After we’ve been knitting or crocheting awhile, we begin to discover that some of the decisions we made early in our crafting careers may not have been the most informed of choices. They cost us money, take up space in our crafting storage bins, and, in some cases, haunt our future projects and pursuits. Today, I want to take a moment and discuss some of my own mistakes – in hopes that those reading may be able to avoid the ones we haven’t made yet, and commiserate over the ones we’ve made together.
Buying too much, too fast.
When I moved beyond the early knitting stages where it took me weeks (or months, even) to complete a single project, it was like a whole world had opened up. I was beyond the basic stitches, and now ready to take on whatever I could dream up. Like a six-year-old at the frozen yogurt toppings bar, there seemed to be no end to what colors, textures, and shapes I could explore. I loaded up on anything and everything – chenille, wool, rayons, novelty yarns, extra chunky, and skinny laceweight – all before I knew what things I would actually enjoy making or stick with over time.
My tip to any new crafter is to spend more time looking than buying. Take your time when choosing the first yarn purchases you make – don’t be tempted by the bargain bin, your best friend’s grandma’s cast-offs, or even gifts from friends you aren’t sure you really love. In the end, you’ll just find yourself storing it, or forcing yourself into a project you never meant to start.
Being digitally disorganized.
As modern-day, tech-savvy crafters, we have so many places to store information without cluttering our shelves and stashes! If I see a project, garment, or photo on a website or blog, I can use Pinterest to store the image for later reference, saving it to my knitting or crochet-themed boards. On Ravelry, they’ve introduced bundles (groups of patterns you love), favorites (liked patterns that can be tagged as you prefer), and the queue (a list of what you want to make next). Many new crafters allow themselves to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of inspirations they find – but if you take the extra time to stay digitally organized, you’ll never have to hunt long for that picture of a sweater you saw two years ago. It will be right where you left it.
Likewise, if you buy a digital pattern via Ravelry, Ravelry automatically stores that pattern in your library. Even free patterns can be stored in the library for later reference and easy access. I find that it’s almost easier to leave these patterns in the digital library format, and download them to my computer folders later, when they’re ready to be printed or used. That way, I don’t have to wade through a huge list or dozens of folders when I’m looking for a particular pattern on my desktop later.
Feeling guilty for breaking up with old projects.
Not every project we start is going to be our new favorite thing to work on. While some of us struggle with project monogamy, and others are dedicated to only one at a time, it happens to all of us eventually: we start a project that begins to make us miserable. Maybe the technique used is beyond your current skill level, or you hate the way the yarn sheds all over your clothes. Maybe the problem is simply that the needle size hurts your hands, or you can’t see the stitches in the hand-dyed colorway you chose. It’s okay to give yourself permission to unravel a project that isn’t working out!
It’s easy to get excited about your first knitting gift request. Perhaps a co-worker in your office saw those beautiful handwarmers and asked for her very own pair, or your brother saw a hat you knit and wants one of his own. These requests, while flattering, can quickly get out of hand if you let them add up! When offering to knit for others, I like to follow a few simple rules. I don’t promise to finish by any particular deadline, I either use yarn from stash, or help the person pick out the yarn, and I never show them a pattern that I wouldn’t be happy casting on for myself. If you’re going to gift-knit, consider offering a few yarn and pattern options to the intended recipient that you know you’ll enjoy working with – this way, you’ll never be stuck squinting at a dark yarn while knitting late into the night to meet an impossibly close due date!
Sticking with what you know.
So, you can knit and purl, or you feel comfortable with single, double, and treble crochet, but you’re stalled out on starting new projects. Maybe cabling or lace terrifies you, or crochet that requires you to follow a diagram seems daunting and exhausting. When we stop expanding our skills as crafters, we stop challenging ourselves to discover new and exciting things to do. The fastest way to fall out of love with your new hobby is to eliminate that feeling of new discovery. Don’t be afraid to try out a new technique, especially since the internet provides endless sources of assistance and guidance along the way!
(If you need somewhere to start finding out what kinds of yarns you love or are seeking to learn new techniques and receive something new every month, a Knitcrate subscription is a great place to begin! You’ll know that everything we send is enough to make the included pattern suggestions, and that the materials will always be of the highest quality.)