How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground CrafterToday’s #TipsTuesday post is a guest post from Karen Whooley, the crochet designer, author, and teacher. Karen is going to share her tips for working with hand dyed yarn and introduce us to her new book, Coastal Crochet. If you love the beauty of hand dyed yarn but aren’t quite sure how to work with it, Karen’s three tips will give you the confidence to use up those beauties in your stash!

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

About Karen Whooley

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Karen WhooleyKaren is an award winning, internationally known crochet designer, author, and instructor. She develops patterns and teaches classes for crocheters who want simplicity and elegance wrapped up in adventure.

Karen is the author of Coastal Crochet, A Garden of Shawls, Crochet Rocks Socks and 17 other books as well as many patterns published in books and magazines.  Her classes both online and live are some of the most sought after in the crochet genre. Crochet is her passion and she wants to take that passion and inspire her students in any way she can. Most importantly, Karen wants to bring each student self-confidence and enable her students to take what they have learned so that they can happily create whatever spurs their own crochet passion.

Show your support by following Karen on:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Ravelry Designer Page | Ravelry Group | Subscribe to her newsletter to get 35% off new pattern releases


How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn

Guest Post by Karen Whooley

Hello everyone! I am thrilled that Marie asked me to do a guest post on the blog today! I am looking forward to chatting with you all!

I am Karen Whooley and this year marks my 20th year as a crochet designer and instructor. I develop patterns and teach classes for crocheters who want simplicity and elegance wrapped up in adventure. I am the author of 21 books as well as many patterns published in other books and magazines. Crochet is my passion and I want to take that passion and inspire crocheters in any way I can. Most importantly, I want to bring each crocheter self-confidence and enable them to take what they have learned from my designs and classes so that they can happily create whatever spurs their own crochet passion.

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Coastal Crochet coverIn my new book Coastal Crochet (and also, last year’s book, A Garden of Shawls), most of the patterns are made with hand-dyed yarns. I love indie dyers. I always want to support small businesses as I am a small business too. I think it is very important to support each other in this way. I am always on the lookout for new hand dyers to work with!

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Shorline from Coastal Crochet
Shorline from Coastal Crochet by Karen Whooley

But taking care of hand dyed yarns can be tricky sometimes. If the color isn’t set properly, it can bleed into other colors that may be in your project. Sometimes there are special fiber blends, such as silk or linen (or even milk or corn!), that may require you to take some extra special care when laundering your project. Today I want to talk to you about how to make sure your yarns stay as wonderful as the day you got them!

Colorfastness

I have a little trick I do to let me know if a yarn’s color has been set correctly for colorfastness. I cut a small piece of the yarn off and let it soak in a glass of water. If the color bleeds into the water changing the color from clear to something else then you know that you might need to be cautious on how you deal with the yarn. Put the hank in a lingerie bag and wash it in a gentle cycle in your washing machine or hand soak for a bit then lay flat to dry. I use a bit of wool wash but you don’t necessarily have to do that. If you are still having bleeding issues, especially if you are finding that the color bleeds on your hands, contact the dyer for other recommendations.

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Elemental Fiberworks Star Stuff Sock
Elemental Fiberworks Star Stuff Sock yarn

If you are using colors such as red or black, or any dark color with a lighter color, always check the colorfastness. Prepping the yarn before you start crocheting or knitting will save you heartache later!

Working with Hand Dyed Yarns

Each hank of hand dyed yarn is unique. Sometimes the color varies from hank to the next.This can be a problem when you are crocheting or knitting along and you add the next hank. All of a sudden on section of the project is darker than the other,

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Cove from Coastal Crochet
Cove from Coastal Crochet by Karen Whooley

This color difference is normal because everything is done by hand! Although the dyers try hard to keep the colors the same, there are always some sort of difference. To avoid having this obvious difference in color on in the project, make sure you work two hanks at a time.

This is how I do it:

  1. Work two rows with the first hank.
  2. Pick up the next hank and work two rows
  3. Pick up the first hand and work two rows
  4. Keep going back and forth in this manner to blend the two hanks.
How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Deep Blue Sea from Coastal Crochet
Deep Blue Sea from Coastal Crochet by Karen Whooley

Laundering Your Hand Dyed Yarn Project

The type of fibers in your hand dyed yarn is going to determine how you launder your project.

Animal fibers can be wet soaked in a sink. I don’t recommend putting the item in the washing machine the first time you wash the project, unless you had to do some additional prepping before you started. Always wash in cold water and use a wool wash or a gentle detergent. If you soak the piece, lay it out on a towel and roll it up and press to get the excess water out. Always lay flat to dry, shaping or blocking as you need to.

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Beachside from Coastal Crochet
Beachside from Coastal Crochet by Karen Whooley

If you have a yarn that is in some form at least a part linen or silk, I do not recommend soaking or machine washing at all. If the project is in need of cleaning, I would bring it to the dry cleaner and carefully instruct them about what fibers are in the piece. If you just need to block the piece, do a steam block with a hot iron or steamer, making sure you get the project damp but not soaking. And make sure you do not touch the piece with the iron or steamer. I have found you can melt fibers that way. (ask me how I know)

Cotton is a beast of its own. I recommend a steam block but others will soak or machine wash on a gentle cycle If in doubt, take to the dry cleaners.

If there is a specialty fiber like bamboo, milk, corn or something else, I would recommend reading the label and contacting the dyer if you are still unsure what to do.

How To Work with Hand Dyed Yarn by Karen Whooley for Underground Crafter - Inner Yarn Zen Gradient
Inner Yarn Zen Gradient yarn

I hope this little post answers questions about working with hand dyed yarns! If you have any other questions on this topic, I am glad to answer them! You can contact me directly through my website.

© 2018 by Karen Whooley and published with permission by Underground Crafter. This article is for personal use only. Do not violate Karen’s copyright by distributing this article or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the article, point your friends to this link: https://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2018/08/07/how-to-work-with-hand-dyed-yarn/. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

Thank you, Karen, for sharing these tips with us! Show your support by following Karen on:

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Ravelry Designer Page | Ravelry Group | Subscribe to her newsletter to get 35% off new pattern releases

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels with Fiat Fiber Arts | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground CrafterEmily from Fiat Fiber Arts is joining us again and she’s sharing her best tips and tricks for making pompoms and tassels. Pompoms and tassels make great additions to any crochet, knitting, or craft project. They can even make projects by themselves! If you struggle with making plump and beautiful pompoms and tassels, read on for Emily’s best tips (and check out her video).

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

About Emily Reiter from Fiat Fiber Arts in Her Words

Fiducia Clutch, free Tunisian crochet pattern with embroidery tutorials by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground Crafter

As a Catholic wife and mother of 5 small children, the most common remark I get regarding my work is, “How do you find the time?” My half-joking answer is “neglect.” Cross-stitch was my first fiber love. I’ve stitched since 2nd grade. But when I had my first three children, I stopped stitching and life became exceedingly stressful. I fell into a horrible bout of post-partum anxiety after the third was born. As part of my recovery, I began to attend meetings of our local chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America. It reminded me of the true contentment I feel from creating things with a needle in my hand. My husband could also see the effect.

Soon my fiber love branched into crochet. I had always crocheted but wasn’t very adventurous with it. Then I discovered a book of amigurumi patterns in the library. The embroidery section abuts the crochet books. Each toy I made was like Christmas for my kids. They still have and play with all those toys from 6 years ago. Crochet took off after that.

“After testing for a designer for a few years, I was encouraged to pursue technical editing. Finally, I feel tech editing combines the value of my educational background (BS, MS & Unfinished PhD in Range & Wildlife Management, strong data collection and manipulation skills, eye for detail) with my natural passions for fiber arts. I feel that I am finally serving God through my fiat (thus the business name), God’s will for my life. Why else would I have the combination of these great skills if not to serve and provide for my family?

Oh, and the answer to “how do you find the time?” is a loving and understanding husband, early bedtime for the kids, I tend to stitch fast because my time is limited. Neglect probably still plays a part, my home certainly isn’t the cleanest, but the kids are happy, clean and fed.

Show your support by following Emily on:

Fiat Fiber Arts Website | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Instagram | Pinterest | Ravelry | YouTube


Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels

by Fiat Fiber Arts

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground CrafterMaking pompoms is a craft that can add fun and whimsy to your designs and can also be a source of major frustration for some. Today, I will share with you my thoughts and what I have learned about making pompoms.

I used to hate making pompoms, but mostly that was because my pompoms were always flimsy, yucky looking things. I thought I was following instructions, but it just didn’t turn out right. Today, you can search for “how to make a pompom” on the internet and find loads of videos and project ideas. Even if you’re not a crochet or knit maker, you can make pompoms and use them in a variety of ways. Who’s seen the viral video of the pompom rug? Have you tried that one?

Pompoms

Here, I’ll go over the equipment and tools and my secrets (and secret annoyances) I have discovered about pompom making. If you want to just cut to the chase and watch some poms getting made by myself and my daughter, then check this out.

Special Equipment?

Do you need special tools to make a pompom? Not necessarily. There are pompom makers out there, interestingly shaped little devices that can help you in making pompoms that are different sizes. But, as seen in many videos, you can use a piece of cardboard also. I’ve also used a book or just my hand. If you want the special pompom makers, you can find them at your local craft store, but I found a set on wish. It’s pretty flimsy but it gets the job done. Some of the other bonuses to using the tool is that it has a groove designed for proper scissor cutting placement. It holds your cut pieces together while you get the tie piece in the same groove. PLUS, the little bumps help to hold that tying yarn tight while knotting.

The Yarn

If you want to be making pompoms fast, use bigger yarn. It’s the same as when you’re stitching: bigger yarn works up faster than smaller yarn. So, unless you just have to have a pompom in that dk or sock weight color, stick with weight 4 or larger yarns or you’re going to be wrapping all day long. Even with weight 4 yarn, I started to double and triple the strands to make it faster.

What’s the secret?

So, how did I go from hating pompoms because they were flimsy to making seriously solid pompoms capable for a rug? It’s all about your wraps. MAKE MORE WRAPS. Wrap that yarn around and around and around. The more wraps you make, the stuffier and sturdier your pompom will be. So, if your pompoms, like mine, are flimsy, make another and wrap it more.

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground Crafter - pompoms

The Cutting

Since we’re cutting through several layers of yarn, you want the scissors sharp so that the job is easier. Thin scissors would be easier to slip further under the yarn. Also, don’t use those scissors that only cut in one spot where the blades meet, you know the ones. You need scissors that cut very well close to the tips. The thinner and sharper the blades, the less actual cuts will be needed. If you are making a big pom project you will be doing a lot of cutting. You want COMFORTABLE scissors! The first time I tried making the pom rug I quit after 5 poms because I was getting a blister or a bruise on my hand. Crafting injuries. So, take it easy or pay for some super sharp scissors.

The Middle Tie

After cutting your yarn around the card, book, or pompom maker, you need to get a center tie string around your loops BEFORE removing the pieces from your wrapping device. Usually I use the same type of yarn that I used to make the pompom. But you want to use something that can make a really tight knot without breaking. If you used super bulky yarn to make your pom, then maybe get some tough string or sewing thread for the tie. I like using upholstery thread for projects that need to stay for a long time. Upholstery thread is very durable and you can pull it super tight. If you have a cotton yarn that can be pulled to break, it’s not ideal for the knot. Usually, my acrylic weight 4 yarns are good for wrapping and tying. Also, make sure you leave a long tail for the tie. That’s what you will be using to attach the pom.

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground Crafter - pompoms

Removal and Shaping

Honestly, along with cutting, this is my new annoyance for pompoms. Again, you’re using your scissors, so if your hand already hurt from cutting through all those wraps, here goes round 2. First, get over the trash can or a bowl or something to catch a bunch of tiny cut bits of yarn. Then, start trimming off the yarn ends that stand out from your pompom surface. This part feeds into my perfectionism in not the best way. I could trim forever, sometimes. Oh wait, this side is too flat, I can round it out here, that bit is sticking out, now that bit, and on and on. Eventually, you have to be happy about it. My big tip for shaping is SHAKING. After you do a couple cuts, shake that pom! Shake, shake, shake. It loosens the pieces and shows the true shape. Then evaluate for the next cut. Just cut a couple times and shake again. Move it around in your hand. Think about the average person looking at it, not a critical crafter’s eye like yours.

Attachment

Now you have a pompom ready for placement!! Usually you can use the long tail from the tie to attach the pom wherever you need it. Again, you probably want to attach it very tightly to wherever it’s going. If it’s topping a hat, you don’t want it flopping off. If it’s going on that rug, you want it firmly secured. Tassels and purse accents might give you a little more leeway but you’ll have to think about what you’re doing with it when you make that tie.

Tassels

Tassels are similar to pompoms. Making a tassel doesn’t necessarily need a tool. But you want your strands to be uniform in length. I’ve often used a hardback book to wrap yarn around and get equal lengths of yarn. You can also just measure out the length you want and cut and cut and cut and cut each length of yarn. However you do it, you want several lengths of yarn of roughly equal length.

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground Crafter - tassels

The Ties

A tassel will have two ties in it. One tie will go around all lengths of yarn in the middle of them. All lengths will then fold down from this point. This tie is what you will use for attachment of the tassel. After making the center tie, pull all lengths down so that all ends are opposite the tie. Depending on your size of yarn, the next tie will be about a half to 1 inch down from the center tie. This tie will wrap around all strands. You want this one to be very tight because it’s giving the tassel it’s shape and will hold it together. The tails of this tie need to be as long or longer than the ends of the tassel.

Tips and Tricks for Making Pompoms and Tassels by Fiat Fiber Arts for Underground Crafter - tassels

Trimming

Your next step on tassel making is similar to the shaping of the pompom but way easier!! All you need to do is trim the ends of the lengths so you have a straight even cut across the bottom.

Attachment

Now you can attach your tassel using the top tie ends.

Pinterest is an amazing place to see other ideas for poms and tassels. Here’s my own Pinterest board of inspiration for tassels and purses.

I hope you have fun making your own pompoms and tassels. Let me know what you make!

© 2018 by Emily Reiter (Fiat Fiber Arts) and published with permission by Underground Crafter. This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the tutorial to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from this tutorial. Do not violate Emily’s copyright by distributing this tutorial or the photos in any form, including but not limited to scanning, photocopying, emailing, or posting on a website or internet discussion group. If you want to share the tutorial, point your friends to this link: https://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2018/07/31/how-to-make-yarn-pompoms-and-tassels. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

Thank you, Emily, for sharing this beautiful pattern with us! Show your support by visiting Emily at one of the following links:

Fiat Fiber Arts Website | Facebook Page | Facebook Group | Instagram | Pinterest | Ravelry | YouTube

6 Tips for Taking Your Crochet Outdoors for the Summer

6 Tips for Crocheting Outdoors with 15 Free Crochet Shawl Patterns in Light-Weight Yarns via Underground CrafterAs it gets warmer, don’t you spend more time outdoors? I know I do! If you want to keep your crochet with you, I’m sharing 6 tips for taking your crochet outside for the summer, along with a roundup of 15 free shawl patterns to bring with you! Each of these patterns is made with a lighter weight yarn, so you’ll be able to get a lot of crocheting done with just one skein.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

6 Tips for Taking Your Crochet Outdoors for the Summer

6 Tips for Crocheting Outdoors with 15 Free Crochet Shawl Patterns in Light-Weight Yarns via Underground Crafter

#1 – Travel in style

Choose the right bag or container for crocheting on-the-go. A bag that is easy to wash if it gets dirty or sandy will get the most use. If you’ll be near water, consider something that is coated to keep your supplies dry. I like using The Yarnit because it has a base and it’s designed to keep out sand and dirt.

Last summer, I was introduced to the team at @theyarnit and was given a Mr. Sparkles #yarnit to try out. It has been invaluable in keeping my @madelinetosh Prairie lace #yarn from tangling. I’ve been worked on this #crochet lace shawl on the subway, on the bus, during a 2-hour meeting in an auditorium (where it was stowed under my seat), and at home on the couch with a frisky cat on my shoulder. The yarn feeds easily through the porthole and the globe’s material has survived several drops, too. I’m definitely going to be using the YarnIt to keep my future lace and sock yarn projects from getting tangled as I switch bags and locations. #IGotItFree #crocheting #crochetersofinstagram #instacrochet #madelinetosh

A post shared by Marie @ Underground Crafter (@ucrafter) on

A large cosmetics bag is another option. You can also use a specially designed project bag that zips or snaps shut.

#2 – Ditch the (heavy) weights

Take the opportunity to use lighter weight yarns in the summer. Lace, superfine, and fine weight yarns and crochet threads are great for the summer. Thinner yarns and thread are lighter on the hooks, so you’ll be able to easily work with these as the temperatures rise. Lighter weight yarns and threads also have more yardage per ounce, so you can carry just one skein and still get a lot more project finished while you’re out. An added bonus – you’ll also be able to use your projects right away when you finish!

I love crocheting shawls in thinner yarns in the summer, so I’ve included a roundup of 15 free crochet patterns in light weight yarns at the end of these tips.

#3 – Focus on plant fibers

Cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, and other plant fibers are great for summer projects. These yarns and threads are more breathable than animal fibers or synthetics are. When it’s hot out, your fingers will thank me!

If you’re new to working with plant fibers, start by using a pattern specifically designed with cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo. The drape and care for these yarns is different than synthetics and animal fibers, so using a pattern that takes that into account may make your first plant fiber project more successful.

#4 – Swap out your hooks

Use wooden or bamboo hooks when outdoors in the summer. Your aluminum hooks may feel sweaty and can easily transfer heat from your hands and the fibers you use. Wooden or bamboo hooks will stay cooler and make crocheting more comfortable. These hooks are also easy to wipe down with a damp paper towel.

If you’re new to wooden hooks, there are two brands that I’ve used and personally recommend. Louet Kollage Square Crochet Hooks feature an inline aluminum hook in a squared, erogonmic wood handle. I don’t usually like inline hooks, but I find that with the addition of the handle, these are very easy for me to crochet with.

Furls Alpha Hooks are hand made and featuring a beautiful ergonomic handle. These are more pricey but they also make a statement! You can read my full review here.Furls Heirloom Wood #Crochet Hooks (Alpha Series) review on Underground Crafter

#5 – Bring the right project

I find that projects that are less complex work best when I’m outdoors since there may be more distractions than I’m used to indoors. Similarly, I enjoy bringing along portable projects that don’t weigh down my bag. Before you head outside, think about whether you’ll want to be working on that project if it’s noisy or hot. If the answer is no, switch it up for something else!

You might also want to consider incorporating the outdoors in your project. Perhaps yarn graffiti is allowed in the park you’ll be visiting, or you can find some beautiful stones to cover with freeform crochet while taking a hike.

And, don’t forget the notions!

Of course, you’ll need all your usual supplies in the summer, like your hook, yarn or thread, a yarn needle, a ruler, and a pair of scissors. But if you plan to get some serious crocheting done while you’re outdoors, don’t forget to pack these additional warm-weather accessories.

  • Avoid squinting, read your pattern more easily, protect your eyesight, and look great, all while crocheting.
  • Pattern protection. If you’re using a printed pattern, cover it in a plastic sheet to keep dirt and sand away. If you’re using a tablet or other device to read your pattern, consider using a screen protector to avoid scratches and other damage.
  • Manicure kit. If you’ll be participating in outdoor activities, don’t let a hangnail ruin your crocheting! Bring along a nail file and clipper for emergency repairs.

I hope you’ve found these 6 tips helpful. Now that you’re prepared, here are 15 stunning free patterns for lacy shawls that would make great projects to work on and wear outside.

15 Free Crochet Patterns for Shawls in Light-Weight Yarns

Roundup by Underground Crafter

As I mentioned before, I love crocheting shawls in lighter weight yarns in the summer. You can carry just one skein of yarn with you and make a lot of progress! For this roundup, I chose patterns that were designed with lace, super fine, and fine yarns (0, 1, and 2 weights). If you’re a threadie, some of these can be made with crochet thread instead. Photos are copyright the respective designers/publishers and are used with permission.

6 Tips for Crocheting Outdoors with 15 Free Crochet Shawl Patterns in Light-Weight Yarns via Underground CrafterLeft column, from top to bottom:

Center column, from top to bottom:

  • Trillium Scarf by Persia Lou: This lacy triangle scarf is made with a super fine cotton/linen blend yarn and can be worn as a shawl.
  • Turning Seasons Scarflet by Creative Crochet Workshop: This striped, triangular scarflet in sock yarn can be worn as a shawl.
  • Simple Lace Isosceles Shawl by Underground Crafter: This simple pattern uses one skein of lace weight yarn.
  • Poison Ivy Wrap by Suvi’s Crochet: This wrap features the pineapple motif in the body and as a dangling edging.
  • Milan Summer Wrap by The Country Willow: This shawl uses the treble (triple) crochet for added drape.

Right column, from top to bottom:

  • Fall Sparkles Shawl by Jessie At Home: This lacy triangular shawl also features beads.
  • Spring Fling Triangle Scarf by The Unraveled Mitten: This pattern is perfect for showing off a skein of hand dyed sock yarn.
  • Kramer Lux Wrap by B.Hooked Crochet: This triangular wrap includes both standard crochet and broomstick lace.
  • Pom Pom Happiness Shawl by Wilmade: This pattern uses a “cake” yarn to do the colorwork for you. It also includes a video tutorial.
  • My Story Shawl by Look At What I Made: This triangular shawl features a picot edging that is crocheted as you go.

Looking for more shawl inspiration? Follow my Crochet Shawls Board on Pinterest!

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.In today’s #TipsTuesday post, I’m going to show you how to make your own felted balls from wool yarn. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects. (Spoiler alert: I’ll be sharing a project using felted balls later this week, so you may want to get started on making a set.)

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.Gather your materials.

You’ll need 100% wool yarn (I used Lion Brand Alpine Wool in Chili and Lion Brand LB Collection Pure Wool yarn), stockings, and access to a washer and dryer.

Wind your yarn balls.

First, you’ll wrap the yarn around your fingers several times.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.

Then, slide the yarn off your fingers and begin wrapping yarn around the center.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.Fold over the yarn and continue to wrap until it forms an irregular sphere.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.Once you have a sphere, continue wrapping in different directions until you have normalized the shape.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.For dryer balls, you’ll want to make the balls several inches large in diameter. I recommend using undyed yarn for best results. For craft projects, you’ll want smaller balls that are less than an inch in diameter.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.Prepare your yarn balls for felting.

Once you have as many balls as you’d like (or you’ve run out of yarn), begin stuffing them into the stocking towards the foot. Tie a knot after each ball.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.Felt your yarn balls.

You’ll want to wash your tied yarn balls on hot in a lightly filled load of laundry for maximum agitation. I washed them with denims and sheets, but not with towels or other yarn projects that would generate a lot of lint. After washing, you’ll want to tumble dry these on high. I actually put these in the washer and dryer a few times to make sure they felted completely. Once your balls are felted, little fuzzies will stick out of the stockings.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.At that point, you can release your felted balls by cutting off the knot and sliding out the next felted ball and continuing until they are all released from the stocking.

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.You now have your very own collection of felted balls! What will you use yours for?

DIY Felted Balls Tutorial by Underground Crafter | Make your own felted balls from wool yarn with this tutorial. Felted balls can be used instead of dryer sheets or for craft projects.

8 Tips for Getting a Head Start on Winter Holiday Crafting | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

Like so many crocheters, knitters, and other crafters, I love to make handmade gifts for my friends and family for the winter holidays. I can express my creativity while making higher quality DIY gifts than I can usually afford to buy!

8 Tips for Getting a Head Start on Winter Holiday Crafting by Underground CrafterBut, let’s face it. Every winter, countless crafters get overwhelmed by making gifts for loved ones. Some of us go without sleep, others get repetitive stress injuries, and still more just became annoyed with the demands of handmade gift giving. If your air conditioner is still blasting, those holidays may seem pretty far off, but today I’m sharing 8 tips for getting a head start on your gifts to make the winter holidays a bit more pleasant for you — and your loved ones.

This post contains affiliate links.

Start early

Spoiler alert: If you start your holiday crafting as early in the year as possible, you’ll have more time and you’ll be able to work at a more leisurely pace. You can also choose to make more gifts, or larger, more intricate projects, for the people on your holiday list.

Be picky

Let’s face it. Not everyone appreciates handmade gifts. Other folks may not be fans of your favorite crafts. Trust me when I say that the holidays will be more fun for you (and for the recipient) if you focus your efforts on making gifts for those who will actually enjoy them. I call these folks “handmade-worthy” (or “crochet-worthy,” or “knit-worthy”) people.

As you think about all the people (and pets) you may consider making gifts for, narrow your list down to those who would actually appreciate a handmade gift! This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s the step most crafters forget.

Not sure who is handmade-worthy? Think about people who say kind things about your crafting, who are makers themselves, or who have worn and used previous handmade gifts.

Make a project list

Now that you’ve narrowed down your recipient list by removing those who aren’t “handmade-worthy,” make a list of the types of gifts you’d like to make for them.

Some crafters make variations of the same project for everyone on the list (like a favorite crochet scarf pattern in different yarns or colors) while others like to make a completely unique gift for each recipient. Remember that you should get to have fun while making gifts, so choose your projects accordingly.


Survey your existing supplies and your budget

I know I’m not the only one with craft supplies falling out of the closets! Go through your stash and compare it to your project list. (If your budget is tight or non-existent, you can choose to work backwards from your stash instead.)

If you have a holiday crafting budget, make a supply list based on the supplies you’re missing and your project plans.

Be realistic about your time frame

Overestimating the availability of time is the most common struggle crafters face when working on handmade holiday gifts. We’ve all done it! While we could theoretically make unlimited gifts if we had unlimited time, the reality is that as each week moves by, our holiday gift deadlines become narrower. (And, don’t forget you still need to eat, sleep, work, etc., so you don’t actually have 24 hours a day to craft.)

Be realistic about how long each project will take and consider revising your list based on the amount of time available.

Take frequent breaks

When short on time and facing crafting deadlines, it can be tempting to push yourself too far. But, be sure to take care of yourself. Take frequent breaks (every 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your craft and the intensity of your work) to stretch and rest your eyes/hands. This will help you avoid repetitive stress injuries.

Have a back up plan

Sometimes, even the best plans go awry. Have a backup in case you can’t finish your projects on time. This might mean putting aside money to purchase last minute gifts, or giving out project “gift certificates” or “I.O.U.” cards.

How to Start (and Stock) a Handmade Gift Closet, with free pattern roundup | #Crochet #TipsTuesday on Underground Crafter
Get 16+ free crochet pattern ideas and tips for starting (and stocking) a handmade gift closet in this post.

Get virtual support

You may find virtually working alongside other crafters on holiday gifts makes the entire process more fun and bearable! Look for holiday make-a-longs on your favorite social networks. For crocheters, here are two you may enjoy.

What are your favorite tips for holiday crafting?

P.S.: Several readers have asked about the project tied in green ribbon in the image for this post. It’s the Frosted Snowflake Cowl, one of many designs I’ve created for ILikeCrochet digital magazine. You can get more information about the pattern and subscribe to the magazine here.