Perfectionism and its dangers to knitters

perfectionism quote Julia CameronPerfection = everything is exactly the way I think it should be.

Perfectionism wormed its way into my psyche when I was a small child. It’s taken years to weed out. I always appreciate when a comedian or TV show pokes fun at those of us who deal with it.

Have you ever seenĀ Grace and Frankie? It stars Jane Fonda as Grace. She’s an immaculate socialite and retired CEO of her own beauty empire. Lily Tomlin is Frankie, the hippie artist; a pot-smoking, bleeding-heart liberal. The female odd couple become housemates following their respective divorces. Their husbands are partners in a law firm and have fallen in love with each other.

Aside from the star wattage and the laugh-out-loud writing, I love seeing the differences between Grace and Frankie play out. The women gradually influence each other in positive ways. (Even characters in their seventies are capable of growth and change.)

It’s easy to point to Grace as the ultimate victim of perfectionism.

Her wardrobe, her makeup, and her carefully frosted hair support this. (I suspect Jane Fonda required the show writers to mention her tiny physique at least once per episode.) Everything is carefully prescribed in her life, from her social calendar to the arrangement of furniture in the living room. At first glance, Grace suffers the most from the unexpected schism in her life. She certainly complains about it the most loudly.

Yet Frankie has her own brand of perfectionism too. She has very clear ideas about what should be. Food should be organic; guns are bad no matter what; traditional medicine is suspect.

When we encounter another human being (not, if God is easy on us, our brand-new roommate) whose ideas are equally grounded and diametrically opposed to our own, how do we respond?

And what does this have to do with knitting?
You will meet people who say to you, “You’re holding it wrong.” “There’s a better way to do that.” “Try this instead.”

When this happens, just remember where you are. Do you WANT to try a different way of purling or binding off or whatever? If so, go for it. Remember that it might feel awkward at first. Is it worth pursuing right now? Or is it something to file away for later? You are not on deadline.

Thank your would-be teacher politely and decline her instruction. She may take umbrage. “I’m only trying to help.” Smile, acknowledge her effort, and continue on your (perfect) path.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.