Being good at craft isn’t about doing – it’s about undoing

IMG_20151115_111649Over the past week, I had made various crafting mistakes that needed rectifying. On my cross stitch, I worked a group of stitches one stitch to the left, which then needed unpicking. I botched up a repeat on my knitted lace shawl, and had to work down eight rows. I mixed up my right sides and wrong sides sewing French seams and had to rip out four seams of a shirt.

I realised, after the third mistake and consequent rectification, that being good at crafting – almost any crafting – isn’t about mastering particular skills. Being good at crafting is about having the knowledge and skills to fix mistakes when you inevitably make them. Everyone makes mistakes, no matter how talented, practised or focused they are. In the words of a New Zealand appliance sales company: ‘It’s the putting right that counts’.*

For cross stitch, it’s knowing the difference of when to pull out and when to cut out. For knitting, it’s knowing how to drop or rip stitches back to before the mistake. With sewing it’s knowing how to rip a seam without destroying the fabric. And a millions other things for each craft.


Not the best pictures, but I’m still pretty proud of this achievement – I only ripped back this repeat of the pattern, then knit it back up.

And with all crafts it’s knowing how to deal with a mistake. Some people push on through. Some people like to rage for a bit. My mum once recommended pouring a drink, then trying again (which only works the first couple of times before it creates other problems). Me? I tend to issue a few good curse words, put it down and walk away. I come back when I’ve calmed down. More often than not, the mistake is not as bad as I imagined it – sometimes I haven’t even made a mistake at !

I just wish I could apply this philosophy to mistakes in every other part of my life.

What about you? How do you deal with crafting mistakes?

*The company is LV Martin. Its motto for quite a while was ‘It’s the putting right that counts’ – but quick look at the website shows it may not be used now. Which makes sense – when buying a fridge I think the not being ‘wrong’ in the first place is more important than being able to correct that. 

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