Part I: When to go back and when to plough on

I frequent a website where a lot of people talk about knitting. People share their finished projects, discuss yarn and ask for advice. One of the most common questions is, “Should I fix this?”. I sympathize, because this is always a frustrating thing to contemplate, especially when you have procrastinated putting in a life line until it was too late.

The typical answer is, “does it bother you? Then fix it.” But really, that’s not a good enough answer for me. Knitting is time-consuming, so I think it is good to figure out the best way to spend your time when working on a project. Of course it bothers me when I find a mistake, but there are three questions that I think are better to ask yourself:

Thought train - when to fix a knitting mistake.
Brain train – when to fix a knitting mistake.

“Is it easy to fix?”

This is easy to assess. If it will only take a few minutes to fix, then it’s a no brainer, regardless the mistake.

I accidentally started a third row of contrast colour for my zebra. Easy fix!
I accidentally started a third row of contrast colour for my zebra. Easy fix!

“Will you be bothered by the mistake once the project is complete?”

I prefer this to “will it bother you” because I’ve wasted a lot of time fixing a mistake that didn’t really need to be fixed. This question can be hard to answer, because when you first notice the mistake it is all you can think about. Some mistakes will never be noticed once the project is complete, and it’s a good skill to learn to move on from these.

Should have fixed it: I accidentally omitted a yarn over and decrease pair, making a mess of the lace. It looked fine before blocking, but bothers me now that it's done.
Should have fixed it: I accidentally omitted a yarn over and decrease pair, making a mess of the lace. It looked fine before blocking, but bothers me now that it’s done.
Happy I moved on: can you see the mistake? I can’t even see it anymore. (Hint: the hem is supposed to be a broken rib stitch, but one row is a standard ribbing.) My memory is short enough I won’t even remember it once I’m onto my next project

“Will it cause more problems down the road?”

This last question is a very important question. If you ended up with the wrong number of stitches or neglected an important setup row, the mistake will cause more mistakes and yield a potentially unusable project. If you answered yes, then you absolutely must fix it unless you want to come up with a plan for altering the pattern (which is also a reasonable choice and what we like to call a design “feature” in programming).

Mandatory Frog: I misread the instructions and only increased on one side of each sleeve on this back panel for my newest cardigan. Oops!
Mandatory Frog: I misread the instructions and only increased on one side of each sleeve on this back panel for my newest cardigan. Oops! This project caused me a lot of grief.

Once you’ve decided what to do, you need to figure out how to fix it. Stay tuned for Part II: Choosing how to fix your mistakes

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