Margaret Kavanagh and Tasha Margette

10 Helpful Hacks to Make Your Life Better Than It was Before

10 crochet hacks

When I hear “hacks” I picture Tom Cruise dropping from the ceiling from a rope, skeins of yarn in hand, ready to teach me the secret to never having to weave in ends again. (Is it just me?) But, what we're really going to talk about in this post are some really great techniques for taking care of a few annoyances, like scratchy yarn and unwanted gaps in your work.

We'll also introduce you to some great innovations that you may (or may not) have heard about before, like standing double stitches and a smart way to protect your printed patterns. So, while they don't really “hack” because we're not about to do an end-run-around into someone's computer security system, they do make your art better because you suddenly have fewer annoyances. That's pretty cool.


 With our list of 10 Hacks,
we'll probably have enough extra time to make Tom some pants!

So, let's get down to our list of 

10 Hacks
to Make You Better

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means we may garner a small commission at no cost to you if you choose to make a purchase.

Hack #1 – Soften up that scratchy yarn!

rough yarn skeinsEconomy yarn is definitely a great stash builder! And never say “no” to free yarn!
You can always soften it up and make it more pleasant to work with.

Oh yes, there IS a way to soften scratchy yarn. You know the yarn we're talking about — a bit rough and not as soft and fluffy as the high-priced luxury yarn. Economy-priced acrylic yarn is especially wonderful for those bigger projects. And you never want to turn your nose up at those bags of free yarn from friends or for a dollar at garage sales! But, it doesn't always FEEL wonderful when you create with it.

Now, proceed at your own risk! if you're working with precious expensive, hand-dyed, natural-fiber one-of-a-kind yarn, you should definitely follow the label's instructions to care for it. We're not accepting any blame if you toss all your good yarn in a washer and it comes out ruined because you didn't read the care label! But, for all that other stash yarn you want to work up into a cute granny square blanket or something, let's go!

To soften skeins of yarn:

Try a skein or two before you throw all of your yarn in the wash to see how it works best for you!

    1. Read your yarn labels, to make sure that the colors won't bleed before you get them wet together.
    2. Remove the labels and fluff up the skeins a bit with your fingers so they aren't so tight. But don't unwind them!
    3. Help keep the skeins from unwinding during the softening process by putting them into a lingerie bag, a sock, a pair of pantyhose, or anything similar that allows water to flow through but keeps the yarn from getting tangled.
    4. Now, toss the skeins into the washer on a gentle wash and add plenty of fabric softener. (Some people swear by hair conditioner, so if you don't have fabric softener handy, give the conditioner a try!)
    5. Dry on medium heat in the dryer. A fabric softener sheet helps cut down on static and increases the softness, too.

You'll be surprised at the difference in your yarn! No more rough spots on your fingers from scratchy yarn!

soft cloudIsn't that better?

To soften a project:

If you've already made an item (or you have one) in scratchy yarn, you can sometimes soften it up just by washing and drying it. But if that doesn't do it, try these extra steps.

    1. Soak your project in cold water with some vinegar for about an hour. The vinegar works as a natural fabric softener. (Keep in mind that you would use about 1/4 cup per laundry load in the washer when you're deciding how much to add to your soak.)
    2. Rinse out the vinegar, and then soak your project with any hair conditioner or fabric softener. Work it gently into your project so that it's saturated. Leave it to soak for an hour.
    3. Rinse out the softener. If you like, you can put it into the washer on a delicate cold wash (no detergent) to remove the softener.
    4. Depending on the yarn's care label, you may be able to dry it in the dryer on low-medium heat until it's completely dry. Or, depending on the item, dry it until it's damp, which gives you a chance to block it into shape.

Your project should now smell nice and be much softer than it was before you started!


Hack #2 – Make your printed patterns reusable!

Printing out patterns from PDFs takes a lot of ink and paper – we’ve all been there! We also like to mark those patterns up with our notes, don’t we? I know I do! But, it definitely changes the look of the printed pattern, and then if you’d like to make it again, you probably want to print out another copy to mark up again. Instead, try this hack to keep your printed patterns pristine!

Print your patterns out and insert them into plastic sheet protectors. You can find them here.
To make your notes, just use a dry erase marker, which you can find here. You can wipe them clean when you're finished with the pattern, and it's as good as new. Just tuck your pattern into your notebook, and you're ready to use it again.

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Hack #3 – Join your yarn with a tough-as-nails invisible knot!

Magic Knot photo by RaffamuseThis is a great depiction of how to tie the Magic Knot.
Courtesy of Rafaella of Raffamusa Designs.

The Magic Knot is one of the best hacks out there, and I use it constantly. Its goal is to join yarns without leaving tails to weave in. The best part of this knot is that it is so small, you barely notice it unless you're REALLY looking for it. I'm pretty sure this must be the knot used by commercial yarn manufacturers in their skeins — it's that strong!

Here's how to tie the knot:

    1. Lay your working yarns parallel to each other facing opposite directions (as shown above).
    2. With your working yarn tie a knot around your joining yarn.
    3. With your joining yarn tie a knot around your working yarn.
    4. Tighten each knot as much as you can.
    5. Hold the long end of each yarn and pull so the knots move toward each other and eventually meet. Keep pulling tight until you're sure they are as tight as they can be.
    6. Snip the tails very close to the knots.

That’s it! Watch Sam on our YouTube channel show you how to do the Magic Knot in her video right here.


Hack #4 – Get rid of gaps in single decreases!

Invisible Single Crochet Decrease by Nickis HomemadeAnyone who does amigurumi will appreciate this hack!
Thanks to Nicki's Homemade Crafts for this image.

This is a really nice hack. Nicki over at Nicki’s Homemade Crafts shows us a technique for getting rid of those pesky gaps from single decrease stitches. Think Amigurumi: you'll never have pesky fiberfill peeking through your little guy's head again!

There are actually 2 ways to do this hack, sometimes called the Invisible Single Decrease. Both techniques involve the same first step, which is using the front loop only (FLO). You may want to work the stitch each way and see which you prefer.

Here's how you do it (both ways):

    1. Insert your hook in the front loop only (FLO) of the first stitch of the decrease.
    2. Insert your hook in either the FLO of the next stitch OR in both loops of the next stitch. Either way, you'll have to twist your hook a bit to accommodate the angle.
    3. Yarn over and pull a look through both stitches.
    4. Yarn over and finish the stitch like a normal single stitch.


Hack #5 – Start a new color with a stitch that blends right in!

The standing stitch comes in super handy when you want to add a new color and don't want the join to be obvious. But don't save it just for that situation (color changes). We'll show you the double version, but once you learn the basic technique, you'll want to extend your skills to the versions with a single stitch, a half double, a treble, and so on.

Here's how you create a standing double stitch:

    1. To start, in your new color, you can either begin with a slipknot on your hook and hold it while you yarn over your hook ONCE, or, just hold your yarn tail and yarn over your hook TWICE.
    2. While holding on to the yarn wraps on the hook, insert the hook into the stitch where you want to join the new color.
    3. Yarn over and pull a loop back through the stitch. (3 loops on your hook.)
    4. Yarn over and pull through 2 of the loops on your hook.
    5. Yarn over and pull through the remaining 2 loops, just as you would a normal double stitch.
    6. Continue the row as you normally would and weave the ends in later.


Hack #6 – Keep your edges straight with a stack of stitches!

stacked single crochet edge image

This image of the side bar of a single is from a great tutorial at Tales of Butterflies
Left-handed rejoice! Images are available for you so everyone can easily learn this technique!

You've probably seen a few different suggestions for keeping your edges straight, including skipping turning chains, using altered double stitches, and so on. But, the absolute best “hack” I've come across so far is using stacked single! This technique creates end stitches that most accurately resemble double in both appearance and behavior. They also work for hdc, tc, and so on.

I found a great tutorial at that will show you a left-handed version and a right-handed version, so everyone will be able to see exactly how to do this technique. Here's my shorthand version:

To replace a chain 3 turning chain for a double row:

    1. Instead of ch 3, work a single crochet stitch into the first stitch in the previous row.
    2. Now, to create the second sc for the stack, insert your hook into the side bar of the single you just made. (See the image above.)
    3. Yarn over and pull a loop through.
    4. Yarn over and pull through both loops on your hook. You now have 2 stacked single.

Move on to the next stitch in your row! When you come back across the row, you will see that the top of the stitch looks just like a normal stitch. If you have a taller row, use more stacked single style. For instance, if you have treble (or triple) stitches, use three stacked single.

Wait until you see the difference in your projects! It's absolutely AMAZING! Mine look so much more professional now!

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Hack #7 – Use some easy-to-find items as bobbins for C2C!

Yarn bobbins by Stardust Gold CrochetThis photo is courtesy of Stardust Gold Crochet.

Bobbins are a necessary evil for anyone who loves to work on multi-colored projects, but they can turn into a real mess! I found some great large clips that work wonderfully for clipping the yarn to your project so you can flip the entire blanket or square without tangling up your yarn! They're also great to keep everything together so you can pick it up and move it around or pack it up and take it on the go.
You can also use regular old wooden clothespins (pictured above). They work great too!


Hack # 8 – Cinch up your starting chain with magic!

Magic Crochet Circle by Stardust Gold CrochetYou can check out the video by Stardust Gold for a Magic Circle tutorial.

You may have heard of the Magic Circle or Magic Ring. When you craft in the round, typically, you chain a few stitches, depending on the pattern, and then additional stitches in the first chain to form a circle. The Magic Circle replaces that first chain with an adjustable loop you can tighten to remove any gap or hole.

It's a fabulous alternative, especially for Amigurumi, because that initial chain can widen or stretch and make your project look unprofessional. Unfortunately, the Magic Circle can be a bit tricky to master. There are a lot of tutorials out there for it, and some are easier than others. You can check out the tutorial that goes with the image above (click on the link in the caption).

You should also check out Sam on our YouTube channel because, as usual, she has a great version! This is a how-to for the Magic Circle with no Magic needed, as shown here:

Hack #9 – If you don't have the yarn you love, love the yarn you have!

Sometimes we see a project we desperately want to make and we know we just can't run out and buy more yarn. We've all been there! For instance, let's say you need some Chunky weight yarn for a great afghan pattern, but you don't have any. However, you DO have tons of Worsted weight yarn that would look fabulous! If only it was thicker! No problem! Just use 2 strands of the Worsted weight yarn in place of the Chunky, and start creating!

If you've never created anything with 2 strands of yarn at the same time, it's super easy. You just hold them together, as if they were one. Pretend they are a single strand. That's all there is to it. So, how do you know which weight to substitute for another? Here is a general guideline, BUT just like a normal project, you should create a swatch when size matters.

yarn weight strand substitution hackDon't forget, since you're using 2 strands, you'll need twice as much yardage, too!


Hack #10 – I saved my favorite for last: Single skein? Double, triple, quadruple, etc. your fun!

So, the hack above opens up a whole new world of stashbusting, but sometimes more patterns/more problems, am I right? For instance, what happens if you only have one skein of that gorgeous pink thinner weight yarn, but you'd love to use it as a bulky yarn for part of your project? Well, buckle in and put on a hat, because the hack you're about to see may cause your head to explode if you've never seen it before! Enjoy!

Thank you, kimcraft, for this amazing technique!
This is my favorite hack to date!


If you'd like even more great hacks, tips, tricks, and techniques,
you should join our Happily Hooked community!

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Author Info

Blog Manager & Columnist Coordinator at Happily Hooked | + posts

I've been crocheting since my mother taught me as a little girl. I'm lucky to be working with Happily Hooked and I can't wait to share everything yarny and hooky with you! Yarn over, peeps! Yarn over!

Tasha Margette
Website | + posts

Inspiration is everywhere. I love to create crochet inspired by nature, retro, rainbows, classic crochet, modern, boho, pop culture, and style is eclectic. Something for everyone.

Every pattern expresses a style, an emotion, and a feeling of comfort, joy, and most of all I have fun creating something to leave the world a little more beautiful than it was before.

What do you think?