When it comes to mistakes there seem to be two kinds of knitters.
1. The knitter who will meticulously go back and fix the mistake even if it isn’t going to be noticeable or harm the project, and even if it’s going to involve possibly hours of painstaking tinking. When asked why, they say “I’ll know.”
2. The knitter who will fix the mistake if it’s going to harm the project. If it isn’t going to be noticeable and it’s a quick fix, they’ll go for it. Otherwise, they might not. Because really, “what’s perfect.”
Before I could fix my mistakes (well, most of them anyhow), I discovered that there seemed to be no clear majority camp. There were expert knitters in category #1. There were expert knitters in category #2. You just belong to one camp or the other. It seems to be an inate quality with no rhyme or reason. Once I realized what approach made me the happiest (I’m in the first obsess–er meticulous group) and that it was okay for me to be that way, I calmed down a lot.
I still couldn’t fix my mistakes. I’d drop a stitch and have to go running to someone for help. They would point out the dropped stitch and it was if they were trying to point out something to a blind person. I didn’t get it.
This particular project (step-ribbed stole from the awesome The Knitter’s Book of Yarn taught me a lot when it comes to mistakes. It’s an 18 row repeat. I got some gorgeous silk cashmerino yarn at a very nice price from a LYS that was going out of business. The pattern called for circs because of the width. They were not a success; I had a weird mental block on circs for months.
Anyhow, I started knitting it and at some horrid point I lost count. And things went horribly, horribly wrong. The diagonal rib started shifting the other way. I had done rather a lot correctly and the thought of frogging the whole thing was too much to bear.
And somehow, somehow I learned to tink (unknit). I kept messing up which row was the one I was supposed to be on and I kept tinking. A friend invited me to Vermont to visit. Since I took the train, I took the knitting too. After several hours I finally got everything at the correct point in the pattern and I was off and running. My friend is a knitter so I got a lot of the stole done. Then the unthinkable happened. In the middle of a row on the train I dropped a stitch. My heart was in my mouth.
And then, I saw it. I saw the dropped stitch. All that tinking had taught me a lot about how knit and purl stitches should be. I grabbed a hitherto useless crochet hook and I tentatively brought it up. It was a triumphant moment for me.
Unfortunately, the people on the train didn’t quite get why I was exclaiming “YES! God, I am good!,” but these moments of exhiliration are often solitary in nature.
Seriously though, the whole project taught me a lot about myself. I learned that I could do more than a novelty scarf in garter (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And I got a much better sense of how knitting really works. I learned that I am one of those knitters who will do anything to fix a mistake. I learned to accept that this is okay.