Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why are Knitters afraid to learn new skills?

I often get the feeling when I'm chatting with less experienced Knitters that they think I have some secret inborn talent that they lack. One told me once that I never seem to make any mistakes. I laughed at that and said "I make lots of mistakes you just never see them because I rip those things back out and either fix the problem or create something new". At the time I was obsessed with garter stitch sideways gloves that I was making with yarn leftovers every time I finished a project. I shared a failure with her, one of the pairs were unwearable because the yarn was too heavy and made what appeared to be clown gloves. We had a good laugh over that pair. 

That's one of the great things about knitting, often our materials are reusable so we can fix some mistakes. I think we all know this doesn't work well with sticky mohair but works great with smoother yarns. When I was first designing I often knit something, analyzed what I could do better, made notes and then ripped back and knit the improved version.

I think that's the secret talent I have. I'm not afraid to make mistakes so that has allowed me to push past my current abilities at every level and continue to improve my techniques while gathering vital knowledge about fit and fabric performance. 

Fear of failure often dominates Knitters. They don't learn more because they don't make mistakes because they don't push themselves to try to make things that they think are beyond their abilities. I'm a big believer in the saying that you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. I think mistakes are inevitable and that while you make fewer mistakes as you gain experience that the unsuccessful projects are the most important things you will ever knit.


  1. with you there, in that I also find I learn a lot more (and much more thoroughly) from mistakes than from successes. Wouldn't agree that I make fewer mistakes now that I know more... about the same, I guess, but different ones every time (fortunately, wouldn't it be terrible to make the same mistake over and over again?)

  2. lazykaty I'm with you on that one I just keep making NEW mistakes with new projects so maybe it just feels like fewer because I have completed so many things! Getting a "do over" has to be one of the best things about knitting.

  3. I completely agree, I definitely learn more from my mistakes, and I learn a lot haha! Mistakes can be very time consuming, so right now I'm trying to teach myself that rushing is not the answer, take it slow and do it right :)

  4. I completely agree with you on that view.
    In my knitting vocabulary f.e. there is no word mistake. I prefer to express it as innovation or "learning point" or just "it did not work that way". The wording "mistake" has actually negative psychological influence on everybody's mind presuming that we are about to do something "wrong". This might be explanation for having fear of failure. The "right" way is only one of the many ways how somebody or many of them came to success. But this must not work for everybody.
    Just couple of days I read somewhere following wise sentence: "I did not fail. I found out 100.000 ways how it did not work."
    Happy knitting!