The dictionary definition of an epic fail is the neglect or omission of expected or required action in grand scale. Sometimes “grand scale” means your gnome hat becomes big enough to fit a giant. However, it does not always follow that mistakes such as these are necessarily failures. I will use an expanded use of the title of a book by Naoki Higashida: “Frog seven times, crochet or knit up eight.” What this means is sometimes it is necessary that the skills required to create that special project needs to be forged in the fires of failure. By trying and failing, we eventually achieve the success beyond our wildest dreams.
We all have to start somewhere. It is very rare that someone takes to knitting on the first try. Even under the watchful eye of a knitting Yoda, it is often difficult to find our groove and move into the effortless knit-and-purl of meditative legend early on. Even when we finally get the gist of the garter stitch and slink off to our well-lit knitting sanctuary to knit along with either a knitting how-to book or You Tube, we still eventually skip along the path of disaster. Some of the common mistakes we experience are dropping stitches, tension inconsistencies, forgetting where you were in the pattern, misinterpreting the pattern, going rogue on the pattern, forgetting where you are in the row follow you as you level up in your knitting. I discovered that the “bosses” we need to fight to keep levelling up become more and more about battling our own hubris. We get more clever and decide to mess about with the math so we can use a different yarn, bigger needles or smaller needles and then we realise we got the math wrong. Yes! Fails are not solely exclusive to newbies. Recently, Our Fearless Leader Sara committed an “whoopsie” where she skilfully knitted some gorgeous cabled mittens for her TWO LEFT HANDS. Yes. She knitted two lefts.
I was amazed at the examples I found on epic fails on the internet! It seems there are as many examples of mistakes as there are knitters and crocheters on this magnificent planet. It also made me feel better to know I am not alone. When I first started knitting, I came by a book with instructions on how to make a knitted patchwork knitted throw blanket. I set about making it as per the instructions but ran out of the right yarn so I decided to raid my modest (at the time) Yarniverse. I was a rookie. I had not been knitting a year and my squares came out more— how shall I say it?— Abstract. The blanket is more of an oblong super-shawl. It is rich in colour and it is warm. It’s perfect for snuggling in with my son and a book on cold winter nights and it is perfect comfort for when I am feeling down and under the weather on sick days. This imperfect, oblong blanket/ super shawl serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a mistake.
Most of my jumpers have sleeves that are far too long and most of the hats I’ve made are either far too slouchy or become beanies. The yoga warmer with one sleeve a totally different colour to the rest of the garment was because I ran out of yarn and had to order more but the dye lot was slightly off (mail-order. Don’t get me started.) However, my talent is the way I wear the garments as if I meant them to look that way. I basically use all the confidence of a model on a catwalk and summon my inner Coco Chanel and call it my own haute couture. Why not? If the big fashion houses can get away with it during fashion week, why can’t I?
Resident Designer Jen related a conversation in the shop this week. A Mum was speaking to her daughter who is our latest novice in the world of knitting.
Mum: You’ve done 2 left sides for that cardi!
Daughter: I know, but it all still fits together so it’ll be OK.
Mum: The sleeve will still fit, as it’s a straight line.
Daughter: I can’t see what your problem is, I’m not taking it out!
So now she has a cardi which only really fits well when her right arm is stretched across her body.
But even Resident Designer Jen is not exempt from knitting kafuffles. This is from her email to me:
“I bought a fabulous book – SystemHATic, by Rico Design – and instantly wanted to make something from it. I have been meaning to try brioche for some time, and had some Rico bonbon yarn in my stash, so the brioche beanie pattern was just too good an opportunity to miss…
I must admit, I struggled at first. A lot. I was fine with row 1, and then it all went wrong for me on row 2. I checked out YouTube and blogs, knew that I should be able to do it but couldn’t. And then, after 2 or 3 hours of this pain, I realised: I had been trying to knit the hat in the round, when the pattern was actually written for 2 needles, worked flat and then seamed. Which would totally explain why it wasn’t working.
Reminder to self: READ the pattern, then READ it again. Doh!”
Bless her heart!
I think the best kind of example of knitting mistakes are the ones you make when a few bottles of prosecco come out and there are a few of us around the table talking about something completely unrelated to knitting. The epic failures that come out of these sessions are legendary. But if you want to know more about these, you will need to leave me a message in the comments. Alternatively, you can come in and visit us at Yankee Yarns. We’d love to hear about your knitting misadventures!