You know the story about the girl who kissed a frog and he turned into a prince?
As knitters, we have to kiss (or curse) a lot of frogs. You dropped a stitch. You missed an eyelet. You forgot an increase. Or three.
There’s a beauty in frogging; It makes you brave. My best learning has come from making mistakes and learning to fix them without instructions. I learned to knit in an era without the internet (Gasp! I’m old!), without Youtube, and without a teacher to help me find my way back when my projects went astray. When my knitting grandmother came to visit, I picked her brain as much as I could, but the rest of the time I had to solve my own dilemmas. What I value most about the time I spent trying (and failing, and trying again) was that it taught me not to be afraid of the unknown, not to be squeamish about making changes when I thought they needed to be made, and most of all, it taught me to be innovative. When I wasn’t sure how to get from here to there, I built a bridge.
I’m not saying I just make up my own rules and do whatever I want, tradition be damned! But I am saying that there’s some gray area. As you “fail forward,” you’ll figure out which rules can’t be trifled with, and which ones are flexible. (How you hold your needle? Flexible. Putting your needle into the back of the stitch when it should be knit into the front? Not flexible. Pulling a few stitches back to re-create a stitch you missed, rather than frogging several rows? Flexible. Being significantly off on your gauge for a sweater. Not flexible. Being significantly off on your gauge for a scarf? Kinda flexible. See what I mean?)
Knitting is a sport of critical thinking, and it’s not for weenies. No pattern is omniscient. To be truly successful, treat each pattern as a map; it will get you from point A to point B, but there may be detours and back roads along the way. You might need more room at the bust, or more length at the torso, or you might just really like the way a longer sweater fits. Or you might have to re-knit the lace section five times, only to decide that you don’t like the look of it and would rather change the whole section to something else. The most successful knitters are those who can take the detour, or even back-track when necessary, and still find their way through. The more stitches you tink and the more rows you frog in your lifetime… the better knitter you’ll be in the long run. The most important thing is that you keep knitting. Don’t let failure stop you.
Knitting is a sport of critical thinking.
Making mistakes, being brave enough to fix them and learning from the process — that is the birthplace of resilience.
Go ahead, kiss frogs. It will only make you better.