Denial in Knitting–Let’s Face It!

What to do when you are ready to overcome denial and admit your knitting project isn't quite right.

This may be ill-advised, but I have come to the realization that denial is a fairly essential part of life. At least my life.

As in:

  • No, my pants are certainly not tighter today that than they were a weak ago. (And no, the cookie I just ate that was as big as my face had nothing to do with it…why do they even bake cookies so incredibly big???)
  • I am absolutely positive I can make it home without my car running out of gas.
  • Surely my bank’s online checking account statement is just, well, off a bit.

Like that. Denial. Pure and simple.

The good stuff.

Denial is also a vital element of my knitting life. The way I tell myself a new project I am working on will turn out GREAT–the best cowl/mittens/hat/scarf ever knit in the entire knitting history of humanity. Despite a flaw. Not the kind of mistake you can tink back and fix, either.

I am not talking about a dropped stitch or a missed increase. I am talking about a Design Flaw.

Design flaws lend themselves to a particular flavor of denial. When ready (deep breath!), the knitter can be brave, honest, and ultimately put aside the rose-colored glasses for the knitty-gritty truth and see the options for what they really are.

Options Available to Knitters Who Have Been In Deep, Deep, Deep Denial

  1. Frog the whole project. Set down the needles. Unravel. Wind the yarn. Start a new. This isn’t so bad if you haven’t gotten so far yet.
  2. Scissors.  I know it sounds scary, but it’s possible. A slight pain, true. Scissors are a better option when your project is quite far along and the fatal flaw is closer to the cast-on edge.
  3. Morph your project into something…different. Sweater too big? Make it a robe. You made two right-handed mitts (I do this every stinking time!!!). Make two-left handed mitts.
  4. Decide denial is really the best path forward. Bury project as-in in the back of the closet, behind your wedding dress. (So far, it hasn’t come to this. Yet.) IT NEVER HAPPENED.

I have this sinking feeling that I am heading straight for Option 2. Again. You think I would have learned the first time. I could have sworn I had found a solution. An improved design approach.

I didn’t. I just made a slightly different mistake.

My cast-on edge just isn’t jiving with my itty bitty honeycomb pattern, and their is a fold in my cowl. I won’t know for sure until it is off the needles (see, I am STILL in denial!), but I don’t want a fold in my cowl. The fold didn’t look so bad at first. (They never do…) As my project has grown, my design flaw is becoming so apparent that even the strongest form of denial (and it is strong, I assure you…) can no longer hide the situation. My design has a, well, issue, and I need to fix it.


Honeycomb stitch.

I love the rest of my project. The yarn (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted) is particularly soft (cashmere blend!). The color (Dried Rose) is divine. I can’t quite let go of the entire thing. Even though I am tempted to frog 250+ meters and start all over. To make it again, perfect from the outset. Two weeks of solid knitting down the drain.

But I just can’t.

Honeycomb stitch.

The last time I used scissors, I had to rescue 136 stitches. This time: 248.

Looks like I better stalk up on wine and chocolate. I am going to need it.

Linking up with Ginny for the Yarn Along. Just started reading You Should Have Known.

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  • Reply Karin January 27, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Awww… I feel your pain 🙁
    You are much braver than I with scissors. Usually, I bag a naughty project and throw it in the back of the closet. This came home to roost after my last move. I’m still unpacking and among the craft boxes found prehistoric WIP’s. Some older than Ravelry. Frogged. There was no saving some of the out-of-date styles but some of the yarn was nice. The rest was donated.

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life January 27, 2016 at 11:36 am

      I haven’t stupid slow as the closet yet, not that I’m judging. I know it will happen someday.

  • Reply caffeinegirl January 27, 2016 at 6:16 am

    I have been there — and it is SO depressing. Why is denial so hard to avoid?

  • Reply Heather January 27, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Oh goodness! I don’t know if I could be brave enough to try scissors. Denial, yes, I certainly have it as well – as in, surely my children will leave me alone to knit for a couple hours…yes…sure…

  • Reply Paula @ Spin a Yarn January 27, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Wow! I never thought to try scissors 🙂 I usually just tink or frog…however it sounds like your situation is more dire than mine have ever been. Wine and chocolates are good 🙂

  • Reply bonnyknits January 27, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Scissors?? Like cut off the bad part and throw it away? Oh my, you ARE a brave soul! I don’t think I could do that. But I definitely see how it might be preferable to frogging and starting all over. I can’t wait to see the finishing product. It is a beautiful yarn! (And remember what they say: “Life is short, eat the cookies!” At least that’s what I tell myself when my pants are snug.)

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life January 27, 2016 at 11:36 am

      I don’t throw it away, I just unravel it. The yarn is used again

      • Reply bonnyknits January 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        Oh now I feel stupid. That makes so much more sense. Sorry!

        • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life January 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm

          No you are not stupid!

          • bonnyknits January 27, 2016 at 12:18 pm

            LOL I know, I’m just a dork. It seems so obvious now. I don’t know what the heck I was thinking!

  • Reply FogKnits January 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I don’t think I could do it. I’d frog 🙂

  • Reply woolythymes January 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

    You touched on my favorite form of denial…..the ‘maybe-my-mistake-is-going-to-result-in-something-better-that-the-designer-had-even-considered-and-if-she-had-she-would-have-done-just-what-i-did’ denial. And you know….even though it’s never ever proven true, I still use that excuse to knit inches and inches while I’m contemplating how I can adjust. I love being a knitter!!! (we’re all so much alike!!!)

  • Reply Stefanie January 27, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Oh boy is all I say to your upcoming task. I almost busted out the scissors when having to unravel a provisional cast on edge but I didn’t. The chicken won and I just swore through the whole five rows frogging.

  • Reply thesoaringsheep January 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Oh dear, I hope you’re able to fix it with minimal stress. Definitely think wine and chocolate is the way forward. In fact I’ve just sent Mr Soaring Sheep out for some chocolate and I don’t even have a tricky knitting project to deal with lol

  • Reply Audry January 27, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I was in the same boat a week ago. Over a week of knitting had to be ripped out when I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t find that extra increase I had accidentally added somewhere. In my own project I would have just added an extra decrease somewhere, but that wasn’t good enough for a design.

    Good luck with your fix, whatever that may be!

  • Reply chrisknits January 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I would say keep your fingers crossed, but that makes for problems when trying to pick up stitches!

  • Reply MrsKirstyHoll January 28, 2016 at 12:34 am

    Ouch 🙁 i still go with the idea i’m still new enough to knitiing that the mistakes make it look more aurthentic 🙂

  • Reply Liz January 28, 2016 at 4:01 am

    LOL – what a great post. And how I love that your other commentators, like me, can relate to it so closely! 🙂 I once started off making a sweater for my younger sister that ended up as a present for my very rotund father!! That was the moment when I forced myself to swatch in future, tee hee….

  • Reply pumpkin sunrise January 28, 2016 at 4:49 am

    gracious are you adventurous or what? The only time I’ve taken scissors to knitting is to lengthen sleeves for children’s sweaters (bottom up, now I only knit top down). I hope you are successful and happy with fixing your knitting.

    and I never ever drive anywhere with less than a quarter tank of gas….I would die of anxiety!!

  • Reply Alina January 28, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Oh, scissors… This is scary 🙂 Somehow denial in knitting never works for me, it haunts me all day and night before I fix it 🙂

  • Reply Sarah January 28, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Oh dear… thanks for the link to your tutorial about how to cut up your work… I have actually been in that same boat before but I think I ended up picking out every stitch since it was a very small project. It was a pain though! Hope your wine and chocolate get you through!

  • Reply Taryn Oakley January 29, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Oh no! I hate that feeling….. Wine and chocolate should help though! 😉

  • Reply Ellen Leigh April 21, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Uh! I certainly have been there many times and have used lots of sailor language in dealing with the ‘issues’! (I do wish you had proof read your article- found 4 blatant writing errors.)

  • Reply Beth June 24, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Wow. Totally understand. In process of deconstructing hat that has a top that I felt was growing up to big the entire time and is about 1/4 inch too small for my guys head. So as we say in tech..reboot

  • Reply Carolyn July 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Wel I am on the third time of starting over. Gal at the yarn shop suggested knitting in cotton instead of merino wool. Soooo off. Wool holds the ribbing, cotton not so much. It was way too big. Ripout #1. Redid with less stitches cast on. Cannot remember why I ripped that out. Last time got it all finished, assembled, blocked. So proud. But that cotton … the sleeves were too heavy and pulled the boat neck almost over my shoulders. Sigh. This is my last time. Found a pattern using cotton and is really cute. If this yarn was cheap I would not have bothered. Learning to persevere. ????

    • Reply Andrea @ This Knitted Life July 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      I don’t have anything nice to say about knitting with cotton. Among my many complaints: it hurts my hands something horrible.

  • Reply naelany September 6, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    that’s… actually viscerally painful to even contemplate lol. Personally, I’d be frogging and starting from scratch, because the mere thought of trying to salvage all those stitches makes me shudder.
    Good luck!!!

  • Reply knittedblog March 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Ahh…the saddest part about knitting. Sometimes I follow the pattern exactly and forget that, in a pattern XL means long arms, too. Usually, I don’t follow a pattern and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. These sorrows always occur after I’m finished, bound off and sewn up. My solution is Goodwill. It will either fit and look good on someone else or a knitter will find it and tink it for their own creation.

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