Sunday, 16 July 2017

What Are Your Bad Knitting Habits?

bad knitting habits

Let's be realistic: We aren't perfect and will have developed a few bad habits over our lifetime. This does not stop at knitting, I'm afraid, and there are certainly some things I know I should or shouldn't do, but I always find an excuse to go right ahead the way I always have. My inner, stricter Nadia is shaking her head at the mere thought right now. Are you guilty of any of these bad habits?

Not swatching

Guilty! I rarely ever knit a gauge swatch. Actually, I may only have done this for a jumper - at least I can't remember any other time. I just like to give it a go and hope for the best. If the fabric doesn't turn out as I'd like, I simply unravel it all and choose a different needle size. 

Ignoring the recommended needle size

As I rarely swatch, I usually start out with the recommended needle size printed on the ball band unless I know from experience that a particular yarn works best for me with different needles. Personally, I think that since our gauge is different from person to person, a recommended needle size isn't all that important. It is a good guide, however, if you are new to knitting or are using a yarn weight you are unfamiliar with. 

Not modfying knitting patterns

Why not personalise the fit of a garment or the look of an accessory? I often tweak a knitting pattern a little bit unless I am trying something totally new. It works well with things I have lots of experience with, such as socks. I know where I have to go off pattern to make them fit better. If I am not entirely happy with the look of something, I may change the stitch pattern as well. So I don't think that this is a bad habit, but it may well be one if you do it and always end up with something you dislike or which doesn't fit properly.

Not reading the pattern first

We should always, ALWAYS read a pattern through from beginning to end before even thinking about casting on. I don't take my own advice and it usually leads to problems down the line. Sometimes I will think I understand what's going on, only to find further on in the pattern that I misunderstood a stitch and ended up with something different entirely. That is very frustrating and can be easily avoided. Learn from my mistakes, people! Read first, knit later.

Not blocking your knitting

Always block your knitting! You've probably put a hell of a lot of effort into your work, so make it shine! Blocking your knits will make the fabric more regular and even out the tension. It will also make the stitch pattern pop and you can adjust the fit and size as needed. Luckily, this is something I have always done because I started out knitting a lot of lace. Without blocking my shawls, they would have been tiny, shriveled hankies instead.

Not washing your knits correctly

Again if you have put in all this effort to create something beautiful, why ruin it by not taking care of it? There are lots of wool washes available nowadays and it is worth giving them a go to find what works best for you. These special wool washes won't hurt the fibres so you will be able to enjoy your finished object for a long time. My favourite is Soak, which comes in an unscented and several scented varieties. I am very partial to Celebrate and also use it to wash lingerie that I don't want to risk putting in the washing machine. 

What's your worst habit, do you think? I'm looking forward to hearing about it.


  1. It's the swatching. It's not that I don't swatch, at least for garments, but I tend to skimp a bit. Once I've knit enough I tend to measure while it's still on the needles. It's not ideal, and I know I should cast off and wash and block, but I rarely do. For other items I rarely swatch unless it's very expensive yarn. I figure if a hat doesn't fit it can always go in my charity pile. Socks I usually knit on the same size dpns, or a size larger if there are a lot of cables. So, nit a swatcher unless it's absolutely necessary.

    1. A kindred spirit! :D Thanks for sharing, Liz.

  2. For me it's definitely the not swatching and not reading the pattern first. Although I'm getting a bit better with the swatching at least, I still hardly ever have a full read through the pattern before casting on.

    1. Yay, another one joins the club of non-swatchers! I know I should feel bad about it, but it is nice to be in good company.

  3. No less a knitter than Meg Swansen uses the piece itself as a swatch. Personally I've noticed my swatch gauge and my piece gauge can be way off, so I use the piece for gauge as well.

    "Everything must be blocked" is a myth. I'm not as bad as my grandmother, who always said anyone who had to block all the time was a bad knitter, but blocking is not as mandatory as some knitters make it out to be. If you have even tension, there's nothing really to block. I'll block (more like stretch) lace shawls and other items that need to "unfold", but my unblocked regular knitting looks nigh-identical to my blocked regular knitting.

    Does your fabric look and feel good? Is it the size you wanted? Then you're not doing it wrong.

    1. I like your take on blocking. While I couldn't do without it when knitting lace, I can see that it's not necessary with every piece (I don't block socks). Thanks for your interesting comment!