Saturday, August 7, 2010

The perfectionist in me

One of these days, I'm going to write a blog post at a time other than at 4am.  I know it's going to happen.  Really.  Obviously I haven't exactly been sleeping well recently.  Just about every night this week I've woken up at 3am and been wide awake until about 6am (because of course it works perfectly to be tired right around the time everyone else is waking up).  Part of me has actually been enjoying the quiet few hours to myself with my yarn, and at 3am I work on whatever I feel like with no guilt about other languishing projects.

For the last couple of nights (okay, I guess early mornings), I've been working on the Leyfi Pullover from the most recent Interweave Knits.  I won't get into the ridiculousness of knitting a bulky wool sweater in August; I have no explanation.  Knitting the first lace chart did not go exactly smoothly.  There was a lot of this: knit a round, get to the end and have the wrong number of stitches, rip back to a mistake, knit the round again, still have the wrong number of stitches, decide I don't care and K2tog or something in an inconspicuous place and continue onto the next round.   Rinse. Repeat.

Now I'm quite comfortable knitting lace and once the pattern is established, I'm pretty good at reading my knitting so I notice if I'm off a stitch immediately, but I didn't get a handle on this pattern right away--probably had something to do with the fact that it was 4am.  So the other night, I finally got to a point where the lace pattern was taking shape, and I could suddenly "read" a really big screw up.  If you look at the picture of the finished sweater there are vertical lines in between the leaves going straight down from the neck.  Um, my lines were not straight.  I had gotten off pattern early on and by the time I recovered, I had knit a chunk of the lace pattern in sort of the wrong place, and finally I noticed the clear break in what should be a vertical line of stitches.

Well, see there's the risk of knitting from a small chart at 4am.  Not always the best result.  But in the wee hours of the morning, this didn't seem that bad. I told myself it was barely noticeable. And maybe the broken lines actually softened the look of the sweater.  Yes!  That's it!  A design element.  I had just customized the sweater a little, right?  No problem. I felt so relieved--the somewhat annoying perfectionist in me seemed to not mind this mistake.  Nope, not one bit.   I kept knitting for awhile and then put it aside and fell asleep for a couple of hours.

What a difference 2 hours of sleep will do.  My whole drive to work all I could think about was this screw up.  The perfectionist in me had kicked in with a little sleep and now I couldn't imagine not ripping it all out.  Sigh.
Sometimes I hate being a perfectionist.  I had really felt like I was going to be able to let this go.  I mean, who would notice?  And the mistake is at the top of the neck where the lace pattern won't even be  stretched out.  When I got home from work, I went straight to the sweater to survey it.  The screw up still didn't seem that bad.  And all of the lower lace with the larger "leaves" looked great.  So now I'm just stuck.  The yarn is a single ply and a little fuzzy so it's not going to rip well (that could be a little rationalization, but I'm sticking to the claim), and I still stand by the idea that the breaks soften the look of the sweater (yeah, yeah, I know, I'm reaching).  Not to mention when the sweater is finished, who is going to notice this other than me and maybe a really really observant knitter who would hopefully be too polite to say anything.  I continued to ponder.

Even though I didn't really make a decision, I kept knitting the sweater last night.  Part of me wants to free myself from always having to be a perfectionist--like knitting a sweater with a mistake is a personal challenge to relax a little. The other part of me wonders if all I will think about every time I wear this sweater is the tiny mistake in the neck.  The saga continues....but for now, I'm going to knit socks and then I'm going back to sleep.


  1. seriously? i can't actually see it... and i'm a knitter.

  2. I know exactly what you mean. Mistakes in my knitting always bug me. But I read somewhere that knitters used to intentionally insert a small mistake somewhere because only God creates perfection. I don't know about the theological part but it is nice to have a story to tell when you wear your sweater.