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Crazy for Ewe
  • Perfection - let it go
  • Ellen Lewis
  • Yarn colored glasses
Perfection - let it go

Ginni and I are teaching the Fixing your Mistakes class tomorrow evening. It's a great class on how to handle knitting's unexpected challenges, like when your needle falls out of your work, how to pick up a dropped stitch, and how to correct an increase or decrease a few rows back. We have to be able to do these things, because nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and that’s okay.

There's a huge gulf between perfectionism and healthy striving. Healthy striving is working hard and doing your very best. We're all about that at the shop. On the other hand, perfectionism is a paralyzing focus on doing something perfectly or creating something perfect. Perfectionism is not constructive. Psychology researcher, Dr. Brené Brown explains it best when she calls perfectionism a shield we use to protect ourselves from vulnerability and pain. If we're perfect, then no one can criticize us, right? No one will make fun of what we've made because it's perfect, right? And if they do criticize us or laugh, then what we made, and by extension, who we are, isn't perfect enough, right? So begins a very dangerous false logic. Sometimes the vulnerability and fear is so powerful that we can’t even get started. We don't even try because we're paralyzed by the idea that only perfect is good enough.

Over the past 13 years, I have taught a lot of knitting classes, and I can tell pretty quickly which students have this tendency. Takes one to know one, I guess. But seriously, it's an easy trap to fall into. Here we all are creating something with our own hands - maybe for ourselves, or maybe for a gift. How vulnerable we are when we wear it or give it. But as Dr. Brown says, allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the key to happiness and what she calls, "whole-hearted living" - a willingness to open yourself up and be seen - to trust that the people who matter will receive your offer with love. It's something we really have to work at - maybe that's why she calls it practicing vulnerability. It's not easy, but it's an important component of happiness.

There's a balance to be struck between perfect and good enough, and that point of balance is different for everyone. You have to know what you can tolerate in your finished projects, but I would urge you to be gentle . with yourself. Our goal in everything we do at Crazy for Ewe is to help you make beautiful things. Notice that we say beautiful, not perfect. The perfect is the enemy of the good, or as restated by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg's, "Done is better than perfect." So true. I would add that the perfect is not only the enemy of the finished object, but the enemy of the creative process and the joy of the journey. I look forward to seeing you and your beautiful projects around the table. You are always welcome here.

Back to the 14 February 2017 Newsletter

  • Ellen Lewis
  • Yarn colored glasses

Comments on this post ( 1 )

  • Feb 14, 2017

    Very well stated. Others I have tried to start knitting have stopped, have not started for those very reasons. In 3rd grade, my Brownie leader started me on a knitting badge. When I ran in to problems, I forced my mother to drive me over to her house for remedy. Hardest was casting on too tightly. But I loved the knitting process….just couldn’t get started. I’m glad I had Mrs. Sayrs to help me. Her own daughter to this day never has picked up needles! Only one of my 3 daughters tried. (We were living in Ireland at the time when she was a 4th grader and knitting was part of art! I have a tea cozy to remember her attempt!). So glad knitting is part of my life and it has taught me how to live with being imperfect!?

    — Tina Hisrich

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