How can you miss it?

From the number of comments I got yesterday saying that you all couldn’t see my mistake in the baby blanket, I can imagine several things.

1. This was not a glaring mistake.

I am rejecting this idea. This mistake was massive. Look.


In the lace square there are four travelling stitches. The zig-zag their way up the square as in the bottom example.

What I did was zig, then zag…then haul off and instead of zig-zagging….I ZIG-ZIGGED.

See? That’s the mistake. It’s the whole wrong direction, plan and vowel between two consonants. I don’t know how you could miss it.

2. Maybe I didn’t convey the scope of the mistake. I did this on every square, all the way across the blanket. That’s not one bad square, that’s like….TEN squares that you would have to ignore. When I start to think about just leaving a mistake I repeated TEN times….I feel like maybe I’m starting to wheeze.

I could leave (maybe…maybe I could leave) one little square that wasn’t up to snuff, but a really huge honking mistake the size of Chicago repeated ten times? I bet if you laid the blanket out in my front yard, you could see the mistake from space…like the Great Wall of China or….Christina Aquilera’s breasts. You can’t ignore that. I bet it would give the baby a rash. Effect their developing and eventual sense of style, or worse, convince them that an anal retentive obsessive desire to have everything perfect all the time to do good work and commit to high standards isn’t a fine quality.

That’s why I fixed the mistake. It’s also why, now that I have painstakingly spent hours fixing every single instance of the error, it’s why….


Now that I have repeated the exact same error….

I will have to fix it again. A thousand curses.

80 thoughts on “How can you miss it?

  1. Have you considered that, perhaps, it is not in fact a mistake? That the blanket is telling you it WANTS to zig-zig, darn it? Of course, that would mean you’d have to “fix” all the rest of them, so…. never mind.

  2. It is those deceptively simple lace patterns that will get you every time. I once made HUGE errors — repeatedly — in feather and fan. The stitch count was always wrong. I feel your pain. Can you drop the stitches down and fix it?
    — Laurie

  3. Oh dear. Sometimes things just have to zig their way. On the other hand, I would probably feel the need to fix that too. Once while sewing a dress I set the same sleeve in inside out twice in a row…you are not alone.

  4. We both know that without yellow digital pencils the recipient, and even the recipient’s parents, would never notice in a million years. The problem is, YOU would develop a rash. When ya gotta rip, ya gotta rip. I can respect that.

  5. Obviously, the Blanket is a non-conformist, who is channeling Tom Chapin (fantastic children’s music … stuff that doesn’t make mom and dad want to run, crying, to stuff cotton in their ears):
    So when everyone goes zig zag
    But you don’t want to zig zag.
    When zig zag is a big drag,
    Time to go zag zig.
    It’s not an error. It’s a message to the New Babe, telling her to follow her own heart.

  6. I just don’t understand your need for perfection. Kidding. Of course I understand, I would fix it, too. Keep plugging away!

  7. Oh, I am glad I am not the only one who could not see it. I felt like a knitting idiot.
    This just goes to show you, you are never really knitting for someone else.

  8. Oh yes, I hear you. I bet you spent hours with crochet hook in hand repairing the ten squares. I do know you felt like a million bucks when it was all fixed! But you did it again????

  9. Noonie sits on her aran jumper and refuses to let Steph see it…
    So some of my cables are messed up, I refuse to go back, it’s the little mistakes that make it look handmade!
    That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it, I hate knitting backwards, and ripping back is too scary. Is anyone really going to stare at my jumper that closely. No they will be flabbergasted by talent and skill.
    Anyone dares to point out the errors and I’ll stab em with me knitting needles.
    I couldn’t see it either, but I can understand having to fix a whole row of them.

  10. Your zig zag zig zig isn’t too horrid. Of course, this is coming from a knitter who managed to have three different armhole heights in her latest project.
    You could drink enough Screech until anything that zigs or zags looks perfect. Of course, if you knit the whole thing in that state, it might be a nicer experience, but the first words out of the baby’s mouth might be “Boo boo. Zig zag.” Then it will blow bubbles at you and look so cheerful while mocking you. Oh Wait. That’s just my little nephew who cries whenever he is forced to wear the hat I knit for him.

  11. Gee, Steph, I thought those were just lightening bolts a la Harry Potter. . . I suppose I’d have fixed them too, but my projects that go awry generally have to spend some time banished to a bag until I can face them again. Congratulations for forging ahead & hope your lace lines up properly from now on.

  12. I do that kind of thing all the time. And I’m fairly certain it is a subliminal excuse to pick up something else. Or maybe a full-out liminal excuse. After all, if you are suffering from “blanke-fatigue” you need to take the cure in order to finish the blanket.
    I prescribe a summer tank top.

  13. You’re sure it’s not a design element? Ah, well then, as my cats always say when they do something (cute) dumb, “I meant to do that!”
    Consider the repair your penance for the month and go and knit and frog no more.

  14. I won’t comment on the mistakes – mine are chock full of them.
    What I did want to tell you, though, is…
    Bookbookbook is in my local library. Being the good consumer I am, I have my own copy – but I think it is so cool your book is in *my* local (Brandywine Hundred Library in Wilmington, Delaware) library.

  15. I wasn’t sure if I saw things right but now that you point it out. It sure zigs when it should have zagged. I couldn’t have left it, it would have made me crazy and I would have ripped too. I may be passing on my perfectionist tendencies to the respective babies of my sweaters, blankets, etc but at least the gift looks great. πŸ™‚

  16. after the fifth time that i had to rip the same 3 inches of the cindy loo hoo hat i was knitting for my sons girlfriends 3 year old little sister…the ball of yarn some how did not quite make it into the car and…
    7 miles later down the road when i stopped i had not enough yarn left to finish the hat…
    i went back home, retraced my steps and…. found what was left of the yarn and was able to finish that darned hat….SIGH…. some knitting just wants your undevided attention and you never know when it will strike.
    many warm fuzzy wishes that the blanket will have had it’s fill and will now behave….
    when oh when will we be graced with the pattern for the blanket????
    i wish to throw my self into blanket repeat purgatory please…
    lorie duncan

  17. (wiping eyes) No one else finds this funny, eh? Come on, confess. Nobody else is whooping and slapping the desk and having trouble breathing? No one else is reminded of rewinding the backwards-wound sock yarn (see archives)?
    This is, however, the delighted laughter of recognition. I’m afraid you have not yet risen to my practiced heights of idiocy, but it’s sweet of you to pretend to try.
    Looking forward to reading the pattern, though…
    (fresh hysterics)

  18. UGH! I hate that. I would much rather one massive mistake that takes up much time and ingenuity to fix than to make the same piddly mistake over and over. Maybe the blanket is telling you it needs a little break.

  19. Argh.
    Good luck fixing it. Am currently wondering about ripping second sleeve on just-finished sweater (slightly different in photo, really obvious there but not otherwise, different cone, no dyelot). If perfectionists stop caring, however anal we may seem, what will happen? (OK, perhaps the world will just become a more carefree place…)
    Liz, near Cambridge, UK

  20. Oh… (that crash you hear is Light Dawning on Marblehead) yeah. I would fix that too. And so would Ruth. Ruth, don’t tell me you wouldn’t, because I know you would. You would even make me fix it. Cute song, though.
    Of course it’s funny. This is what Steph has been trying to tell us all along: life is incredibly irritating, and funny. It just depends which side of the needles you’re on.

  21. I once spent a day and a half making a wonderful afghan, it was my first, i was mother took one look at it and noticed it had 5 corners instead of 4 and that was it, i had to walk away or i was going to burn it. You’re a better woman than i.

  22. I’ve done the same thing…knit a bad row, didn’t realize it for ten rows, went back to fix it and made the same mistake again! To say that that’s frustrating is quite an understatement πŸ™‚ I truly empathize – and agree with erin. A break from the blanket might be necessary – even though we know it will be hard to start it up again.

  23. Oh, hoo hoo ha! That’s a bummer, but REALLY funny. I’m so sorry to laugh. It’s like when someone falls real crazy-like, and you can’t help but laugh, then you feel guilty afterwards.

  24. Please stop what you’re doing and step away from the blanket. If you listen now no knitting project will get hurt in the process.
    Make one false move and you’re getting jabbed with a knitting needle! πŸ™‚
    (Just take a break and knit something FUN for a little bit.)

  25. I didn’t look at the comments from yesterday…I thought I was the only one who couldn’t see the mistake you were referring to. At least now I know that I’m not alone! πŸ˜€

  26. Oh dear. No getting around that really…
    The only recourse I see at this point is a soothing aromatherapy massage, followed by a nice glass of wine and playing with some pretty yarn or fleece and at least 24 hours of not looking at the baby blanket!

  27. Crap! I can’t believe you did that twice. I would probably be banging my head against the wall at this point … please don’t take that as a suggestion πŸ˜‰

  28. Ohhhhh…now I see it. I just thought that was a blocking thing…(I’m so new to knitting that I didn’t even know what blocking was until I read through all the archived posts…STILL don’t know how to do it though!)
    Just ignore me…I have to go frog an entire baby bootie because I just realized the top cuff opens out of the side of the bootie. $%##@$*#&$.

  29. I feel your pain, especially when you KNOW DARN WELL that there’s an error and everyone around you denies this. Then you don’t know if they’re just saying that. Then you don’t know if you’re paranoid. Then you don’t know why you should be paranoid, about your knitting, or about your friends….

  30. I was thinking of you today when I made an error in a simple cable pattern. I’m sure that you, like me,wanted to carry on but just couldn’t STAND it so….the repair starts. It is kind of hilarious how we can obsess over such weeny problems in the grand scheme of things.

  31. Oh no! Not again!! In all honesty I couldn’t see the mistake yesterday, but didn’t post because I felt silly — heck, I didn’t even read the comments about it because I thought I would be the only person in the world of knitting who had no idea as to what you were pointing out. Today, however, with your new pictures, I can see it; and am very glad that I was not the only person who couldn’t see it. Yay!
    Sorry you have to fix yet another mistake in what we all know to be your most (insert sarcasm) favourite project ever! I know how it feels — frogging and repairing has been my nemisis lately too!
    May the rest of your week be filled with only happy knitting and cool temperatures!

  32. Harlot,
    You are without doubt, full of heart (MSF), funny (this blog & bookbookbook), and brillant (extreme knitting??? – puh-lease, anyone remember her Christmas knitting feats?).
    You are also kinda scary.
    And I mean that in the *very best* way ;)!

  33. Yep, I’d say its time to bind off, and bind off fast. Bigger forces are at work here. Be glad they let you off this easy…

  34. A woman after my own anal-retentive heart. I would fix it or risk nightmares of my own.
    But first, may I suggest a good, strong drink? Perhaps two?

  35. I don’t know….maybe I’m just still glowing from my fab birthday yesterday, but I still don’t see it! Perhaps I’d have to see it in person. Also, I’ve ordered new glasses today. Bifreakingfocals. Blehhhhh.

  36. Yes, Chicago is big indeed. We have several fine yarn shops, and an outstanding feminist book store…all great venues for visiting authors.
    Which is why so many Chicagoans are baffled that our knit-crazed (if corrupt and mismanaged) city is not on your book tour route!
    What must we do to get you here? Arrange for temperate weather? Picket your publisher? Do all your laundry? Have The Sock photographed with Mayor Daley?
    Okay, so the Mayor Daley thing might not be feasible, especially if he gets hit with an indictment soon…howzabouts Billy Corgan with the Sock?

  37. I’m sure the baby will appreciate a fix. Britney Spears’s breasts are much more out of control than Xina:P

  38. There is some sort of cosmic message happening here, I am just sure of it. Maybe you stole yarn or blankets in a previous life.
    Although if you did, I’m sure you must have had a good reason. πŸ˜‰

  39. so many people think the blanket was trying to tell you something! who then go on to say that they would have ignored its cries for freedom and beaten it back into submission!
    i consider all mistakes an opportunity to test my creativity – how can i now adapt this pattern to accomodate this stylistic addition that my lack of attention necessitated?
    free the knitting!!

  40. I would have had to fix that too. The first time, I would have experienced a loud and heartfelt episode of Turett’s Syndrome while frogging.
    The second time…well, let’s just hope there wasn’t anything breakable nearby. Like windows.

  41. Ah, now I see. Thanks for pointing that out. I understand your pain. I’ve just finished knitting row 91 of the Lotus Blossom Shawl for the 6th time. Stupid, but I just couldn’t seem to get it right. There’s nothing to do but rip it back and do it right. You sure wouldnt’ want that baby to be scarred for life because of you. Talk about pressure! How’s that for extreme knitting?

  42. It’s a sign. Bow to the wisdom of the universe and don’t doom the baby to a life of perfectionism. If you get my drift.

  43. It’s the heat. All those little heat waves are making you see it going zig-zig, instead of zig-zag. Really.
    (Did I convince you?)

  44. well if you repeated the mistake on one little square, I would find that humorous. If you repeated it on the whole row of 10 squares – well, it’s time to make some sort of sacrifice to the knitting gods and godesses. Leave them a glass of screech perhaps, guzzle the rest yourself.
    ugh. yuck. damn. damnshitpiss even πŸ˜‰

  45. Steph, WHEN WILL YOU BE IN TORONTO AGAIN?? And of course you live here, but when will your faithfull hometown ‘flock’ “sorry couldnt help it!” have a chance to get their bookbookbook signed and meet the famed harlot?

  46. You are too funny! When I ever I make the same knitting mistake twice in a row – especially after just fixing the first mistake – I very calmly put the kniting down and walk away. I am so Zen, so cool….
    Yeah right.

  47. If it makes you feel any better, I noticed it right away. Didn’t even need the yellow circles. I, though, would have been sorely tempted by the “design element” (bluff) rationalization. Kind of like the Persian carpets with the deliberate mistake … yeah, that’s it.

  48. friday i had to frog back 3 hours of work on my “slouch sox” from socks socks socks and my eye of partridge heel flap was perfect too.
    i hadn;t switched the knits and purls on one section and it wasn’t slouching over that one section of 18 stitches. sigh…sometime ya can leave it, sometimes ya can’t.
    marie in florida

  49. If you were that consistent with it, you should have just called it a “design feature” and left it!

  50. Does anyone else fine it frightening that freecia apparently has a sweater with three armholes? Zig zig is nothing… πŸ™‚

  51. Ack! That’s bad news. Blame it on the heat. Is it still hotter than Hades there? I seem to have brought the sweltering Ontario temperatures here to Newfoundland with me. I can run, but I can’t seem to hide!

  52. Speaking as one who, after knitting 10 of the 12 repeats of Kiri, has put it on a string and started another Kiri, same pattern same yarn:
    you’re mad. xoxo Kay

  53. You could go either way with this. Since I’m doing a similar lace–1. YES I SEE THE BOO. or 2. Only the creator of all is perfect, this just goes to prove you’re not the creator. You may be A creator, but you’re not THE creator.

  54. Dear Stephanie- If there’s an error, you know darn well that it’s going to haunt you to the grave, no matter how much self-denial you’re in. You know it, you just know it. Fix it and damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.
    How prophetic you said Chicago- Stitches Midwest is starting Aug. 10…. no???

  55. christina aguilera’s breasts? those are non-existent. as far as i’m concerned, lol. now, if you’d said mae west, or dolly parton, i’d have gotten it, lol. it still looks nice

  56. If you had made the same mistake all around the blankie at wonderful intervals, then it would then be a harlot original pattern, would it not?
    Please send iced tea. I’m melting.

  57. I promise you the baby will never know the difference. And, it will make it a one of a kind baby blanket, even different from the original pattern itself.

  58. Is frogging a term for ripping back rows or for laddering down or what!? I don’t know what frogging is I feel so left out(lol).

  59. to martina: frogging is indeed knitting slang for ripping back (“rip-it, rip-it”)… almost makes it sound fun, doesn’t it?

  60. You simply need the cure-all… Screech!! I’ve fixed many a knitting malady with the aid of this life-saving tonic, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. πŸ™‚

  61. I think you’re gas lighting me. I do not see a mistake. I have even printed it out and stared at it. Am I some kind of special needs knitter? Am I making horrible, glaring mistakes in my own knittting, and then foolishly walking around, proud of myself and humming? Did I really graduate, or is it all just a wishful dream?

  62. I am so sorry! How incredibly frustrating and annoying (though SUCH good fodder for ye olde blog, eh?) I think this means you are heartily sick of this blanket (lovely though it is) and need to take a break. Perhaps it’s time to work on that incredibly gorgeous random shawl?

  63. Yes, I must say two things:
    1) Yes, Chicago, come here YES! We will throw a sort of modified ticker tape parade with yarn!
    2) I definitely feel for you on the blanket. I didn’t see it on the original photo, but I believed you anyway, because we all know it’s true: invisible mistakes to others tend to be the worst to the knitter! I knit a lace border of Charlie Brown Vs on a tank (Smooch from the All Seasons Cotton book) and messed up one of the V tops…had to rip back a heckuva lot. But oh it’s worth it. Good Vs = rash-free tank!

  64. OK – now I see the mistake. I would have ripped back to fix that too. I once ripped back half the front of an aran sweater to fix a mistake that only I could see and that nobody else could see even when I pointed at the error and said THERE.
    Go do something fun instead and if you are drinking wine, don’t work on the blanket.

  65. Maybe it’s kismet? It’s meant to be. And really, the baby will not notice.
    (And, naturally, I would rip it all out myself.)

  66. You know, all you Chicago people are missing a great opportunity: why aren’t you working on Oprah to have the Harlot on her show? She has raised more post-tsunami money with one blog than Willie Nelson! She’s amazingly funny, bright and personable, and what better audience to subject to evangelical knitting?
    Why let all that local cable TV experience go to waste? You want her in town, then get her an offer she can’t refuse!

  67. Okay. I, too am anal retentive and would have to fix it.
    Now, having said that:
    Elizabeth Zimmermann said that a mistake repeated more than once can be a design element.
    And, FYI, the Great Wall of China cannot actually be seen from space, only from high altitude.
    Dare I suggest to diguise it instead of ripping? I have done that on occasion with a crochet hook and a bit of imagination, and half a strand of the yarn in question.

  68. Here’s the thing. If you’d left it, you could have repeated it, and it would be a new bit of the Pattern. Silly πŸ™‚

  69. No wonder knitters are driven to drink. Get past this little square and look at the BIG picture. Trust me, the recipiant will not see it and you are sounding compulsive in being perfect.
    Really, do you think that the baby being held and cuddled in this beautiful gift will notice and judge you for the slightly off alignment?

  70. That’s not the point, Sally, or even really the worry. It’s how in the world she’d get the blanket *away* from the little bundle of joy in order to frog it down to fix the error after months of imagining it mocking her from the most (read “least”) visible portion of said cuddled baby while on display. πŸ˜€
    In all honesty, I have to admit I wouldn’t fix it. I’d do the same thing I did with my last baby blanket after I realized I’d botched the end-of-row shell three times in a row: I’d put it away until the intended recipient had *another* baby. :X

  71. I am so thankful I’m not the only one who didn’t see it immediately (although I did notice it upon further study). I fall into the category of “design element.” Just make 2 or 3 more zig zig rows and switch back to zig zag and do it again, if needed, to balance the blanket. The mother is going to be too busy to notice a zig zig and the baby is not going to care. There is definately a Karma-like force at work here. I do sympathize, though. Knitting seems to have eased my perfectionism quite a bit, but some things just don’t work…

  72. See, heres’s a thing about “mistakes.” Timothy et al have got it, and I shall contribute a little story myself. About Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, back when they were roomies before they transofrmed the art world along with Andy Warhol (although Rosenquist would want in, too). Seems Leo Castelli was coming over to look at some work and the place was a mess, had paint splotches all over and one thing they didn’t want to be was Jackson Pollock (especially the fact that he was dead by then.) So they carefully went around slpotching OTHER paint splotches around the room so the worst one woudn’t be so noticeable, would be balanced.
    When tinking and frogging because of a surface (as opposed to a fit) problem seems to me to be burdensome, I try just repeating the mistake instead, at regular or at deliberately random intervals, or maybe make sure that the “wrong” row is in the very middle of the blanket so it would look like a division, or at the toppish, so I could embellish it as a border somehow. Or thread a ribbon through it. Or something. I even find such situations more interesting than endlessly repeated patterns, but hey, that’s me.
    Rauschenberg once eraced somebody’s drawing, too. I don’t remember whose. See, ’cause Rauschenberg erased him…:)
    (DeKooning, really.)

  73. Okay… so I got free yarn from teaching on a train (long story… I’m not that great a teacher, just cast on cast off, so don’t stress about my expertise or anything…) and I had this really wonderful summer-weight scarf planned. The sort of thing that starlets would allow to flow out of their convertibles as they drove down highway one…the sort of thing that really has no business between my hammy fingers and post-apocolyptic house-keeping. But my lace pattern–this really intricate triple-row diamond pattern– was migrating. To the left. Without my permission. I took it to my LYS where these really sweet, really well dressed and cat-fur free women told me that I wasn’t decreasing right (really?) and that I would have to frog out the whole thing. All two feet. Well, this was really nice fiber and I had this “idea” thing going on (remember, movie starlet? red convertible?) so I went straight home, sat in the knitting chair, settled the toddler on one knee and the cat on the other half of my chest and proceeded to frog around the two bodies that perpetually ride any project I attempt. And then it hit me–I had been following a graph. I had followed a graph until the second repeat, when I had blindly assumed that I knew enough about what I was doing to continue on my own because following a graph meant that I had to add ‘pattern book’ to my list of things to have during knitting–yarn, needles, toddler, cat, pattern book– and this was just one too many things. And then it really hit to me. Until I was in that unhappy place in my life where I no longer had a toddler and a cat to sit on me when I was knitting, anything with a graph was sheer delusion on my part. And that plain stockinette with simple repeats was how God intended all mothers of toddlers and cats to knit. Remember– sometimes your knitting circumstances (in your case doing a tour of a really fantastic book that has given me and my knitting daughter more laughter than you will ever know) are actually more important (don’t fry me as I sit, o godsofwool) than the knitting itself. Besides–if you repeat a mistake consistently, it’s a pattern, not a mistake.

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