View Full Version : Making non-crappy projects

07-19-2007, 08:34 PM
Hey everyone. This is sort of posting asking for help/tips, and also sort of just venting.

Everything that I've made in knitting, it ended up being a little bit crappy. Some of them are only very slightly crappy, like a sock with a little hole where I joined the heel flap to the inset, some are very very crappy, like with oddly shaped cables or uneven seams or just stuff like that. Most recently, I tried to make a sweater and I just can't even do it. My gauge changes dramatically throughout the entire piece, so I'm just going to wait awhile to tackle a sweater.
I just, I don't know. I'm knitting all the time. I love to do it, and I try to pick out cool projects that are okay for my skill level. Just everything always turns out with some big mistakes that make me so unhappy. I want to love my handknits because they're nice, not just because I make them.

It may be partly because nearly every new project I do is learning one, or usually several, new techniques. My first project was an Irish Hiking Scarf, and I'm pretty certain I could make one of those without many problems. But what about the convertible mittens I'm trying to make right now? CRAPOLA. Seriously. There is a huge hole where I picked up the thumb gusset stitches, and the last stitch before the bind off on each finger is taller or something. And trust me, those are not personal touches. They're just mistakes. lol I don't even want to keep working on it because I'm so disappointed.

So I'm going to take some knitting classes at the LYS while I'm at home. But I want to work on a project that will help me just perfect some basics, work on finishing techniques, and just overall learn not how to make crappy projects.
Did you guys ever feel this way? What did you do?

07-19-2007, 08:40 PM
that's a lie.
that bag you made was beautiful!
none of mine have come out like that.

I let the yarn rest in the closet, talk to it every couple days to see how it's doing, and then when the time is right take it apart, wash it, and start over.

(of course, I threw out a couple really awful things too. but those were felted, so they were pretty much beyond hope.)

07-19-2007, 08:44 PM
Honey--all the places that you say you've done crappily are the places that we all do crappily when doing them for the first time!

Since you've had success with gauge (I assume) in the past, maybe it's this particular yarn and needle size that's causing you to be uneven. Maybe tighter knitting is better for you. I know it is for me.:shrug:

Hang in there! You've only been knitting for a few months. It took me 40+ years to make a sock.:rofling:

07-19-2007, 09:16 PM
You are so not alone! I have been knitting for about 2 yrs now, and still don't feel confident enough to give someone a knitted gift. Oh, a felted bag that miracuously turned out ok, a pair of worsted weight socks that are only great because they were made with cashmere yarn and a few garter stitch scarves. That's it. In 2 years of knitting nothing else has been given to anyone. Because I feel like it's all CRAPOLA. I too am working on a sweater, which should be easy, but hmmm.... turning out to look like CRAPOLA. irish hiking scarf, while ok, still crap. socks, crap.
I do have a theory though. I love to do new things. I try a sock. it looks like crap. i try a different sock. it looks like crap. i do cables. crap. i do a sweater. crap. MAYBE if I decided to stick to learning the one thing after a while it would get better? I've done tons of scarves, and while only have given away the garter stitch ones, I am, IMHO, getting better. So MAYBE, try one thing a bunch of times. Every time getting better???????
And besides, if you love doing something as much as we love knitting, who cares if the product is crap? Give it to your mom, she'll love it anyway:roflhard:

07-19-2007, 09:17 PM

07-19-2007, 09:26 PM
Look, even the most experienced of us went through the exact same thing you're going through. I would be the very first to tell you it took me about 4 years to get to the stage I'm at now, and I'm sure it's like that with the rest of us.

Ingrid's right, all our "firsts" were probably done crappily, I know mine were. You've already done socks, and I still haven't made a glove or mitten! You could probably tackle those no problem!

What I'm trying to say is--Don't give up! Carry on and knit the sweater, even with the gauge problems, at least when it's finished you can say you've made a sweater, and then the next one, you'll have the basic concept down and will be able to whiz through it. If you still don't feel up to it right now, hold off and stick to small things for a while, the sweater will come. Just hang in there!

07-19-2007, 09:27 PM
I echo Ingrid's comments. Also, I remember that beautiful fake-isle hat you made, that was so very pretty and looked really cute on you too. :hug:

07-19-2007, 09:34 PM
Just so you all can see the source of today's frustration, and the ultimate realization that all my knitting is sub-mediocre:

A slight-too-large Broad Street Mitten, without the mitten shell as I cannot figure out how to pick up stitches over the knuckle:

And a close-up of the offending thumb-hole:


07-19-2007, 09:45 PM
May I suggest one of those thick thin yarns and making a pattern that calls for variation because it uses the yarn with the thickness variations.

I have seen some fantastic looking shawls up here. We now live next to a very large university. Anyhow, the shawls are knit on larger needles, and the thick then thin yarn makes the stitches really "pop."

The shawls are worn all sorts of ways. I love them and am thinking of knitting one some time. Right now I have too many projects planned. So that will wait.

But something like that would likely satisfy you! Your tendencies would blend in and enhance the project. And the rhythmic knitting will help you master your tension. I know I really "got" my tension knitting my mother a massive poncho. It took forever, was in the round, but by the end I had a consistant tension.

07-19-2007, 09:49 PM
Think of it this way - Do you think non-knitters are going to notice? Absolutely not!! They are going to marvel at the fact that you knit it. And they should marvel - those gloves are great!

That hole you want to point out is an indication of it's one-of-a-kindedness. It's the yarn breathing. An airhole in case your hand gets too warm. That's how I explain my crappiness away. Either that or I blame the yarn - you know, right yarn, wrong project. Or I frog back like 50 odd times in my more perfectionistic days.

And if it still doesn't work, put the yarn aside and ask it what it wants to be. I have some lovely alpaca that still hasn't given me an answer. :tap:

Keep at it Rachel!

07-19-2007, 09:59 PM
Picking up stitches on the back of the glove?

Put your needle in the stitches as you would for picking up a destination row--through one leg of each stitch.

07-19-2007, 10:25 PM
I love the suggestion of putting the yarn away and asking what it wants to be! my sock yarn in the middle of a sock no longer wanted to be a sock... so I put it away and made it think about what it was doing. It eventually wanted to be frogged and rewound. Still not a sock as it hasn't said it's ready yet:roflhard:

07-19-2007, 10:27 PM
Thongs like this have cheats/fixes and other people's look good often not because they didn't get those results at first but because they know how to fix it! So some people pick up one or two extra stitches on gussets of thumbs or socks and decrease them away on later rounds, or use the tail to close the hole when you weave in the tail. There's a fix for most things!

07-19-2007, 11:21 PM
Rachel, you are making these things while learning! You can't expect to do everything right the first time! Besides, whenever I see something you make I envy you. I have been knitting for a couple years and have yet taken on the challenge to tackle the projects and new skills like you have. You are a great knitter!!! :D

07-19-2007, 11:41 PM
keep at it rachel! i love the idea of taking a class at your LYS. heck, i didn't even take a class. i just walked in with my knitting and asked for help. (my stockinette has a distinct pattern 'look' about it. they gave me great advice.)

07-19-2007, 11:41 PM
First of all, redheaded rachel...you are just being way too hard on yourself! You have tackled alot for being a new knitter...I just started last October. I love that felted bag you knit with the music notes...THAT WAS AWESOME!

I understand your frustration...I tend to want to do everything perfectly. One thing that has been great for me, is having my friend to help me with my knitting...the gal that taught me to knit. Maybe someone at your LYS could take a look at your gloves or sweater and make some suggestions and help you.

Everytime I get on this Board, you're tackling something new and I think that's awesome! I would love to make that bag for my sister...she was a music major!

My friend always says to me...just take a deep breath!

I have made that Mason Dixon Washcloth and have had twisted stitches 3 times and had to frog the things...talk about wanting to pitch it out the window...LOL! But we will persevere...maybe try a project that you would really like to do and see if that helps...don't you give up...you've done so well...love reading your posts!

Everytime I see your picture, I think about my grand daughter, Kira...she's got red hair too!

Have a great week!

07-20-2007, 12:03 AM
I'm one of those who think everything they knit is crappy. I could get a million wonderful comments (thank you ladies and gents) and I'D still find something wrong with it. I still have small holes in my gussets and I've finally decided that no one is going to yank off my shoes and start laughing at my socks.

Hang in there and just keep knitting. Nothing and no one is perfect.

Susan P.
07-20-2007, 04:03 AM
You suffer from my syndrome..you see one little oddity (let's not call it a flaw) and it suddenly is bigger and nastier than the local sewage treatment works and growls like a wolf *grin*

Now, that hole is fixable with a neat bit of darning. But before you darn it..darn it gal!.. :) take it to someone or ask something here would they identify what may have led to the issue so you can try and rectify next time round. Then darn it darn it!

You have identified aspects of the issue - that you keep taking the bar up and that WILL lead to issues. As you can see from responses, you are not along. I have never made a sock!

For what it's worth, I think you may like to know how inspiring you have been in continually showing your willingness to take on new challenges. If you allow little wee problematics to ruin your sense of humour and patience and understanding of SELF (you know you have been really supportive of others so turn it around and slap a hug on yourself for a change) then knitting isn't so much fun after all..and we KNOW it is fun.

:) I'm coming to you FIRST when I eventually try and make a sock by the way so no telling ME I have made a terrible mistake larger than global warming as I will cry so loud you'll hear me from there. :)

Susan P.
07-20-2007, 04:04 AM

Susan P.
07-20-2007, 04:06 AM
Oh and yes..as another poster said..that music bag WAS awesome..others had said they found it really hard to get the notes right and not distorted..yet...you did that no problemo.

So, as your marines would say..suck it up and knit it down! :) (only the ones that knit of course)

07-20-2007, 08:10 AM
Rachel, I totally feel your pain. :hug: I've been going through the same sort of angst this summer. Maybe it's the weather?? But I have seen your work, and it is NOT crap! The beautiful bag, the fake isle hat, the hat for your brother, the socks & baby socks . . . all gorgeous! Your work has inspired me (and others I'm sure) to try new things. Hang in there, Rachel! You are learning, and you're obviously a very fast learner. Enjoy the learning process. Knitting is at least as much about the process as the finished product.

07-20-2007, 08:35 AM
Great advice from everyone. Just wanted to echo most of what has been said...I think you're doing fabulously and being too hard on yourself. I've just learned to accept those things as part of knitting.

As for the sweater...what yarn are you using? A good blocking could work out some of the gauge issues.

07-20-2007, 09:48 AM
I know it's OK to have imperfections, but I still don't like them and I still want FO's to look really good. SO here's what I do:

Every few rows, I carefully look over what I've done and LOOK for problems. If I find something, I fix it. I just finished my first sock. I re-did the heel four times before I was satisfied. I'm sure Silver's socks look better, (she is the master, after all) but mine looks good. On my first set-in sleeve sweater, I had actually FINISHED the whole garment and didn't like the look of the shoulder seams. I took it apart and re-did them. That meant I had to frog both the front and back top 4" or so, re-knit the neck, re-sew in the sleeves, etc, but now I have a sweater I love, not one that looks uneven at the shoulders.

I have the book "Knit Fix" and find it helpful in identifying what the problem is when something doesn't look the way it should.

One more thing: Frequently putting in lifelines is a really good way to make frogging back easier.

I hope this helps! It's SO NICE to have FO's that you can wear with pride or give with pride, knowing that they look lovely.

07-20-2007, 09:54 AM
I think the stuff I make comes out fabulous! But that's more because I'm pretty generous with the word fabulous, especially for my own stuff. You seem not too giving of that word, especially for your own stuff. No tiny holes on the side of my sock would ever make me call it crappy. There are 1000 more stitches that are perfect. That's an error rate of one tenth of one percent! And that's just how you have to think of it. Those gloves are great! Like someone else said, I would just sew over that hole during finishing.

To pick up those stitches evenly, maybe it would help if you ran a thread through the row where you want to pick up first. If you have trouble actually pulling the yarn through the holes that way, maybe you could use a crochet hook.

07-20-2007, 10:04 AM
Rachel, your work is beautiful.

Everything I make has a flaw. EVERYthing! I've decided that leaving a hole in everything is my signature! I'll get better eventually, but, I am currently frogging a shawl. :rollseyes:

07-20-2007, 10:15 AM
OMG, that glove is beautiful! There is no way I'm going to validate the idea that your projects turn out crappy!

I think you can minimize that hole. More experienced knitters can stop me if what I am about to say is sacrilege, but you can tug on that strand (say with a crochet hook, cable needle or tapestry needle), pulling it short where the hole is, and spreading the extra yarn away from the hole. I am not explaining this very well, but it is what I would do. It may make the gauge around that place a leetle wonky, but the farther you spread the extra yarn, the better you can minimize this (are all the experienced folks gasping in horror yet?)

Ok, actually, right when I noticed it I would have frogged and done it over. Not because it is actually noticeable to anyone else, but because *I* would have known it was there and it would have slowly driven me nuts. Like it is driving you nuts and giving you low self-esteem. Knitting is all about experimenting and practicing. When I see that something I did doesn't look right, I want to know if it is because I did it WRONG, or if I just needed practice with the technique. So I try again until it comes out right, and if I can't get it, I come here and ask what the sam-heck I am doing wrong (thank you everyone here!!!)

I spent about 90 minutes last night fixing a mistake 15 rows down the back of the Pearl Buck Swing jacket I have been moaning about here for the last several days. There is a slip-stitch vent, but somehow I slipped the wrong stitch on one row, which was complicated by the fact that it was a decrease row. I sort of noticed the mistake right away, but thought it might not show...and then it was driving me nuts (and kind of interfered with the vent) so I had to do some open knit surgery. It was a bit hairy. At one moment I had 4-5 sts off the needles and frogged down many many rows. I managed to get them all back up AND get the decreases back in their proper places. I swear, I have spent more time fixing mistakes on this thing than actually knitting!

07-20-2007, 10:49 AM
I thought there were supposed to be holes around the thumb gusset - and even at the top of thumbs and mittens and hats. *sigh* Seriously - sew it shut later, or darn it closed with some yarn. At least, that's the way I deal with those holes.

I was once in a wedding where the priest told us that if something goes wrong and we ended up at the fast food restaurant across the street, just pretend that's the way weddings were done at this particular church and everything would be fine. This turned out to be great advice since one of the bridesmaids quit at the last minute. The same thing works here - just pretend that's the way it's supposed to be. Oh, there are exceptions (such as a sweater which will fit no humanoid creature, including gorillas or chimps), but by and large, the BEAUTY of handmade things is the mistakes. And believe me, no one will notice. (Even if I can go back years later and find the mistakes myself.)

07-20-2007, 01:39 PM
You are so not alone! I have been knitting for about 2 yrs now, and still don't feel confident enough to give someone a knitted gift.

I feel this way, too. Most of the stuff I knit, I've knit it for me, only because I'm afraid to knit to knit for anybody else. I'm afraid that everybody can see every possible mistake! I made a layette for a friend's baby, and I was so nervous to give it to her--what if she sees all my mistakes? I'm making layettes for twin babies, and I'm worried about that, too.

One of the first hats that I ever made was out of Lion Brand's Fancy Fur, and I was relieved because I knew nobody could ever "detect" any mistakes I may have made through all of that fur! :teehee::oops:

I would only say not to give up. I know this stuff happens to me all the time. You will only get better with lots more knitting and practicing. A lot of people say that practicing new stitches while making dishcloths is a good idea (heck, even if they don't turn out so nice, who cares, because you're only going to use them to wash dishes!). Usually what I do is to make something I really like as a "practice" garment, maybe in a yarn that I like, but maybe not a really nice, expensive yarn that I might have chosen as a gift for somebody, so if it doesn't turn out, I only lost a few dollars. When I perfect that knitted item as much as I can (learning from what I frogged!), then I can feel more confident about making that garment for somebody. You'd be surprised, too--we knitters tend to be so hard on ourselves, but what we view as a rotten project, the recipient often really loves. I just made my mom a knitted cotton rug because she wanted something in a triangle shape and couldn't find what she wanted in the store. All I did was knit it garter stitch, double stranded, with a simple slipped stitch selvedge, in a plain, simple color, out of Sugar 'N Cream yarn, and she was THRILLED!!! She kept saying, "I don't want to put this on the floor--it's too pretty! It looks like it should be a shawl or something!" Now, I could've knitted her a really delicate, intricate lacy item, but boy, I swear, she would've been more happy with this garter stitch rug! (Well, at least she's happy, right?)

If I can make a humble suggestion. Maybe you can just work on projects that don't require a lot of shaping, and that might build up your confidence a bit? My favorite thing to knit is shawls--both for myself and for gifts--because they're "one size fits all", and they don't require any difficult shaping. I can work on it steadily and my gauge is pretty consistent. You can use really fabulous yarn to jazz up even a simple pattern. I was really self-conscious about wearing anything I made out in "public", but then I thought to myself, "What am I making this stuff for, then???" Sure, I can wear it around the house, but at some point, a shawl or a hat might be better suited for wearing outside, right? :teehee:

I would say to find something you think you can master by reading the pattern, something really simple, go for it, and then wear it with pride!!! Chances are, I'll bet your knitted items are already just beautiful, but you're just being hard on yourself. :hug:

And maybe some of the gauge stuff can be solved by blocking? Just a suggestion.

EDIT: I just saw your glove, and it's BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! I wish I had the bravery to tackle gloves (I wanted to make some fingerless ones, too), but I'm too scared.

07-20-2007, 02:44 PM
Julia Child the famous TV Chef used to mess up all the time in front of millions of viewers. She always used to say that nobody knew what it was supposed to look/taste like so don't say anything and most likely everyone will love it.

Same with your knitting. Wear what you've made proudly and don't, REPEAT--DON'T--, stand there pointing out everything you consider to be a flaw. If someone is gracious and gives you a compliment, be gracious and accept it. The diamonds in my wedding ring have flaws, but I'm not about to stuff my ring in a bag and stick it in the corner of my bedroom closet.

You've done some lovely work but maybe now you need to concentrate on technique. Pick projects where you will learn new things. The shawls, for instance, would give you a good opportunity to work on knitting more consistently so that you stay in gauge. You might want to slow yourself down, too. Perhaps you're rushing with your projects because you're eager to have a FO. (I know that feeling.) Today I'm wearing one of the first pairs of socks I made and they have little holes in the gusset point. 1--No one knows the holes are there but me and I still love 'em cause they're so comfy and 2--my 12th pair of socks have no gusset holes. I finally learned to pick those stitches up right and it only took 12 tries.

Sweetie, relax. Enjoy your knitting for the sheer pleasure it gives you. And don't worry about being perfect, 'cause you're never gonna think it's perfect no matter how perfect it is. Fortunately, you're going to fool the rest of the world admiring your ability.

07-20-2007, 04:12 PM
I'm definately not the world's best knitter. I've taught a few people, and everyone of them as said, "Oh crap, I messed that up!!!!" I give them my sage advice, "Don't worry, that makes it unique and handmade, NO ONE will notice! It looks wonderful. Oh, and look and my _______, there's a mistake that I made. It's normal"

Then I secretly go home and frog all of my mistakes and try to fix them. When it doesn't work, I get frustrated and hid the offending project so no one will ever see that I'm not perfect. :rofling:

Worry not about your "issue" :hug: I truly think we all suffer from the same "issue", perfection is not possible, but something we all strive for. :lol:

07-20-2007, 05:17 PM
Other people have posted it better than what I can say.

Here's a few additional thoughts:

You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out. Martha Graham

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful. Alice Walker

Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person. Dr David M Burns

No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art. John Ruskin



Susan P.
07-20-2007, 08:21 PM
That Martha Graham quote reminds me of what a wise male friend said to me when I was fretting about always seeming to make an error in each item. He said basically the same thing..and that to emulate perfection was to try and be God.. tho he said it better than that :) When I first came to embrace a mistake..it felt odd (because my usual self struggled) and then freeing.

Thanks for your post.

07-20-2007, 09:16 PM
Oh! Oh! :doh:

I forgot my absolute favorite!

Errors invisible from 4 feet away are creative enhancements! :cheering:


07-24-2007, 09:17 PM
I can relate to your posting!

This is what I did for myself. First I read this great article by Candace Key (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall04/FEATcharity.html) on how knitting for children in Afghanistan changed her knitting life. She inspired me to knit for Afghans for Afghans.

So, I asked a ten-year-old family friend if she would be my sweater consultant. She choose the colors for a two-color, top-down raglan sleeve sweater with roll neckline, cuffs, and bottom -- very simple. I followed Barbara Walker's book, and fit it to my consultant. Yes, there were some oops! spots, but given the situation, it was easier for me to accept them. My young friend enjoyed her role, and we got better acquainted, so this was a great project for me all around.