Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Like everyone, I have made my share of mistakes.  Sometimes I've made the same one more than once...I stubbornly hold onto an idea that it's going to work out differently "this time."  Around my house we call that "hitting the A button" as a reference to playing video games and doing the wrong move persistently.

As in life, mistakes can be very useful things in crafting. 

For instance, once I cross stitched the accent parts of a skirt in an adorable picture for Elizabeth in the absolute wrong place, making many different flowers and other design elements outside of the skirt based on the original mistake that I made, and realizing it to the point that I had to spend two days pulling out stitches (which I hatehatehate). I came to the realization that:
  • challenging myself on purpose in cross stitching isn't always the best idea
  • When working on a difficult, large cross stitch, only stich in sections, not "colors"
  • I should check, double check, and check once more.
Of course, I've made all kinds of other mistakes.  Once in a Christmas stocking I left out an entire lower branch of a tree.  I decided that I wasn't going to unstitch everything, so I just stitched around it.  That "fix" was so obvious to me all that year.  I can't find it now.

Quilting took a little of the perfectionist out of me.  I realized that even if I do make mistakes and my work isn't perfect, I'm ok about it because the finished product is usually beautiful.  Sometimes I have to resew, but most of the time I take a deep breath, tell my inner perfectionist to take a break, and move along and see what happens.  When I'm finished, I hardly ever notice the mistake.

I have discovered, however, that weaving is not at all forgiving about mistakes.  There are many design choices along the way and any choice can mess things up so that the project does not work.  I have realized that threading mistakes do not wash out.  I have also realized that I cannot weave with extra distractions going on because of that.  If I have a complicated pattern in threading, I work in small manageable chunks, double check and tie off before I move on.  If I'm treadling something complicated, I have to take a break every few inches and double check that I'm ok.  I usually know which side of the loom the shuttle should be on and can sometimes realize I skipped something before I've carred along too long.  Sometimes I'm too much in my head and not paying attention and have to go WAY back.

Since I sell my woven items, I feel that they SHOULD be perfect...because of that, I have a lot of towels with errors in them in my stash at home.  Most people don't notice, but I just wouldn't feel right selling a flawed item.

Mistakes in knitting:  I just don't know what to do about it.  I'm scared of all the live stitches you get when ripping out.  I am afraid I won't get all of them picked up again.  Dropping a stitch can look awful if not fixed in a hurry...and sometimes it's hard to see.  So, for now, I'm extra careful.  Maybe after I get moving along I'll be better.  I have ripped out a couple of things and everything worked out ok.  That's just a matter of finally getting my confidence levels up.

In general, I think that sometimes mistakes can lead to some beautiful products.  We just have to be patient with ourselves and learn from them.  I try to be more careful as a result of some of the mistakes I've made, but I've also learned that sometimes being too picky can lead to too much stress and not enough enjoyment.

Today's picture is not of the finished scarf as I promised yesterday.  I had a very crazy night last night and didn't even think about it.  But for the process of learning, I've decided to put a picture of a scarf on the loom.  You'll get a nice contrast to what it looks like tomorrow when I do post the picture of the finished scarf.  Fabric on the loom is all tight and drawn up.  It looks like someone under stress.  Many fibers after they are washed have a different characteristic, too (linen and wool especially).  So, sometimes the item on the loom looks totally different than the finished product.  This one will not look too different, but you can see how drape and relaxing of the threads makes a difference, but that's for tomorrow.

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