So two weeks ago I screwed up some knitting. I knitted this little baby jumper super fast because it was fun - a test knit of the super sweet Iris Pullover by Wiksten - and the speed increased because I was knitting a Stash Less version and I really wanted to see if I could make it work. Joyful knitting - I was fully in the flow of making.
But in knitting it as quickly as I did, and as late at night, I made a mistake. A couple of mistakes actually. Firstly, I forgot the last line of the V pattern on the front of the right shoulder of the sweater. It is more noticeable in real life than it is in the photo. Secondly, I did the decreases backwards around that same shoulder which meant that the nice line you would get around the shoulder looked jagged and not quite so pretty.
It wasn't until I was almost finished, until had sewed the sweater shoulders up, knitted the neckband and had sewn on the sleeve, that I noticed it. That said, I hadn't yet sewn in the ends - but the sweater was pretty much done.
Except that it wasn't.
When I realised, I swore a little, I laughed at myself, I took a photo (to post on instagram :)) and then I quickly pulled it out. Rip the bandaid off goddammit.
What was interesting was when I posted the photo on instagram, the overwhelming reaction I got was to leave it. I reckon it was easily 9 to 1, leave it to fix it.
Everyone was lovely about it, coming up with inventive ways that I could live with my mistake, or cover it up, or creatively embellish it. I wasn't expecting the (lovely caring) response so I almost didn't say that I had already ripped it out.
But I haven't been able to stop thinking about the response ever since.
What is our resistance to going backwards? What is the fear? Or is not that we have to go backwards, but rather that we don't want to admit that we have made a mistake? Do we not want to acknowledge that we have not got it right? Got it wrong even. Are we trying to say "lalala play on! Nothing to see here"?
Or is it the "wasted" time? Are we caught up in the idea we need to be being productive, moving forward, achieving, finishing?
I've come up with a few theories about it, but I would love to understand it better, because I don't think our resistance/fear/or whatever it is, serves us well. Because we do mind when it doesn't turn out how we planned. Even if we embellish it or ignore it. It is (a little) disappointing to not end up where we hoped.
And here is the key - if we are so afraid of going backwards we must be making with fear! Fear of making mistakes, fear of having to go back, fear of living with a mistake. And making with fear must be stealing a little of our making joy.
So chime in and let me know if any of these resonate or maybe you have a different theory? I'd love to hear it.
Is it a lack of experience?
I've written about mistakes before and about ripping for joy. I believe in going back but this is something that I've learnt to do. Going back, ripping out, unpicking are skills I've practiced as part of my making practice. Doing so without any negativity towards myself, or my work, is another layer of that practice.
These days I'm quite good at it. A swear word or two, a glass of wine, a day or three and I can move on without holding on to my mistake. BUT! this wasn't something I could do earlier in my craft career. I suspect there are two reasons why.
Reason 1: Skills
Jenn popped over for a coffee when I was mid-thought about this little sweater, and reminded me that she wouldn't go back because she wouldn't be confident in her ability to fix it. I remember this. I remember not knowing enough about the structure, and not having the skills I needed to redo do something. Actually I probably didn't even have the skills to go backwards in the first place. Play-on was my only option.
This has changed as I have gaine more experience, but I wonder if I would have progressed in my skilling-up faster had I embraced trying to fix my mistakes, rather than avoiding them or pretending they weren't there. Making mistakes and fixing mistakes is the only way to truly understand what it is that you are trying to do.
"A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor" - Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In order to build up our skill set for dealing with big waves we need to practice, first on 1 ft waves, building up to 30ft waves over time. I just wonder if there is a case for throwing ourselves into 10ft waves sometimes for the express purpose of skilling-up? Do we sometimes spend too much time in the 1ft waves cause they feel safe, never gaining the joy and experience of trying something harder because of our fear?
Reason 2: Mindset practice?
At the start of my craft career I didn't have the emotional strength to go back. Finishing something felt like climbing a mountain (more on this in a minute) and so idea that there was still yet another hill to climb was demoralising to the point of me running back down the hill and out of the mountains. With more practice at making we become more emotionally confident about our abilities and more resilient. We have memories to draw on of when we have taken a deep breath and gone backwards, or climbed that extra peak, and how little it actually hurt and how good we felt.
We also come to learn - in the words of EZ - that as we do what we do because we love knitting this (setback) is simply more knitting.
However early on in my knitting career, I think I was also making it mean things like "I'm not very good at...." and "Other people do this beautifully whereas I ...."
Which leads me to some more questions.