As crocheters and knitters, we tell ourselves lies all the time. We delude ourselves that cutting a corner here and there won’t have consequences. These little white lies make us feel better in the short term, but they can make a difference. Let’s explore 23 of these lies we tell ourselves.
Let me lead with the caveat that these aren’t always lies. We don’t always know what we don’t know. If I write something here that you didn’t know, hurrah! Now you level up your skill by studying a bit more on that topic.
It’s kind of like we are just fooling ourselves into winning a game of Delusional Bingo. How quickly do you get BINGO?
Lie #1: This gauge is close enough
Sometimes your gauge really is close enough to the pattern gauge that it won’t make a difference. Other times it will make a huge difference. Before heading out with a different gauge from the pattern gauge, do a little checking to make sure you won’t be surprised.
Are you happy with the fabric you are making? What size will it end up being if you use your gauge instead of the pattern gauge? Will you have enough yarn?
To learn more about the math behind gauge, take Math for Crocheters or Math for Knitters.
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Lie #2: Matching gauge on the yarn label is Important
The suggested gauge on the yarn label is just that: a suggestion. It is much more important to match the gauge in the pattern you are following. If you are making up your own design, it’s fine to follow the label’s suggestion, but it’s important to do a swatch to make sure that the resulting fabric is a happy match for the project.
Lie #3: Just go up or down a size
I often hear advice to just go up or down a size if you can’t match gauge. That can work, but I don’t recommend doing it blindly. Check the math first to see what the finished size will be if you use a different gauge and the numbers from a different pattern size. It might be fine, but then again it might not!
Wouldn’t you rather have an idea of the outcome before you spend hours and hours stitching?
To learn more about garment sizes in knitting and crochet, take a look at my class Sizing Basics. To learn more about how gauge affects size, take Math for Crocheters or Math for Knitters.
Lie #4: I am always a size medium
Or a size extra large, or whatever. This is a complete fallacy.
Do you wear the exact same size in every brand of clothing you buy? Have you ever bought a size large in one brand and a size XXL in another brand, and they both fit fine? Don’t you have to try it on to see if it fits before committing to a size? Why would you think you are always the same size when it comes to patterns?
To learn more about garment sizes in knitting and crochet, take a look at my class Sizing Basics.
Lie #5: Hook/needle brand or style doesn’t matter
Not all 5 mm’s are created the same. Even if you know that it’s better to rely on metric (millimeter) sizing than “U.S.” sizing (it is), the material the hook or needle is made of and the shape of the needles tips or the hook can affect the fabric. In short, if you are struggling with making stitches with your current tool, try switching it out for a different brand or material in the same size.
The Craft Yarn Council’s Hook and Needle Size chart is a good resource.
Lie #6: Dye lots don’t matter
Dye lots may not matter in certain commercially produced synthetic yarns in which the color is chemically part of the fiber. In small-batch hand-dyed lots, you can often easily see a difference between dye lots. Even when you can’t tell the difference in dye lots when the yarn is in the skein, the difference will be evident when the yarn is used. In most cases, it is safer to assume that, no matter what kind of yarn you are using, dye lots always matter.
Look carefully at this photo. Can you see the lines where the dye lots change? It’s much more noticeable in real life!
Lie #7: Fiber content doesn’t matter
Fiber content can make a huge difference in your project, and not just because of varying laundering needs. You may not notice a big difference between certain acrylic/wool blends, but make two identical pieces of the same yarn weight in 100% acrylic and 100% alpaca, and you’ll see what I mean. Substituting one yarn for another of the same weight, without paying attention to fiber content, can be a big mistake!
Lie #8: Stitch faster to avoid running out of yarn
Funny, right? But I’ve had people say this to me, and it’s tempting to believe it. Unfortunately, stitching faster just means you find out sooner that you don’t have enough yarn. It doesn’t actually affect the amount of yarn you need.
Lie #9: Lifelines are for sissies
In knitting, lifelines are typically used to create a “rip back to” row, especially in lace knitting. If you are knitting lace, a lifeline is truly a project- and time-saver.
Don’t be foolish, use a lifeline!
Lie #10: I don’t need a chart
Well sure, you don’t need a chart for simple patterns. But if you are doing any kind of patterned color work, or cables, or lace, or filet crochet, or textured patterns, a chart is priceless. It shows you exactly where to put the stitches and how they relate to one another. It can work hand-in-hand to clarify text instructions.
If you aren’t familiar with using stitch charts or color charts, do yourself a favor and learn!
To learn more about reading charts, check out the following:
Edie’s class Understanding Symbol Crochet
Charles Voth’s Craftsy class See It, Crochet It: Reading Diagrams
JC Briar’s Charts Made Simple
Edie’s article In Search of Crochet Charting Software
To learn to draw professional-looking schematics, knitting charts, and crochet symbol charts, take Create Schematics & Crochet Charts with Adobe Illustrator or Create Schematics & Knitting Charts with Adobe Illustrator.
Lie #11: I will remember
In the moment, it seems obvious that you’ll remember which needle/hook size you used, or how you modified a pattern. But you may need that information later this afternoon. Or two years from now.
Just think of all the things that will happen between now and then.
Do yourself a favor. Write it down.
Lie #12: No one will notice
Yes and no. Chances are that no one will notice that one twisted stitch, or the fact that you lost a stitch here and added it back there. But a skipped cable cross (or one going the wrong way), a row of twisted stitches, or an off-center neckline will be visible. And you will know about it and you will see nothing but that error every time you look at the project. Think about how much it’s going to bother you in the future. Can live with it for years to come, or might it be worth taking a few minutes now to fix the problem?
Hint: There are LOTS of ways to fix mistakes without ripping out. Try those first before frogging anything!
Lie #13: Short yarn tails are fine
Nothing makes me sadder than seeing tiny yarn tails on a beautiful project that I know someone spend many hours and many dollars on, Don’t skimp on yarn tails. Leave at least a 4″ [10 cm] or longer yarn tail so you’ll have plenty to weave in. I usually leave at least a 6″ [12.5 cm] tail, and even longer tails on super bulky yarn.
For more about weaving in ends, watch How to Weave in Ends in Crochet.
Lie #14: Blocking is a time waster
Blocking is not necessary for some objects, but projects like scarfs, afghans, pillow covers and sweaters are definitely enhanced by blocking. Blocking sets the stitches and creates a finished fabric.
And unblocked lace is just an ugly mess. You have to block lace to open up the holes!
If you sew, you would never consider making a project without an iron nearby. If you knit or crochet, you should feel the same way about blocking.
To learn more about blocking, read How to Block Knitting and Crochet.
Lie #15: I always stitch to gauge (without swatching)
This is impossible*. Every stitcher has their own individual tension with a certain yarn and hook/needle combination. (And, of course, this tension can vary under different circumstances.)
This is equally true of designers. Some designers are tighter-than-average stitchers, while others are looser-than-average stitchers. The pattern gauge is a reflection of the designer’s gauge, and you can’t know where you stand in relation to the pattern gauge without testing it.
*Unless, perhaps, you are talking about your own designs. I always meet the gauge on my own patterns, since I’m determining the desired gauge in the first place.
Lie #16: I don’t need stitch markers
Said every crocheter or knitter at some point. I’ll admit I say this one to myself often. But I’ve come to rely more and more on stitch markers to enable me to be a more efficient knitter and crocheter. Stitch markers can help do the thinking for you.
Use stitch markers to keep track of the first and last stitches in your crochet. Voilá! No more wobbly edges! Use them to keep count when doing long cast-ons or foundation chains. Use them between stitch pattern repeats. Use them to keep track of rows completed.
If it even occurs to you that a stitch marker might be helpful, it will be.
Lie #17: I don’t need to count
Don’t delude yourself. Everybody needs to count.
Even experienced crafters know that it is wise to stop and count stitches (almost) every time a pattern gives a stitch count. Beginners should count at the end of every row or round to make sure they are maintaining the correct number of stitches. As you gain experience, you won’t need to count as often.
Take my advice: Stopping to count saves time!
Lie #18: My swatch should be 4″ [10 cm] edge-to-edge
This is true only if you want an inaccurate gauge reading. To measure gauge accurately, you need a swatch that is no less than 5″ [12.5] cm square. Bigger than that is even better. Don’t measure from edge to edge, as the edge stitches are a bit distorted. Measure in several places, in the middle of the swatch.
To learn more about swatching, check out:
- How to Measure Gauge in Knitted Garter Stitch
- How to Measure Gauge in Stockinette Stitch
- How to Measure Gauge in Single Crochet
- How to Measure Gauge in Double Crochet.
Lie #19: It’ll be a short wait
It’s almost guaranteed that if you leave your project bag at home, you’ll be stuck somewhere waiting without something to occupy your hands. Do yourself a favor and keep a spare project in the car. And another one in your purse, just in case.
Lie #20: Substituting yarn weights is a no-brainer
Yes, you can use bulky weight yarn for a fingering-weight project or vice versa. You can re-calculate stitch counts to adjust the finished size.
But do you really want to? The fabric you make with bulky weight yarn has a completely different drape than one made with fingering weight yarn. If it’s a garment project, the garment won’t fit the same. If it’s home decor, it will look entirely different from the original.
Take some time to think it over before switching up yarn weights.
To learn about yarn weights, see the Craft Yarn Council’s Standard Yarn Weight System.
To learn about yarn substitution, watch Kellie Nuss’ Craftsy class Yarn Substitution Made Easy.
Lie #21: It’s fine to work straight from the hank
Stop! Don’t do it!
You’ll end up with a tangled mess. Take my word on this. Yarn hanks are meant to be wound into balls or cakes before you use them.
Learn more at How to Wind Yarn with a Yarn Swift and Ball Winder.
Lie #22: You can’t kill yarn
After all, it’s not a living thing, right? Wrong. Treat synthetic yarn wrong and you’ll kill it. “Killing” is an honest-to-goodness technical term that means you are kind of melting the yarn with heat.
If you’ve ever put a hot iron to an acrylic project and been surprised at what happened, you murdered that project.
Watch How to Block Acrylic Yarn.
Lie #23: I have enough stash
Clearly impossible. Enough said. Better go shopping.
Let’s Play Delusional BINGO!
Want a reminder not to delude yourself when it comes to these common lies?
#8-A: Drive faster to avoid running out of gas. Guilty.