24 has one extra stitch? I almost feel silly even posing the question. Perhaps I’ll sleep on it and see what it feels like to wake up in the morning as someone with one harmless, probably not at all noticeable extra stitch in her afghan. I’ll report back.


  1. I, too, battle the demon known as “Perfection.” I have been working on that since day 1 of my knitting adventure. It’s part of forgiving myself and and allowing myself to make mistakes (lessons needing to be carried out of the knitting world into the real world) I will make an honest effort to fix things, but will also embrace the humanity in the experience and allow it to pass without too much regret and consternation if the repair is beyond me (and friends with better chops than mine who could help)

Talk to me!