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Dear Clara: Advice about Life, Knitting, and the Intersection of Both

Clara Parkes’s latest column, “Dear Clara: I’m a Horrible Knitter,” speaks to the big topic of perfectionism. How do you deal with this issue? All thoughts welcomed!

This has been so helpful for me. I packed up yarn, needles and pattern for a car trip and realized after i was on the road that i’d forgotten about the provisional cast on and had brought #8 needles instead of the #7 it called for. I rremembered the encouragement to persevere and finger-chained some scrap yarn from another project in my bag and cast on with the 8s. It seems fine and I know some large hheaded people so will see how it comes out. It’s so refreshing not to stress over a project. Thanks.

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In other parts of life, (writing for work, for example) I am a complete perfectionist and really struggle to commit to beginning projects where I can’t guarantee to do it perfectly. I find that knitting is helping with that tendency. Any mistake can be pulled back with the only consequence being the loss of the time taken to knit that far. This seems to give me more confidence to have a go and see what happens. On the other hand, when projects are getting to near the end and I am fed up to the back teeth with them, I then have the stubbornness to keep going and just fudge it a bit if it goes wrong.

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I try to strike a balance. Sometimes a mistake has to be fixed or it will carry through and mess up the pattern. And sometimes it can be fudged and no one will know but me. And then there are the projects that I messed up and just can’t bring myself to sit down and fix: a sweater that I bound off too tightly and won’t fit over my head; a cowl that I totally wrecked the Kitchener stitch on; a hat that came out too big. I’m just moving on, knitting something else…

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