by Kathleen Cubley September 05, 2018 5 min read

We all have bad habits we need to change. It's hard to do, but so rewarding when we're successful! I've had my share of changing bad habits, and lately I've been working on changing some in my knitting and crochet. Here are ten that I'm working on. I went over some of these in a recent Facebook Live broadcast, but I thought I'd detail them all here.

Ready, set, go!

1. Buying yarn without a project in mind.

Unless you want to simply build your yarn stash—no judgment!—I think it's best to buy yarn for a specific project. You might have the perfect pattern in mind when you're shopping, which is great, but you also might find the perfect yarn without a project. I like to find a project for the yarn right away, so I have a plan. Print out the pattern and store the yarn and the pattern together so you don't forget what you're going to knit with that beautiful yarn!

Sueno + the Traveling Cables Beanie = LOVE!

2. Neglecting to take notes when you change a pattern.

Yikes! If you've made ANY changes to the pattern you're working on, you need to make note of them, or you most likely won't remember when it's time to replicate that part of the pattern, such as the other sock, sleeve, front, etc.

If you keep track of what you're doing in Ravelry, make notes there and they will be a permanent record of what you did.

3. Not making a gauge swatch.

If you want your garments to fit, you must swatch. A little time spent swatching will ensure that you have a successful knit or crochet project! You'll also be able to see how the yarn behaves; make sure it's perfect for your project.

The most diligent swatchers block their swatches to get a really good idea of how the finished project will look. Just do it.

Here's a video on how to keep track of your needle size when checking gauge

4. Starting new projects before the old ones are finished.

This one is controversial. Some people are "monogamous" knitters, working on one project at a time, and others ... aren't. I'm a prolific knitter, and I try and finish at least two projects per week—if I do that, I consider it a great knitting week!

If you're not a monogamous knitter, I suggest you don't have too many projects on the needles at one time, or you'll lose track of what you have in progress. (And you'll use up all of your needles!)

5. Working on a pattern you don't enjoy.

There's no rule that you have to finish a project you start. If something is not working up the way you hoped, rip it out. You can repurpose the yarn or even get rid of it, if the yarn is the problem. Life is way too short to stress over such things, and you won't believe the relief you feel when you make the decision to move on to another pattern!

6. Putting projects away without the yarn and patterns with them.

This one is so frustrating! That lonely half-sweater wadded up in a bag, with no pattern to be found. You had the best intentions—"I'll just stash this here until I can get back to it." And then you don't. When you finally do come across it, you've forgotten where you were in the pattern, what size you were knitting, perhaps even what the pattern is!

That's a great reason to log your projects on Ravelry—you'll be able to find the pattern and print it out again, or find the book it's in, or whatever. You might have even jotted down some pattern notes!

My advice is to always keep your pattern with your project, even if you're setting it aside for "just a week or so." If you're out of project bags—the horror!—we love Mybaggee brand. They come in many sizes and are so handy!

7. Shrinking/felting your projects by washing incorrectly.

This can be heartbreaking, and while I hope this isn't actually anyone's habit, there are a few ways to avoid it.

Choose the right yarn for the project. If you're knitting for a child or for someone who might not know how to take care of precious fibers, choose a washable yarn. There are lots of fabulous superwash wool options, and cotton/bamboo yarns are perfect for warm-weather projects.

Sew in a care label! This is a great solution because people are used to looking for washing instructions on labels like this, and you can avoid the heartache of a felted project.

Remember, you knit the first one and you can always make the project again.

8. Playing "yarn chicken"!

Yarn chicken is when you are just sure you have enough yarn to finish a project, but deep down you pretty much know you don't. So you go forth, and find out you need six more yards to bind off.

We all want to try to use every bit of yarn, but it's important to make sure you have the right yardage to complete your project, so read that ball band make sure you have enough yarn before casting on for your project.

You can always use up those little scraps in "scraptastic" projects (look on Ravelry) or for doll clothes.

9. Casting on without reading through the whole pattern.

This is something I emphasize to new knitters. You need to know what comes next in a pattern, and you may need extra supplies that you need have, or you may see a new technique that you need help with, so be prepared.

It's also a good idea to check on Ravelry to see if there's any errata (pattern corrections) listed there. Note that on your pattern or print out a new pattern if there's an update.

10. Avoiding finishing work.

Many knitters and crocheters dislike finishing work—so much seaming! I view it as a challenge. I try to seam my projects as soon as possible, so I can wear my finished object!

And honestly, I also pick patterns that have as little finish work possible. For example, I love knitting sweaters in the round or making striped shawls that carry the colors up the edges instead of weaving in all those ends. Check out this beautiful sweater, Kincorth by Tori Gurbisz. It's knit in the round from the bottom up!

Choose your patterns wisely, and your finishing will be less of a chore.

I hope these 10 tips for breaking bad habits helps you! Let me know if you have any bad habits, and how you work on breaking them!

Here's a video where I talk about these 10 habits and share a few knitting hacks along the way ;) 

Happy knitting—

Kathleen Cubley
Kathleen Cubley

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