• Emily

Sometimes...you just have to start all over from the beginning...twice

One of the challenges with making is that sometimes things don't quite go the way you want them to. The great thing with knitting is that it's easy to take things apart and start over again. The crappy thing about knitting is you have to take things apart and start over again, a lot.


So let me tell you my saga of the socks. A friend put in an awesome order for his son and wife. A daruma hat for his son (no problem! super easy! can't wait to see it on the kid's head!) The socks were a new product for me, and since I don't have the same kind of experience with socks that I do with hats, gloves, scarves, etc, I had him pick the pattern. Well, I didn't read the patterns before I sent him photos of the different socks, and the one he liked most turned out to be pretty tricky. Hence, failed attempt #1. I'm pretty good at figuring out and knitting lace, but I struggled wrapping my head around how the lace translated into the structure, and misunderstood the pattern on my first attempt. So, 2/3s of the way through, I realized I just needed to start over. Hence frogging (where you literally undo the whole thing...).


Now, I could have tried to adjust things moving forward, something I've done on other projects (I have a couple of sweaters with mistakes early on...shhhhhh you can't tell!) But these socks are for his wife. I want each item I produce to be perfect and for my clients to be absolutely delighted with what I sell them. I had to just start over. In some ways, this is the knitting version of dealing with the sunk cost fallacy, one of my favorite economic concepts applied to regular life. The sunk cost fallacy is: "I've already invested so much in X, I can't just give up now!" This works for thinking about a clunker of a car, or a toxic relationship. The question you should ask instead is: "If I knew what I know now about X, would I invest in this today?" Sometimes you just need to write off your losses and rip off the band-aid. Or the yarn. See, the metaphor is perfect for knitting!


So I start over. I get past the section I misunderstood on my first attempt, execute everything perfectly, but realize as I'm knitting the foot portion that I had horribly miscalculated what a difference the slightly thicker yarn I was using would make for size. Basically I had accidentally made a sock for a huge man when I am supposed to be making socks for a woman with little feet.


I'm behind on this project, so horribly behind. I miscalculated how long it would take me to digest and understand a new type of product. I miscalculated my materials. Everything has gone wrong. But my friend has been so incredibly patient and understanding, and most importantly, there's no point in giving him socks his wife won't wear. So I am starting over...again. I got new yarn that will work better for the socks. I am determined to produce the perfect pair of socks that will keep my friend's wife's feet nice and toasty.


And more importantly, this experience reminded me of one of the lessons I have learned in my now 40 (I CANNOT be this old! augh!) years...admitting you've gone down the wrong road as soon as you realize you have, and not holding onto the time and effort you've invested in the wrong things, is sometimes the most important thing you can do. Sure, it might feel like wasted effort and time should be honored and preserved for its own sake. But in the end, what good is any of that if the thing its been invested in is itself worthless? Or (now going back to how knitting can be a metaphor for life) toxic and damaging? Or holding you back? Sometimes you just have to abandon something even if you're well into the process, cut your losses--emotional, financial, physical--and start all over again.

Starting over, round 1. After this I knitted a whole sock. That I have now abandoned. Good times!

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