10 common mistakes every crocheter wants to avoid and how to solve them (video)

There are few things more disheartening than looking down at your crochet project and realizing that it looks nothing at all like your pattern. But everyone makes mistakes, and even the most experienced crocheter gets used to pulling that yarn to unravel her work sometimes.
It turns out there are simple ways to solve all the most common mistakes you can make in crochet. Keep reading to learn how to solve these mishaps:
1. Not reading the pattern
It's all too easy to plunge into a tempting new project without reading through the pattern properly, then realizing, too late, that you missed a step or don't have enough yarn on hand. Before starting, take a moment to familiarize yourself with all the instructions, and you'll be much better prepared for whatever surprises the pattern has in store.
2. Using the wrong yarn
Sometimes it's very tempting to plow through a project using a different yarn than the pattern specifies. While you don't have to buy the exact brand listed, you should always try to get the same weight of yarn.
You might think, how much could it matter if you use fingering weight yarn instead of chunky? The answer is, there could be enough difference to ruin the finished effect.
If you try to make a thick, winter scarf with a delicate two-ply yarn, you'll get a very odd effect. Likewise, a dainty coaster pattern crocheted with a bulky yarn will give you a clunky finished article, and any complicated stitches will be difficult to execute with thick yarn.
If you don't want to go out and buy yarn for each new project, it's a good idea always to match the project to the yarn you have on hand, not the other way around.
3. Using the wrong hook size
So you don't have quite the right hook for your project? You've got, say, a B/1 hook, and the pattern calls for a D/3? Will it make a difference? The answer is very likely yes. The bigger the difference between the hook the pattern requires and the one you're using, the greater the chance that you'll spoil the final look of your project.
If your hook is one size out, you can probably get away with it, depending on the pattern, but a large gap between the required size and whatever you have in your hand means the final result will likely be either much smaller or larger than specified.
With some projects, this doesn't really matter. If, for example, you are making an Afghan blanket and all your squares turn out to be 4 inches instead of 2.5 inches, then it's not a problem; your bigger hook will give you a bigger blanket in the end, which is fine as long as that's OK with you. The problems become acuter when you are making a garment that you want to fit. Using a smaller or larger hook will result in the proportions of the sweater or cardigan becoming distorted.
So the rule is, get the right hook if you're making something where the eventual size of the piece really matters to you. An easy solution to this is to get a set of different-sized hooks. The set available here comes with 11 different sizes.
4. Crocheting too tightly
Crocheting too tightly is a mistake that we all make at the beginning of our adventures with crochet. It's usually caused by clutching the yarn too tightly and wrapping it too enthusiastically round the hook. As you become more experienced, your crocheting will relax, and the bunched tension of your early projects will become a thing of the past. To ease your crochet, remember not to yank the yarn, and hold it loosely when wrapping it round the hook.
5. Not making a tension square
Many patterns ask you to make a quick tension square before you start a project. They will specify a certain number of stitches per row for the project, and you should aim for that. All the size calculations in the pattern have been made on the basis of this size of stitching.
When you're a beginner, the idea of wasting time when you're dying to get on with your pet project can seem ridiculous. I've often thought myself, "Oh, I don't need to bother with that," and then, further down the line, I've realized that my sweater or cardigan is not coming out quite right. The reason is incorrect tension because I didn't complete that little square right at the beginning.
So yes, making a tension square can seem like a time-wasting nuisance, but it is often vital. If the pattern asks for one, it's probably because the dimensions are easy to get wrong on the project, and the designer wants to spare you the far greater annoyance of unraveling half a sleeve further down the line. Make the tension square. It saves time in the end.
6. Mistaking U.S. and U.K. terminology
It's easy to start off breezily crocheting a pattern and then realize things aren't quite working out because you're using U.K. terminology instead of U.S., or vice versa. Most patterns will specify whether they're using American or English terms, or they'll put the alternative name for a stitch in brackets. But just in case, here's a really useful conversion chart:
7. Not counting
Most patterns will include the number of stitches in a row in brackets, and they'll also state how many rows are needed to make up the project. Usually, rows are fairly easy to count, depending on the pattern, and stitches are, too, if you look closely. Keeping a count as you go along can help you avoid any nasty surprises when you're finishing off. Make this easier on yourself by having a pen and paper near when you're crocheting and noting down numbers as you go. Watch the tutorial below by TLC Inspirations on counting your stitches for more tips:
8. Losing or gaining stitches
It's not uncommon to be crocheting happily along only to suddenly notice that your work has gone lopsided. I've done this so many times with scarves, where any mistakes in counting rows or stitches really leap out. When you lose or gain stitches, the problem is often that you're not forming your turning chain (necessary when you turn over the work to do another row) or you're splitting the yarn with the hook and then working the same piece of yarn twice. Both problems are easy to sort out once you've noticed them, but the easiest way to correct them is by unraveling. So keep an eye on your rows as you work them, and ask yourself if they are even as you go along. Don't forget to tally up those stitches.
9. Not blocking the project
Not every project needs blocking, but anything that you want to have a crisp, neat, professional finish will definitely benefit from this process. If you are making squares for an afghan, for example, your end result will be a lot more pleasing if you wet and peg out your work.
10. Not finishing the project
Sometimes your crochet turns out to be a lot more complicated or time-consuming than you first imagined, and it can be tempting to lay it aside for a while and start something else or just give up on it entirely. But if you've invested time and effort — and money — then it's always worthwhile persevering. All crocheters make mistakes, but we all improve, too, and even if it takes you ages to get a finished result, you'll still be proud when you complete that last stitch. When your family compliments you on your lovely project, you'll feel that special glow that comes from a job well done.