When I was a child, I fell asleep under a quilt handstitched with appliques of little dolls on a bed of yellow ginham and green twill. In one quadrant of the coverlet there was a odd square of pink chintz, a piece of cloth that violated the incredible artisanry of every tiny matched stitch, every well-ordered block. If that quilt had not had that strange and obvious error, I might have slept under it for years without ever realizing that the quilt was handmade. As it was, I fingered that garrish piece nightly, contemplated the sewing of the quilt and imagined a its history, wondering what its maker was thinking when she interrupted the quilt's perfection. Surely she didn't stitch in the pink square without realizing that it could never pass as correct. Surely the patch was a deliberate mistake.
This quilter's decision to put a deliberate mistake into her work unites her with countless other artisans from around the world. The makers of those meticulous Persian carpets made obvious errors in their rugs to show that noone was perfect except Allah. Some people believe that the Gods might be angry about arrogance of a human effort to produce a work of art without imperfection. Navajos thought evil spirits could escape only through an error in art.
Some people question the truth of the idea of the deliberate mistake. For example, one source quotes an interviewer who suggests that Amish quilters, often believed to use the deliberate mistake in order to prove they were not prideful, actually believe that "an intentional error is saying just the opposite--that their work is perfect and that they would have to be purposeful in order to make mistakes." Another analyst suggests that quilters, when asked about the concept, uniformly reply, "I make enough mistakes without making them on purpose." Wouldn't it be more arrogant to believe that one has to make a deliberate mistake in order for the quilt to be imperfect?
I did not need to make my mistake deliberately, but I did have to make a commitment to keep it in my knitting. I tried first to correct it--and proceeded to screw it up a bit more. I could have ripped out a couple of rows--but I did not. Learning to live with my mistakes occasionally helps me break my perfectionist streak and its stranglehold over my productivity. It is this mistake that separates my Icarus from the zillions of other Icari appearing all over blogland and the Stitch-n-Bitch Universe. It is these little mistakes we make that remind me that our works are made with our hands, our hearts.