I belong to a few crafting groups on Facebook. I am consistently struck by two themes in these groups: 1.) Am I good enough/is my work good enough? and 2.) You need to fix that small error that no one will notice, not even you, once you finish up the whole thing. And circuitously both of these things are the same: How do I get my knitting/crochet/dying/spinning to look like a machine made it?
I want to scream: You can’t. No amount of “new techniques” or fancy finishing will alter the fact that a human being created an item. This means the occasional mis-stitch, a skipped row, a cable crossed the wrong way, uneven tension, a woven in end that isn’t quite hidden, color jogs, mis-matched dye lots, weird color pooling, and (GASP!!) edges that are properly executed but not PERFECTLY EVEN.
Its not just that people want their work to showcase the level of their talents; that’s amazing and striving to do the best you can makes you feel good. But when an experienced crafter picks apart a novice’s work? I cannot abide by that! The number of unpleasant and toxic people who comment on a beginner’s first swatch: You need to work on the tension, its not good enough. You need to fix those stitches before you can move on, as if an error in a learning piece is the reason to scrap the whole thing. As if nothing is WORSE than an error or imperfection. I invite my beginners to embrace the learning process, with all its imperfection. Creating a fabric with some yarn and a hook or needles is practically MAGIC! Why does it need to be perfect too?
(And here is where I get on my soapbox) If people are looking for something to criticize your work about: you don’t need their negativity in your life.
As a creator, I find myself internally agonizing over minute details. Not just in my individual projects, but in pattern formatting, pictures, my blog content, and in my teaching. Sure, I frequently talk about how its “OK to make a mistake, that no one will die” in knitting and crochet. Yet, I seem to approach my own work with that same fear of errors. I am human. I make errors in my creative endeavors, ALL THE TIME. I fix the easy fixes and leave the stuff that no one will notice.
I’m still trying to establish myself as a designer, so I do all my own tech editing. When its a formatting issue, I agonize over them and make myself miserable over them for weeks (I’m still embarrassed over some formatting I had to fix in a pattern a few months ago). No one brought it up, or commented that I am a rubbish pattern writer. Maybe no one noticed. It wasn’t the end of the world, even if I did feel embarrassed.
We are human. Chasing perfection in our creative endeavors can squash the desire to create. Projects on indefinite hiatus because we can’t easily fix an error or the thought of ripping back 1-100 rows fills us with dread. Maybe we should should embrace the nature of our handmade fabrics or mistakes we don’t immediately catch? A blanket with an “uneven” edge will keep us just as warm as a blanket that is meticulously edged. Asking stockinette or single crochet not to curl is like asking a tiger to change its stripes.
3 responses to “Chasing Perfection”
Love this! I’ve noticed as this pandemic has gone on and I’ve been doing more knitting that I care even less about perfection in the finished object. who’s going to see it? why does it matter? why did I even think it mattered? If I made it and it made feel good and I can put it on my body then it’s amazing and should be celebrated
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It’s interesting how we can be hard on ourselves yet we allow others to learn from their mistakes (except those who don’t and they’ve got their own issues to deal with).
Unfortunately perfectionism and imposter syndrome can really squish the creative process.
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