View Full Version : Perfection Is Overrated

05-24-2008, 10:10 AM
I was watching a crafts program and the woman was saying that a big hindrance for a lot of people is that they get so hung up on trying to make things perfectly that they wind up either not enjoying it or simply never finish at all.

She said that perfection is highly overrated. It's a hobby and one should enjoy it, not stress over making it perfect. I have to agree with her completely.

I remember when I first started knitting. As I tend to be something of a perfectionist by nature I experienced a great deal of stress trying to learn and trying to make it perfect. A guy on MWK (thanks MMario) told me that knitting is supposed to relieve stress, not cause it.

I gave that a great deal of thought and realized that he was exactly right. I stopped stressing over trying to make it perfect, and just started making it. My knitting improved very quickly after that and I actually enjoyed the process of creating something, even if imperfect, with my own two hands.

Perfection is highly overrated and can actually get in the way of enjoying our knitting.

05-24-2008, 10:17 AM
I agree and we all tend to worry about errors in our own work that others don't even notice unless we point them out! When I work on upholstery, I always worry endlessly about it until the customer picks it up and it's out the door! My knitting is for me and I don't stress over it.

05-24-2008, 10:19 AM
I concur.

Lisa R.
05-24-2008, 10:19 AM
I totally agree!!

05-24-2008, 10:25 AM
Agreed. I see posts from many new knitters who are frustrated and discouraged that their work doesn't look `perfect' like the picture of their item. Or that the stitches aren't even as they knit it. Even experienced knitters goof, (yes, the pattern writers too) and the stitches even out when you're done and wash or block the item. As you found out, when you relax and don't stress, your knitting gets better.

05-24-2008, 10:58 AM
Bob Ross was saying we don't make mistakes... we just have happy little accidents. :teehee: I agree, perfection is so overrated! Besides, what does perfection mean anyways? If you enjoyed knitting something, and if the person you give the item to is happy, it's perfect! :thumbsup:

Wanda Witch
05-24-2008, 10:59 AM
I too tend to be a perfectionist. I've tried telling myself it is okay not to be perfect when knitting - it isn't going to be entered into a contest but for me to enjoy. So, I'm getting a little better about it. Relax. It is supposed to be fun not work.

05-24-2008, 11:09 AM
So true!!!
The secret to my success in all of the things I am successful at (namely, academics and crafts) is lack of stress. I take things one step at a time and if I discover a mistake I either go back and fix it or I ignore it. Life's too short to be taken so seriously!
My favorite way to learn is to jump in the deep end with both feet - if you can keep from panicking and take smooth, even strokes, you'll reach shore before you know it.

05-24-2008, 11:12 AM
The lack of perfection is what makes something "made by hand".

The challenge isn't being perfect, it's knowing which mistakes need to be fixed and which ones don't to give others the idea you're perfect.

05-24-2008, 11:14 AM
The lack of perfection is what makes something "made by hand".

The challenge isn't being perfect, it's knowing which mistakes need to be fixed and which ones don't to give others the idea you're perfect.


05-24-2008, 11:14 AM
Agreed. I see posts from many new knitters who are frustrated and discouraged that their work doesn't look `perfect' like the picture of their item.
I've always said, with cooking, and with origami, when you go to make something out of a book, it will never look as good as the photo, no matter how good you are! I'm sure knitting is the same.

05-24-2008, 01:03 PM
My knitting is always perfect, it just has a lot of "personal design changes."

05-24-2008, 01:13 PM
Once again, I have to quote Frank Zappa, "No one will know unless it's you who tells them so." (HE was talking about being stoned, of course.)

In knitting, the little "personalizatons" are seldom seen for what they truly are by the untrained eye, so why worry. If someone does know what it is, and it bothers them, let it.

Knitting is for fun, I refuse to let it become a chore.

05-24-2008, 01:14 PM
What a timely post! I'm getting ready to frog your mom's chemo cap because there is a hole in the ribbing! GRRRRRR!!!!!! It's not too bad, though, as I LOVE touching this yarn! I finally made it to my LYS and the manager convinced me that Debbie Bliss' Rialto is perfect for chemo caps. Oh, my, it's NICE! And it's RED!

05-24-2008, 01:14 PM
And as far as Frank Zappa, I think we always just assumed he was.

05-24-2008, 01:17 PM
Yesterday i was thinking the exact same thing. So far, everything I knit is for charity and I'm paranoid about it being perfect. I guess there really is no such thing.


05-24-2008, 01:22 PM
Right and especially when our knitting on the charity projects is next to that of more experienced and awsome knitters!

05-24-2008, 01:24 PM
I once read that the Amish intentionally make mistakes in their quilts because only God can make something perfect. I can't think of a single perfect item I have ever knit. However I have heard from others the item is perfect which is good enough for me.

05-24-2008, 01:50 PM
And as far as Frank Zappa, I think we always just assumed he was.


05-24-2008, 02:20 PM
I agree! I'm more about the process than the product. Maybe that is why I give away almost everything I knit. I enjoy picking out the pattern and yarn and watching everything take shape right before my eyes as I knit. I love the texture of the yarn and the colors.

I haven't knit anything yet that is remotely close to perfect, and doubt I ever will. So far nothing has looked like the picture on the pattern, but I can live with that.

05-24-2008, 05:55 PM

I am definitely a process knitter-I do care about the finished item, but I am not one to rip for a teeny barely noticeable mistake :mrgreen: I'd much rather schmooze it out in the end, with the miracle of blocking, LOL!

Maybe this explains my need to drop 3 needle sizes to get gauge-toooo relaxed :teehee:

gotta knit
05-24-2008, 07:20 PM
As a perfectionist, the idea of wearing or giving away something that isn't perfect is more stressful to me than the knitting. Mistakes happen or I find a better way to do something, so tinking & frogging are just part of the process, not stress-inducing.

05-24-2008, 07:25 PM
It depends on the degree of the mistake, of course. Fixing one that's noticeable to another knitter or even a non knitter is one thing. A mistake that no one would notice (even when you're looking for it - that's happened) you could let go.

05-24-2008, 09:05 PM
It depends on the degree of the mistake, of course. Fixing one that's noticeable to another knitter or even a non knitter is one thing. A mistake that no one would notice (even when you're looking for it - that's happened) you could let go.

I agree. When I was knitting a sweater for my DH, I was almost finished with a panel, before I discoved that I had for gotten a M1 increase. The mistake was way down toward the bottom of the piece, and I would have had to frog the whole thing. I chose instead to M1 increase somewhere in the middle of the row I was on, so the #of stitches would be correct. After I finished the sweater, Even I couldn't find the error.

05-24-2008, 09:34 PM
Yes, but isn't it wonderful that you can make something by hand. I mean it sure is gratifying.

05-24-2008, 11:13 PM
My knitting is always perfect, it just has a lot of "personal design changes."

Love it - you are so right

05-25-2008, 07:27 AM
Others tell me I'm a perfectionist. I don't think I am, I just want things right! :) I'm a lot better than I used to be though. When I get new yarn and start playing with stitches, I can rip out a dozen or more times before it tells me what it wants to be. I play with different size needles, hooks (crochet), stitches, etc. to find exactly what I like (unless I'm following a pattern). I don't want to spend time on the project unless it's coming out the way I want.

That being said, I don't think any of my FOs are perfect. They all have mistakes that make them handmade. This idea of perfectionism crosses every craft. I used to do a lot of scrapbooking and stamping. There are people who over obsess about that process too. I used to. I finally gave up on fixing every little mistake I did and learned to live with it.

05-25-2008, 10:19 AM
Knitting is one of the few things (if not the only thing) that I am a perfectionist about. I do let the odd thing slide, but I like to get it right, cause there are soooo many things in life that I don't care if they are perfect or not (my wedding being the top of the list right now....go figure....but my Halloween costume, to which I am knitting for the wedding...that has to be perfect!)

05-25-2008, 11:32 AM
Oh my every time I knit there is some mistakes on it. It seems the more I knit to make it perfect something happens. So I just decided to just knit. That way it does come out better. Don't get me wrong I also have a degree in Teeking. So go for it and if it isn't that bad leave it. Like everyone says life is to short to fix every little booboo it just gives ya a headache.:roflhard::roflhard::roflhard:


05-25-2008, 03:41 PM
I was thinking about this thread last night after I first read it...and I was thinking about how amazing it really is to create something handmade either for a gift or for yourself to enjoy. What a gift that is to be able to use your own hands to craft something from a thread!

It's funny how when you are younger, you don't always appreciate the 'handmade' touch...at least I didn't. I am sad to recall a time in either the eighth or ninth grade when a guy friend of mine had made me a handmade birthday card instead of buying one and I commented to my Dad something about how it looked 'handmade' like that was a bad thing. I will never forget my Dad turning around to look at me and saying, 'Don't you see that he put his time and effort into that card - he put his heart there...that should be your favorite card considering his effort.' Okay, I was properly ashamed of myself. Thankfully, I didn't say anything so ridiculous to the guy who made it - that would have been mortifying to us both.

But it took a few more years - probably until I was in college to start looking at things that were handmade - home-cooked meals from scratch, cards, gifts, etc. with the appreciation they truly deserve. In such a preposterously material world, it is so easy to overlook the everyday sacredness of things done with patience and love - that's one place where knitting certainly comes in. It truly is the process of creation that is so attractive, and the love that goes with the motion of creating interlacing stitches from a ball of yarn.

At my college graduation, my at the time boyfriend's grandmother presented me with a hand-knit white afghan that I treasure to this day. My eyes started to open to the beauty of something handmade...and my eyes have never been drawn to any imperfections - rather they were in awe of the precious time and effort on display in the gift I received.

Now I am on the other side of that concept when I make something or receive something and my husband's kids critique it - I just chuckle and tell them...'just wait...' - they'll see someday soon too... :teehee:

05-26-2008, 12:37 AM
Knitting is one of the top 10 stress-relievers. Isn't that fabulous? The constant click click click of the needles is supposed to soothe any frazzled nerves. So don't stress...enjoy the process :mrgreen:

05-27-2008, 03:51 AM
It's funny how when you are younger, you don't always appreciate the 'handmade' touch...at least I didn't.

That explains it.
My nephew got into woodworking, which is my brother's profession. He came up with a CNC laser cutting thing to make cabinet doors and things like that.
He was so impressed with how "perfect" they would be.

My thought was, "Where's the talent, skill and soul?"

I wonder if he'll grow out of it.
But he also told his wife to stop using the afghans my sister crochets for them. She told him they're made to be used.
We were raised using afghans and quilts, I guess to him handmade means put it under glass and save it for The Antiques Roadshow.

05-27-2008, 08:10 AM
I think it takes maturity to fully understand the WHY behind something handmade. When we are young, at least in this materialistic culture, I think we view something store-bought as the perfected item because we don't think about machines making it and the lack of human touch in many products now that machines do most everything. The designer products for the very most part don't seem to have any handmade touches to them. It's about bigger, better and faster instead of lovingly handcrafted when you are young.

I do think as we mature, we understand more about the creative process and the need for perfection drops off a bit as the desire for something created with heart emerges.

But try explaining all this to a teenager... it's just like: :wall:

05-27-2008, 09:31 AM
This sounds like Julianne to me--"Why not just BUY a sweater?" The women in my family make things. My Nanie (my mama's mama) owned a ceramic shop for years and still sews her own clothes. I sew and cross-stitch. I think all the gals cross-stitch and do at least a couple of other crafts of their own. My mom does it all and knits. We like to make things and we like to give them away and to use them. We expect them to be used. Part of the beauty of a homemade thing is the signs of use. They are more beautiful when they are antiques if they have a "patina". Also, there is beauty in seeing the little imperfections because they make you think of the person who created it.

05-27-2008, 05:09 PM
Oh you are all so right, it should relieve stress and bring great joy to thiose who receive something hand made. I do tend to get all upset at how my things are never "perfect" and this is a good reminder for me.

I am currently knitting a stuffed dinosaur for my oldest son. This is the first thing I have ever knit for him. Seems like my immediate family has taken a back seat to the Xmas gifts for family and friends etc. So I started it literally like 5 years ago but had a hard time with it and ran out of the yarn and just gave up. It sat in the bottom of the closet getting trampled on. Well I recently decided to give it another go. At first I said I would knit it for my soon to be born nephew but my son remembered I had started it for him. He said he had so been wanting it and remembered it so I told him it could still be for him. Well he has been so sweet to me, when he sees me knitting he tells me I should take a rest, brings me pillows and tells me how great it is looking. I totally screwed it up and it is going to be the stupidest looking thing of all time :aww: but I have to let that go because I know he will love it and understand I am still learning. If I can't model that to him how can I expect him to try new things and keep practicing until he gets better right? I let him put any secret thing he wanted inside the stuffing and he drew some of his favortie things with the date on a paper and crumpled it up and it is in it's tummy already. He came to me after that and hugged me and said "now that I know it's in there it makes me feel so good about it". He is making all the work worth it. Now to figure out how the heck I am going to make it's head since I did it in the round when I wasn't supposed to hmmmm? And how to not stress about it.

05-27-2008, 10:32 PM
Awww...it doesn't really matter how the heck it turns out - what your son will remember most years from now is the time you spent together and how he got to put whatever he wanted inside...kids see the perfection in imperfection and accept what is - I LOVE that about them and wish us adults were more like that.

Reminds me of one of my Dad's favorite stories about me growing up...we used to go for walks every morning before breakfast together and one blustery, rainy morning my Dad was pretty upset that we wouldn't be going for a walk that day since he looked forward to it too...and I came bounding down the stairs and said 'Daddy, isn't it a BEAUTIFUL grey, rainy day?' and off we went. :mrgreen:

05-28-2008, 03:43 PM
The Hindus believe that true perfection is only an illusion and actually work "imperfections" into their textiles, etc. I think it's important to remember that there is no such thing as "perfection". Take it easy and enjoy to process :)

Its good that I read this today too since I am about to send the block in that I did for Mason's mom and the more I look at it the more I find wrong with it. This post reminds me that what I need to do is just stick it in the mail and stop stressing about it.

05-29-2008, 08:05 AM
I am in trouble as I am a perfectionist. I can see the mistake and will not leave it there. I have frogged many an item and still enjoy my knitting. I think it is because I have several wip at once and go for one to another and they do get done but perfectly for me. It is relaxing but perfect and fun!!!!!

05-29-2008, 11:19 AM
Oh, this thread is so great! This is something that I often wish I'd mentioned in my knitting videos. Some day I want to say this on a video, because it's SO important. That, along with "don't be afraid to just wing it!"

I'm sure I don't need to tell anyone that I have perfectionist tendencies. :shifty: But I'm proud to say that I've made great progress over the years, in learning to let good enough be good enough. In fact, I'm sure if you were to inspect my knitting, you'd be delighted (or maybe horrified) to find that I've got usually at least one noticable imperfection in an average piece. I hadn't heard about Hindu's putting intentional errors in their art, but I'd heard about an African tribe of weavers that does this. To "free the soul" from the work. First time I heard of that it really gave me pause.

One very influential moment for me, was when a 17 year old girl was showing me these GORGEOUS bulky alpaca mittens she had made for herself. She had accidentally knit the thumb by doing the knit stitches on the inside of the work, so the exterior of that thumb was purl/reverse-stockinette. So the mittens were all in stockinette, and just one thumb was reverse stockinette. She just left it! I was so thrilled by those mittens, and by her bold care-free attitude about it. They were one of a kind mittens! So wonderful! She instantly became one of my knitting heros, and is to this day. :)