I’ve been doing many different types of hand crafts for as long as I can remember and over this time, I have had to learn to be less critical of my work. We all strive for perfection but is it really necessary?
Many years ago, I spent a lot of time knitting and wanting everything I made to be exactly as the pattern said it should. Unfortunately, I would regularly make mistakes which I would then have to pull out and correct. Now, with yarn you can only do this a few times before it loses some of its new look. Then it would start to look stringy and dirty and spoil the whole appearance of the garment.
I had just finished a very elaborate lacy jersey for a family member as a gift for her birthday. I had made the odd mistake and fixed it as I went along. I was feeling quite proud of myself to have managed this pattern and it looked good. Then I noticed there was a mistake I hadn’t picked up earlier. I was horrified. Bad enough there was a mistake but it was right at the beginning and would take me weeks to redo the work. It was a tiny mistake but so obvious to me that I was convinced the whole world would be able to see it.
Now I had a dilemma on my hands. If I took it apart to fix the mistake it wouldn’t be ready in time for her birthday, but could I really give her something that was inferior? What would she think? How would it look to her if I gave her something less than perfect? I had put so much time, effort and love into making this jersey and to give her something substandard just seemed like I would be insulting her.
Well, after much soul searching, I chose to give it to her, mistake and all. I hoped she wouldn’t notice it. To the best of my knowledge she didn’t. Either that or she was to polite to tell me.
Somehow, I had to find a way to deal with the fact that I do make mistakes and that this doesn’t mean that what I have done is of a lesser quality but how do you reconcile that idea?
It’s simple. Imperfection is unique. I bet that if a hundred people knitted that pattern none of them would make the same mistake I made. Therefore, what I did was make the jersey unique. No one else was going to make it exactly the way I had.
Even now I still make mistakes with my craft work, but I have learnt to understand that it is no less appreciated than if it was perfect. Besides, other than myself, who knows what I was aiming for and what I had pictured in my mind. Only me and I can live the small defects in my work.
Besides the word Unique sounds much friendlier than perfect. Perfect sounds harsh and unemotional. Unique is warm and happy.
So now, the only time something is perfect is when I have done such a terrible job that it then becomes a perfect example of what I shouldn’t have done. Makes sense to me.
The funny thing is, that jersey became a favourite with my sister and her daughter. They were constantly arguing over who looked best in it and who deserved it more. What more could I ask for after creating something so unique?