Posts Tagged ‘details’

04
Nov

On Perfectionism

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, life, long reads

satin

I’m afraid to talk about perfectionism and knitting. Because it involves me admitting that I’m not a perfectionist in other aspects of my life. I feel like it’s not good to go around telling people that you don’t care about getting things absolutely right, it makes you sound lazy. But perfectionists can be insufferable micromanagers. So maybe it’s ok to not be one. Either way, I suppose it’s time that I come clean. I am not a perfectionist.

When it comes to crafting, though, I’ve had a tough time deciding whether or not I’m a perfectionist. I always used to think that I was one. I mean, making is my raison d’être. I’ve ripped out days and days of work on sweaters and agonized over finding the perfect shade of yellow merino. But then again, how many times have I picked up however many neckline stitches that I wanted or allowed my stripes to jog in the round? How often have I said, “It has some ease so it’ll be fine” or “Blocking will fix that weird part” or “I’m just going to do it this way and I’m sure no one will notice”?

Despite these things that I let slide, I don’t think that the quality of work is lacking. While I believe that hand-made garments turn out as good if not better than their store bought counterparts, I don’t expect my work to be spot on all of the time. And I’m ok with that. I’m not a machine so there are bound to be little things here and there that are not right. So maybe I’m not a perfectionist?

I realized after I tried to teach Jon to knit (a fun experiment when we first started going out) that perfectionists don’t make good knitters. He’s a true perfectionist in all aspects of his life. (“Putting something away doesn’t just mean shoving it under the sink,” he said to me just yesterday.) He worked at a snail’s pace on his scarf, struggling to make every stitch just right. And while it’s nice to make something that looks good, if you got upset every time you dropped a stitch or had the wrong gauge or missed a stitch of colorwork, all of your hair would fall out and you’d burn your yarn while it’s still on the needles. If I went back and fixed every mistake I ever made, I’d never finish everything and I’d hate knitting.

I used to think that getting things absolutely right would be more important to me as I got better at knitting (we all tell beginners not to worry about making something gorgeous) but I haven’t found that to be true. For me, knitting is a balance of doing things well and letting things slide. I’ve definitely been working on precision when it comes designing (thank goodness for tech editors) but at the same time, sometimes you have to just move forward and trust that everything will come together in the end.

Do perfectionists make better knitters because they are exacting? Or does perfectionism make knitting harder because, well, we’re only human? Can you be detail-oriented without being a perfectionist? Are you a perfectionist?

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