Lion Brand Notebook

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What Would YOU Do?

August 14th, 2008

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Your oldest and dearest friend is about to celebrate one of those big birthdays that end in the number “0″. For the last 3 months you have been working on a gift for her. It’s made with a beautiful color of yarn–you found the exact shade of her favorite color and you’re putting a lot of love and time into making this one-of-a-kind gift by hand. You’re about to leave for the party and you hold the finished item up to the light to admire it one last time before you wrap it. Uh, oh, you see a mistake. It’s not a big hole but it is a visible (if you look closely) imperfection in the stitching of one of the rows that would take an extra day to fix.

What do you do? Do you give her the gift on her birthday with the recognition that mistakes do happen and are even acceptable or do you tell her you have knit or crochet this special gift but it isn’t ready in time for her birthday, feeling that it’s more important to make it perfect?

  • Jane

    I’d give it to her and tell her about the mistake and let her decide whether to rip it out or just leave it.

  • Trish

    I’d give it to her. The slight imperfection gives the item character. Like a true friend, I’m sure she’d love it (mistakes and all).

  • Jane B.

    I would definitely present her with the gift that I so lovingly made for her. I would not point out the mistake. I would bring the left over yarn and a yarn needle in my purse and quietly after the party, tell her that I noticed I had left something unfinished and would she mind if I fixed it? Then I would repair the small hole. Nothing is ever absolutely perfect.

  • Patti

    I would give the item to my friend, show her the mistake, and offer to take it home with me and fix it. A good friend will be happy for the gift.

  • Carole Crowl

    I would definitely give her the beautiful gift. I would not point out the error but advise her a mistake was intentionally made within the item as no one and nothing is perfect in this world. This is also an Amish tradition in quilting.

  • http://knitfunctionalfamily@blogspot.com TiCo

    I’m the Queen of mistakes! I’d sew a felted shape over it that had significance to her character…or an artistic patch of some sort. But, I’d also tell her about the mistake and that I can take the shape or patch off and fix the mistake…it’s just that I wanted to give her her gift on time.
    Everyone has sent in a good solution here. I enjoy Carole Crowle’s response which reminded me how the Navajos intentionally weave mistakes into their rugs, to honor that God is the only one who’s perfect.

  • Tonya

    If she’s your oldest and dearest friend — she already knows your imperfections. :-)

    I’d give her the gift, tell her you noticed the mistake. Tell her you can fix it if she wants you to. Chances are — she’ll love it anyway — just like she loves you — anyway.

  • http://msn Daisy

    I have received a gift like this and it was so beautiful I did not want my friend to take it back to correct the mistake. What she did was spent some quality time with me and made a project of fixing it when she visited with me.

  • http://www.mintlatte.com Karen

    Gift it. I notice things and dwell on them, usually they are just tiny mistakes that no one else notices.

    Besides that, there is the miracle of duplicate stitch and many other ways to fudge a quick fix.
    I am not above any quick fix that will last and make a minor mistake less noticeable.

  • Karen Spils…

    I would give the gift at the party. If it was a dropped stitch, I’d tie a little yarn piece to keep it anchored and tell my friend that I’d repair it after the party.
    If she’s by best friend, she will love the gift mistakes and all.

  • http://ak-andreasknits.blogspot.com Andrea Hunter

    I’m a bit of a sticker for making and giving something to someone. I would carefully duplicate the stitch or stitches were the hole is and conseal it.

  • Yvonne Sanders

    i agree with Carole and TiCo. No one and nothing is perfect! it gives the piece character and makes it different from any other!

  • http://brooklynknitchick.blogspot.com/ Patty

    I would give the gift with a card that says “IOU one fix to hand knitting boo boo. If you can find the mistake before I fix it, you win a drink”

  • Rene’

    If the flaw could lead to a bigger problem, like a dropped stitch that might cause a run in other rows, I would mark the imperfection and present the gift at the party. Afterword, I would tell my good friend that I need to make a minor adjustment and take the project home for one more day.

    If the flaw is insignificant, would not effect wear and only I am likely to notice it, I would not ask for extra time to make the gift “perfect.”

  • IRENE sCHECHTER

    I have to differ with those who would give the imperfect item. Knitting is a pleasure, but it involves an investment (sometimes considerable) in time and money. The garment will hopefully be used for a long time to come, and it should be made as well as possible. I apply this rule for everyone I knit for, even for charity knitting when I don’t know the recipient.
    If I discovered a mistake at the last minute, I would tell my friend the truth: She deserves the best I can do. I would bring her a nice plant or her favorite flowers. I would then fix my mistake as soon as possible.

  • Carrie Bethel

    I would tell her “Happy Birthday” I know you think I’m perfect but just in case you find a small error in this, you’ll know I’m still working on “perfect” and maybe, just maybe, by your next big “O” birthday I really will obtain perfection. That will give you something to look forward to for the next ten years! ha ha

  • Delores Childress

    This is funny because it actually happened to me. It wasn’t for a birthday but for a babyshower. I have worked on it for almost 9 months. Designed, knitted and made it large enough for the baby to grow into it through life. Large enough for a full size bed. I brought the gift to the baby shower (with just maybe a week’s worth of work left to do) wrapped it up and told the mother to be that it wasn’t quite finished. To me it was better than not showing up without a gift. So my vote is present it with the explaination of it not being finished and it will be appreciated greatly

  • http://www.crochetandknit.blogspot.com Xia

    I would give it to her, show her the mistake, and let her decide what she wants done with it. Usually, the mistake is something you would catch, but not someone who’s not an expert in it.

  • Harriett

    Hand made, home made gifts are a treasure. The minor mistake is all about hand made gifts. I feel it adds genuiness, because it’s not perfect but made perfectly with love. Mistakes made on a hand made gift, reflects that people are not perfect, but we can perfectly love each other. That gift would be a testament to that. So I would give the gift anyway with perfect love. If the friend see’s it, and she’s a true friend, she will love it and the thought. Besides, someone would have to look mighty close to see that mistake, and the friend will decide if she wants you to fix it or not-which she will probably love it just the way it is-just because it’s an original.

  • Liz

    Quoteing a Navajo saying “Only the Great Spirit is Perfect”. Traditionally Navajo Rugs contained one mistake for that reason.

    But one that is very noticable, I would probably give the gift with the understanding that I would fix the mistake.

  • Jannette

    I’d give it to her, and tell her that I noticed a tiny mistake (I’m assuming it’s not something that will affect the wearability like a dropped stitch)- if she spots the flaw, I’d gladly fix it. If she can’t see it, then it’s a sign that I’m obsessing about something that’s really not that significant.

    (This has happened to me – I presented the gift, then took it home later to repair and returned it ASAP)

  • Norma

    Many people here have placed the responsibility for deciding whether or not to fix upon the recipient “let her decide”. I can’t think of any of my friends who would say “fix it”. So they are letting themselves off the hook. The best solutions offered so far, have been those in which the knitter takes responsibility and tells the recipient they will fix the problem. I especially liked the responses from Pattie and Rene. One caveat: you have not given a good description of the mistake and so that could make a very big difference in how to handle it. So minor that no one on earth would see it? Something that once seen, cannot be forgotten? Something that will damage the garment? If the first type, I might change my mind about my answer.

  • rita in alaska

    give it with a smile. one little glitch does not make the gift less perfect.

  • Ruth in Plymouth

    I would give them the gift, and write on the tag “What do you give, only to take back and give again?” The answer is love, which the gift was made with. Tell them that you aren’t comfortable with the mistake and will feel better when you return it to them properly completed. I have done this, and it worked very well!

  • Jeanne in Peabody

    I would give her the gift and explain that I saw an error when I was wrapping her gift up. I would then let her know that I’ll need to fix the error since I want her to cherish this gift for a long time. If she’s a good friend she’ll understand.

  • Kay

    I would not give my friend the gift until it is perfected. I would explain the problem, give her a card,and let her know her gift is on the way. I believe that with a friend honesty and truth is always best, and with a true friend always appreciated.

    Also, no one is completely perfect in every aspect of their life, but when developing a craft one should perfect it if not correct it!!!

  • Jeanine

    I was on the receiving side of this question. It came with a note “Do not see the mistakes in this, only see the love, prayers, and joy I included with each stitch.” That note helped all to remember the purpose of a gift made from the heart.

  • Geri

    Here’s what I’d do: take a small stitch holder and glue a long, maybe a 1/2 wide piece of paper to it. Then write on it “I hope you like this sweater I made for you. Right here is a teeny mistake I’d like to fix. It would only take a day. For you, only the best will do. Love, Knitwit (or whatever her name is)” Then roll the note up tightly like a curl and pin the holder to the hole. Add a small silk rose or maybe the receiver’s favorite flower in the pin and wrap it up! She’ll either cry or hug you to death!!!

  • Jane Z

    A long time ago, I was told never to point out your own mistakes, most people would never notice them. In any case, I would give the gift, tell her there was a small mistake (not point it out) and see if she could find it. Once she found it, her prize would be a trip to the coffee shop with me while I fixed it! A nice time to chat and knit!!!

  • Deborah in AZ

    There seems to be a consensus that we’d all give the gift. Whether to fix or not afterward isn’t so universal an answer. I would fix (or not) depending on how minor (or not) the mistake is and if the recipient is likelyto notice or care. I like Geri’s idea for the error that needs to be fixed. And no one seems to be thinking in terms of crochet rather than knitting. I do both. And how easy or difficult an error is to fix has some bearing on fixing it. I don’t think I’d rip out a huge section of a crocheted piece for anything short of a neon sign type error!

  • Vanessa

    As a perfectionist I would want to do the second choice, but as a friend, I would give it to her at the party because it’s been my experience that non-knitter don’t notice errors. They only notice the love that went into making it.

  • Rita in MN

    I agree with Rita from Alaska and Liz’s quote. A very small imperfection is not a problem-heck, it makes it one of a kind!

  • Zilicia

    Usually I find my mistakes way back at the beginning of the piece and spend HOURS ripping back to fix them, but after spending months on a project, if it were a mistake ONLY I would notice, I’d give it to my friend. But I would probably ask my husband and kids if they could find the mistake, first. If they could find it, then I would tell my friend there was a mistake that needed to be fixed.
    Since none of my friends knit, chances are she would just be thrilled with the gift, knowing how much time it took and APPRECIATE it.

  • cathy

    I would give it to her and then take it back and fix the mistake. After all she is a best friend and deserves the best.

  • Abby

    This exact scenario played out at christmas two years ago! I had spent months making a beautiful capelet for my sister, which I just barely managed to finish christmas eve…Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I finished off and was blocking it I noticed I had missed a stitch when making the mesh…Too late to go back and fix it (and that would have taken *days* at the rate I was going) I just gave it to her. I don’t remember if I told her about it or not, and you really can’t tell unless you really look for it.

  • http://lionbrand.com Sue

    I would give her the item and tell her about the slight imperfection. I would also tell her that it was something that I had just noticed. I would then offer to fix it, if she really wanted me to.

  • Janet

    Mistakes have become my trademark. I always seem to make at least one that I don’t notice. I tell my friends if it doesn’t have a mistake in it, then it is not a Jan original. Ha Ha. They love it because of this, it makes it unique, so go ahead give the gift.

  • tess tripicchio lamorte

    give the gift and offer to fix the mistake, then and there if possible.

  • Jennifer

    Fun question! I like the responses and the love shown in the discreet ways of handling the oops. From time to time, I turn a cable the wrong way, and have to go back and fix it. Ripping out is the only fix-it for that one. As it happened on a scarf for my Dad, I got 6 inches done before I noticed. He likes unique things, and might have liked it mistake and all, but he learned to knit in Korea, and would definitely know the difference. I’d rather give it “nearly finished” than present less than my best. On another piece, I just carried the (mistaken) pattern throughout the piece and it looked wonderful. You never know.

  • Maria

    That’s a good question. It depends who the best friend is, really. Usually (if it’s just a very small mistake and hardly notable, if at all) I would leave it in there. Small mistakes make things unique and are only notable to the trained eye – which there are far and few between. However, I do have a best friend who actually re-introduced me to knitting after 20 years again. I would have to consider all factors carefully with her. I know she would never mind, being an avid knitter herself. But with her, bless her heart, I would really consider with various factors.

    Generally, my friends are usually gobsmacked that you would give them something so unique and special and bother to MAKE something yourself rather than just going out and buying something. So mistake or not, they would always be beaming a big fat smile from the bottom of their heart.

  • Frankie

    I have made quilts for other that weren’t finished in time for the party. I take it with me, giftwrapped, along with another small present and tell the recipient that the quilt isn’t finished yet. This has always gone over quite well with the recipient and all the other guests who get the chance to see a quilt in progress.

    I would also like to point out that the Amish and Navaho “traditions” of putting a mistake into their work is a fallacy. While the story is quaint, it is not true. As both groups have stated, if they intentionally put mistakes into their work it would mean that they DO think they are perfect, which negates the reason for the intentional mistake.

  • Jackie

    Ok I am courious. What did you do, Ilana? You have gotten all of this great advice. How did the birthday go, etc.?

  • JV Malcolm

    Machines can make items perfect. We aren’t machines. Fix the mistake later.

  • MiMi AustinTX

    Jan here. Obviously, it takes all types of personalities to make the world go ’round!. No one is wrong here; the right thing to do is what works between you and the recipient of your gift. You know her best, so do what you know she’ll accept. I cannot imagine that anyone would look down her nose at a heart-felt, home-made gift. The thrill of receiving it would erase any misgivings about a “glitch of a stitch”! Personally, I have such a hard time making items and not unraveling rows if I have to just so the item can be perfect…and I’m not talking about a huge mistake either. I really need to “get over myself!”

  • Becky

    Not enough information for a definite opinion but if I am making her a dish rag in her favorite color, I’d give it to her and not point out the mistake as I’m hoping she will use it and it will get stained, stretched & frayed soon enough anyway. But if it is a sweater with the boo-boo right on front where everyone would notice, that’s another story and maybe the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” should really come into play — How many people do you know who really enjoy wearing items that scream “home-made” – the best compliment anyone can get when they give a homemade gift is “You made that? You wouldn’t know it was homemade!” That’s the type of compliment I’d like to hear about my project. I’d give a card with a note explaining that since I’m not perfect, my timing is imperfect and a gift is still coming. It isn’t about having my homemade gift there for others to see what I am giving her anyway, it is about how much I care for my friend and how she would feel using or wearing something I made (& if she would want to). If she never would want to wear it, then I’ve wasted my yarn money and time — except that practice helps to make perfect? :)

  • Christine

    By all means, give the gift and don’t take it back! Twenty-three years ago, a dear friend made a cross-stitch wedding sampler for my one-and-only marriage… but we had to change the date by one day at the last minute. The sampler showed the original date. She let us enjoy it for about a weekend, then took it back to fix. We never saw it again
    :-(

  • Nancy

    My grandmother always said, if you unintentionally make a mistake when knitting or crocheting, it makes it lucky for the person recieving it. So I never fix a mistake and I believe it gives them luck with the love.

  • Sonia

    I would show her the gift and let her see the mistake and tell her I am going to fix it, so at least she sees her present.

  • Lori

    I was in this situation not too long ago. I had crocheted a large doily and then noticed when it was finished that I had left out a stitch. I gave it to my friend and told her she could play “Where’s Waldo” and find the mistake if she wanted! She laughed and said that was how you could tell that it was handmade and not something that I “just went out and bought”. She was so happy that I would take the time to make something special just for her.

  • Vianka Miranda

    I think i would fix it b4 i gave it 2 her