What We Can’t Unknit

Nov 8, 2017 by

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After I learned to knit, I had to master a much more difficult skill: unknitting. That’s fancy knitter talk for fixing a mistake. It requires inserting the left-hand needle into the bottom of each completed stitch until you’ve undone your mistake and can reknit that section. In crocheting, mistakes are easy to fix; you just remove the hook, unravel the stitch or section, re-insert the hook into the next available loop, and start over. It’s possible to also unravel messed-up rows in knitting, but if you’re not careful you can drop stitches and make the problem even worse. If you only need to back up a partial row, the best method is to unknit one stitch at a time.

I despise unknitting for two reasons:

  • I tend to make new mistakes in the process and/or split the yarn.
  • It requires better vision than I have and is difficult to do by feel.

Consequently, an otherwise relaxing activity turns into me wondering how it is possible that knitting needles make it past security in airports because I want to stab the couch with mine.

This is why when my friend Julie said, “Grrr, I hate it when I make mistakes with this pattern. It’s really hard to unknit,” I announced, “I’ve given up on unkitting. I just incorporate the mistake into the pattern.”

I went on to explain, “I decided, it’s kind of like life. We can’t go back and fix the past. We can, however, hope that God will make something beautiful out of our mess. Hopefully, we also learn something from our mistake, so we won’t make it again. At least not for a while.”

“Wow, that is really deep and insightful.”

“I thought so.”

“You should blog about this.”

I might attempt to unknit a few stitches if I catch them right away and the lighting is good, but once a row is finished there is no going back for me these days.

It frustrates me to know the project won’t be perfect. If I were entering my scarf in the County Fair (which I wouldn’t, because I hate competition almost as much as unkitting), I would get Honorable Mention at best. Whoever receives my creation as a gift will wonder What happened here? But they will also feel very comfortable giving me imperfect knitted gifts because they’ll know I understand—that I won’t judge. I also probably won’t see their mistakes.

It’s possible that I will eventually master the art of unknitting. Until then, every mistake that I incorporate into a pattern is a helpful reminder that we can’t go back and fix what’s already been done. Sometimes by trying, we make an even bigger mess. The best thing we can do is accept it as part of our lives and hope the next row turns out better.

I made this infinity scarf without having to unknit once. Instead I had to unravel the entire thing three times because I’d twisted my stitches. That can never be turned into something lovely. (It was my first experience with circular needles.)

We can’t go back and fix what’s already been done. Click To Tweet

We all have moments that we wish we could unknit and do over.

Red flags that we should have seen. Even if we didn’t know they were red, they were huge and right there, waving wildly.

Conversations that seemed so necessary, until we had them.

Bad situations that we allowed to continue for way too long.

Money that got wasted.

Movies that we can’t get out of our head.

Choices that changed everything, and not in a good way.

Things we swore we’d never say/do to our kids, and now we must live in dread of when they tell us, “I’ve started seeing a counselor,” because that regretful thing is sure to be buried beneath the muck of all their problems.

Long sentences that we wish we’d edited down to a respectable length.

We may not be able to undo them, but we can trust God’s ability to work them into the pattern, possibly even in a way that leaves us thinking, I never expected to feel this way, but I’m thankful that happened.

When has this happened for you?

To be fair, I’ll share one of my stories in a future blog post.

We all have moments that we wish we could unknit and do over. Click To Tweet
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