Common crafting mistakes and how to fix them, title text over an image of a magic wand wiping away a permanent marker scribble.

Common Crafting Mistakes And How To Grow From Them

Written by Michaela MacBlake Matthews

There is no right or wrong way to be creative, but there are some things we do as crafters that can make our lives, and our projects, more difficult than they need to be! Today, we’re going to be looking at some common mistakes that crafters make, and how to grow more easily throughout the process!

A magic wand erasing a scribble from a permanent marker.

Taking On Too Much Without A Plan

Sometimes, a little bit of whimsy is the only way to get started! Jumping in feet first can be a great way to break out of a creative slump, and there is definitely a time and place for it. That said, though, a little bit of planning can go a long way.

When the lightning bolt of inspiration strikes, make sure to take a moment to consider roughly how much time and material this project is going to take. No one knows you better than you do, and sometimes the source of the inspiration can tell you how long you’re going to really even want to work on this project. Is this the sort of thing you’ve always loved and keep coming back to? If yes, go forth and craft! If it’s more of a fleeting feeling, though, make sure to design the project in such a way that it can be knocked out in a single evening, or over a weekend, and strike while the iron is hot! Likewise, make sure that you have enough materials for this project, know where to get more, or have a backup plan in your design if you can’t find exactly what you need.

A rocket heading over a yarn ball planet, with erasers in its path.

Not Having Enough Inspo In The Tank

Contrariwise, having just a little bit of inspiration can be just as jarring to work with. Most often, a too-simple idea will have one color, or one object, and need a little extra vision to get going. If you know you love polka dots, you might get started on a project with just that in mind… but it can easily lose steam, and wind up in the work-in-progress graveyard.

A good rule of thumb is to work with prime numbers: a quick and easy project should have three themes, like a purple leaf with polka dots, or a raspberry candle with swirls. Bigger projects are best made with five or seven muses, while masterpieces often have eleven, thirteen, or more! These muses can be anything from specific colors to feelings, subcultures, symbols, patterns, or even songs, and they don’t have to be blatantly represented in the final project. Keeping an eye on your inspo-meter, whatever level it’s at, can also help you get a gauge for how big this project is really going to be, before investing too much or too little into supplies.

A checklist with the bottom half being scribbled out above two rolls of tape.

Franken-Crafting With Imposter Syndrome

The biggest mistake you can make as a creative, though, is changing course on a project because someone else didn’t like it, or gave you feedback that you really don’t agree with. Unless you’re a paid artisan working on a custom commissioned project, letting the outside world alter your vision is not only discouraging, it often gunks up the flow of the finished piece. This isn’t always the case, sometimes a second set of eyes and a little bit of constructive input is exactly what we need! There is strength in numbers, after all, and if the project wasn’t feeling quite right, there’s no shame in taking a second opinion.

However, if you love what you’re doing, keep doing it, no matter what anyone says. Straying from your creative vision can turn the creative process into a maze of backtracking, second guessing, and unintentional patchwork. Allow yourself the courage to follow through! If the piece is for someone else, and they are the person who really isn’t feeling it, then just allow yourself some time for a do-over, and keep the original for yourself.

A magic wand waving over a knitted heart and a few stitch markers.

Never Finishing Your Projects

Getting into a groove usually entails a little bit of juggling new and old pieces, but sometimes, we fall into a pattern of all starting and no finishing. It can easily get overwhelming, and in some cases, even lead to a total creative burnout. To prevent this from happening, take a close and personal look at how you think about finishing projects. Usually what seems to happen, is that you’re chugging along working on something, and then you happen to notice at some point… ‘Oh, I think it’s done!’ This is a natural process, and it slips in when you aren’t looking at it. When we walk away from a project though, and we come back looking at it as ‘almost done’ or ‘a long way from done’, something in our minds begins to change.

In order to keep up with our creative flow, it’s important to keep one to three steps at the front of your mind, and the vision of the finished project in the back of your mind. Just focus on what comes next, and how much can be done in a single hour. Try to remember, too, that finishing a project is not some new, unattainable height… it’ll happen the same way it always has, just like all of the projects you’ve completed in the past.

Or Just Setting Expectations At All...

All in all, crafting and creating are meant to get messy! As we keep going, we smooth out the systems, pick up momentum, and hone our skills. The only mistake we really have to be weary of is stopping; everything else will work itself out in time.

Meet the Author

Close up of the author, Michaela Matthews wearing red lipstick and a poofy red scarf with white flower arrangement in background.

"Mac" is on the Lifestyle Team here at Darn Good Yarn, and loves taking a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach to creative therapy. She is certified in neuro-linguistic programming, and is also the surreal artist and author behind Surrealismac.