Friday, August 17, 2018

Weekly Roundup - More Mommy and Me Yarn Dyeing

This week started with a fun Mommy and Me dyeing adventure.  Except this time we expanded beyond just Mommy and Lucky.  Lucky's friend, O, and his mom joined us to dye some cotton yarn with Tulip One Step Tie Dye.  I really love the cotton boucle from KnitPicks (affiliate link), and I know that the kids had a blast.

I covered my kitchen table with an Ikea shower curtain to protect it.  The presoaked cotton yarn was laid on top of plastic wrap so it would be easier to wrap up the yarn after the kids were done painting.

Lucky wore gloves while dyeing for the first time.  The purple nitrite gloves were comically large on the kids, but we were able to get their fingers in the correct position.  

The kids picked Orange, Fuschia, Red, and Teal.  I love the way these brights play off of each other.  You can find all four of these colors in the Tulip One Step Tie Dye "Luau" Kit (affiliate link).  I mixed the dye in the bottles that came with the kit, and then we poured some of the colors into plastic cups so they would have limited access to liquid at any given time. Any spills were easily caught by the yarn.  The boys used foam brushes to dab the dye onto the yarn in the patterns they wanted. 

When the boys were done painting their yarn, we wrapped it up in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for a few days.  The yarn is still drying or else I'd share a finished picture of Lucky's yarn now.

As I was writing this Weekly Roundup, a photo popped up in my Facebook Memories from the first dye-a-long that I hosted.  I was pregnant with Lucky at the time, and it is fun to think that we've come full circle.

There was so much dye left over, that I ended up filming TWO "leftover dye" livestreams.  I should have a recap video up on the YouTube channel later this weekend to summarize all of the beautiful yarns that came from these four colors.

Overdyeing Roving

In Dyepot Weekly #64, I decided to overdye some pink WOTA roving from KnitPicks.  (Affiliate Link)  Some of the pink heathering shows through in the final yarn, and I am absolutely in love with how it turned out.  I decided to overdye it with blues, purples, and greens because I didn't want to play it completely safe.  The lime green color could have turned into an ugly brown, but I wanted to show that even with overdyeing you don't need to stick with complementary colors.  

Sun Dyeing

The summer has been H-O-T hot.  It is so hot that I don't really want to sit outside in the shade while the kids do water play too often.  I did decide, however, to take advantage of some of this heat and to try doing some sun dyeing outside.  

I did film a video of this project, and you can expect to see all of the details on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel sometime in September. This sneak peek was so poplar that I wanted to show everyone what the finished yarn looked like:

ChemKnits Chanukah 2018

Preorders for the ChemKnits Chanukah Miniskine Sampler are still open!  I'm not sure when I'll shut down preorders, but you really don't want to miss your chance to grab one.  I started dyeing the videos for this special week and they are AWESOME.  I will close the presale for the limited edition 100 g skein of sock yarn before I close pre-orders for the miniskein set.  So if you want a full skein wrapped up in your box don't wait too long!  

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Red Cabbage, Dylon, and More

When I am filming new dyeing videos, I separate them into numbered Dyepot Weekly (DPW) episodes and "bonus" episodes.  Bonus videos frequently involve leftover dye or a repeated technique.  Sometimes they're not numbered because I want to fit them into the same week, or that's the easiest way for me to get the video out quickly.

This week I released MULTIPLE new yarn dyeing videos.  Dyepot PS #4 became public, and I shared multiple Dylon dyeing videos in addition to Dyepot Weekly #63.

In Dyepot Weekly #63 I took a look at the Dylon Hand Dyes for handpainting.  I dissolved two different colors into warm tap water and then used sponge brushes to paint the dye onto 4 different types of KnitPicks yarn.  (Affiliate Link)  I used Shine Sport (a cotton/modal blend), Wool of the Andes Worsted (100% wool), Cotlin (cotton/linen blend), and Simply Cotton (100% cotton).  This dyeing method used no vinegar and no heat.  After applying the dye you only need to wait an hour for some super vibrant colors.  I love the subtle differences between these yarns!  

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Dyeing with Red Cabbage

I love playing with natural colors that can be extracted from foods and other plants.  I decided to play with red cabbage using NO mordants at first because I wanted to see if we could get any colors to bind to the fibers without adding some metals to our process.  This kept the whole process food safe and I was able to play with it inside in my kitchen.

Red cabbage is a super fun dye to play with.  The color you extract is pH sensative, so you can shift the hue by adding acid (like vinegar) or base (like baking soda).  I was able to get three distinct hues on wool yarns!

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Unfortunately, the colors were no where near as vibrant as they were in the pots.  I think that with mordants we could intensify the shades.  Unfortunately, Red cabbage is a "fugative dye" so it will fade with time unlike some other natural colors.  Nevertheless, I think it is super fun to play with and would be FANTASTIC as some home kitchen science to play with kids.  I know that my kids will enjoy testing what things in our kitchen will shift the red cabbage color. 

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KnitCrate Flash Sale!

KnitCrate is having a flash sale on the KnitCrate Membership Subscription!  If you sign up for the August 2018 crate now you can get a July 2018 crate for just the shipping cost.  This is two crates for $29.99!  When you got to the website, wait for the pop up and click the "Get My Free Crate" button.  

Disclaimer: I am a KnitCrate Affiliate and they send me the KnitCrate Membership and the Sock Crate every month so I can share them with all of you.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Vacation Hashtags

Last week I had a very productive dyeing week... which means that this week needed to focus on some more editing.  I did get some dyeing done, I worked on Dyepot PS #5 and a new sponsored video.  I think the yarns are really awesome, but I don't want to give you any spoilers!

Doing some dyeing projects breaks up the sedentary nature of some planned editing days... but unfortunately it also means that I get a lot less editing done.  I have big plans for this weekend (see below) but I have a feeling that I might still try to get SOME editing done.  The editing itself isn't the long part, it takes hours for my computer to export the files so I can upload them to YouTube.  I try to edit 2-3 videos at a time so I can export multiple at once, but it still can be a pretty slow process.

It can be hard to separate work from play when my "work" has been born out of my favorite activities.  What would you do if you had a weekend all to yourself?

Dyepot Weekly

Sometimes I try a technique on a whim only to discover that it is completely awesome and a new favorite. I love my "Dry Rub" technique of rubbing dry yarn into spilled dye.  In Dyepot Weekly #61, I took the original technique (first tried with leftover Tulip Tie Dye) and added a steaming step to it.  Steaming the tie dyed yarn in a dye safe pot means that the whole dyeing and washing process can be done in a few hours versus a few days.

One of these skeins is still available in the ChemKnits Creations Etsy store! 


Last weekend Lucky, my 4 year old, and I had a "Fantabulous" weekend together.  It was a staycation/exploration/Mommy and Me weekend.  We did all kinds of things together, but one of the items high on Lucky's list was for us to dye yarn together.

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I cannot WAIT to edit this video together.  I filled some squirt guns with water and then added about 6 drops of liquid food coloring to each one.  Lucky picked out the colors, and I think they went together really well!  Lucky is a NATURAL YouTuber, I wish you could hear him vamp for the camera when he thinks it is still rolling.  "So.. you have to check out the more videos.  You can find them on YouTube!" Lucky also now thinks that "action" means that filming ends for some reason.

Anyway, we had a BLAST dyeing yarn together, even if we also ended up with brightly colored hands, feet, and knees.  In a couple of weeks we're going to have one of his friends over to dye some cotton yarn, but I have a feeling we might stick with foam brushes for that one.  Two preschoolers with dye filled squirt guns seems like a baaaad idea!

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ChemKnits Patreon Update

This week, I did some minor changes to the ChemKnits Patreon campaign.  (Patreon is a platform where fans can support content creators on a monthly basis.  As a thank you, Patrons get some fun perks.) 

I tweeked some of the information on the page itself, but the biggest change is that the ChemKnits Patreon is now on a "charge upfront" system.  Starting yesterday, Patreon will charge your credit card the the day you join, and the on the 1st of every month after that.  Some of the perks will be immediately available to you, while some others (shout outs and exclusive coupons to the ChemKnitsCreations Etsy Store) you will start receiving the following month.  Since this means that new Patrons will have two payments before they start getting the monthly coupons, I decided to increase the discount that I am offering to Alpaca ($10/month) and Silk ($25/month) Patrons.  Starting this month, eligible Alpaca Patrons will get a 15% off coupon and Silk Patrons will get a 25% off coupon every month!  Learn more about these changes and feel free to reach out with any questions.  


It just happens that my personal staycation is taking place one week after Lucky and I had our mommy-son weekend together.  I am excited to pick up a project that I started on my craftcation 2017 and see if I can finish up this quilt top.  I hope to come to you next week glowing over my relaxing weekend of sewing, knitting... and sleeping!  

Friday, July 27, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Planning for the Holidays

Retail is full with Christmas in July sales, but what about some Chanukah in July?

This week, I launched my first miniskein sampler in the ChemKnits Creations Etsy Store. The 2018 ChemKnits Chanukah Sampler will feature 8 different hand dyed mini-skeins of yarn to unwrap while you watch the new yarn dyeing videos that will be released each night.   This is a whole new way to participate in the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel, you can feel and see the yarn yourself as you watch me create the beautiful colors. These videos, and therefore your sampler, will feature 8 different yarn bases and 8 different dyeing techniques. You can choose between a 5 g or a 10 g sampler, and there is also an option to add a 100 g limited edition Chanukah skein of sock yarn to your sampler.  

There are limited slots available, so if you want to unwrap delightful mini-skeins while watching new ChemKnits dyeing videos, don't wait too long!  All of the packages will ship the first week of November 2018 so you can get them in time for Chanukah (starting at sundown on December 2.)  You don't need to be Jewish to celebrate with me!  I look forward to filming these dyeing videos and sharing some of my family's Chanukah traditions with you.

Thinking about winter, I am currently working on a new lacy cowl for myself.  The pattern, Autopilot, is available for free through Ravelry.  I am taking two skeins of yarn dyed by the ChemKids and combining them into a fade so use their creativity to help keep me warm this winter.

Dyepot Weekly #60 came out this morning, and this is a very summery video as I start thinking about winter.  I dyed four skeins of yarn (including 3 cotton blends) with dry Tulip One Step Tie Dye Powder.  I first tried this technique during cellulose week, but when KnitPicks released three new cotton yarn lines I didn't want to wait to dye them.  All of this yarn is currently available for purchase in the ChemKnits Creations store, but there is only one of each available.  

I spend the week filming a lot of new dyeing videos.  It has been so fun to sit down and just play with color!  I have a massive editing queue now, but it is a good problem to have as a YouTuber.  I love being able to bring you two new dyeing videos every week, and in addition to the Chanukah week I've got some other special weeks coming up.  

Did you know that ChemKnits is going to turn 10 this December?  I started this blog back during a New Years trip to New Hampshire in 2008.  All of my friends went skiing and I decided to stay in the cabin for some reason. I was researching free Earflap Hat Knitting Patterns and wished that someone had a list online.  Since I was compiling a list of links and notes, I decided that I should create a blog to share them myself.  Look back at my first ever ChemKnits post!  I had a database I created that kept notes of my projects (this was pre-Ravelry) and I quickly found that ChemKnits made a much better lab notebook.  I took detailed notes on my projects in case I wanted to re-create anything.  Plus, I figured it could be helpful to someone.  I did not imagine back then that other people would enjoy my crafting journey.  Looking back at this "Howdy" post I also realized that I've been shopping at KnitPicks for over a decade!  

I'm still not completely sure how to celebrate ChemKnits' 10th birthday, but I hope to do something special.  I also look forward to what we can create over the next decade.  Thank you for being part of the journey! 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Unboxings and Making Space for More Yarn

This week has all been about organization and bringing some more order to my house.  I forced myself to take some time off of dyeing yarn to clean... and in the process I might have ordered a LOT more yarn.  KnitPicks is currently having a 20% off sale with the coupon code SUMMER20. (Affiliate Link) They had a HUGE restock of bare yarns in June, so the bare yarns that I use the most (Stroll, Swish, WOTA, and Hawthorne) are all available. I have had many regrets of one of my standard bases being out of stock when these coupon codes come around, so you can bet I took advantage of this one.  I have some fun plans for the end of this year, so I think I might also take this as an opportunity to restock some bare yarns I use less frequently, too.  

My unboxing livestreams are a usually a little more involved than just opening up the boxes and showing the fun squish yarn I purchased.  I love chatting with all of you, and these are a great opportunity to ask me questions!  If you want to make sure you catch my next livestream, subscribe to the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel and turn on the notifications.  I love to do dyeing and spinning livestreams, too!  

Even when I take the week off, you're going to get at least one new episode of Dyepot Weekly!  This week two very different videos came out.  In Dyepot Weekly #57, I took a look at kettle dyeing some sock yarn using Tulip One Step Tie Dye.  It is really fun to combine this easy to find dye with heat, and the colorway I got was really lovely.  In Dyepot Weekly #58, I decided to look at a new way to create a repeating speckled gradient yarn.  I decided to create a crochet chain of crochet chains and then dip dye it into Wilton's Violet food coloring.  With the yarn folded over on itself multiple times, there was limited surface area, so the colors broke in a fantastic speckled pattern.  Watch the video to see more about how I created this fun yarn.  

This is my second attempt to write the Weekly Roundup for this week.  I found myself distracted with some memories of my Grandmother.  When I stopped writing, I realized that it didn't quite qualify as a "Weekly Roundup" and that I should create a second, somewhat shorter, post.  Soon I'll have to properly take you through my knitting studio, but first I have to figure out where to put all of this new yarn!  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Memories and Knitting Love

Earlier this week, I started thinking about what I wanted to write about for this Weekly Roundup.  I spent the week organizing my house.  I re-organized my knitting studio to have my bare yarn and Etsy shop inventory in a good order.  I thought that this would be a good time to give a little tour of my "Purple Room" but then I spent Wednesday unpacking all of the boxes from my childhood.  I found some amazing things that I can't stop thinking about.

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My parents recently moved back to MA, and took this as an opportunity to give me all of the stuff that I still had at their house.  Yearbooks, photos, paperwork.  There was a lot to sort through.  I found a lovely picture of me and my Grandma Ruth from while I was in college tucked into an envelope addressed to my mother. This was taken at my Aunt Sarah's 99th birthday party, which was a big reunion for extended family.  A distant cousin took this picture of me and my Grandma, developed them, and then sent them to my mom.  The extra effort to get this photo of us to my mom was lovely.  Sharing pictures is so easy today that I forget what it took back then.

I found another treasure in my stash.  I opened a plastic bag to find some vintage patterns haphazardly thrown in.  There were some crochet ponchos, a sampler afghan, and then a paper envelope that had a tiny slip of paper inside.  I pulled it out to find my Grandma's handwriting with instructions for a knitting pattern.  As I take a closer look at the stitches, I realize that I had this exact afghan in my linen closet!

There's a story behind the blanket, too.  When my Grandma died, my grandfather, Papa, gave her belongings to my mother and her sisters.   My aunt took this blanket home specifically to see if I wanted it.  Since I'm not one of the daughters, I didn't get to "pick" things, but she thought that I might want something that Grandma had knit.  This was such a sweet, thoughtful gesture of my Aunt, and then this brought me to this loving moment of discovery.

When you knit something, every single fiber passes through your hands.  Multiple times.  You pour your time, and at least some thought into the creation.  When you knit an afghan, you think about how it could help decorate your home, or keep someone warm when they're cold.  I don't think I ever saw my grandmother knit, but I remember clearly when she went into the basement closet to take out her knitting supplies and gave them to me.  She wanted to give me more tools so I could explore this craft that she clearly loved.  Looking at the pattern for this blanket in her handwriting, it is as though I am watching her create it.  I can see her buying the yarn, sitting down to work on the strips.

When I sit down for the Weekly Roundup, I reflect on the past week of ChemKnits Land to decide what to write about.  Right now, as I'm sitting at my keyboard, I can only think of my Grandma.  Grandma, I miss you.  I love you.  I'm glad to be able to get some more hugs from you from this blanket.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Winning and Failing

This has been a week of highs and lows.  I tried a new technique, and it failed spectacularly, I discovered a fun new dollar store hack, and I unboxed some glorious new fiber subscription boxes.

Overdyeing with Resists and Glazing

Dyepot Weekly #55 came out this week, and I think this might be one of my favorite dyeing videos ever.  I took some KnitPicks Chroma Worsted (Affiliate Link) in the colorway Lupine and overdyed it with a combination of resist dyeing and glazing techniques.  Isn't the difference between the before and after striking?

I got asked recently if you should disclose whether your yarn is overdyed or dyed with food coloring when listing it for sale.  If I were to sell particular this yarn, I would disclose that it was overdyed in the descriptions.  I wouldn't want to take credit for the beautiful chroma gradient, so if I had listed this in my shop I would have said that it was "an overdyed commercial colorway with commercial acid dyes."    But what if you are overdyeing a pale yellow, neon green and are completely changing the color of the yarn?  I personally don't think it is necessary to disclose that you didn't start with a white or an off white yarn.

I tend to provide more information that is necessary in the ChemKnits Creations shop because I think that one of the coolest parts of my yarn is that you can watch exactly how it was made.  I use a wide variety of dye types and yarn bases, and I think it is important for me to disclose this especially when I am doing a more experimental technique and I'm unsure about the longevity of the colors.

Nevertheless, when you want to play around with a new dyeing technique, it can make a step feel less "scary" when you start with a commercially dyed yarn.  I think that if I had dyed this stunning gradient on my own, I wouldn't have wanted to try overdyeing it and risk losing all of the work I had put in originally.

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Paradise Fibers - Fiber of the Month Club

Opening the Paradise Fibers - Fiber of the Month Club (Affiliate Link) July 2018 Box was a true highlight of the week.  The presentation, packaging, and fiber are all stunning.  This would have been a pleasure to open if it were just the fiber in plain plastic bags in a box.  However, the wrapping and opening made this a true gift like experience.  I feel like someone personally wrapped me a present with a lot of care and attention to detail.  I am so grateful that Paradise Fibers sent me this box so I could share it with all of you.  I unboxed this fiber box live on the YouTube channel.  If you want to see my realtime joyful reactions, you can watch the replay.

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I think that this fiber of the month club is complimentary to a lot of other fiber subscription services and would make a phenomenal gift for for someone, or a fantastic way to treat yourself.  I love that this box includes something I know how to use right away, things for me to learn about, plus suggestions on how to combine them all.

Indigo Vat Fail 

We all have fails sometimes. I followed a set of instructions, and they didn't work for me. Different dyers have different recipes for many of their techniques, and sometimes we give different advice with regards to heating, timing, and acid. The protocol I followed today is one that works for one dyer, but not some others, and I'm in the later category. I'm not sure how I want to edit this together yet, but I do know I will edit it together.

I think that there is as much value in a project that doesn't work as one that does. This is not the fault of the dye, but was user error. Maybe I'll be able to rejuvenate this vat so it is usable. Maybe I won't. I know that the other natural extracts (WALNUT!) will be a bit more straight forward to use. I have a (likely synthetic) indigo kit upstairs that looks super user friendly.

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The biggest lesson today is that if you have a gut feeling that something isn't working as it should. Stop and ask a question. There is no harm in postponing your experiment and waiting to try another day if you don't think things are working.  Double checking isn't a bad thing. If I had done this while setting up the vat, I would just need to order some more FeSO4 instead of potentially needing more plant grown indigo, too.

Today, I am working to resurrect my vat. I let the indigo settle to the bottom, removed the liquid on top, and I am going to try to convert this to a hydrosulfite vat using some Rit Color Remover.  My dollar store hack?  I got some water squirters from the dollar store (similar to the ones I've linked below.) These worked like a pipette and I was able to remove the liquid without disturbing the sediment, and saved a lot more of the indigo and removed more of the rusty water) than I could have done with pouring.  Win!

If my attempt to get the indigo vat going again doesn't work today, I'm not going to be sad.  I'll have some videos to share with all of you that show that things don't always work perfectly, and how I tried to get them to work again.  There is value in failure.  Honestly, this failure made me feel like I was back in the lab!