Friday, April 21, 2017

Tomorrow We March for Science!

Tomorrow (April 22, 2017) we March for Science.  I am marching in support of science funding, science education for all ages, and community outreach. I believe that science is our future and that we need to invest in that future.  

My outfit for the March for Science is complete! I will wear a necklace with my initials in amino acids, a chemistry lab skirt (the first adult garment I sewed!) and a cotton GENEie Pussyhat. I have never designed and knit a hat that represents me as much as the GENEie Pussyhat. I am a woman. I am a scientist. I am a wife and mother. I am a stay-at-home-mom. I knit. I dye my own yarn. I design. I am ChemKnits. I will stand up and resist. 

There might not be time for you to replicate my homemade outfit by tomorrow, however the March for Science isn't the only time you could dress in support of science.  If you like my hat, check out the GENEie Collection of hat and headband knitting patterns.  Project Thinking Cap has received donations of over 300 hats in various designs and will distribute them at the DC march.  I will write a post about the skirt at some point (it has pockets!), but here is the pattern for a really easy simple elastic waist skirt.   I purchased the awesome chemistry lab fabric at JoAnn's.  I received the amino acid initial necklace as a gift at my PhD defense just over 6 years ago.  

The weather is going to be cool tomorrow, so I might switch to my wool ombre GENEie Pussyhat, long sleeves and leggings under the skirt.  

I still need to make my sign for the march (and I might need to make some quick T-shirts for my kids if the ones we ordered don't arrive in time), but 3 year old Lucky made his earlier this week.  One of his favorite TV shows is Dinosaur Train on PBS. This show promotes observation, exploration and curiosity. A tag line of a main character is, "I have a hypothesis!" and at 2 years old Lucky could tell you that "a hypothesis is an idea you can test!" I hope that as Lucky grows, he has many more opportunities to observe, explore, learn and teach. This is one reason why we march.

On his sign Lucky drew a purple sun, snakes, practiced his "L"s and coloring in. He loved the scientist dinosaur sticker collection. (Lucky now wants to make more signs!) He also wanted to make sure you knew "I like peeps!"  Lucky is super excited to cheer "March for Science!" at the Rally.  (After the Boston Marathon he is now really into cheering.)

Knitting cool science hats is a step, Marching is a step, but they are not the end.  Showing up to the march is important because it amplifies our voice, but it is also important to use your voice after the march.  Call your representatives and tell them where you stand on issues.  Show up at town hall meetings.  How can we expect the government to represent us if we don't tell them what matters to us?

I might go live at some point tomorrow.  I've never "gone live" before so we'll see how it goes.  If you see me at the Boston march, come over and say hi!

Science Matters!  Let's invest in our future! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harry Potter Sweater Beer Cozy

Sometimes I stumble across a quick project that is PERFECT for someone in my life.  When the project requires specific colors that I happen to have in my stash I get extra excited.  The Harry Potter-Inspired Beer Sweater is just this type of project.  I love Harry Potter and I have all of the colors that I need in my stash.  Let's get crocheting!

For this project, I used a size H (5.0 mm) crochet hook and KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn in Chestnut (brown; 2 g, 6 yards), Semolina (yellow; 3 g, 8 yards), White (6 g, 14 yards), Coal (Black; 1 g, 2 yards), and Currant (Maroon; 6 g, 13 yards).  I use white and black WOTA in so many projects that these aren't technically remnant.  If I use them up I'm going to replace them as soon as I can.  I also need to reorder a maroon and yellow to make a specific project... but I DID technically make this project out of yarn I already had in my stash so that is something.  

I finished the base of the beer cozy during naptime one afternoon.  The designer glued the glasses onto the cozy but I think I want to stitch the crochet chains on.  I probably could have done an applique chain stitch to embroider the glasses on, but why not just make a chain and stitch it on.

I love a quick little project.   The instructions were written out plus the designer provided a chart to follow for the color rows.  It was super easy to follow.  This is an adorable pattern, I'm not sure why more people haven't made it yet on Ravelry.

I'm really happy with this fast little project.  If I were going to do this again I would sew the glasses so they were a little rounder versus looking like an infinity symbol.  Hopefully the intended recipient will enjoy her present!  (And hopefully she doesn't read the blog so it doesn't get spoiled!)  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dyeing Easter Eggs

Would you believe me if I said that I have never dyed Easter eggs before?  I use Easter egg dyeing kits a LOT... but to dye yarn.  I am Jewish so dyeing eggs wasn't ever something we did in my home.  My husbands family is Christian so we celebrate Easter with them.  Now that Lucky is 3 I thought it would be fun to try dyeing eggs with him this year.  Before attempting to dye eggs with Lucky, I wanted to try some more advanced techniques myself.

When I was looking at Easter egg dyeing kits online, I realized that a lot of the "special" techniques involve the same dye pellets that I love to use with something else added.  I thought it would be fun to take the classic kit (i.e. just the dye pellets) and try to figure out how to do some of these modifiers myself.  

In this dyeing experiment, I decided to attempt to make a Glitter Egg, a Marble Egg and a Speckled Egg.  All of these techniques can be done without Easter egg dye pellets, you could substitute a few drops of food coloring.  However I wanted to start by adding a little oomph to the most basic kit.  

My plans 
  1. Glitter Egg: 1 dye tablet, 1/2 cup water, 1 T white vinegar, glitter
  2. Marble Egg: 1 dye tablet, 1/2 cup water, 1 T white vinegar, 1 T vegetable oil
  3. Speckled Egg (take 1): 1 dye tablet, 1 T white vinegar (NO WATER), 1/2 cup Rice, 1 plastic bag.  

First I had to boil some eggs.  I haven't created hard boiled eggs in years!   Lucky had an egg allergy that he finally outgrew at 3 years old so we didn't cook eggs very much when he was younger.  Of the 7 eggs I boiled three cracked.  This is why I started boiling an excess of eggs!

The Glitter Egg

The glitter egg was a complete failure.  I learned that 1) it is hard to get a completely solid color without a random splotch and 2) although the instructions have you add glitter to the dye, and then glitter after the dye, very little glitter remains on the egg.  All of the eggs ended up with the same amount of glitter as the solitary glitter egg!  I will note that the glitter I used came from an egg dyeing kit so I wasn't trying to recreate instructions with this egg.

The Marble Egg

I think the marbled egg is my favorite one.  The dye remained in the water and when I added the egg it seemed to bead up around the egg.  For a while I thought that nothing would happen!  Eventually color started attaching to the egg and we got these brilliant designs.

I think that it would be really fun to do these marbled eggs in multiple colors.  The eggs were oily in the end but wiping them with a paper towel took care of most of that.  

The Speckled Egg

Like the other two eggs, I got the suggestion for this decoration on the back of a PAAS easter egg box I saw online.  However, the kit comes with liquid dye NOT a tablet.  I figured that if I try mixing the dye with 1 T of white vinegar I might get a similar effect.  If this didn't look like enough liquid, I could always try adding some water to help things out.

I started out adding two dye tablets, each dissolved in 1T white vinegar, to 1/2 cup of dry brown rice.  The first egg was almost solid.  There are some specks that resulted from where rice was stuck to the outside of the egg as the dye dried.  (I waited to brush of the rice until the end.)  I put a second egg in the bag and just pressed it lightly.  I ended up with some small specks but also smudges from where my fingers touched the egg.

I ended up adding another 1/2 cup of rice to the dye and then added a third egg.   I shook up the egg in the dryer rice and then I had some fantastic specks!  It worked!  I was afraid to brush off the remaining rice because I didn't want to smudge the cool pattern.  I'll try to have a tool on hand to help flick off the rice next time.  OR I might leave the egg surrounded by rice for a while to let the colors get darker.

I wouldn't be Rebecca from ChemKnits if I didn't film my dyeing experiment.  Watch me attempt to dye some eggs!

Dyeing Easter Eggs was so much fun!  I think that I will hold off one more year to dye eggs with Lucky.  I imagine that attempting to dye eggs with him at 3.5 years old might result in a huge mess.  Lucky DID use the egg dye tablets to help me dye some yarn a couple of weeks ago.  This video will take a LOT longer to edit than normal since I have a lot more footage to go through.  Stay tuned!  

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.  None of the products discussed in this post were solicited, all of them were selected by me.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rosie the Riveter Headband

This year, International Women's Day (March 8, 2017) marked a day that women went on strike across the United States.  For A Day Without a Woman, women are staying home from work, wearing red and avoiding shopping for the day to shout that Women's Rights are Human Rights.  I posted the following with my picture on Facebook:
I stand with the women who strike today for a #DayWithoutaWoman.  I wear red to stand with the women striking, to stand stand with the women who want to strike but can't because it would put their jobs, people in their care or our communities at risk.  I stand for the women who go to work for a strike-in because they realize that their presence in the workplace will speak louder than their absence.

I want to acknowledge the privilege of participation in this day. The ability to strike is a privilege.  The ability to avoid shopping for a day is a privilege.  Buying something to wear (or the fabric to create something to wear) for this day is a privilege.

I realize that there is some irony for a stay at home mom to wear a #RosietheRiveter headband to support the strike.  However I want to share the message "We Can Do It!" I want to support all women who work: those who work for money, who provide unpaid labor, who want to work but aren't able.  I sit here with my baby in my lap typing.  I am not on strike today, but I will raise my voice to shout with those who do.

In the week before the strike, I realized that I needed to come up with something red.  I didn't own anything red so I decided that I would sew my own Rosie the Riveter style headband.  I also didn't have any red fabric in my stash beyond tiny scraps so I did a quick run to the fabric store to select some red and white polka dot fabric.  I prewashed and pressed the fabric.

The pattern is really well laid out with a photo tutorial.  I really appreciate that even the snips of the fabric are shown.  I decided to create the 3.5" version so I started with two 4" strips of fabric.  I cut the fabric on the fold.

To test the sizing, I tied one of my strips around my head.  It was pretty cute with raw edges! I like the length that it was, so I decided to just trip the edges of the fabric and not worry about getting 39.5".  My fabric length ended up being about 40" long.  I'm glad that I wasn't worrying about length, I basically hit the target without trying!

I placed the strips together with right sides facing and then folded them in half.  I marked the center of the end of the strips and then 5" down (as directed in the pattern)  I cut all 4 pieces of fabric at the same time.... freehand.  I didn't sketch the curves because I knew that I could probably cut as well as I could trim a curve.  I started out conservatively and then trimmed slightly more until I got a shape I was satisfied with.

I pinned the fabrics together and then was ready to make the 0.25" seam.  I'm really glad that I'm doing the thicker headband because I hate trying to turn small tubes right side out!

I forgot to clip the tips before I turned the headband right side out.  I also made the opening (to turn right side out) a little narrower than I had intended.  Thankfully the tube was super easy to turn right side out and my points aren't that shabby either.

The last step was a top stitch.  If not for this step I don't think I would have bothered to use red thread, but I wanted it to be nicely finished.

This was so fast to create!  I had a flash forward to helping create accessories for school plays someday.  I might actually make the headband a 6" or so shorter next time so the bow isn't quite as long on my head, but I am really happy with how it turned out.  In addition to an iconic headband, this works really nicely as a neck scarf (not pictured.)

All of my boys (dog included!) wore red for International Women's Day.  For me, the strike was about recognizing that my role in society is important.  Unpaid labor isn't valued by many, so it was nice to have recognition that what I do is important beyond my family but for society.  We need people to care for our children, or sick, our elderly.  We need those who are paid for this work to be valued just as much as people who work any other job.  

Lately, I've felt empowered to use my voice to speak to our government officials.  How can I expect my representatives to represent me if I don't tell them how I feel on issues?  I really like the website 5 Calls, you can enter your zip code, pick an issue, and they provide the phone number of who to call plus a sample script.  I don't love talking on the phone but this has really helped me with making phone calls.  I know that my call will end up with a check in some column on a spreadsheet, but at least my representative will have a little more knowledge on where their constituents stand.  

You have a voice.  What do you want to do with it?  

Sewing project started and finished 3/6/17

Monday, April 10, 2017

GENEie Video

April 22, the date of the March for Science, is only a couple of weeks away.  I am marching to support evidence based legislation, science education for children and science outreach for adults.  I believe that government science funding is fundamental to advancements in medicine, technology and knowledge.  If you are a follower of ChemKnits, you've seen me share many of my DNA based designs, the GENEie Collection.  I created a video to talk a bit about each of the different designs and the techniques that go into them.

I have published many different science themed knitting patterns here on ChemKnits.  However, there is a collection of patterns that I've created specifically for the March:
Please continue to tag me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as you're working on your own GENEies.  I love to see your works in progress!  

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Glucose Headband and a Duplicate Stitch Tutorial

Some of the first designs I ever published were molecule knitting charts.  I have designed way more of the molecules than I've knit (although some of them were featured in the Sticks, Hooks, and the Mobius: Knit and Crochet Go Cerebral exhibit in 2012.)  I thought it would be fun to create a Glucose Molecule Headband for the March for Science.

The glucose knitting chart is 18 rows high and 22 sts wide.  I decided to knit the base of a Generic Headband and then duplicate stitch the glucose molecule on top.

I knit the headband base out of KnitPicks Comfy Worsted in Marina.  I have a lot of Shine Sport in many colors that I can use to duplicate stitch on the molecule in the end.  I knit the generic headband base on size 6 knitting needles.  Since the molecule is 18 rows high, I knit 20 rounds of stockinette between the ribbing rounds.  (This is going to be a pretty wide headband.  If you want to fit a molecule with this many rows on a smaller headband then increase the number of stitches, use thinner yarn and smaller needles.)  

 I ran out of yarn with just 1.5  rows left.  I hate it when this happens!  Thankfully I had another ball of yarn on hand in the same dyelot, but cutting it this close always makes me nervous.

Using duplicate stitch instead of trying to knit the molecule stranded was nicer than I expected.  I didn't have to count while I was knitting and could pay minimum attention while knitting the base.  This was perfect for lower light movie watching, when otherwise this project would have required a lot of focus.

I've had a problem with typos lately!  I can't believe I didn't notice the error until after the video was complete.  

I thought about duplicating "Science Is Sweet" next to the glucose molecule but ultimately I didn't like how my duplicate stitch letters looked so I tore it out.  The chart is in the above picture, and can you notice that I can't spell?

I did use these letters to film a duplicate stitch tutorial.  I hope that this helps you add designs to your knitting after they're completed.

Rowdy likes to grab my knitting while I try to photograph the finished projects. Here is the little cutie with the generic headband base: 

The molecule looks beautiful before I even added the oxygens:

The weather was poor so I only had time to take a quick shot of me in the headband inside.  Even though the headband is a little wider it still fits great on my head.  I can't wait to pass this on to someone to wear for the March for Science!  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Announcement: ChemKnits is Changing Hands

I have an announcement to make...

Just Kidding!  April Fools!  

(I meant to publish this on the blog on April 1 after the video was released but I forgot!)