How To Photograph Handmade Crafts with Flat Lay | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

How To Photograph Handmade Crafts with Flat Lay by Underground Crafter

Do your beautiful, handmade crafts look boring, ugly, or unrecognizable when you share them online? Are you finding it difficult to cut through the noise and get your Etsy shop or patterns noticed? Today, I’m sharing my 10 tips for how to photograph your handmade crafts with flat lay. These tips will take your pictures from ok to awesome! I’ve even included a video demonstrating some of the tips, so read on for details.

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. This post is part of an ongoing collaboration with B&H Photo Video Pro Audio, who generously provided a camera and photography equipment.

Many of us are skilled as makers but less skilled as photographers. Our beautiful projects may come across less than exciting when we share pictures online. Or, maybe your children or spouse won’t cooperate for photography, or you don’t have a budget for paying local models to wear your makes.

What is flat lay?

Flat lay is a style of photography where you literally lay your project flat against a background. It’s easier to master than other types of photography because you don’t have to worry about movement in the background, getting models not to blink, or keeping yourself in the frame for a self-portrait. Here are my 10 tips for taking amazing photographs of your handmade crafts using flat lay photography. (Don’t forget to scroll down for the video it you’d like to see some of the tips in action!)

10 Tips for Photographing Your Handmade Crafts Using Flat Lay

How To Photograph Handmade Crafts with Flat Lay by Underground Crafter

1 – Get to know your camera

Whether you’re using a complex DSLR or the camera on your smartphone, every camera is a little bit different. Use your camera’s manual (or search online for “name of your camera” manual or “name of your smartphone” camera manual) to learn about the features included in your camera. You may be surprised at what you find!

The pictures in this post were taken using a Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera. Until I received this camera in April, I had never used a mirrorless camera before, and I had mostly worked with Nikon cameras. The Sony Alpha a6000 is very straight-forward, but it still helped to read through the manual to find some of my preferred settings, and of course, to practice using it by taking lots of pictures!

Maker Photo Month Instagram Challenge 2019 with Underground Crafter - Sony Alpha a6000 what's in the box

2 – Use a vinyl backdrop

Vinyl backdrops have matte backgrounds so they reduce shine from natural light or glare from a flash. These are also easy to store on a roll or you can cut them down to specific sizes that you use regularly. Bonus: vinyl is easy to wipe clean if you have any spills.

I use the Savage White Brick Printed Vinyl Backdrop, a white, faux painted brick backdrop. There are many different styles of backdrops available including faux wood, solid colors, and bokeh (blurred, pops of light). White has the added benefit of matching with any handmade project and helping to calibrate your camera’s white balance. I have found that using a white backdrop helps the yarn colors show more accurately than using a colorful backdrop, but you can also pick a backdrop color that contrasts with or coordinates with your favorite colors or your brand colors.

You can see some examples below showing how a backdrop can improve the final look of your photographs. These are pictures I took using various wood surfaces at home. The natural wood often makes the yarn colors look drab or distracts from the project, while the painted white wood reflects and adds a lot of shadows. Continue on to tip 7 to see how I improve the pictures using a vinyl backdrop!

How To Photograph Handmade Crafts with Flat Lay by Underground Crafter - flat lay disasters collage

3 – Use a lightweight camera

I loved all the features of my Nikon D5300 DSLR, but it was a beast. I could not take pictures one handed because it was just too heavy. This made it impossible to put my hands in the picture (to hold a crochet hook, for example) or to take a very quick, spontaneous photograph. It also made bringing my camera with me on trips or outside a pain. Since I started using the Sony Alpha a6000, I have really enjoyed how light and portable it is. Mirrorless cameras are available to fit a variety of budgets and they are generally much lighter than DSLRs (because they use a digital, rather than optical, viewfinder) but with much more control over settings, lenses, and so on than a smartphone or tablet camera.

4 – Use a tripod or monopod if necessary

If your camera is heavy, or if you have the tendency to move slightly while taking pictures, you may see evidence of “camera shake,” or slightly blurred edges in your photos. You may also have the tendency to take a picture including your thumb because you are too focused on holding the camera. Using a tripod or monopod helps to stabilize your camera, and, therefore, your pictures, and to keep your thumb out of the frame. It’s also helpful if you’re trying to keep the background, the lighting, and the project the same while switching out props. You can find many affordable options for tripods or monopods in different sizes and configurations to fit any camera or smartphone.

In the video below, I’m using the Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 Tripod with the 494 Center Ball Head with 200PL-PRO Quick Release Plate. Though this setup is pricier, it has several added benefits. The horizontal bar on the tripod makes it great for filming video tutorials of your hands as well as focusing downward for flat lay pictures. It’s a very sturdy tripod, so it can also hold a heavier camera and be used outdoors without a problem.

5 – Finish your project

The camera seems to spot every flaw on a handmade crafts project. Look over the project very carefully before taking pictures. Crochet and knit projects usually look better after blocking. Weave in ends (or hide them very well on the back), trim threads, and remove pet hair before positioning it flatly on your background.

6 – Think about your composition

The composition includes everything that will end up in the final picture. Most of us are so excited to share our handmade crafts online that we forget there is a large tuft of cat hair in the background.

Do you want your project to be straight or at an angle? Do you want to include it entirely or just share a peek? Should large projects be folded, rolled, or draped? Do you want to have a close up, where the project fills most or all of the frame, or take it from a distance, with more empty background framing your project? Think about all of these things as you position your project on your backdrop. When using a vinyl backdrop, make sure that if it has directional lines your project and your composition are lined up. Otherwise, you will end up with what looks like a trapezoid instead of a beautiful rectangular or square project. (Ask me how I know this!)

Take a moment to look through your camera’s viewfinder or LCD screen and make sure that there are only pretty things in your composition before you take a picture.

7 – Add props to your pictures

Pictures of the project alone can be boring or too stark. Get creative by adding props to make your pictures “Instagram-worthy.” Some examples of props you can find around the house include supplies you used to make the project (yarn, fabric, crochet hook, and buttons); items that can be used with the project (things to fit inside of a bag, a book you might read while sitting under a lap blanket); seasonal or holiday decorations (a small tree, a birthday hat, flowers); or clothing or accessories that you would wear with the project. Use colors that coordinate or colors with high contrast in your props for different looks. In the collage below, you can see how different props impacted the finished picture.

How To Photograph Handmade Crafts with Flat Lay by Underground Crafter - flat lay beauties collage

8 – Check your lighting

I use indirect natural light whenever possible. Direct natural light tends to cause big (and not very attractive) shadows. If you don’t have access to a well-lit place for photography, or if you usually take your handmade crafts pictures at night, invest in lighting for photography. There are a lot of portable options these days. Personally, I prefer LED lighting since it is available in both portable and natural light options. “Natural light” LED lighting tends to display yarn colors most accurately. There is also a broader range of prices, including many affordable options, and LED lighting is relatively easy to use compared to other types of photography lighting.

When first using artificial lighting, you may need to try different set ups, including placing the lights in different positions or using multiple lights in order to get the results you want.

It’s not a total crisis if you don’t have perfect lighting, but you will need to be more confident with photo editing!

9 – Take a lot of pictures

Most often, the best picture is not the first one! Be sure to take some pictures horizontally and others vertically. If using your phone or tablet, take some square pictures for Instagram. If using a camera, take some rectangular pictures with nothing on the sides that you can crop down to square. Take multiple pictures and then delete the ones you don’t like.

10 – Ask for feedback

When you’re first trying out new setups, it can be overwhelming. Ask some of your creative friends for their opinions on your lighting, composition, or props. Share a few of your many pictures (see tip 9) and get help choosing the best picture. You can also engage your fans by asking them to vote for the main picture on your pattern or Etsy listing.

I hope you’ve found these 10 tips helpful! You can watch a video highlighting my five top tips and sharing my setup below. If you can’t see the video below, watch it out on YouTube.

By the way, do you want the free crochet pattern for the bag featured in the pictures? Get the Caribbean Sunset Bag pattern here.

Have you tried flat lay photography for your handmade crafts before?

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

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch by Charles Voth Designs | #Crochet #TipsTuesday

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterI’m so excited to share photo and video tutorials for the flat ruching stitch today as a guest post from one of my favorite crocheters, Charles from Charles Voth Designs!

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

About Charles Voth

Charles Voth wearing his Ottawa Ring, a free crochet cowl pattern.

Charles is a crochet and knitting designer, teacher, tech editor, podcaster, and YouTuber — in his spare time! He’s also an ESL teacher. He lives in Canada with his family but he is originally from South America. I have had the pleasure of knowing him (virtually) since 2011. You can learn more about Charles in this interview I did with him. You may also enjoy his book, Emoji Crochet: 20 Easy-to-Make Projects Expressing Attitude & Style, which I reviewed here

Book review: Emoji Crochet: 20 Easy-to-Make Projects Expressing Attitude & Style by Charles Voth via Underground Crafter

…or his Craftsy class, See It, Crochet It: Reading Diagrams.

See It Crochet It Reading Diagrams class by Charles Voth on CraftsyShow your support by following Charles on:

Facebook | Ravelry | Pinterest | Twitter | YouTube

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch

Crochet Pattern and Tutorials by Charles Voth Designs

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterNotes from Underground Crafter:

  • This pattern uses US crochet pattern abbreviations. You can find a master list of abbreviations here.
  • A complete video tutorial is available after the written pattern.

I know that many, many, many crocheters don’t really like to work up swatches to check their gauge or their tension, or to see if they are using the right hook for the yarn they’ve chosen to crochet. Some people avoid it with a carefree attitude, and others with a guilty conscience. In this post, I’m not going to harp or preach about swatching to get gauge. However, I think that swatching is a super practice and a great one for learning new stitch patterns, and more importantly for uncovering amazing looking crochet.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterIn fact, I was swatching and experimenting with stitches for a few hours one day, and what resulted was my discovery of this beautiful stitch pattern, which I’ve called the “flat ruching pattern”. To pronounce this word take the “oo” sound from “boot” or “root” and say “rooshing”. It comes from a French word meaning “frill”, but this was based on a Celtic word meaning “tree bark”. Ruching is a way to gather fabric in rows to make larger widths of fabric fit across shorter widths in order to sew them together. I think it does look like what I image tree bark would look like if it were soft and silky, instead of hard. The tight small ridges that divide the longer evenly gathered strands of yarn are like the stitching worked in sewn fabric to create the gathers.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterThe wrong side of this stitch pattern, shown above, highlights the frilly rows of stitches differently, and the gathering rows look like miniature zig-zag ribbons, also called rick-rack. For some projects, I would consider using this as the public side, just because I really like the “rick-rack” rows and how they look.

The fabric that results from crocheting the flat ruching pattern is quite stretchy and squishy…There is a lot of “air” or loft in the rows that have the long strands. I think it’s perfect for garments because it has lots of movement. I crocheted this swatch with a bamboo/cotton blend, that’s a DK weight (#3 according to yarnstandards.com) and a size E (3.5mm) hook. But I have made washcloths with worsted weight kitchen cotton yarn, and DK-weight acrylic, and sock-weight sheep’s wool… It looks great with any yarn, but especially one with a sheen to it.

To crochet the flat ruching pattern, we use two different stitches. First we work an inverse single crochet, which simply means that the hook is inserted from back to front. The other stitch is the hitched double crochet, which I think will be new to all of you, unless you have worked a similar stitch, called the Love Knot or Solomon stitch. I borrowed one of the steps of the Love Knot and applied it to a double crochet to invent the hitched double crochet. Maybe I should say I only unvented this (discovered something that has already been invented, but isn’t widely known). Regardless, I’m going to break down how to crochet the flat rushing stitch pattern.

Instructions

  • First, here are the instructions; below them, I explain how to make the 2 stitches we use.
  • Chain any number of stitches.
  • Row 1: Sc in second ch from hook and in each ch across, turn.
  • Row 2: Ch 2, dc in first st at base of ch-2, ht-dc (hitched-double crochet) in the back loops only of each st across to last st, dc in last st, turn.
  • Row 3: Ch 1, sc in first st, inv-sc (inverse-single crochet) in the front loops only of each st across to last st, sc in last st, turn.
  • Repeat Rows 2 and 3 for pattern.

How to crochet the hitched double crochet

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Yo, and insert hook into the back loop of the next st. Yo and draw up a loop and loosen it to the height of the previous dc

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Pinch the base of the pulled up loop and the yarn feeding in from the ball.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Yo, and pull through the first 2 loops, ensuring that you don’t let go of the pinched yarn strands.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterHow To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Insert the hook in the gap between the pinched strand and the raised loop, yo, and pull up a loop. Then pull this same loop through the remaining 2 loops on the hook.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterHow to crochet the inverse single crochet

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground CrafterHow To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Bring the yarn to the front of the hook and insert hook into the front loop of the next st.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Yarn under, or in other words, lay the chin of the hook over the working yarn and draw through the fabric. As you draw the hook through rotate it around so that it is in its normal position to continue.

How To Crochet the Flat Ruching Stitch (with photo and video tutorials) by Charles Voth Designs for Underground Crafter

  • Yarn over, and pull through the 2 loops on the hook.

Not everyone likes to learn new stitches from words and photographs, so I’ve also made a video which you can watch below, or here.

I hope you try making either a washcloth, or a summer tee, or a wool scarf for the cold weather with the flat rushing stitch pattern. It’s unique drape and texture will make all your yarns look great!

© 2018 by Charles Voth (Charles Voth Designs) and published with permission by Underground Crafter. This pattern is for personal use only. You may use the pattern to make unlimited items for yourself, for charity, or to give as gifts. You may sell items you personally make by hand from this pattern. Do not violate Charles’s copyright by distributing this pattern 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 pattern, point your friends to this link: https://undergroundcrafter.com/blog/2018/07/17/how-to-crochet-flat-ruching-stitch/. Thanks for supporting indie designers!

Thanks, Charles, for sharing this beautiful stitch pattern with us!

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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

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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, here are two brands that I’ve used and personally recommend.

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 CrafterLaurel Hill crochet hooks are more affordable. They have a tapered shape that I find helpful for dimensional stitches such as bullions, bobbles, and puff stitches. Read my full review here.

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Did May fly by as quickly for you as it did for me? It’s the last day of #makerphotomonth and today’s theme is to make. I love making all kinds of things, but #crochetgrannysquares are definitely among my favorites. Here’s a sneak peek of a work-in-progress using @redheartyarns With Love #yarn and a @laurelhillknitcrochet Trai #crochethook. Do you have plans to make anything over the weekend? #undergroundcrafter #crocheting #crocheted #crocheteveryday #redheartyarns #joycreators #laurelhillcrochethook #laurelhillknitcrochet #gethooked #crochetersoftheworld #crochetersgonnacrochet #crochetersofig #crochetersofinstagram #instacrochet #makersgonnamake #makerstrong #hookersgonnahook #hookedoncrochet2019 #crochetgirlgang

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#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.

  • Sunglasses. 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!