I’m always far too lazy to really qualify as a perfectionist, but there is always that nagging voice in my mind insisting that I could have done better. Sometimes I listen to it, ripping back hundreds of stitches just to get to that one cluster on a crochet blanket that has two stitches instead of three; or I frog a day’s worth of knitting to fix those decreases that lean to the left instead of the right. Yarn runs out halfway through a row? Well, the odds on me working my way back to the beginning of the row to attach the new yarn in the appropriate place have significantly improved, but not to the point that it’s an absolute certainty.
There’s definitely a time factor involved in whether or not I cave to my inner critic. If It’s going to take forever to fix, I do force myself to consider if anyone is even going to notice… “I’LL NOTICE!” the critic hisses, sometimes placated by the promise of another run at the item from scratch in the not too distant future.
It’s a balancing act at the best of times, and yes, I am one of those people who instantly points out the problems with something they’ve made as soon as someone complements it. It’s not false modesty, I just want to assure you that I know it’s a bit of a mess close up, and next time I will do better! I promise!
Of course sometimes I make a decision right at the start that limits the potential success of the project right from the start, in particular, choosing the wrong yarn.
I love Attic24’s Blooming Flower Cushion pattern. I started out using it to make a pot-holder for my mum (the cushion pattern was inspired by a vintage pot-holder pattern) which worked beautifully in Drops DK cotton Muskat, so I decided to go ahead and make a whole cushion out of the same yarn for my niece.
The colours were stunning, just what I’d envisioned, so it was easy to overlook how it wasn’t quite plump and tactile enough.
For my next attempt I switched to Rico Essentials Cotton DK, A poor decision because it is even less plump and smooshy that the Drops Muskat. In fact I think I was so disappointed in this version that I didn’t even blog about it at the time! It was a gift for my older sister, who had a particular colour scheme in mind inspired by her favourite Tiffany style lamp. She loved the cushion anyway, giving it pride of place in her living room, but after a few months the cushion pad inside had gone very flat, making the whole thing look like a very sorry excuse for a cushion.
She asked me if I could replace the foam pad with a feather one, which of course I said I could, and immediately that inner critic perked up and, starting to sound very much like Gollum, muttered “now is our chance… you can make that better version now… you promised!” So I did both.
The first, sad little cushion I made for my sister did improve a little with its new inner, but not much!
But the real success was the new cushion cover I made from scratch. I wanted it to be cuddly and squishy, so I chose chunky weight Stylecraft Special and used a 4.5 mm hook to ensure that the crochet was nice and dense, I hate feather cushions and bedding (they make me cough) but I invested in a large, plump feather cushion pad, and I have to admit it gave the cushion a beautiful shape, like a giant macaroon from the Great British Bake-Off!
Even my inner Gollum was pleased with version number three. Perhaps a little too pleased… “we wants to keep it”… but you’ll be pleased to hear that it was all wrapped up and delivered to my sister on her birthday. When she saw the sad but rejuvenated cotton version next to the newer, super-squishy one, she could see why I’d found the former a disappointment, but both versions are still very much appreciated.
Feeling guilty about giving her essentially the same thing for her birthday two years in a row, I decided to whip up some crochet coasters out of what was left of the Rico cotton. I used this free Cheery Coasters pattern from The Planet Pearl, and they came out beautifully… until I decided to press and starch them. Sigh.
Inner Gollum was going nuts, pointing out that by pressing them on both sides instead of just the reverse had flattened all those lovely stitches. There wasn’t much I could do to fix the situation the night before my sister’s birthday, so I just had to suck it up and ignore Gollum’s spluttering complaints. I did so well that I’m pretty sure I didn’t even apologise for those poor flattened coasters!
I’d intended to end this post with some photos of my knitting WIPs, but it’s taken me so long to get around to writing this post that one of them is nearly finished! I’m at the sewing up stage of Mr BAM’s big grey jumper, and sadly, even though I haven’t finished yet, it’s already fitting in a little too well with the could-do-better theme of this post.
I’ve botched the raglan seams (should have remembered to sew them with mattress stitch) but only to the extent that a fellow knitter would understand the mistake. Mr BAM, bless him, says he doesn’t care, and wicked, wicked knitter that I am (not in the “cool” sense, in the “going to knitting hell where all the yarn is tangled and none of the dye-lots match” sense) I’m going to let this one go. I just don’t have it in me to frog the neck band and painstakingly unpick all the seams.
But the next time I knit something for my wonderful husband, I will do better, and my other WIPs? Well, at least they still have a chance.