Learn from Craft Fails: Why Mistakes Are Good for Your Process

how to learn from craft fails

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I have had a lot of craft fails in my time, and I do try to take the time to learn from craft fails and project disasters because that is how you grow as a crafter and a person.

If we didn’t learn from our mistakes we’d all make a lot more of them, that’s for sure.

Like the time my melty bead project stuck to the iron and I somehow didn’t notice until it was a giant melted mess.learn from craft fails to make them worthwhile

Now I know to make sure my iron is well away from the cooling projects.

Or the time I knit the cardigan and put the armhole shaping on the wrong side and forgot to do the neck shaping on the same piece. (That happened in June, proof that even “experts” mess up sometimes.)

The lesson there was to pay more attention.

Or maybe not to knit while watching The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Prettiest Craft Fail Everhow to learn from craft fails

It’s clearly a lesson I need to learn over and over because lack of attention caused me to make a colorful craft fail earlier this week.charity guide for crocheters

I have a lot of little bits of yarn left over from projects, and when I saw a review copy (thanks, Leisure Arts!) of Charity Guide for Crocheters with this gorgeous scrap blanket on the front, I knew I wanted to make one.

Because I don’t have enough going on right now I decided to start it the other day.

I’ve never done a crochet project this big, but after chaining and counting and chaining and counting some more, I thought I had the right number of chains and happily began stitching.

It’s a fun little pattern. Every row is a different color and it’s sort of like the crochet equivalent of waterfall pattern in knitting, with single, half-double, double and treble crochets making waves across one row, then single crochet in the next.

It’s an easy pattern, but not mindless, and of course it requires a certain number or multiple of stitches to make it come out right.how to learn from craft fails

My first row didn’t come out right.

And after ripping it out, chaining and counting and stitching again, pulling some out and correcting a mistake and stitching again, I got to the end of the row and didn’t end where I was supposed to in the pattern.

After all that stitching and counting I assumed I just miscounted and needed a few more stitches. I learned how to add chains to a foundation row (thanks, Moogly!), added the number I needed to finish out the pattern and went on my way.

how to learn from craft fails

Except the second pattern row didn’t work, either.

It was only off by a stitch or two, so I figured I just missed a stitch somewhere in the pattern even though I couldn’t find it. I worked the extra stitch and went on my way.

By the third pattern row I was way off. Like, five or six stitches.

So I finally decided to count my stitches.

I had 11 more than I needed.


That’s not a problem that’s going to work itself out, is it?

The little bit of crochet is pretty, though. I might even keep it as a super skinny scarf.

How to Learn from Craft Failslearn from craft fails

  1. Trust the pattern: Sometimes we get in trouble because we think we know better than the designer. And maybe sometimes we do. But if you’re new to a craft or a technique, try to follow the directions the first time to make success more likely.
  2. Always count your stitches: Not every craft has stitches, but it’s always a good idea to retrace your steps to help discover what went wrong so you can do better next time. (And maybe you skipped a step entirely; see no. 1).
  3. Don’t assume you did everything right: Because I had counted my stitches so many times I was sure I had the right number, until I didn’t. Going forth with confidence even when you know something is wrong is the quickest way to a craft fail.
  4. Don’t give up: it’s a classroom cliche, but mistakes are proof that you are trying. Don’t let a messed up project keep you from trying again. And again. Be willing to learn what this mistake has to teach you.
  5. Take the time to get the beginning right: So often we rush into projects (or at least I do) and are so enthusiastic to get started that we ignore those details that will make a project more successful. Things like making sure the bobbin and the top thread match on the sewing machine, or knitting a gauge swatch. Paying attention to all the details in the beginning is sure to make the later stages go more smoothly.

For me, all of these things are important, but mostly I really need to slow down and take the time to find out what’s wrong when things first start to go wrong rather than letting the problem build on itself. Someday maybe I will learn it enough times through enough craft fails that I won’t need to learn it any more.

How about you? Please tell me how you learn from craft fails, or about a recent fail you’ve had!

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  1. I never learned to crochet or knit (much), but I used to do counted cross-stitch. I can SO relate to getting off track. The key is to realize it early, before you’ve gotten way out of whack!

    Your tips are great. I love what you said in No. 5: “Be willing to learn what this mistake has to teach you.” It’s a lesson for life, really. 🙂

    I can’t think of a specific craft fail. I guess I’ve had so many, they all blur together! (Hey, a mosaic.) But sometimes the mistakes turn out even lovelier than the designer had intended. :p

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