“11 Knitting Lessons I Learned the Hard Way”

Learning a lesson in knitting is sometimes painful, but it’s also a part of becoming a better knitter. Each time we make a mistake, we learn from it and swear not to repeat it again. (I, for example, will never again knit a sweater without first checking the gauge.)

11 Knitting Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Some of us have already learned many of these lessons. If you have, we hope you’ll get a laugh out of it. For those who haven’t, we hope this list will help you avoid some of the frustrating moments!

After you read our list, don’t forget to also share some of the knitting lessons you’ve learned in the comments.

1. Not all yarn is washable.

Imagine this: You knit up a gorgeous pattern in a to-die-for wool. You throw it in the washing machine, then remove it to find that your pretty stitches are now felted together, and your project has shrunk by more than half its size. Note for next time: check the label for care instructions!

Yarn swatches

Photo via Kellie Nus

2. When substituting yarn, it’s about more than just matching the weight.

The first time I substituted yarn, I really messed up. I swapped a worsted-weight for another worsted-weight, but there were a lot of problems. I used a cotton instead of a wool, so the drape and look of the project wasn’t what I wanted. I also didn’t check the gauge, so the finished object ended up being way smaller than it should’ve been.

Substituting yarn does take some practice. You might even mess up several projects, but with each mess up you’ll learn something new. To learn more important lessons — without messing up your projects — check out Kellie Nuss’s Yarn Substitution Made Easy class.

Knitting socks magic loop

3. Magic Loop will save you lots of money — and storage space.

I resisted learning Magic Loop for a long time, but when I finally did I realized that it has a lot of benefits! One of those benefits is that you only need one long needle for each size. That means you’ll save money purchasing all those different sizes, plus you’ll need a much smaller space to store your needles. Win-win!

4. Yes, cats will eat yarn.

Be sure to store your yarn in a container with a secure lid and keep an eye on your kitty when you have yarn around.

5. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

The first time I ever knit a sock, I looked at the pattern and broke out in a nervous sweat. What’s a heel turn? And how do I get the sock to change directions? I ended up just following the pattern and doing what it said. I couldn’t believe that it resulted in a sock that looked exactly right!

I was thinking specifically about sock patterns here, but this can apply to other projects, too. If you see a pattern that looks particularly confusing or odd, sometimes you just have to sit down and follow it to see where it goes. 

Adjusting gauge on a swatch

6. Don’t skip the swatch on garments.

I don’t wince when knitters skip swatching on things like scarves. However, skipping a swatch on a garment is never a good idea. The result is never good: Sweaters that are too big, yarn that drapes in a weird way — no matter what, it results in a garment that you will never wear.

Fixing a dropped stitch in knitting

7. You can fix mistakes.

Do you panic when you see mistakes in your knitting? Don’t sweat it. They can often be fixed without a lot of pain.

8. You’re more critical of your own knitting than anyone else ever will be.

No one else saw that yarn over that you missed. If you’re ashamed of that sweater because you  missed a purl, don’t be.

9. Not everyone will appreciate your hand knit gift.

Make sure the recipient appreciates the time and skill that went into your gift. Otherwise, you might feel very disappointed and hurt.

10. Knitting can be therapy.

Next time you’re stressed or anxious, reach for your needles. Afterwards, check out all the healthy benefits of knitting.

11. The knitting community is here to help.

If you’re struggling with a project or need inspiration, reach out locally or online. Knitters love to talk yarn and troubleshoot! (They will drool over yarn with you, too.)

Are there any knitting lessons that you learned the hard way? Share them in the comments!

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