How to Fudge

By Ann Shayne
March 12, 2019
Field Guide No. 10: Isabell Kraemer designs, Jill Draper yarns, perfect together

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  • LOL. It should be fun, or it’s not worth knitting. One sweater, after finishing and washing, was just too big all over, so I put it (damp) into the dryer for several minutes. Fulled a bit, shrank a bit, and was still beautiful (Icelandic wool).

    • After this great article on fudging, I feel like a whole new person. What a relief to find out there are other fudgers (but not on purpose) like myself existing in the knitting world around me.

  • Fudge, I have been for years!! Your sweater is lovely. Steven B calls mistakes creativity, I have a friend who calls them embellishment. Either one or the other it’s ok to fudge.

    • I’ve always called it a design element.

  • Mmmmmm . . . fudge!

  • Did it go from the bag (of shame) to a FO?
    Mic drop.
    Lesson: fudging is a necessary knitting tool.

    • Yes! Imagination and Fudging are necessary knitting tools!

  • Nicely done. I thought I was thr only one with knitting bags of shame. Also, I love the cardi Caitlyn is wearing. What is that pattern?

    • It looks like Ramblin Woman.

      • Thank you. I think you are right. The picture of it belted on Ravelry through me off. I am a big fan of her designs.

  • One of my very favorite articles so far!

  • Remember everything has to have an imperfection to encourage us onto aiming for perfection. Only the Goddess is perfect!

    • When I started making quilts and the inevitable mistakes would creep in and drive me crazy, my instructor told me the Shakers deliberately included an imperfection in their work because only God could be perfect.

  • Oh do I feel better about the bit of fudging I did on my Sail-Away Shawl!

    My mother used to say, “No one riding by on horseback could see that… it’s ok !”

  • I like to think of it as making my creation unique. 🙂

  • Duplicate stitch is our friend. Always my first thought after the “what the ****” moment.

    • Right there with you!

  • I happily trudge all lace patterns. One stitch too much between markers? There goes an extra decrease…. One stitch or yarn over missing? There goes make 1…. Our two. And manage to forget where the mistake happened by carefully squinting while blocking it.

    • Yes, me too. Tearing back lace is too painful to consider for a minor blem.

      Love this article!

      • Agree – not just lace, but brioche when you are in Section 4 of the Sprouting Brioche shawl and have to go back 10 rows…

  • So much in life seems to not allow much fudging – the fact that we can in knitting is one of the things that is great about it. Fudge it!

  • Love…. thank you for this!

  • I’m so relieved that I can now call the thing something more satisfying – namely ‘fudged’ news (lol) Thanks Ann ❤️

  • I had some guilt about “fudging” on my Chauncey sweater but not anymore. Thanks for your encouragement!

  • well I don’t know surely the leaves were meant to reverse, it looks fine to me, actually quite stunningly good.

  • love this so much! and agree with probably all the comments. as i get old(er) fudging becomes easier, because i do not give myself a hard time over it anymore. so let’s fudge along happily!

  • “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

    Nicely done on both sweaters! ❤️

    • One of my favorite quotes!

  • If you want perfection buy a commercial sweater; fudging is the beauty of Handmade.

  • You are a woman after my own heart.

  • This is a post for the ages. Fudge it!

    Nobody ever notices that the colorwork on my Hadley sleeves is not identical. Although maybe I can dig up a picture with Veronik smiling that “I’m not saying anything” smile!

  • You make me feel so much better!!!!

  • Fudging? Creativity? Same thing in my book. I once “steeked” a sweater down to size with scissors and a sewing machine. Was it “knitterly”? Who cares? It now fits, I love it, and it makes a great template for future sweater sizing. I love your sweater. Sometimes I think the yarn is Everything.

  • If I wanted a perfect sweater, I would go to Kohl’s and buy a machine knit $30 sweater. It’s the flubs and fixes that make handknits treasures.

  • I just love this whole piece! In a world full of ultra sensitivity and pricklyness (may not be a word), it’s lovely to be assured that perfection is not the goal (again….unless it’s heart surgery), but the serendipitous end of a pleasant journey. That to me is why I knit….or read.
    I so enjoy this site. So glad I discovered it. The writings and reader comments, make me wish I could be I. Your knitting groups❤️

  • Years ago a friend gifted me a lovely aran sweater. The pattern had offered two options on the sleeve – one was a normal tubular shape and the other was more of a modified batwing. I didn’t notice I had one of each until I had worn it a few times. I still love the sweater – and, I never told her!

  • It is amazing the things you don’t notice while knitting. The number of times I’ve started making a pair of left hand gloves…

  • I LOVE fudge!> lol

  • I love this article. It’s very soothing.

  • I thought that whenever you made a mistake you could just call it the ‘devil’s eye.’ I probably have this a bit wrong, but the idea is that if your handmade craft object is perfect, the Devil will be jealous and steal it. If there is just one error, the Devil will leave it alone. Who wants perfection? Not me, I want my sweaters safe from the Devil’s clutches!!! And I agree with the lovely who said if you want perfection, buy a machine-made, commercial sweater!

  • By the way, the very best recipe for Fudge I have ever tasted can be found at the back of a children’s book called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming.

    • I love that book! So much better than the movie!

  • Perfectionism isn’t really very healthy anyway. We’re mere humans after all, so let’s celebrate and all have fudge!

  • I’m always fudging – add a stitch here, decrease a stitch there. With my bang out sweater this past week, however, had the entire thing blocked and discovered sleeves (esp. the underarm) fell too low and couldn’t move my arms. Next week, will rip out everything to the cables in the yoke, and try again!

  • Oh good lord. Kay, you are a treasure. That Birkin is beautiful, you know it, and you’re a doll. ❤️ Fudging is absolutely essential in every knitter’s toolkit. YOU GOTTA FUDGE, or you’ll be knitting the same garment/scarf/potholder for-freakin’-ever. That’s the truth, and it’s one every knitter has to accept. I accept it philosophically; it’s all one can do.

  • I concur that this is a post for the ages. What I really treasure is seeing half assery mentioned early in the missive. Not sure I have seen before with knitting. Alert the Oxford English Dictionary!

  • I love this post!! It’s hard for me to let go of my tendency of perfection in myself. I’ve recently looked at the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi and am learning to embrace the imperfections of my knitting:)
    Besides, I don’t knit well enough to know how to correct errors in my knitting so I have to just “let it go” lol

  • I had to stare at that Bergin for a full two minutes before I caught it. Never in a million years would have caught it without being told first. Makes me feel better about the uneven sleeves on my first 100 Acts of Sewing tunic.

  • Cannot ignore the enthusiasm I posess over the fieldguide #1, Downtown. The yarns look stunning;problem being I have soooo much yarn. I know I will take my time with the guide before placing my order.

    Also, thank you Anne for sharing fudge. I have never had anyone open up to me on the theory. Also interesting Miriam Webster (as always).,

    Laura Shosh

  • Thanks for making those of us that find a mistake, and sit a bit to decide if it’s worth correcting or it adds character. Usually I decide the latter and keep going!

  • I once saw a segment of a cable twisted the wrong way on a sweater festured on the front cover of Vogue knitting magazine! Perhaps they should have tried “fudging it.”!

  • The yarn Harlot calls those fudges “design elements.” Whatever saves me from rippin, I’m all for!
    I have some yarn and #10 on the way, and I can’t wait to knit that Petula.

  • Fabulous attitude! That’s getting it done.

  • I once read that Persian rug makers purposely insert one mistake into their beautiful rugs, to show humility before their Maker. A sort of, “I acknowledge my humanity” type thing. I think that works for beautiful sweaters, too.

  • Y’know, another descriptive phrase for this is,”Creating an Individual Design Feature.” I like the little switcheroo – it’s really kinda cute! And the Hadley – all I see is that incredible colorwork. Damn right!:)

  • I hate to admit this, but I put a stitch marker on an error and frequently don’t correct the good majority of them, give the item to whomever and they ask, “What is it?”, and I say, “It’s a “what is it!.

    Or, when I’m really feelin’ it, or perhaps it’s too late, I come back with a French knot or a crochet stitch of some sort on top of the ‘goober’, both sides, of course….. then declare my errors to my gift recipients.

    ((:#* )) LOL!!

    Fudge, eh? Makes me hungry for some. ((@@,./’;,./’;

  • I knit for fun and because I love to knit. Last time I noticed only my grandchildren are perfect! Fudge on, People.

  • A quilter friend of mine says to ‘measure twice, cut once, …. and fudge till it fits.’

  • So happy to read this, as I am a champion fudger. And yet I’ve always felt guilty about it. But a few months ago I read a comment from Jane Thornley to the effect of, who cares if you’re off a yarnover?And I started thinking how ridiculous it is to feel guilt over fixing a misplaced stitch. I like your I-65 idea, too. Most people are just not going to notice!

  • Very funny! Kudos!

  • I pretty much have a moment with every pattern where I have to fudge -usually when the stitch count is off 1 or 2 stitches…fudging is just being creative! Is the way I see it…

    • Creative, indeed! I agree.

  • I fudge all the time. After all, centuries ago, didn’t young girls make intentional mistakes in their samplers because only God was perfect?

  • “Yay” for fudging! Great article. Love it! Thanks Ann

  • I see fudging is universal! My difficulty is persuading myself to live with the mistake. It seems such a pity to let a mistake go in such a labour of love. If the mistake is too far gone, I try to tell myself that not only will no one see the mistake, but also that I will have forgotten about it shortly after finishing the piece.

    It’s a similar situation to when you cook a meal for guests. Unless the meal is a total culinary disaster, no one will notice anything so long as you keep mum.

    But I have to admit to tinking back…often!

  • P.S. I looove your Birkin. That and the black and white version by Dreamsbythesea that you featured in an earlier post have been making me dream about making one of my own!

  • I love this, and wish I had seen it 50 years ago! I have always fudged and felt guilty about imperfections in my knitting but as I got older (and older) I stopped worrying so much. Nobody notices!! Most people are so impressed by handknit items that they don’t mind the imperfections, even if these are pointed out to them. And now, I don’t point them out. I love the process of knitting and the feeling of accomplishment when an article is finished. That is enough for me! Thanks for this, Ann, it’s a keeper!

  • That was my mother’s phikosophy. In HS it wasn’t mine. Today? I think I’m caught in the middle with wanting to fudge being the cause of far too many WIPs/UFOs.

  • My rule has always been “Can you see it from Route 95? A fellow knitting friend called it a “design opportunity”

  • Thanks for this!! I had to fudge on my sister-in-law’s wedding shawl by leaving out a section of lace at the end (single skein gradient, adapted pattern, wedding date fast approaching, etc.) and I was a little perturbed until I was reminded that honey, nobody at the wedding is going to be proofreading that shawl against the pattern.

  • Oh thank you for giving me permission to fudge up by projects! I love knitting, but I knit fast, hard, and sometimes watching news, series, and whatnot, so of course, I am liable to screw up more than once! But I look at my project, fix my little boo boo as much as possible, and then say “Is anyone really going to notice this?” I usually answer to myself “No” – they will say, oh my goodness – that is so pretty – and I exclaim – yes, and I knit it – with a grin from ear to ear! so thank you for allowing all of us to “fudge”!

  • Great article
    .. I feel better now as I have
    Have “fudged” in the past! Love it!!

  • I think I missed something until reading this article. I was about to TINK several rows of a project because I missed the 2 stitch increase in circumference. I have, in my mind, already devised the WAY of the FUDGE.
    As a reborn knitter, is is good to know that I don’t have to do it as perfectly as I learned in 4-H as a child. Love your dry and whimsical stories.

  • I follow this technique….As long as the fudging does not affect the overall construction of the project…..l call it cheating….done on almost all project…NO SUCH word …perfect when I knit

  • I did a silly thing when I stopped knitting in the middle of a row and went to bed. I picked it up the next day and started to knit in the wrong direction. I didn’t notice until I had done about 10 more rows of 164 stitches. Needless to say I had a hole. I was pondering ripping back ( I’m kinda anal about mistakes) but I just unraveled that one row and hooked the stitch to the stitch next to it. No hole, picked up the stitches and knit on. Saved me hours ( I’m a slow knitter) of time. Yea fudging! Also learned a valuable lesson, never stop in the middle of a row!

  • I love this! I was just having a discussion about this with a fellow knitter. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and kind of goes nuts if the stitch count is off. Me? I am an expert fudger.

  • Ahhhhh! What a breath of fresh air!!! Thank you, Ann.

  • And the name of the cardigan that is next to you???

  • Git ‘er done! I’m all for fudging; who’s going to know?

    I love your expression in that picture with Caitlin. You look like a naughty child who’s sure she’s getting away with something!

  • Just love to read your posts everyday but this one is special. I cannot stop laughing at the 70-mph rule! Brilliant!!!

  • You changed “Ohhhhh, Fuuuuuudge!” to “Yay, fudge!” ❤️

  • I love the cardigan Caitlin is wearing. Would you please tell me the name of the pattern? She has so many gorgeous patterns on Ravelry and I’d like to easily find this one. Thank you

  • I SO agree! People I know are horrified at my ‘cavalier’ attitude about mistakes, but even my most obsessive self agrees that fudging is the way to go 99% of the time!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been an off and on knitter for years and often could not relax, especially after I had gone back 10 rows to correct an error, or simply didn’t finish a project. I am finally letting go and starting to actually relax and enjoy knitting. Thank you so much for this article.

    • Problem with fudging is you have to know how to knit well in order to fudge well!

  • I started enjoying my knitting so much more when I stopped insisting on perfection. Especially once I realized it really was not noticeable in the finished project.

  • I encountered a woman of refreshing good attitude some time ago at a now defunct knitting group I attended. She was with us briefly, lonely, in town because of her husband’s work and looking for a little companionship, and just a gentle reminder or two of what she’d been taught as a child. By the time she returned for her second session, she was nearly finished with her almost finished first project – something sensibly rectangular, a placemat I think – and someone at the table noticed a dropped stitch about an inch from cast on. She, without hesitation and with absolute good humor, slipped the piece off the needle and began frogging away. When the rest of us were done clutching our left chests and making gurgling noises(because on the whole it was beautifully knit), I took note of her attitude, and it’s stuck with me ever since. She reminded me by her demeanor – this is supposed to be fun! That’s why we’re here! Get those shoulders down from your ears and smile at your mista….uh….creative decisions. Enjoy!

  • I fudge so often, you could pour a sweater over ice cream and make a sundae. Unless I go WAY off course, I fudge rather than rip.