I talk about this a lot, but it’s one of the most common conversations that happens in my knitting community: knitters will go to almost any length to avoid making a mistake.
We aren’t born knowing how to knit, any more than we are born knowing how to ride a bicycle. But we can be pretty hard on ourselves when we’re trying to learn something new and stumble along the way.
Let’s talk about why mistakes are actually GOOD for your knitting (I promise) and how to be a little gentler with yourself when you run into them.
- Mistakes are the best teachers. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in more than 30 years of knitting, it’s that mistakes have helped me improve my techniques. The more you try something, the better you’ll get – you can’t expect the first or second (or even third) try to be perfect.
- Making mistakes will help you learn how to “read” your knitting. You’ll get more familiar with how stitches come together and what they should look like in different applications. Knowing what it ISN’T supposed to look like is often just as helpful as getting it right.
- Mistakes can be happy accidents. Not all mistakes have to be frogged; sometimes going off course can lead to a surprising (and positive) result. Just because the pattern looks one way and yours looks a bit different, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the result.
- Mistakes mean you’re trying. Trying matters. It’s how we grow, build skills and gain confidence. Is there a grouchy voice in your head saying “If you don’t get this right, you’re a failure”? That voice doesn’t understand how important mistakes are for the future of your knitting. Tell that voice to find a new hobby. Instead, I want you to hear my voice in your head:
It’s okay to try something more than once. It’s okay to get it wrong. It’s okay to frog the whole darn thing and start over.
It’s also okay to make an executive decision about which yarn will work for your project, whether or not to add another inch to the body or which size you should make – you are the boss of these decisions, and if you get it wrong, oh well. You’ll have more information for next time.
Messing up your knitting is part of life. We all do it. All the time. I’d rather you give it your best shot and fall short than be so nervous about making a mistake that you stay stuck.
Just do it.
The next time you hit a wall, take a deep breath. Take your best guess and give it try. If your first try doesn’t work, try something else. Use the Google machine. Look at your knitting and ask yourself these questions:
- Does it really matter if I do it exactly the way the pattern describes? (This might apply to how you pick up a neckline or button band or how you work the buttonholes.)
- Can I live with the result if I can’t get it quite perfect?
- Will anyone else even notice? (The answer is: probably not.)
When it comes to confidence, we can be our own worst enemy. Give yourself permission to learn new things and not get them right every time. You’ll have so much more fun, your creative muscles will get a much better workout and you’ll learn to love the lessons that come from getting it wrong sometimes.
You’ve got this.