Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dyeing Pink Yarn for a Pussyhat with KoolAid and Food Coloring


As I was finishing up the design of the first 4 GENEie hat patterns, a good friend of mine asked for a DNA Pussyhat.  I was so excited to splice the design of these two hats together but I quickly ran into a problem.  I had no pink yarn.  My favorite shops were cleaned out of pink worsted weight yarns, too!  What was a knitter to do?  


I am ChemKnits, and I love to dye yarn.  My YouTube Channel (ChemKnits Tutorials) is filled with my dyeing experiments.  While I'm dyeing, I usually make things up as I go along.  I like to share my "oopsies" and things I could try to get different results.  I love that people enjoy my unfiltered, somewhat rambling, process.  I also love that I can get excited for a new dyeing project AND to share it with all of you.  


Normally I like to do my immersion dyeing (kettle dyeing) on the stovetop. This is the easiest way to control the temperature of the dyebath.  However, not everyone has access to a stove so I wanted to share some microwave dyeing.  


Materials and Methods

  • Materials: 100 g Bare Wool of the Andes Yarn (Worsted weight), 1 packet Pink Lemonade KoolAid, McCormick's NEON food coloring (Pink, 40 drops), Water, Microwave safe dish.
  • Presoak the yarn in cool water for 20-30 minutes
  • Starting with at least 4 cups of water, mix in the KoolAid and the food coloring drops.  
  • Add the presoaked yarn to the dye mixture, increase the volume of water so the yarn is completely submerged.  
  • Microwave the yarn in increments until the dyebath starts to boil.  With my setup this took ~15 minutes.
  • Allow the dyebath to cool.  If there is still dye in the water, you can heat the dyebath again to help the dye absorb to the fibers.  If the water is clear, proceed to washing.
  • Wash the yarn.  When the yarn is COMPLETELY COOL, wash it in lukewarm water and dishsoap to remove any excess dye.
  • Allow the yarn to dry an admire your pretty yarn!  


Kettle dyed yarn is so much fun.  It looks solid but when you look closer you can see subtle variations to the color.  The best part about dyeing with food coloring and KoolAid (besides the wonderful, fruity smell) is that this is all kitchen safe.  Everything I used for the dyeing process can be used on dishes that I eat from.  

The GENEie Pussyhat

Want to know more about the dyeing process?  Watch the video!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Keith!


Happy Birthday, Keith!  Happy Happy Birthday to YOU!  Keith's birthday always falls at the end of a long holiday season from December to the end of February we have my birthday, Chanukkah, Christmas, our non-wedding anniversary, Ryder's birthday, Valentine's Day and then Keith's birthday.  I frequently try to plan out all of these gift giving opportunities at the same time so it is hard for me to hold back gifts at Christmas time because I'm so excited for him to open them up.

This year I made Lucky's birthday shirt, I made Rowdy's birthday shirt (not yet published on ChemKnits), and I figured, why not make Keith a birthday shirt, too?


My original idea was just to put "33" on the front of the shirt.  But now this is a shirt that Keith can only wear one day.... ever.  (Technically he could wear it more days, but realistically I can't see him wearing it for more than 5 minutes.)  I could put "Birthday Boy" or "1984" on the front... but would Keith technically deserve a new shirt every year just like my other boys?  Even if this is mostly a gag gift, maybe I should stick to my original idea.


When I was shopping on Small Business Saturday, I found the coolest paper airplane fabric.  I knew that this would be the perfect choice to make Keith an epic birthday shirt.  This also meant that I didn't have to worry about creating something besides the number on the front of the shirt.

I thought I was going to put a large "33" on the front and a (slightly) smaller "DAD" on the back.  I could have done "DADDY" but I was afraid that the letters would be too narrow to really appreciate the fabric.  I printed out both sides so I could pick which one fit better.  In the end, I decided to go with Dad (less cutting and sewing PLUS more fabric for each letter.)


Selecting the fonts was easier this time.  I used the same font (Hobo Std) that I used in the applique name pillows I made the boys since I love how it turned out. The word "DAD" is size 350, "33" is 550 and "DADDY" is size 200.

I've now done a bunch of different applique projects so making this shirt feels like an piece of cake.  I traced the letters backwards onto some two sided applique interfacing and then cut out the letters and ironed them onto the shirt.


One one of my pieces of paper I had a 1"x5" box to help me scale items and I realized that I wasn't printing to scale, I think I might have been "sizing to fit" before I printed.  Ultimately this doesn't matter for this project but I need to pay attention when I'm printing out pattern pieces.


I used the settings 8, 2.0, 0.4 for my zig zag stitch.  This was slightly more open than I've done on other projects lately. I like that it is a bit open and that it looks almost like the lined paper the planes are made out of.  I would go with 0.3/2 distance in the future.  I especially was nervous because this is the same thread combo that gave me issues on my Wellesley pillow.  I had no issues with the applique!


This project whipped up so fast!  I'm really getting the hang of appliqueing things onto shirts.  I may need to find some better fusible web since that seems to become undone in the wash (I haven't washed this shirt yet, but my only ironed, not stitched Wellesley Tshirt W's came off and my red bird was a little wrinkled until I ironed it again.)


I can't wait to see Keith's face when he opens up this present! I'm not sure if he'll let me share a picture of him wearing the shirt with you, but I'll try to post an update if he gives permission.  


Now I need to start thinking about Indy's birthday shirt...  Thankfully I have until June to make this work!

Project started and completed 12/20/2016

Monday, February 13, 2017

Breaking Speckled Wilton's Violet on Roving


Let's break some more Wilton's Violet food coloring!  Previously I've explored making various long gradients with Wilton's violet but now I want to see about breaking tiny patches of color.  I think that most of the fiber I dye involves breaking Wilton's violet.  It is so fun to watch the colors separate and then it spins up into a fabulous yarn.


I tried to combine both of my speckling techniques here (dabbing with a fork and adding drops with an eye dropper).  Ultimately I liked adding single drops with the medicine dropper more than dabbing with the fork on roving.

Right after I finished applying the dye
After sitting for a little while - look how the dye separated!  

I let the fiber sit for longer than I meant to before steaming it because Lucky came home from the playground with Grandmama and you wouldn't be able to hear me over the sounds of them playing.  Look how much the dye moved already! There might be less separation if I put the fiber directly into the steamer.


When I added the fiber to the steamer, I accidentally let one edge dip into the water.  I recovered quickly but I'm not sure how much was submerged in the simmering bath.  In the end there was a lot of blue in the bath, but I'm not sure if the dye was dripping down during steaming or if this is just from the quick dip.


The colors split so much more than in the speckled yarn I created earlier that afternoon.  Watch the video to check out the fun transformation.  


Materials and Methods
  • 100 g BARE wota roving LINK
  • I presoaked the roving in 16 c water (room temperature) with 3 T white vinegar for 1 hour.  I squeezed out most of the water so the yarn was wet but not dripping.
  • The Dye -  I started with what remained from the 1/8 tsp Wilton's Violet food coloring LINK in 1 T water in the speckled wilton's violet yarn video.  I added 1 T water to the remaining dye and then mixed 1/8 food coloring + 2 T of water for the remaining dye.  
  • I applied the food coloring to the fiber with a medicine dropper and by dabbing with a fork.  I turned the fiber over in the middle of the application to get the coverage I wanted.  
  • Waiting to let the dye spread (by necessity since Lucky came home and it was too noisy for me to film!)
  • Steam the fiber over boiling water for 30 minutes.  I added a dash of salt to the steam bath.
  • After the fiber has cooled, wash with dish soap until the water runs clear and hang the yarn to dry.  

Look how clearly you can see the pink dots.  They are so well defined compared to the streaks of blue.  This is because the red dye binds to the fiber faster than the blue food coloring molecules, and the blue travels further creating bigger patches of color.


The dye broke so much here that there almost isn't any purple, it is all pink and blue!


I don't want all of my spinning videos to involve broken violet fiber, but this fiber is so fun that I know it is moving to the top of the queue.  


As we start a new year, I can't help reflecting on how far I've come as a fiber artist since I created ChemKnits.  When I started this blog I never dreamed that I would be dyeing and spinning, much less sharing my process with thousands on YouTube!


It makes me so happy when you share pictures of your dyeing projects with me on Instagram and Facebook.  Don't be nervous to start trying.  Some of my favorite yarns and from "mistakes" that I made along the way.  Continue to share pictures with me and ask me questions, you all inspire me so much!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The GENEie Collection of DNA Beanie Hats

The GENEie Collection designed by ChemKnits in support of the March for Science:
GENEie (Colorwork Version)
GENEie (Cable Version)
GENEie Next Generations Headband and Hat
GENEie Pussyhat

My name is Rebecca Roush Brown and I am the designer of ChemKnits.  I never imagined that when I was asked to design a DNA hat in support for the March for Science (April 22, 2017 - Earth Day) that I would end up with 5 different DNA hats.  Thank you all for the amazing response to the GENEie DNA Beanie collection.  In this post I will summarize the 5 designs and share some other amazing free science hat knitting patterns.  

The GENEie Collection
I designed a DNA helix cable years ago to a make a Kindle Cover for my Chemist father.  This wasn't my first science design, but it was this cable that caught people's eye.  This is the reason why a few different knitters separately reached out to me to create a design for the March for Science.  The first hat that I knit, however, was the Colorwork version of GENEie.   This is the warmest hat in the collection and may not be the most appropriate for an April march.  It would be much cooler done in cotton or cotton blends.  

GENEie (Colorwork Version) - Modeled on my 22" head.
I didn't cast on the cable version of GENEie right away because I wanted to make sure I could do justice with the spacing and decreases on the crown.  I wanted the design to shrink into the top so it looked like you were looking along the length of a double helix.  Even knit with wool yarn, this hat is pretty light and airy.  It is a great option for the April March for Science if you live in a cooler area.  (Boston can either be cold and raw in April or super hot.)  

GENEie (Cable Version) - Modeled on my 22" head.
I started designing the first two GENEies before the date for the march was announced.  As soon as I realized that it was going to be towards the end of April, I started thinking of hat versions that would work for warmer weather.  Before I knew it the DNA helix had flipped and I was knitting GENEie - The Next Generations. (In retrospect I wish I had named these the GENEie Plasmids!)   The rotated colorwork cable is slightly different than the one in the original colorwork GENEie. There are four different patterns in Next Generations: a headband and a hat version that both come in Adult L and Toddler sizes.  The adult headband sample is knit in a cotton blend and that worked FANTASTIC.  This is the best option if you want to knit a head accessory but are concerned about the warmth in April.  

GENEie - The Next Generations Headband - Modeled by Keith (23.5" head)
GENEie - The Next Generations Hat (Toddler) - "Rowdy" is 1 year old and has an 18.5" head.
Finally, on the suggestion of a dear friend, I designed the GENEie Pussyhat.  All of the stores near me were out of pink yarn so I dyed my own with KoolAid and food coloring.  (Dyeing yarn is a huge passion of mine.  I have a YouTube channel dedicated to Dyeing Experiments!)  Through this hat I wish to show my support for the March for Science and the Women's March.  

The GENEie Pussyhat - Modeled by my 22" head
Why do I march? I believe in peer review.  I believe in evidence based legislation.  I believe that  scientific data funded by tax dollars should be available to the public.  I believe in outreach programs so the general public can understand what results mean.  I believe that you cannot ignore data just because it doesn't support your hypothesis.  I believe that by standing up and speaking loudly that we can make a difference. This is why I march.  This is why I designed the GENEies.

The GENEie DNA Knit Motifs

Free Science Hat Knitting Patterns

A long time ago, I did some research looking for science knitting patterns and DNA knitting patterns. Unfortunately, some of these links are no longer valid.  In an effort to support the March for Science with a lot of epic science hat, here are some of my favorite free science hat knitting patterns:
  • Brain Hats - There are three versions of Brain Hat Knitting patterns on Ravelry, and it isn't immediately clear to me which design was created first... but all of the designs are darling.  What these hats have in common is that a series of icords to create the crevices on the brain on top of a beanie hat.  
  • Science Matters Hat - The Science Matters hat is a free knitting pattern designed specifically for the March for Science.  Knit with concentric rings textured of blue and green (some colors are K around, the alternating ones are purled), this hat subtly represents our planet.  This design is perfect for knitters who might be intimated by stranded colorwork or cables, all of the color changes on this hat are stripes.  
  • Heterocycle Hat - This is a fun hat with colorwork molecules (specifically heterocyclic molecules) around the brim.  When I started designing my own molecule knitting charts I initially avoided molecules audreym used in this design.  The pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.  If you aren't comfortable with colorwork, you could always embroider a molecule with duplicate stitching to any basic knit (or crochet) hat.  
  • Trilobite - Cables and bobbles create the outline of the trilobite fossil around the brim of a beanie hat.  The designer was living with a paleontologist when she realized that creating a trilobite in relief would be an awesome cable project.  
  • Chromosome Cap - This is a hat after my own heart.  If you are new to cables this might be the hat for you.  This hat has chromosomes going around the edge.  If you are new to cables there are way fewer cable stitches than in my Cable GENEie hat.  (The wrap stitch might be a little complicated but I think it is well explained.)  This hat might be a better choice than the GENEie if you are attempting cables for the first time.  
  • Central Dogma Hat (DNA - RNA - Protein - This colorwork hat designed by Melini Melini is stunning, especially when constructed with two colors.  I love that you can see the progression from the brim (DNA) to the crown (protein).  The hat calls for sport weight yarn to accommodate the complex colorwork design.  This pattern is available for free Ravelry download.  
  • DNA Hat - Do you want a DNA hat with a DNA cable running around the brim?  Well then this hat is for you!  The cable is worked flat, grafted together and then stitches are picked up around one edge to complete the crown of the hat.  
  • Earth in Space Hat - This is a simple crochet beanie but what makes it special is the amazing planet earth pompom on top of the hat.  The pattern contains instructions so you can make your own Earth pompom.  This is something that non-knitters should be able to do, too. You could add the pompom onto anything, a sewn hat, a crochet hat, or something that isn't even a hat at all. There are photos to illustrate how you should wind the colors onto the pompom maker.  I cannot wait to try this pompom myself!  
  • Brain Waves Beanie (CROCHET!) - This hat isn't overtly science, but it is a very popular crochet hat that has bands of color in waves.  I don't think that someone looking at it would immediately know that it was a science hat, but it is beginner friendly.  Maybe you should add an Earth in Space pompom on top.  This pattern is available as a free Ravelry download.  
  • Resistor Hat - This is another science knitting pattern designed specifically for the March for Science.  This hat is a lovely way to show your resistance (the pun title is indented.)  The designer is a microbiologist from Stanford university.  This is a perfect hat for many people, but especially those who are in the physical sciences.  
  • Math Geek Hat - Pi = 3.14159265...  A colorwork chart to go around the brim of the hat.
  • DNA Scarf by June Oshiro - This isn't a hat, but given that my popularity right now is based on DNA helix cables I wanted to give a shout out to this classic DNA scarf.  The DNA hat above uses the DNA chart from this pattern.  
  • Binary - This is a scarf pattern filled with 0's and 1's.  While the design itself is of a scarf, I think that the 0's and 1's would look amazing on a hat for the march, too.  
If you are a beginner knitter (or crocheter) and want something simpler... knit any hat in a shade of green.   People are planning to express their love for science through their attire in a variety of ways.  Some people are tie dyeing lab coats, others are purchasing official March for Science attire.   Some people will wear the pink Pussyhats that are a symbol of resistance.  Many people will carry signs.  I plan to wear a hat (Boston can be pretty raw in the springtime) but if it is too warm then I will come up with something else. 

If April 22 is going to be too warm where you live to wear hats for the March for Science, you can still create hats to show that you are a Science Fan.  I guarantee that science lovers in your life will light up when they see one of these hats.  

GENEie - The Next Generations Hat and Headband - My head is 22" and "Rowdy's" head is 18.5"
I'm wearing the original GENEie (Colorwork version) and Rowdy is wearing GENEie - the Next Generations

I have no official affiliation with the March for Science. I am a Biochemistry PhD who knits and wants to share some designs that can be used to support the cause.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

GENEie Pussyhat Knitting Pattern

Update: The GENEie Hat Collection now has 5 different knitting patterns, including a Pussyhat and a headband for warmer climates.  


When your knitworthy best friend asks you to make her a DNA Pussyhat you design her a DNA Pussyhat!  I am pleased to share another addition to the GENEie Thinking Cap for Science Fans collection - The GENEie Pussyhat! I spliced the GENEie cable onto the square Pussyhat shape.   A bunch of knitters are already planning to knit these hats in green in support of both the Women's March and the March for Science, scheduled for Earth Day, April 22, 2017.


The GENEie Pussyhat has a DNA double helix cable running up the side of the front and then down the side of the back of the hat. The free knitting pattern for the GENEie Pussyhat is available below on this post.  You can download a PDF for the GENEie Pussyhat Knitting Pattern through Google Drive.

Materials
  • Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) double pointed needles (or circular needles long enough for magic loop.)  
  • Yarn: Worsted weight yarn.  The sample was knit with hand dyed bare Wool of the Andes Yarn (66 g, 147 yards).  
  • Gauge (unblocked): 20 sts/4", 28 rows/4" over stockinette
  • Notions (optional): Stitch markers to note beginning of round, cable needle, tapestry needle. 
  • Finished Sizes: Adult Large - 21" around, 8.5" deep
  • Model Head Sizes: Rebecca - 22" head (normally wears a S/M hat), Keith - 23.5" head (normally wears a L hat)

After the Women's March in January 2017, all yarn stores are still out of pink yarns.  Since I had some Bare Wool of the Andes in my collection I decided to dye my own! A tutorial for the yarn dyeing process will be on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel by the end of February 2017.

Abbreviations Used in this Pattern
  • K – Knit
  • P – Purl
  • Sts – Stitches
  • S1 – Slip one stitch purlwise
  • K-tbl – Knit through the back loop
  • CN – cable needle 
  • M1 – Make One. Make a new stitch by picking up the yarn between two stitches, twisting it and knitting.
  • C1-fkk -  S1 st on CN and hold in front.  K1, K1 from CN
  • C2-bkk -  S1 st on CN and hold in back.   K1, K1 from CN
  • C3-fpk -  S1 st on CN and hold in front.  P1, K1 from CN
  • C4-bkp - S1 st on CN and hold in back.   K1, P1 from CN
  • PM - Place Marker
  • SM - Slip Marker

GENEie DNA Cable Knitting Chart - The chart for the GENEie Pussyhat is slightly different from the GENEie Hat (Cable Version).  The cables of the Pussyhat are on a background of stockinette versus reverse stockinette in the original cable version.


Chart Key


Knitting Instructions: GENEie Pussyhat
  • Cast on 100 sts.  Place Marker (PM) and join to knit in the round.
  • Knit 5 rounds of 2x2 ribbing (*K2, P2* around) 
  • Cable Round 1: K10, M1, PM, Knit the 9 sts of Chart Row 1, PM, K1, M1, (K10, M1) 6 times, K2, PM, Knit the first 8 stitches of Chart Row 1, M1, PM, K10, M1. (110 sts)
  • Cable Round 2: K11, SM, Knit the 9 sts of Chart Row 2, SM, Knit until the next marker (70 sts), SM, Knit 9 sts of Chart Row 2, SM, K11. 
  • Continue knitting while following the chart to create the DNA Helix Cables between the markers. Knit a total of 52 rounds or when the hat measures 8" from the cast on edge. (The sample worked chart rows 1-26 twice.) 
  • Divide stitches in half and graft closed with the Kitchener stitch.  The first stitches you graft together will be the first and last stitch of the rounds.  (Alternatively, you can use a three needle bind off or bind off and stitch the top of the hat together if you want to avoid the Kitchener stitch.)   
  • Weave in loose ends. Block if desired.  

Line-by-line Written Instructions for the DNA Helix Knitting Chart - The DNA Cable Knitting chart on a stockinette background is 9 stitches wide and 26 rows long. The written instructions below are for the 9 stitches of the cable. The chart is read from the bottom up, right to left.   

Chart Key



1. K5, C2-bkk, K2
2. K4, C2-bkk, C1-fkk, K1
3. K3, C2-bkk, K2, K-tbl, K1
4. K2, C4-bpk, P3, C3-fpk
5. K1, C2-bkk, K5, K-tbl
6. K1, K-tbl, K6, K-tbl

7. C4-bkp, P6, K-tbl
8. K-tbl, K6, C2-bkk
9. K-tbl, K6, Ktbl, K1
10. K-tbl, P5, C2-bkk, K1
11. C1-fkk, K3, C2-bkk, K2
12. K1, K-tbl, K2, C2-bkk, K3
13. K1, C1-fkk, C2-bkk, K4
14. K2, C2-bkk, K5
15. K1, C2-bkk, C1-fkk, K4
16. K1, K-tbl, K2, C1-fkk, K3
17. C4-bkp, P3, C3-fpk, K2
18. K-tbl, K5, C1-fkk, K1
19. K-tbl, K6, K-tbl, K1
20. K-tbl, P6, C3-fpk
21. C1-fkk, K6, K-tbl
22. K1, K-tbl, K6, K-tbl


23. K1, C1-fkk, P5, K-tbl
24. K2, C1-fkk, K3, C2-bkk
25. K3, C1-fkk, K2, K-tbl, K1
26. K4, C1-fkk, C2-bkk, K1


The GENEie Pussyhat has a DNA double helix cable on a stockinette background.  If you would like to have the cable on a reverse stockinette background, check out the knitting charts from the original GENEie Cable Version.

The knit DNA double helix on a stockinette background (pink) and a reverse stockinette background (gray).
I believe in evidence based legislation.  This is one of the reasons why I will March for Science.  I believe that women's rights are human rights and that human rights are women's rights.  I believe in standing up and letting my voice be heard, and this is why I spliced my DNA cable knitting motif with the pussyhat shape to create the GENEie Pussyhat.

The GENEie Cable Version with the GENEie Pussyhat
Variations
For an all over cable pussyhat, start with the instructions for GENEie (Cable Version). Work charted rounds 1-27 and then rounds 2-27 until you've reached the desired length.  Graft the top together.  

To make a smaller hat, you can skip the stitch increases immediately after the ribbing portion or you can increase/reduce the total number of stitches between the two cable charts. Start with a multiple of 4 stitches to make the ribbing work out. 

A side view of the GENEie Pussyhat.  The DNA cable strand runs up the front of the hat and then down the back.  
 Pictures from knitting the GENEie Pussyhat 

Placement of the markers and the two cable sections.
The GENEie Pussyhat right before grafting the top together.  
The GENEie Pussyhat right before grafting the top together.
The GENEie DNA Hat Collection

Top: GENEie - The Next Generations Headband (top left) and Hat (top right).
Middle: GENEie Pussyhat.
Bottom: GENEie Colorwork version (bottom left) and Cable version (bottom right)
It has been a whirlwind creating 5 different GENEie hat samples in the last two weeks.  I was inspired to create these designs by YOU, my supporters.  I really appreciate that you enjoy my scientific perspective on knitting.  Are there any molecules you would like to see charted?  Let me know and I'll see what I can do!  


GENEie Pussyhat Knitting Pattern © 2017 ChemKnits & Rebecca Roush Brown.  This pattern is available for free via www.ChemKnits.com for your personal or charity use.  You are not to copy or distribute this pattern without the permission of the publisher, ChemKnits.