So Discouraged

After completing 21 rows of a shawlette, somehow I messed up and did not know how to fix the mistake as I could not tell if it was on a purl row or a knit one where the mistake was made. How did some of you learn how to fix mistakes? Nearest yarn shop is about 50 miles from my town

I liked doing mistake swatches…Swatches made for the sole purpose of inserting mistakes so I could learn how to fix them…lol

See if you can recognize some stitch pattern and rip back to one row before that stitch (maybe a recognizable yarn over?), then un-knit one stitch at a time to leave the row that you recognize on the needle.
In order to save yourself this problem in the future, it’s a good idea to insert a lifeline. That way, you can rip back to the lifeline, reinsert the needle and know where you are. There’s a video on the Tips section of Free Videos called Fixing Mistakes that wil show you how to do the lifeline. Use one every so often and it will help enormously.

Once you get your bearings again and find your knit or purl row, you could put a safety pin or piece of spare contrast wool on the knit side of your work, then you will always know which side you are on, tying a piece of contrast wool (or marker) every 6 rows (or whatever your repeat pattern is ) helps too, if you make a mistake you are only repeating 6 rows.
Hope this makes sense!

Keep you eye on the V’s and bumps…I am not sure of the pattern you are using (garter, stockinette etc ) or are you using straights or in the round? Anyway, when you find you boo boo I always use a smaller size needle (than the one your working with) and pick up my stitches are re start…