Saturday, December 10, 2016

Speckle Dyeing Roving

I had a lot of dye left over after I explored how to speckle dye yarn with food coloring.  I thought it would be fun to use these remaining fall colors to create a speckled roving.

Now as I've shown in my two yarns from one fiber videos, the type of yarn you get from dyed fiber depends greatly on the spinner.  I could speckle dye the fiber and someone could still turn it into a really long gradient of color.  But, there is the potential to spin this into yarn with small repeats of color and some fun twists.

I'm not sure what I expected, but I certainly didn't expect the colors to spread as much as they did.  Even though the roving was still pretty wet the drops of dye balled up on top of the fiber.  Maybe there is a lot of lanolin in it?  I really like the effect of the spreading dye so I think that we'll end up with a really cute, pastel, multicolored roving.  Check out the video to see what I did!

I really like how the fiber came out!  I'm not sure how I will spin it up yet, but when I do maybe I'll film it so you can see how this fiber transforms into a yarn.

Dyeing Notes:
  • 100 g of 100% wool fiber (KnitPicks Bare Peruvian Highland Roving)
  • Presoaked the fiber in 16 cups water with 3 T white vinegar
  • 6-7 drops of McCormick's food coloring were added to 1/4 cup water.  (Colors were 6 drops red, 6 drops yellow, 3 drops red/3 drops yellow, 2 drops red/5 drops yellow, 1 drop red/5 drops green) See the Speckled Yarn video for the mixing of the dyes.  
  • Dye was set by steaming the fiber over boiling water with a large dash of salt for 30 min. 

Isn't it cool how the colors really sunk and spread through the fibers?  In yarn the dye didn't diffuse as much so the speckles were more defined and saturated.  

I hope that you've enjoyed my first trips into dyeing speckled fiber.  I have already explored this technique further so make sure you check out the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel to see what I'm up to!  

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Speckled Yarn with Dry KoolAid

Speckled yarn is so cool!  I already made one speckled yarn out with McCormick's food coloring but I wanted to experiment with some dry Kool-Aid, too.

Using some left over KoolAid powder a fork and yarn presoaked in vinegar and water, I created some magic.  This worked way better than I expected.  The powder didn't stay dry on the yarn for long, so I immediately ended up with bright, vibrant patches of color.

After applying the Kool-Aid to the yarn, I rolled the yarn up in the plastic wrap and microwaved it to set the color.  Check out the following video to watch the magic. I hope you enjoy what I created!

Dyeing Conditions and Materials:
  • KnitPicks Stroll Glimmer (Bare) yarn - The yarn base is 70% superwash merino, 25% nylon, 5% stellina
  • Presoaked the yarn overnight in 16 cups of water + 3 T white vinegar.  20-30 minutes would be sufficient to thoroughly soak the yarn.  I squeezed out most of the water before applying the dye. 
  • Dyes - Dry Kool-Aid powder applied to the fiber with a fork dipped in watee.  
  • I steamed the finished yarn in the microwave heating the fiber in 2 minute increments until it was hot to touch.  After letting the yarn cool I heated it a second time before allowing it to cool completely.  
  • After cooling, I washed the yarn with some liquid dish soap and luke warm water.  

The specks of color are much smaller than what we got from using an eyedropper and dots of food coloring.   There are so many cool things that could be done with this technique.  Can you imagine combining speckled yarn with dip dyed yarn?  What about creating an ombre of specks on a pre-knit dye blank?  This is so much fun!

I've now tried two different methods of creating speckled yarn: applying dry Kool-Aid and using an eyedropper to apply food coloring.  The specks of color are much smaller from the Kool-Aid technique but it might be possible to use the fork to apply a solution of concentrated food coloring in a similar method.

Make sure you follow the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel to check out other dyeing experiments I attempt!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Baby REB Christmas Stocking Knitting Pattern

At the end of the summer, I sat down to write out the crafting projects I needed to finish by the end of 2016.  As I worked through gifts and birthday party projects, it suddenly hit me.  I needed to design Rowdy a stocking of his very own!  With a January birthday I thought I had plenty of time, but it is time for me to get cracking on his stocking.

  • KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Sport in three colors: White (MC - 42 g, 115 yards), Grass (Green; CC1 - 17 g, 47 yards) and Winter Night (Blue; CC2 - 28 g, 78 yards)
  • Needles: 5 US Size 5 (3.75 mm) Double Pointed needles or circular needles with a cable long enough for a magic loop.  
  • Gauge (post light blocking): 25 sts/4"; 26 rows/4" over colorwork stockinette.
  • Notions: Yarn Needle for weaving in loose ends, Pins and blocking mat for light blocking (optional)
  • Finished Size (post light blocking): 5.5" wide x 19.5" cuff to toe.

Abbreviations used in the REB Christmas Stocking Knitting Pattern
  • MC - Main Color
  • CC1/CC2 - Contrasting Color 1 or 2
  • K - Knit
  • P - Purl
  • Sts - stitches
  • SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over. 
  • K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.  

The Chart - There are 120 rounds to the chart total (not counting the row illustrating the afterthought heel - shown in grey and yellow). See the written instructions below for further afterthought heel instructions!  Open the images in a new windown for a larger view of the chart.  

The REB Stocking chart split into two images.  Open these charts in a new window to view at a higher resolution.

If you want to edit the chart to fit your needs, here is a link to a spreadsheet version of the chart through google docs.  You will need to save this as a new file before you can edit it since the pattern is shared as read only.  I used a Celtic Cross Stitch generator for the origional RFR/RFB and KAB stockings but unfortunately it is now offline.  You can design your own letters (I struggled with my "E" here!) or use another alphabet knitting chart.  Check out my tutorial on how to make knitting charts in Excel to help with making changes.

The REB Christmas Stocking Knitting Pattern
  • Cast on 70 stitches in MC. I arranged the stitches on 3 double pointed needles as follows: 35, 20, 15.  (If you'd prefer to use 4 double pointed needles I recommend dividing the stitches 20, 15, 20, 15.)
  • Join in the round, and begin to work the chart (see below). The first two knit rows are the first two rows in white on the chart. The chart is followed starting at the bottom, and working from right to left.  When you substitute your own initials, make sure that you turn them upside down to knit. Since we are knitting the stocking from top down, if you were to leave the chart as you expect to see it in the finished product you would end up with upside down letters.  
  • Setting up the Afterthought Heel: After the third section has been completed, we will use some waste yarn to set aside stitches for the afterthought heel. This occurs after round 78 and before round 79 of the chart (see the yellow stitches below). You will have completed one complete row in CC1.
    Rearrange the stitches on the four needles as follows: 18, 17, 18, 17. Using waste yarn (I recommend using a color that is not MC or CC), Knit across the 35 stitches of needles 2 and 3. Turn the work and purl back across needles 3 and 2. The stitches that you are knitting are shown highlighted in yellow in the chart above. The stitches shaded in gray are not knit.
  • Resume the chart (in the star section), starting with working one complete row in CC1.
  • Follow the rest of the chart, ending with one CC1 row before starting the toe decreases.  
  • Decreases for the toes using CC1 (starting with 70 sts)
    • *K5, K2tog* repeat across (60 sts)
    • K 1 row even
    • *K4, K2tog* repeat across (50 sts)
    • K 1 row even
    • *K3, K2tog* repeat across (40 sts)
    • K 1 round even
    • *K2, K2tog* repeat across (30 sts)
    • K 1 round even
    • *K1, K2tog* repeat across (20 sts)
    • K 1 round even
    • K2tog across (10 sts)
    • K2tog across (5 sts)
    • Cut yarn, pull through the remaining 5 stitches and weave in loose ends.
  • Knitting the Afterthought heel (in CC1)
    • Pick up 70 stitches of the CC1 that is on either side of the waste yarn, cut waste yarn and remove from stocking. (I found it easier to pick up stitches from the inside of the stocking with a smaller needle than those used to knit the stocking.)
      Pictures from the KAB Stocking.
    • Knit one round even, (70 stitches). To minimize gaps, I will sometimes pick up and decease extra stitches at the edges, or else you can stitch these closed after you finish the heel. 
    • Decrease as instructed for toe decreases
  • Braided tie
    • For the tie, I cut 3 - 24" pieces of yarn in each of the three colors (1 green, 1 blue, and 1 white) and braided them. I then wove these into the hanging corner (I went in and out of the knit fabric more than one time so it would be sturdy when hung).
      Attaching the tie on the KAB stocking: Red line is where the braid is on the outside of the stocking, blue dashed line is where the braid is on the inside of the stocking.
    • Tie a bow, hang and admire! (I used a bow rather than a loop so I would not be limited to hooks to hang the stocking)
  • Finishing - Weave in loose ends and then Block (Optional.) I basted the top of the stocking together with white yarn and then soaked it in luke warm water for 30 min before lightly pinning it out.  This will even out the fabric.  

Rowdy's stocking ended up being a little smaller than the ones that I created for Keith, Lucky and myself.  I'm not going to stress the gauge difference.  If I was going to start designing stockings for my family all over again there are a few things I'd do differently, but I am so proud of have this set of holiday decor hanging in my home

Coordinating Stocking Patterns:

Pictures through construction

Before knitting the toe.

The complete stocking, minus the afterthought heel.

Picking up stitches for the afterthought heel.

The afterthought heel stitches are picked up and the waste yarn has been cut away.

I tried on the finished stocking.  It IS a sock, after all!

Close up of the penguin family motif.

Close up of the star motif.

The Brown Family stockings, all designed and knit by ChemKnits.  

These knitting pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. You are not to sell, distribute or reprint this pattern without the permission of ChemKnits. © 2016 ChemKnits

Friday, December 2, 2016

An Eric Carle (Brown Bear, Brown Bear) Birthday Party!

I still can't believe that Lucky is 3 years old.  I went all out for Lucky's first birthday party (under the sea) and his second birthday party (Halloween themed) but this time I wanted to do something easier.  We got permits for a local playground and ordered a bunch of Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear party supplies.  

The birthday banner was two sided and it was assembled incorrectly. Thankfully there was an easy fix.  I carefully ripped open the P/H and flipped it around.  Phew!  

I did end up making a few things for Lucky's birthday.  For the first time ever, I made Lucky's birthday shirt and a coordinating red bird shirt for Rowdy.  Since I expected us to be outside, I created matching dinosaur hooded sweatshirts.  This wasn't on the Eric Carle theme but I am planning a dinosaur birthday party for Rowdy so these could have been dual purpose.  

I am most proud of the DIY Brown Bear, Brown Bear party hats I made out of card stock, Eric Carle fabric and some rainbow wire garland.

We even finally got our first family picture of all 5 Browns!  Poor Indy gets left out of most professional photographs since he doesn't like strangers very much. (Indy was not invited to the party.  He hung out in his room on the 3rd floor while the guests were here.)

Finally, I was able to bring out a knit from the past for this party.  While I was pregnant with Lucky I knit a Hungry Caterpillar hat and cocoon.  The hat is getting a little small for Rowdy but it was fun for him to wear it for a little bit again.  

Unfortunately for us, it was POURING on the day of Lucky's party so we had to move everything inside.  I set up our party table and hung our decorations.  

All of the decor was purchased ahead of time, but we had a few "themed" snacks: Goldfish and Brown Bears (teddy grams).  

Lucky was very excited for his playground party, but he wasn't too disappointed when it was raining.  He was just excited to have a birthday party and for all of his friends to come over.  

I, on the other hand, was SUPER disappointed.  Now I'd have to clean my house and come up with activities to keep over a dozen children ages 0-13 occupied!  We had invited Lucky's entire preschool class (siblings included), some cousins and neighbors since we thought that space wouldn't be an issue.  We have a great playroom but it can't really hold dozens of kids, so we wanted to try to find some activities that would draw kids into other areas of the house.  

Adults really liked trying to make the basket from far away.  

As soon as we realized that we might get rained out, we did some shopping exploration trips to find options.  When we changed location, we ran to the local KidsRUs and picked up with Basketball "ball pit" (it only came with a dozen or so balls) and set it up in our kitchen with an Ikea pop up tent.  

Both of these activity centers were a hit! There were regularly 3-4 kids around the ball pit.  This particular inflatable set wasn't the sturdiest, our dog punctured it a week after we purchased it, but Lucky and Rowdy enjoyed it so much at the party that we left it up until we needed to repair it.

Next, we stopped by Lakeshore Learning for some bulletin board paper. I taped the paper to the floor and set out some washable crayons to have a coloring station.  

We also set out an amazon box so that kids could color the insides and the outsides of the box.  

The coloring center was a hit with all ages, but especially the older kids.  The 7+ year olds were great at playing with the toddlers and drawing pictures for them.  

We only left this up for 2 days after the party, but Lucky really enjoyed all of the pictures and messages people made for him.  

We also stopped by the dollar store to pick up some cheap dress up items (thankfully the store was full of them with Halloween around the corner).  We already had the Ikea castle tent which was perfect for our imagination area.  The cowboy hat and fairy wings were the biggest hits.

With the play tunnel in the entry way, we were ready for whatever chaos came our way!

There are so many Eric Carle party favors out there.  We filled the gift bags (which were cheaper to buy that DIY) with themed sticker scenes, bubbles, slap bracelets and mini puzzles.  All of these items are some of Lucky's favorite toys to play with so it was fun to give them to his friends.  We ended up with a lot left over, but these can come in handy if we throw another Eric Carle party or for Teal Pumpkin Halloween Favors.  

Lucky filled the favor bags "all by myself" with mommy's help.  He was so proud to create these presents for his friends.  

I expected to have a fun, outdoor playground party.  I planned to show up an hour in advance to set up and was ready with my camera to photograph the kids running and playing.  The weather had other ideas and I think we still ended up with a really fantastic party!  Some families came with one parent and child instead of two, but we had a full house with the best kind of chaos imaginable, happy children!  

I'm saving all of the Eric Carle goodies.  Who knows, maybe Rowdy's 3rd birthday party will be Brown Bear themed, too!  

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