Perfection in knitting. Don’t let your tension cause you tension!

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Now that we’re well into the New Year and back into our daily routines, we thought we should take a little step back and remind ourselves of what our ambitions were when we entered 2018, all bright eyed and bushy tailed!

In December, when everyone was getting into the festive spirit, we were talking a lot about replacing our FOMO with JOMO and the need to start making time for our minds and bodies to rejuvenate with some quality ‘me-time’. We’ve been reminding ourselves of this throughout January and we’d like to urge you to do the same as well!

Never feel guilty about being your authentic self. Listen to your mind and body and respect what they are trying to tell you.

This month, we’d like to carry on in this vein and talk about something that a lot of you have probably experienced during your time as knitters. It’s something that we feel has given knitting a bad rep and frequently caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety for many of us. That thing is of course, Perfection. Why do we constantly let our own harsh, inner judgement and the insecurities of others judge our achievements?

In our minds, it’s high time that knitting experienced a Renaissance and an image overhaul! It’s been a long time coming, but we want to let people know that mistakes in knitting are okay!  To us, it is sad to see those who would like to learn to knit being put off by the thought that each stitch needs to be ‘just-so’. Even experienced knitters sometimes feel overwhelmed by it all. We’ve seen lots of instances when people have been super proud and happy to complete something they’ve worked hard on, only to have that feeling of elation ruined because of a tiny mistake.

We think its complete madness and it has to stop! As far as we’re concerned, the subtle differences in the aesthetics that come from minor mistakes are what make hand-knitted things so wonderful – there are memories woven into your knitted blankets, scarves and hats!

While researching this subject, we found this idea from Dr. Brene Brown that we think sums up our thoughts precisely. She says ‘Perfection is not about striving for excellence, but is rather about shame, blame and judgement’. In other words, she wants us to recognise that it is natural to want to excel at something and improve ourselves. But it is also natural (and human) to make mistakes.  Striving for perfection and berating ourselves and others because we’ll never measure up to the standards we’ve set, is not the way to go. By all means, strive to improve your knitting by trying new styles and exploring new techniques, but don’t get obsessed with fixing the mistakes in your knitting.

And 100%, do not let anyone else make you feel bad for creating something you love.

We’re all different and different things appeal to us. We’ve all got different stories that are important to us. So it stands to reason that if you ask 10 people to knit the same thing, each one will look slightly different. We hope you can see how incredible that actually is. Don’t erase the fingerprint you’ve left on your design because someone else is afraid to show you theirs.

A key thought we would like everyone to take away from this is the idea that ‘perfection’ in knitting (or any field, for that matter) is a completely fictional state. It does not exist. As humans, we grow by making mistakes. The only way to avoid making mistakes is to do absolutely nothing at all. Sounds pretty boring, right?

So this year, whether you are a knitting beginner or a high level knitter, we’d like to encourage you to embrace your mistakes and think outside the box. Own your knitting and become the embodiment of a Free Range Knitter! Want to have your seaming on the outside? Go for it! Like the way it looks when your colour changes are visible? Show them off proudly!

Recognise your achievements and allow yourself to make those small mistakes that give a glimpse into the life you are living. Cherish the stories your knitting tells and embrace other peoples. Let’s make it a point to lift each other up instead of bringing each other down!

Until next time, we wish you many happy mistakes!

The Woven x

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Showing 4 comments
  • Patricia

    This is by far the best blog I have read in a long time – thank you for bringing it up. As a perfectionist (in all fields), I recognise that this often stops me from moving on. I have learned to love myself as I am, mistakes and all (they are part of who I am). I still strive for that near-perfection state in my wooly life (with a dash of leniency), but have let go somewhat of other areas. Visualise clean but lived-in house, a few weeds poking their heads out, books galore and baskets of wips adorning many surfaces! I’d rather spend MY time doing things that enrich and challenge me rather than trying to impress others!

  • Michelle Stewart

    Thanks for your feedback Patricia, I hear you on the letting go of things – especially the house! I’ve been redefining the boundaries of being, for example, house proud… vs’ stressed out perfectionist. I found accepting this in my knitting has really helped me with the rest of my life, the relief of letting it go has been huge. Love your comment on impressing others, power to you! Sending you woolly love, lets embrace the values of hand made and free range! xxx

  • Kate Miller

    Such wise words and what many of us needed to hear! Perfectionism can be immobilizing. With knitting, half of the beauty of it is in the making, and the other half is the finished product. I’m very proud of the baby blanket I made for my granddaughter even though one stitch looks slightly different from the others. It did not detract from my feeling of accomplishment at all, although I suspected it would for a great many people. Now I know I don’t need to feel guilty about not stressing about it!!

  • Michelle Stewart

    Hi Kate thanks for the comments – I think it’s wonderful you’ve left that little detail and carried no concern. Good for you! You’re right perfectionism can be immobilising, and the level of critique that many give and receive is so deflating. Lets rejoice like you said in the feeling of accomplishment xxx

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