• Kat Zimmermann

10 Things Every Crafter Needs to Hear


Three spiral notebooks in floral greens and blues on top of fabrics in pink, yellow and green gingham, and lace. To the right are three giant buttons in pink, purple, and aqua. A decorative pink dish holds straight pins.

I've been crafting for most of my life in some form or another. In the last 5 years or so, it's become a much larger part of my life and I would definitely self-identify as "a crafter," label and all.


In that time, I've come up with a list of rules and reminders for myself. I hope you find them as meaningful as I do.


In no particular order, please enjoy my brain child.


 

1. Making mistakes is part of the process.

A blue crochet blanket shaped a little bit like an hourglass, but not intentionally.
The first blanket I ever made - riddled with errors.


Raise your hand if you've ever royally f***ed up a project - if your hand isn't up, you're either a liar or new to crafting. Every project I've ever worked on has minimum one mistake. And that's fine. It's also fine to feel really frustrated and angry and upset when you do make a big mistake. Take a break, take a walk, have some water, and set yourself to problem solving or mentally reframing the mistake as a ✨happy accident✨. Remember, making mistakes is part of the learning process. If you didn't mess up, how would you learn?







2. It's OK to change your mind and frog it all.

Frogging is a yarn-specific piece of crafting jargon. It means to rip out a bunch of stitches (rip it --> ribbit --> frogging). This applies to other crafts too, however. Sometimes you're going to have a vision in your head and it's just not happening the way you wanted it to. Sometimes you're doing everything perfectly and it's still not what you want. There is no shame in making a decision to undo a project entirely or demote that half-finished blouse to the scrap pile.




3. 10 minutes of planning will save you from hours of wasted time.

A white woman with purple hair and glasses is wearing a cream chunky knit cabled sweater and grey sweatpants, sitting in front of an active fireplace.

This is #3 on this list but probably the #1

thing I say to myself when working on a project. It's so easy to rush ahead, to make the quick decision. And half of the time, it works out alright. But the other half? You won't know it was a mistake until you've done 2-3 hours of work. Ouch. Take the time to think it through up front and save yourself the headache later. I'm looking at you, people who skip making the gauge swatch.




4. Don't make any decisions after 10pm.

At some point in everyone's day, the brain starts to feel mushy and tired and makes poor choices. For me, that happens around 10pm. The time is relative and different for each person - you know your body best. Please take this piece of advice from someone who has broken this rule more than once thinking "oh, I'm sure it will be fine." It was not fine. See #3.


Adjacent advice: don't use dangerous tools after 10pm. My hands and arms have literal scars from ignoring this advice.



5. You don't have to justify your craft (or your joy).

A computer monitor and paper clipboard all have versions of the constellation Sagittarius, one is planning a crochet pattern of the stars.

Is it something that you make? Something you're willing to sink hours and hours of time into to get exactly right? Congratulations, that's a craft. Some people, such as myself, enjoy popular crafts like knitting. Others prefer to work with metal or leather. Some work in digital spaces and still more work with found or unusual materials. You do not need to justify what you enjoy to anyone other than yourself. And the conversation with yourself goes like this: "Do we like doing this thing? Yes? Ok let's keep doing the thing."



6. You are allowed to make things for yourself.

This is one piece of advice that I'm personally still working to internalize. There are so many folks out there who need things or want things and I want to make those things for those people. I want blankets for everyone who's having a baby, socks for every family member, and hats for every neighbor. And the charities! If I dedicated my crafting to everyone else, I would never make anything for myself or have any projects left for my own home. Yes, it's great to make things for others. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. But please never feel like you're not allowed to make things for yourself too.



7. It's OK to take a break.

A small tan, muppet-looking dog splayed over the arm of a couch. One short back leg hangs down like a leg of ham.

Every year after Christmas, I find myself "all crafted out." I'm tired and my hands are tired and my brain is tired and I just don't want to. And then I see my piles of fabric and yarn and works in progress staring at me from across the room and - cue the guilt. Sometimes you just need a break. It could be a break from a specific craft, a certain project, a specific stitch, or crafting as a whole. It's OK and encouraged to take a few steps back, regain your enthusiasm, and return with gusto when ready.



8. No one but you is going to notice your mistakes.

This is a blanket statement for small errors. See #1 for large mistakes. Missed a stitch in crochet? Add one on the next row to make up for it. Miscounted before doing a twist on your knit cable? Now it's a special cable. Seam not quite as straight as it should have been? It's a seam with ✨character✨. If you can't see it from 5 feet away, no one is ever going to know it's there except for you.



9. Keep a crafting notebook.

Three spiral notebooks in floral greens and blues on top of fabrics in pink, yellow and green gingham, and lace. To the right are three giant buttons in pink, purple, and aqua. A decorative pink dish holds straight pins.

Digital, physical, metaphysical, whatever floats your boat. I have 3 lined notebooks, a sketchbook, and a bunch of digital stickies in Google Keep. The mistake here is assuming you'll remember what you were planning on doing when you finally get to that one step. This is especially true if you're guilty of putting projects down for months at a time and picking them up later (me). Write it all down in a central location so you can find it later. Also, see #3.



10. Asking for help is not admitting defeat.

"It's ok, I'll figure it out" - me, all the time, being wrong. For some reason, I have this line of thinking that if it's part of one of the crafts I know how to do, I should just magically know things that I've never (a) been taught, (b) needed to know before, and (c) done before. Seriously, why would I know how to do those things? Hint: I wouldn't. Asking for help, whether it's a conversation, a book, or a YouTube video, is NOT admitting defeat, it's acknowledging a knowledge gap that has every right to be there and deciding to self-advocate for your own learning. How could there possibly be any shame in that?


 

I hope you've found this as helpful to read as I found it to write. Got a good piece of advice that's missing from the list? Add it in the comments!


A teal wall in a white room decorated with various pictures, a math clock, and some shelves holding ironing things above a chevron ironing board.

In non-crafting news, I've fully recovered from the flu (the regular kind) and plan to hopefully finish my craft room table this weekend. Keep your eyes on my Instagram for the first update! Completed gallery wall shown here.


Also, I'm now on Tiktok! It's been a whole month since creating my account over there and I like to think I'm getting better at making concise videos. Let me know what you want to see in the comments!

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