I have knit for as far back as I can remember. When I learned to knit, I learned on my grandma's aluminum Boye knitting needles. I always loved to walk in her house and hear the clicking of her working on whatever project she was in the midst of. I would go in her yarn closet and stick my head in the many, many pink Mary Maxim bags of yarn and picture what I could make with it, little did I know those pink bags would become part of my everyday life as an adult! With crocheting, I didn't learn to crochet until I was 21 and pregnant with my first child. I had fallen in love with a baby blanket and finally got over my fear and learned. Yarn has been a staple in my life for more years than it has not and over time I've realized some things about crafting that I wish I would have learned sooner.
Gauge is not optional. Well, that is at least if you want to not waste your time and money making something that will only fit a small cat or an elephant. I used to always just trust and go with the suggested needle size and yarn, not taking in account my stress level (it can change your gauge!), the type of needles I had, or the loftiness of the yarn I was using... and would end up with absolutely useless slippers that would fit no human foot. I learned over many mistakes to take the time to work up the gauge swatch and make the adjustments I need to my needle size. I'm not a failure or doing something wrong because I need to go down 2 needle sizes to get the gauge needed for the pattern. In the end, I save myself a ton of time being able to work with confidence and know my item will fit or be the right size!
There is no pattern police. I want to really stress this. Crafting is meant to be relaxing , fun, and inspirational. I think a lot of times, and from talking to literally thousands of people, people assume patterns are the final say and any deviation will cause your sweater to burst into flames. I assure you, this won't happen. If you are a fairly novice crafter, of course it is a good idea to stick to the pattern plan to be sure you will end up with a finished project you were striving for. But once you have some projects under your belt you can take a bit of creative liberty with it , if that is what makes your heart sing. If see a sweater pattern you love but think to yourself " wow, I really love that but it could use a different colored stripe and a wider collar" GO FOR IT! The worst thing that will happen is you need to rip back a little bit if it isn't turning out. Which brings me to my next point.
Don't fear mistakes. I truly feel in the heat of panic from dropping a stitch 6 rows down people become much better and more confident crafters. When you are looking at your work and making a "plan of attack" on whether or not you should frog it or if you can navigate your way back to the problem and work it out,this really makes you learn to "read" your work and learn what each stitch and increase and decrease look like. Once you realize that you are able to spot mistakes and come up with a plan to fix them, you are much more confident when you are working, and don't end up with a huge pile of projects shoved in a bag, unfinished, because you were afraid to try to fix them. Youtube is an amazing wealth of information on how to fix just about any mistake!
The most IMPORTANT thing I have learned is to always ALWAYS remember to find joy in your work. If you are able to knit, crochet, or craft in any way, you truly have a gift, embrace and enjoy it. Chose the yarn and projects that excite you and make you happy!