Today I replied to another knitter’s comment on Instagram that knitting challenges us to be perfect. She had asked what some of our knitting pain points were, and I said for me it’s starting ribbing on circular needles. Those first few rows always look like nothing as I hold my breath, hoping I counted correctly; I feel so relieved when they turn into something.
Now, personally, I have an excuse. I’m a Virgo moon, the most critical sign of the zodiac, known for its incessant perfectionism. I’d say that it’s more a fear of making a mistake you can’t recover from. But I’ve never heard another knitter not grumble over having to frog back because they twisted their stitches. Even a dropped stitch or a knit instead of a purl at an inopportune moment can drive us to drink. Yet, we can and do recover from our mistakes – that’s the beauty of yarn. Just rip it out and start over.
And although we console each other on Facebook or Ravelry groups that it’s OK, no one will notice – we notice, and it’s not OK. It’s a challenge – the knitting fairies have thrown down the perfectionist gauntlet, and we feel compelled to accept their challenge and make it all right. We have high hopes for this knitting – there’s a need to make it fit, of course, if it’s a garment, but it’s more than that.
Our knitting is our calling card, our signature, that thing that someone, somewhere will talk about and say their grandma, their brother, their best friend knitted just for them. It will be accepted by the recipient of a charity organization somewhere, who we want to feel good, feel comforted, when they wear it. Or we ourselves will wear it, and we’ll want the same thing. How could it not be perfect?
Knitting is a constant reminder to do our best, that we can do better than we thought we could. It’s a chance to do better every day, and that can-do spirit, one would hope, radiates out into other parts of our lives. I believe most of us, ultimately, do work on a piece of knitting until it’s perfect. Truth be told, it may be the only part of our lives that ever gives us the chance to get it perfectly right.