I’ve been going to the Friday-night stitch ‘n bitch at Urban Yarns fairly regularly, which has resulted in my first fully peer-pressure-fueled knitting adventure.

Someone decided we should have a knit-along for any Jared Flood pattern. I’ll skip the details and sum up by saying the madness of the crowd led me to agree to make his startlingly beautiful new lace shawl pattern, Rock Island.

I usually knit very simple, straightforward things. And I knit very slowly. And I don’t enjoy paying attention to details. And I like to not look at my hands when I knit.

Rock Island is, shall we say, involved. And I have, maybe, half an hour each day for crafting. But whatever! I cast on.

This shawl has a nifty construction: you start off knitting the edging, which is a very long, narrow strip of lace. Lace worked on both sides in a simple enough pattern, but one that even habitual lace knitters say they find impossible to memorize. Suffice it to say this beginning part of the shawl took me weeks to complete. In fact, I finished it just the other night.

And here’s what I immediately noticed:

How much mistake can you live with?

I followed the pattern incorrectly when I worked the first few rows (on the left, in orange). Instead of working in garter stitch, I did a couple of rows of yo, k2tog.

Before casting off, I followed the instructions correctly, resulting in the wee garter-stitch bit on the right, circled in pink.

I prefer the lace, to be honest.

Anyway, I sat there looking at these two very different ends of the edging, each of which will reside at one of the two side points of the triangle when the shawl is completed. I discovered I was confident that, with furrowed brow, cursing, and Google, I could undo the cast off, rip back the garter stitch, and rework the final few rows to replicate my initial mistake. The very worst case scenario was that I could rip back to my last lifeline, undoing about 14 repeats.

I thought about all that for two minutes. Then I thought about how many freaking weeks it took me to knit this damn strip, and about how eager I was to pick up just shy of 300 stitches along one edge to get going on the body of the shawl.

And so I decided to leave it. The shawl’s for me, not for someone else who might mind that it’s screwed up. I don’t mind that it’s screwed up. And I bet no one will notice when it’s all done and I wear it.

How do you feel about mistakes? When you screw up, can you live with it? Make it a “design element”? Or do mistakes plague you to the point of madness?

I watched this great interview clip with Mark Frauenfelder, editor of MAKE magazine, this morning, and if you couldn’t already tell, I’m with him 100% about how to approach having made a mistake.

[tubepress video=”mRO_MQgRLD0″]


This weekend, June 25-26, I’ll be bringing Mighty Ugly to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Come by the booth between 10am-1pm each day to make an ugly creature! And stick around to the very end of the event to hear me speak about ugly and creativity at 4pm on Sunday.