A Mistake in the Stars (and what I did about it)

Note from Sandi: Welcome to my little corner of Knitting Daily! Every Thursday, I'll be sharing stories of my knitting adventures, as well as some tips and tricks I've learned along the way. Thanks for coming by!

Today continues my story of the Star Light, Star Bright Baby Blanket, a free pattern from Knitting Daily.

My favorite reader email this past week on the subject of mistakes came from Linda H., a quilter and a knitter. Her teacher had suggested she ask  this question when contemplating what to do about a mistake in her quilts: "Is this visible to someone going by on a galloping horse?"

I like that. Perhaps I will take my little star blanket and go in search of a few helpful Mounties, and ask them if they will gallop past and tell me if they can see my mistake.

Mistake? What mistake?

The first row of stars was perfect; the stockinette between the rows was flawless. But midway through the second row of stars, I knew something was wrong: I was supposed to be on a wrong-side row, according to the chart, but the right side was facing me. At first I hoped it was just a row-counting error, so I carefully counted…and discovered I had added an extra row in the middle of the star.

Considering that this pattern has pattern stitches on both wrong and right sides of the fabric (instead of patterning on the right side and all purling on the wrong side), adding that extra row was not an obvious mistake to make. (Clever me!) It took me quite a bit of careful examination and comparison to the chart to figure out where the actual extra row was: between rows 8 and 9.









Looking at the row of stars-gone-wrong (sounds like a bad reality show), I figured they would pass the Mountie-on-a-galloping-horse test; however, if I was not going to rip back and correct the mistake, I was going to have to make an adjustment somewhere before the top of the star in order to get the top to look right. In other words: I was going to have to add another extra row to get things back on track.

Rip back or add the extra row?

Oh, c'mon. This is me we're talking about. You've probably already guessed what I did: I added the extra row, between rows 14 and 15, working the new row so that it followed the lines of the star and wouldn't stand out. In fact…I liked the end result so much that I went back and carefully studied the stitches of my mistake row ("Row 8.5") so that I could duplicate this version of the stars in the rest of the blanket.

Why not just rip back?

Knitting patterns, like cooking recipes, are not written in stone. If you're a beginner, or if messing around with patterns isn't your thing, then by all means, knit the pattern as written and enjoy the heck out of yourself. But if you're feeling a tiny bit adventurous, a mistake can lead to some interesting lessons in stitch reading, stitch architecture, and pattern construction. While studying my mistake in the stars, I learned a ton about charting lace patterns, lace structure, and how all the different sorts of decreases are used to get a certain effect.

I'm now done with the third row of stars. Do I care that the rows of stars won't match each other exactly? No…first, because it's a baby blanket, meant to be drooled on, and second, because the stars in the sky are all different from each other anyhow.

Knit with joy,
– Sandi

Next week: I'm moving house again, this time to a small town a short distance away. Thus, I am packing madly and will be using the little Bolero project to console myself between boxes. Unless I can't put down the starry blanket, that is… Stay tuned and together we'll see what I end up working on!

P.S. Let me know what you think! You can leave a comment below or even email me at sandi@knittingdaily.com.

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62 thoughts on “A Mistake in the Stars (and what I did about it)

  1. Good fix, Sandi. If you are really into having a “balanced look,” you might want to consider making the last row of stars match the first row. That way the galloping mountie will think it was all done deliberately! Good luck with your move.

  2. I’m always telling the ladies in my knitting class that if you learn something new from your ‘mistake’ then it is not a mistake, but a new ‘technique’, just remember to write it down on the pattern so you can do it every time.

    I tend ‘fix’ my mistakes – except for once (Nordic Lights socks from The Eclectic Sole). All the other times I kept going because I believed I was right.

    Either way, you did the right thing.

    Good luck with your move!

  3. I think the learning experience is worth any number of mistakes. That’s what makes knitting so exciting, there is so much to learn. I wouldn’t have noticed any difference between those stars unless it was pointed out to me and I’m not anywhere near a horse, let along a galloping one (this is a good thing). Good Luck with your move.

  4. When I was a little girl my mother made most of my clothes, and when there was a tiny mistake in her beautiful work, she would say, “Who would know on a galloping horse?” I used to think that I was the galloping horse she referred to, running and jumping around so much that no one would ever notice a slight irregularity in Mom’s sewing or knitting. Later I realized what the expression actually meant. But I never thought of the Mounties riding by. Yum! Thanks for a great visual, Sandi. (Maybe they’re the Knitting Police I’ve heard tell of….)

    Love your new blog here. Once a week isn’t nearly enough…but much better than no Sandi at all.

  5. I’m with NancyN on making the last row of stars match the first.

    I’m knitting this blanket right now too! But I’m only midway through my first row of stars — still plenty of time to mess up 😉 We won’t talk about how many rows have been partially tinked because I’m foolishly trying to watch DVDs while knitting this.

  6. I have been knitting for more than 40 years and I am not sure that my every stitch was perfect. I really had to look closely for your error and my thoughts are that it makes it your very own pattern!

  7. Maybe you can alternate, one row of short stars, one row of taller ones, that would look intentional. Especially since I like your taller star better than the shorter one, I think it looks better, but that’s just me…

  8. Hi Sandi

    I knit this blanket for my daughter’s first baby in a cream colour. It turned out beautifully.
    Don’t worry about your so-called error. It’s called creative liberty!

  9. Sandi,
    This is a great idea for changing a pattern and making it your own.
    Good luck on the move. Packing is such a pain. I hope that the move is worth it to you. let us know how it all works out.

  10. I love reading stories about knitters far more experienced than I who make mistakes. It’s helped me learn to be much gentler on myself.
    Miss your regular column. And good luck with the move.

  11. When I make a mistake like that, I just continue on and try to make it looked as though I planned it by changing the pattern too. Then it looks as though it is my
    “creation” instead of something I copied. Mind you, I don’t set out to make the mistake. Somehow it just seems to happen! Good luck moving.

  12. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but I like the looks of the “mistake stars” much better than the ones that are the way they should be. I like that they stand out more….and just look better. I think you should make all of the remaining stars “mistakes.” Maybe you could alternate rows – there’s a thought. I love the “Mountie-on-a-galloping-horse test!” For sure I will remember that and use it as necessary. 🙂 Whenever I am teaching anyone to sew, knit, or whatever, I assure them that most everything they make will have some kind of a “mistake” in it (it’s usually by the creator’s definition), but they should never tell anyone or point it out to others. Probably most, or even all, would never notice and wiykd think that the item is wonderful, perfect even, so keep the information to yourself!

  13. Good Job! I always remind my classes that our “mistakes” become new patterns. Love the creativity and the flexibiity of making it your own.

    God bless on your move – take time to enjoy!

  14. HI, Sandi,
    I help teach knitting and other handwork at a Waldorf School. And of course everyone makes mistakes at least sometimes. One time I knit a fairisle vest and cast on 100 sts. too little. After about 4 inches I noticed that it didn’t fit anywhere around me. Well then I had to rip back. I told the kids about this and how even the best make mistakes. You have to look at them and decide how bad it is. Will you still be upset about them in ten years or can you live with them. After all, the Navajo Weavers make an intentional mistake so as not to offend the gods. Only they (the gods) are allowed to be perfect.

  15. The “mistake” stars are nicer….good call on not ripping back. When ripping becomes necessary,though, I always console myself with the thought that it is just more knitting…and that’s a good thing! ( Could it be that I am a process knitter?)
    Good luck with your move,Sandi.
    Mar H.

  16. It is all good for heaven’s sakes! What a lovely gift that baby will recieve! I really miss the regular “you” in Knitting Daily. You always bring a smile! Thanks and good luck with the move! Hope all is well!

  17. Umm, Sandi… I like your mistake star better, I think. And, OMG, moving TWICE in under a year? Holy cow–I’ve stayed put for 25 years because I’d have to bring out ALL the stash and don’t feel like being quite that honest (with myself or DH)!

  18. Sandi,

    Hear, hear! Examining and learning is half the fun. Finding a way to make it work without having to frog is even better.

    I agree, your modified star is more attractive than the original. Although it stands taller, I like it better because it is crisper around the top point. Sad that we all like tall and thin, since so few of us are – LOL!

    Love your Blog. Miss the dailies. Best wishes for a smooth move. Aren’t you coming up on an anniversary? Many happy returns of the day!


  19. hi sandy, i agree totally with what you say. as someone who looks at a pattern and immediately ‘sees’ a way to alter it for my personal taste which is subjective anyway, accidents can be viewed as lessons in stitch craft. we do of course get the occasional ‘humdinger’ which forces even the hardiest of us to pull back. lol.

  20. Sandi
    A comment my grandmother would make ‘only Allah is perfect’. The Arab rug weavers intentionally make a mistake in their rugs in order to be true to this saying. So remember ‘only Allah is perfect’.
    Love from Australia

  21. Sandi, just thought of something my older sister told me. Our mother was not a needle woman and once made Barbara a sports blouse for her first year at school and got the parts mixed up. She ended up sewing the collar where one of the sleeves should be and the sleeve where the collar should have been. Barbara said she could not work out why it looked funny.
    The mother of one of Barbara’s classmates rescued the garment and fixed the mistakes.

  22. Hi Sandi,
    I missed you and didn’t know where you were – I am glad I found you. Your Stars baby blanket is very cute and love the way you improvised. Exactly what I would do. I improvise when possible.!!
    Vanessa in Upstate NY

  23. I used to work in a quilt shop. One of the teachers used a phrase I liked, that might just apply here. “Remember, this is supposed to be FUN!”
    You just cannot get all tied in to knots (pun?) over imperfections. Knitting is definitely supposed to be fun, really fun!! Twinkle on!!!

  24. I have heard that the Amish quilters made a mistake accidentially or intentionally because “only God is perfect”, the baby blanket is yours, make it any way you wish! Love you, Mary sue

  25. You always teach me so much! This time to look at my work with “kinder” eyes. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. Wish you were still editor on the Knitting Daily but soooo glad I can at least find you here! Best of luck with your move, hope all goes well for you in all things….

  26. I agree completely with what KarinP said re Navajo Indians (the Navajo Weavers make an intentional mistake so as not to offend the gods. Only they (the gods) are allowed to be perfect.) My grandmother (who taught me how to knit) always said that only god (God) was perfect. Thank you for reminding me/us that it’s ok to err and to learn from our “mishaps”. Good luck with your move and keep something small handy to work on during the chaos!

  27. Sandi, funny this should be your topic. I am knitting Girosole and made a mistake about 4 inches down from where I was at the time I saw it. I couldn’t go down and catch it because of the pattern. So I asked 3 or 4 people to try to find it. Once none of them could I elected to leave it. This is a little different as your mistake took a positive turn. Mine was just plain lazyness…

    P.S. I too am in the middle of a move. Knitting is the only thing keeping me sane…well sort of

  28. Ugg two moves in a year. I moved once in 30 years and that was enough! I like the bigger star better so it wasn’t a mistake but an improvement in the pattern.

  29. Thank you for that, Sandi! “Is this visible to someone going by on a galloping horse?”. . . . I will remember this. I’ve gotten a whole lot less picky about this kind of stuff as I’ve gone on, but that test question is just great!

  30. I first thought I was looking for a purl row on the knit side. I couldn’t see it in the picture, and thought that it was pretty fine yarn. I read all the comments and everyone likes the redesigned stars best, I do too. Probably the original knitter that made the pattern had new bifocals or something. Perhaps she just did not experiment long enough to find the ‘correct’ pattern for the stars. Perhaps an error has occured in the printing of the pattern that caused it to be ‘wrong’. I wonder how much in the way of creativity, enjoyment, new ideas, perhaps earth changing, life enhancing ideas have been squashed by minds that are slaves to whatever ‘correct’ is perceived to be. I think I would have enjoyed knowing the lady mentioned about halfway down who mixed up the sleeve and collar. I do things like this (bifocalitis?) and it seems my girlfriends never have, or they won’t admit it.

  31. Hi Sandi! Thank you for this blog. I am semi-new to knitting, but am loving every stitch. (I’ve been crocheting for years). Since I’m obsessed with doing everything to the T and following the directions exactly, lace is proving a bit challenging to me (ripped and frogged anyone?). I just finished one of Samsoe’s scarves that was in the Summer edition of Interweave Knits, and love the scarf. What I love most was that when I did mess up, it really doesn’t affect the way the scarf is viewed. It still looks amazing, and I learned A LOT in the many hours I spent with that on my needles. Thank you again! I finally have “permission” to mess up.

  32. As I sat cursing the mistake that I had obviously made in an intricate lace patterned baby blanket, my husband told me the story of the Navajo blanket:

    Navajo weavers always incorporate a “mistake” into each weaving. This imperfection is intentionally woven into the corner to allow the Spirit to move in and out of the rug. The pattern appears to be perfect and then there’s one part of it that clearly looks like a mistake.

    Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection. Perfection is the ability to incorporate imperfection! There’s no other way to live: so embrace your “mistake” and live life to the fullest.

    Happy knitting!

  33. Dear Friend, have you already mentioned why you must always be moving? I am so rooted that the very idea of it shakes me up – anyway, I am thinking of you! As for the stars, I too prefer the “new design” star. It really does stand taller and look nicer. Hopefully you can incorporate them into the rest of the blankie – I’m sure that little baby will notice and appreciate her auntie’s signature touch! Sending lots of Kentucky love to you, Sandi, from

  34. My thoughts about mistakes is
    “Only Allah is perfect”
    According to reliable sources Tapestreis and Oriental rugs are always made with
    at least one “mistake” so as not to tempt fate. Don’t worry about the size of stars, they look gorgeous no matter how short or tall they are !! Enjoy your knitting.
    I hope you are well and enjoying what you are doing. You are missed.

  35. So good to hear from you – what a great example of working through a froggy decision. I just finished a downsize move, and my stash hasn’t caught up to me, but I love this baby blanket. Something starry sounds about right, and now that we have seen it worked out, nothing to stop making it shine!
    Betty in Texas
    p.s. look forward to keeping up with you on this blog! thanks!!

  36. Sandi, if the mistake does not make something unuseable, it is not a mistake, but a design element. The new design element makes the item you are making all yours, rather than just a copy of someone else’s. At least that is what my greataunt Honey told me, and she was someone who did enough needlework that she knew what she was talking about in my mind.

  37. We always said, “a man on a fast bicycle six feet away”.

    Many years ago, I made an Aran sweater, before the days when everyone had an Aran sweater. I didn’t even know that they were supposed to be off-white and I made mine blue. Anyway, I made a mistake at the beginning of the sweater and didn’t notice until I had nearly finished it. To me, it practically was a flashing light once i knew it was there, but I grit my teeth and decided to leave it and wear the sweater anyway.

    No one has ever noticed the mistake. I’ve been wearing the sweater for over 50 years.

  38. I like the new.mistake stars better too. looks more balanced to me. I have an idea for those of you who dont want the DH to actually understand just how big your stash is or just need to manage it a bit better. the space saving totes are just great. I got like 3 good size bags in one large tote. Just an idea, not trying to sell a pitch here. I am going to have to be moving and was concerned about a leak where I have to store stuff.

  39. Great to hear from you Sandi – we miss you! I agree with the thought that the stars in the sky are not all alike and only undo if the mistake is going to bother “you” (the knitter). A lot of new ideas come from mistakes.

    Sorry you have to pack up again – what have you done to have to keep moving on? (Just kidding!)

  40. This is my first time reading your blog. I like this expanded version of What’s on Sandi’s needles( or did I just not know where to look for it? ) Keep the close up photos comming, they make your descriptions clearer for beginners. I love this blanket and your “mistake”.

  41. Thanks Sandi–good subject. When to just leave the mistake, does it actually add to the overall look or is it definitely a sore spot, is the questions. In this case I too would choose to leave it because it is not that apparent and adds to the hand-made look. However, when a stitch patterned super sweater with entangled cables is featured on the front page of a brochure–it should be correct, right? Bernat had such a brochure with an obvious cable error–my eyes just went right to the error immediately–evidently non-knitters were the editors but the person making the garment should have realized the mistake and fixed it. In this case I would just rip the stitches involved and rework them–done it before and more than likely will do it again–peace of mind, right?

  42. I agree with you, Stars in the sky are not the same! Here,here!
    But ,if I had made the mistake it would bother me and I would have taken it out!
    It’s really a lovely blanket and maybe my next grandchild (oldest daughter just had her 9th baby) will get this blanket.

    Good luck on your move and I look forward to the next “Sandi’s Adventure in Knitting”.

  43. Hadn’t heard about Navajo Indians, but I remember that when I was upset about a mistake in an intricate cable and fairisle jacket I was making, my late husband, an architect, told me that in Japan all buildings have a deliberate mistake in them. Probably for the same reason. So I left it. However, sometimes I do unrip and fix a mistake (it nearly always happens as I reach the shoulders of a garment, probably getting too assured thinking that I know what comes next and not concentrating on the printed pattern). Good luck with your move.
    Regards from another Aussie reader.

  44. I am not happy with the way things are now and not receiving YOUR Emails 5 days a week. What can be done about this? I am not able to understand all the time how to get to your what you call Blog? Is there a way to receive this each day?

    Wish that enought people would complain and have you back where you should be. Thanks for any help you can give to make my computer reading much happier.

    Teri Casteel

  45. My children decided long ago that whenever I “made a mistake” it was the mark of my creative individuality, and that no one would probably notice it anyway.

    go for it-just add the rows!

  46. How wonderful to still be able to connect with you! I hope you are loving your new life in Canada, despite all the moving. Will you have a lovely work room like in your last house?

    I like your attitude about the mistakes we make and i often do the same thing; will someone who’s not an expert who’s looking for mistakes really notice that I put a loop there instead of a whorl? Not usually. In fact, truth be told, I can’t even see a difference between your first star and the second!

    Looking forward to future posts!

  47. I love that the stars aren’t all the same because that’s how they are in the sky. They are all special and unique just like the baby you’re knitting them for. It’s a beautiful blanket, and the recipient should treasure it very much. I wish you luck and I really miss your daily posts, I have to say.

  48. Loved your comments about not ripping out. I am not quite this experienced a knitter, but am working on it with much adventure, courage, and twisted hope.