The Pros and Cons of being a Perfectionist

Like all of us, I have both strengths and flaws.  I am very self-critical, so I tend to inflate my flaws and downplay my strengths.  I am also a perfectionist, a trait that I consider to be both a strength and a flaw.

For example, I recently knit up a chemo cap for a dear friend with lung cancer (I take comfort in the fact that her prognosis is very good).  I am a process knitter, which means I am much more interested in the knitting itself and less focused on the finished object.  It also means that I am willing to rip back and re-knit a project several times over until I get it right.  I actually did fairly well on the chemo cap, I only had to unknit small sections.  But, by the time I finished the cap, I had discovered several places where I thought the pattern could be improved.  I seriously contemplated ripping the whole cap back and starting fresh using the pattern enhancements I designed.  David convinced me to send it as-was, but I had to channel that dissatisfied energy somewhere. So, I knit up a cotton version of the cap using my own redesigned pattern. That version is pictured in the photo on the left.

The other downside to being a process crafter (I have the same approach regardless of whether it is knitting, sewing or embroidery) is that once a project is done, I psychologically move on. I rarely remember to take photos of my finished work, which is why I don’t have a photo of the original cap I knitted.  I embroidered a pillow for my best friend and forgot to take a photo of it before I mailed it off.  This is after I spent weeks working on it.  And, it was undeniably my best embroidery to date.  She has promised to send me a photo of it though.

This morning I woke up to an email from my friend thanking me for the cap and complementing me on my knitting skills.  So, I guess David was right, it was just fine to send the cap off as it was.  Nonetheless, I have no regrets for the time I spent working on the pattern improvement.  Now that the second cap is done, all of the associated angst is out of my system.  I have started on my next project. A poncho–yes, I know it is summer, but I am hoping I will finish it by late August when the evenings start cooling down.  I am combining 2 patterns (which for me is par for the course) which generally means I will need to rip back at least a couple of time.  But, I am working with a fuzzy yarn, which makes ripping back challenging.  I will have to take it as an opportunity to challenge my perfectionism.


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