The Intentional Mistake


I recently took a knitting class with a lady who said that according to the Amish, “You have to make a mistake in your knitting or you tempt the devil.” Another woman said it holds true for sewing and quilting projects too. The Amish will deliberately insert a mistake in an otherwise perfect quilt.

Lucky for me I don’t have to insert a deliberate mistake! Being fairly new to knitting, I insert them without thinking. :)  The shawl above is my first completed knitting project. I tried to be creative and added a section in a different stitch that wasn’t in the pattern (it’s the eyelet stitch in light blue near the bottom). Unfortunately, I did that part “inside-out”. So that section looks better on the wrong side.

I like the idea that I can consider it a feature, not a bug. I’m only human after all. Why else create something homemade if it doesn’t have a little humanity in it!

Persians put deliberate mistakes into their carpets. As followers of Islam, they believe that only Allah can make things perfectly. They don’t want to offend Allah by presuming that a human could produce something perfect.

According to Nizhoni Ranch Gallery, “The weaver intentionally created differences (mistakes) in this Sandpainting [rug], so as it would not be perfect and disturb the gods.” (See top left corner in screenshot below.)

Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 3.22.01 PM

So the next time you make a mistake remember, you’ve just reminded yourself that you’re human and added some charm to your work at the same time. It’s now a one-of-a-kind piece!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, May 20th, 2019 at 7:42 pm and is filed under Amish, Arts and Crafts, Countries & Cultures, Iran, Knitting, Mama Lisa, Navajo, Navajo Rugs, Persian Carpets, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “The Intentional Mistake”

  1. Elizabeth Chamberlin Says:

    Actually, I don’t think this is true, at least not in my community. I’m Beachy Amish, and live in the 3rd largest Amish community. This is not a thing in my community, though it may be so in a more strict community. We strive to do our best and not make mistakes.

  2. Sarah Neufeld Says:

    Thanks for this post! I had read something similar in a book on knitting (whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten); in that instance, I believe it was either the Irish or the people of the Faroe Islands who intentionally added a mistake to anything they knitted, and it was indeed to avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention from the supernatural. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if multiple cultures had similar superstitions. …And I don’t think you’ll have to worry about anyone noticing your “mistake”; that’s a lovely shawl. ^_^

  3. Carol Says:

    I am a quilter, there is always a mistake in my quilts no mater if intentional or not. We have recently moved back from TX to our home state of MI, after being gone about 19 years. I have been making lap quilts to keep busy. Since Aug, 2019, I have made, all were quilted, not tied, and either donated or ready to donate to someone who needs a hug. The count is now at 69 quilts. Enjoying my hobby again which started in 2000.

  4. Dale Cheek Says:

    Most current posts that I see seem to credit the “purposeful mistake” to the Amish and then say that it is a myth. I know nothing about the Amish-purposeful mistake, but I do think such a thing existed—although I have always heard it expressed as lucky vs. unlucky. My non-Amish southern great grandmother was a professional seamstress in the late 1800s and into the mid-1900s. I have one of her amazing appliqué quilts and it definitely has the “error”—using a different fabric for one of the appliquéd bushes.

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