The Stages of a Project Gone Wrong

by Sonia Ruyts

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of beginning a new project. There is so much potential at this stage!  You get to choose the pattern, play with fiber and color options, peruse other projects on Ravelry, dive into your stash, or even go shop for new yarn. This stage is pure bliss. Nothing has gone wrong, and all you see before you is how enjoyable the process will be or how much you’re looking forward to wearing or gifting that finished object.

If you’ve been making things for any amount of time, you’ve probably had more than one bump along the road to a finished project.  You misread a pattern, end up with wonky stitch count, or just don’t know what happened and throw your project in time out.

This happened to me recently, and in reflecting on what I could have done differently, I realized there’s often a pattern to my behavior when starting and working on a knitting project.

Maybe you’ll recognize yourself here too…

Stages of a Project Gone Wrong and How to Get Unstuck

Stages of a Project Gone Wrong

Excitement & Obsession

A new yarn or pattern beckons, and you can’t wait to get started!  You keep going back to your stash or to the projects on Ravelry, examinining all of your options and every combination of possibilities. You may also get a little stuck here in analysis paralysis


This is the stage where you should be thoroughly reading your pattern, gathering supplies, doing a gauge swatch, and making sure you have enough yarn. This stage is crucial in minimizing the potential for knitting attacks later!

The Beginning

You finally cast on and get started!  Things are humming right along, and you’re happy to finally be working on this project you were so excited to begin.

The Bliss

Things are still going well. You’re smitten with the fabric that you’ve created, you’re in love with the colors, you can’t wait to sit down and knit on this project each day.

The Realization Creeps in

But then something’s not quite right. Perhaps you feel like your knitting just doesn’t look “right”. Perhaps you left a little imperfection a few rows back and it keeps staring at you.

I’m here to tell you that the first inkling of trouble is an excellent time to STOP KNITTING.

Take a break. Get out your pattern. Check the vital signs of your knitting. Check your dye-lots. That niggling feeling or dissatisfaction most likely won’t go away, so it’s best to address it right away. Otherwise, you will potentially have a bigger problem later.


You chose to ignore that feeling and tried to rationalize the situation instead.  You may find yourself making statements like “Well, it’s not going to be that much bigger”, “No one will even notice that twisted stitch”, “These shades of purple aren’t that different.”

These moments in denial can result in you spending time making something you’ll be dissatisfied with in the end. At best it’s a little niggly twisted stitch. At its worst, you’ll end up with a garment that’s way too big or too small, or a piece that has obvious lines in unflattering places where you changed yarns.

Ask for Help

This is an option at any point in a project, but one that we’re often hesitant to utilize. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned after all this time helping people at the shop: you’re not the first person to make this mistake. It’s fixable, and if it’s too far gone you can always start over!  Show your work to a knitting friend, ask a question at your LYS, or spend some time researching online.


You’re pissed for not stopping sooner. You may take this rage out on the designer, the yarn dyer, the people at the yarn shop who sold you the “wrong” needles, etc. You’re angry with yourself for not paying attention to that feeling that something was off, and now it’s an even bigger problem.

This is a good moment to set the offending project aside and take a break. We affectionately call this “putting your knitting in time out”. Where you cannot see it. You need a break from one another. Coming back to assess the situation on a different day could be just the trick.  After all, there is still a chance things aren’t as bad as you thought… (See denial above)


You finally realize that there’s no going back.  The mistake has been made, and you have a decision to make. Rip and reknit?  Forge on and gift it to someone who actually has two different sized feet?  This moment can feel heavy, but it’s also liberating.

Falling back in love

You pushed through the the knitting during your grief phase, and it looks so much better.  Slowly the love comes back, and you feel gratitude for taking the time to fix it rather than keeping it as is and being dissatisfied in the end.

The Finish Line

You did it!  You persisted through the highs and lows of a tricky project, and you’ve hit the finish line. Congratulate yourself on a job well done and celebrate your accomplishment. Knitting is a slow and careful craft that takes time and skill to perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself when things don’t turn out perfectly in the beginning. Yarn can always be reknit, and there’s something to be learned from each project.

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Do you recognize yourself in these stages?  When was the last time your project attacked you?  Let us know in the comments below!

Stuck? we can help! We offer a variety of knitting & crochet classes monthly, including a personalized Knitting Help sessions.

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1 Comment

  • Susan says:

    Just reading through some of your blogs. This one really hit home. I have know all of those stages! Such good advice. I’ll try to hold these thoughts….stop, look, and listen for advice, and not quit!!

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