3 Things You Must Do Before Starting a Knitting or Crochet Project
Have you ever started a project, only later to frog it? Perhaps the yarn did not work well with the stitches or the sizing was not correct? We have gathered together a few tips to help you prevent some of the most common problems we've come across with creating crochet and knitting projects.
1. Select the Right Yarn for You & the Pattern
You'll also want to consider how the yarn works up, the drape of the yarn and the colorway you select. The best way to assess how the yarn will look and behave is to stitch up a sizeable swatch using the project's stitch pattern(s). This is especially important if drape is a concern for your project. A swatch larger than the standard 5 inches will allow you to obtain a better idea of how the fabric created by the stitch pattern drapes, how the texture carries over a large area, and whether or not a colorway is ideal for a project. In her article "Choosing a Yarn for Texture," Tabetha Hedrick discusses how ply and color influence the result of your project sharing that semi-solids are the best yarn for projects that have texture - we completely agree!
If you have allergies it will be important to look for alternative fibers/materials for your project, but it may be hard to know where to start looking. Every fiber has unique characteristics that contribute to their drape, softness, elasticity, et cetera. We came across a really handy tool that makes finding yarn substitutions for wool a breeze called YarnSub. If you search their database with words like "worsted not wool" it will provide you with a list of worsted weight yarns that do not contain wool. You can also search similarly by brand or line using phrases such as "Cascade 220 not wool" and it will return yarn similar to Cascade 220 that does not contain wool as a fiber.
As we've shared in a previous post, wraps per inch (WPI) are also important to consider when selecting the yarn for your next project. WPI can vary within each weight so you will want to pay close attention to the WPIs listed for the yarn used in the pattern you want to create. If the WPI are off too much then the sizing of your finished project can be drastically different than that pictured in the pattern you are creating.
2. Swatch, Swatch, Swatch!
Yes, yes, we've already mentioned swatching in our first tip, but it is so incredibly important for another reason: gauge. I have seen many times in the forums of Ravelry questions about why someone's project is not coming out the right size.... many times it is because their gauge does not match the gauge within the pattern. Since gauge is obtained by hook or needle size and yarn tension, it can very from person to person. Interestingly, gauge can even vary for each person depending on factors such as stress levels, tiredness, and familiarity of working with a weight of yarn. So as you begin your next pattern, keep swatching until your gauge matches that of the pattern - measure twice and check your math!
3. Read the Pattern Through
Skim through the pattern before you begin to ensure that you have the tools required, a familiarity with the pattern, and consider highlighting anything in the pattern that is a change in technique or hook/needle size. Make sure you know and understand the stitches and techniques used, or are willing to try them out. There's nothing worse than coming to a point in your pattern that you just can't wrap your head around. If you find an area of the pattern that might be confusing or that switches techniques, highlight it so that when you come to that point in the pattern your attention is grabbed and you can shift gears or get help - don't be afraid to ask for help! Many yarn shops and stitchers online are happy to help or to point you to a resource that can help you with a new technique.
Make sure you have enough yarn! Okay, I am guilty of getting to the last row of a pattern and running out of yarn. Sometimes it results in a cute accent of color, but if you plan ahead and ensure that you have enough yarn, you'll never have to deal with this little nightmare.