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!  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Mystery Surprise Yarn and Playing with New Colors

This week, I decided to add a new twist to a dip dyeing-a-thon livestream.  I wanted do dye with mixtures of Wilton Icing Color and to pull the color combinations at random out of a bowl.  Here are the colors we ended up picking:

I presold the yarn for the livestream as part of the ChemKnits Creations Shop Update, so viewers were able to pick the yarn base for their surprise yarn.  I loved mixing up the base AND the colors for this steam.  I will absolutely do something similar again.  You can watch the replay of the yarn dyeing livestream on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  

The yarns fresh out of the drypot.  Top row left is #1, bottom row left is #5.  

Some of you have asked how I dry my yarn.  I have a collapsible drying rack (similar to the one linked on Amazon) that fits perfectly in a bathtub.  I can fit MANY skeins on the rack at once, and then the drain can catch any drips.  If I have space, then I will lay the yarn across multiple bars to give air more access to the drying yarn.  In the picture below, there are 9 skeins of yarn laying out to dry.  If I have more yarn I want to dry, I'll hank the yarn over 2 bars.

Sometimes it is hard to wait for the colors to dry.  On wool, colors stay pretty similar from the way they were when wet, but some other fiber mixes will lighten significantly when they're drying.  This is why I always try to do a recap after a livestream.  Want to learn more about these mystery surprise colorways?  Watch the recap below:

All ChemKnits Patrons get early access to a new dyeing video each month, and get to vote in a poll to shape the direction of the next month's early access video.  I am so excited about Dyepot PS #4 that I had to share some sneak peak pictures.  Look at these stunning hues I extracted from Red Cabbage!  The pigment is pH sensitive so you get something that is more blue in basic conditions and more pink in acidic conditions.  I think that there are some fantastic applications for some home science experiments with children using red cabbage, and I'll chat about that a bit in the video, too.  

I am so excited about this red cabbage dyeing video.  The colors aren't quite what they look like while still in the dyebath.  Some colors did remain without mordants, but I need to try to pump up the volume next time.  (Red cabbage is known as a fugitive dye, so it will fade with time anyway, but the liquid itself is so much fun to play with!)  The dyeing video will be available for ChemKnits Patrons in July (hopefully next week) and will released to the public sometime in August.  If you want to get early access to videos like these, plus some other fantastic perks, check out the ChemKnits Patreon.  

Trying new techniques is always a learning experience for me.  Sometimes I like to try things in their simplest form to know what works and doesn't work before I start adding more materials and steps.  I hope to explore more natural dyes in the future.  

Monday, July 2, 2018

ChemKnits Creations Shop Update!

I just added a TON of new inventory to the ChemKnits Creations Etsy Store! Each listing includes information about the yarn itself PLUS the title of the video where I dyed the yarn.  If you check out the new items, you will get some sneak peeks to new content coming up on the channel.  If you want to know more about the yarn, the video title usually gives a good hint about the technique.  

Why should you buy ChemKnits dyed yarn if you now know exactly how to recreate the colorway? (I hope that I have inspired you to try dyeing yarn yourself!)  When you buy yarn from the ChemKnits Creations store you are getting more than a beautiful skein of indie dyed yarn, you are supporting new ChemKnits content.  Through the shop you get to support ChemKnits, watch the creation of beautiful yarn, and bring it home.  

I have a lot of hand dyed hand spun that I haven't had a chance to use.  I decided to add them to the shop in case anyone wanted to take them home.  All of the roving dyeing videos are on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel, and there are spinning videos for two of them, too. 

Join me tomorrow morning (7/3/18) for a fun LIVE dye-a-thon at 9:30 AM EST on YouTube!  I am planning to dye at least six skeins of yarn in different mixtures of Wilton Icing Color.  How am I going to pick the color combinations?  Randomly!  I've been wanting to add all of my icing colors to a bowl and pick two out at random for a long time.  Once I've selected the colors, I'll pick the proportions (to avoid muddy colors) and then we'll dip dye to see how they break.  Remember the stunning combination of Teal and Copper?  I'm hoping that we accidentally discover some magic like that.

If you want to join in on the Mystery Surprise Yarn Fun, you can preorder a skein that will be dyed in the livestream. You get to pick the yarn base and the queue # for that skein of yarn and then watch LIVE as I dye it just for you.  If you preorder before the livestream begins (9:30 AM EST 7/3/18) you can get 20% off the yarn!   If there are still skeins available when the stream begins, you can purchase them for a 5% discount, but the yarn base will default to "Surprise Sock."  We'll see how this all works out tomorrow, but I thought it would be a fun way to let people claim the yarn from a livestream without waiting for a future shop update.

Available Today in the ChemKnits Creations Shop!  The dyeing video will come out later this summer.   

Now I need to get back to editing some videos!  (I only put yarn in the shop once the video has been edited, uploaded and scheduled on the YouTube Channel.)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Cellulose Week, Tie Dye, and More!

Welcome to the first official Weekly Roundup! My goal is to center all of the happenings in ChemKnits Land here on the blog on a regular basis.  In between these roundup posts I will share other fun crafts etc.  Today, I plan to look back on the last few weeks rather than just this current one to look at some of the fun we had during Cellulose Week. 

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I mostly dye wool based yarns because that is what I love to knit with.  Wool absorbs color super easily, and is a great base to use with food coloring and a variety of commercial dyes.  Cotton is a little trickier because food coloring won't work on cellulose based fibers, it needs protein fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc) for the colored molecules to bind.  The ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel had a few old cotton dyeing videos, but it had been a while since I took another look at cotton fibers.

I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, when the ChemKnits Patrons requested cotton and linen blends for their early access dyeing videos (the Dyepot PS Series.)  When I realized that my viewers wanted to see more cotton, I thought it would be fun to dedicate a whole week to cotton dyeing videos, named "Cellulose Week."

I didn't create a new playlist for Cellulose Week, rather I added all of the new videos (9!) to the "Dyeing Cotton Yarns" Playlist.  There are now demonstrations that feature Rit Liquid Dye, Dylon Hand Dye, Avocados, and multiple techniques with Tulip One Step Tie Dye.  You can expand the list on the upper right hand corner of the embedded video to easily find these videos.  

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I found that I couldn't stop after I had edited and scheduled all of the Cellulose Week Videos.  KnitPicks recently released 12 new lines of bare yarn and I was so excited to play with the Cotton Boucle. (Affiliate Link) I will have a lot more cotton dyeing videos coming up in the Dyepot Weekly series over the rest of the summer and the fall. 

As for that video clip at the beginning of this roundup?  My kids love playing ChemKnits with me, so it is always fun for me to create new shirts for them to wear.  I dyed their shirts with some dry tulip one step tie dye powder, and the whole video is now available.  Both boys love performing for the camera, and I think Lucky is a natural at coming up with things to say.

I am so excited to play with color more this summer. I have plans to do a week focused on indigo dyeing (using American Grown Indigo from Stony Creek Colors) very soon.  I had to place an order for some more cotton yarn once I realized that my first vat is going to be best suited for cellulose fibers.  However, I do have plans to toss some wool yarn in there, too, just to see what happens.  I am so excited to share this adventure with you! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

More Posts Coming Soon!

Hello ChemKnits Fans,

I am sorry for not posting much here lately.  I have a massive backlog of projects (and some patterns!) that I need to write up to share with you.  Lately my efforts have been focused on producing 2+ videos per week for the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel so I have not spent as much time writing.

I have plans to revitalize this blog with some updates on what is going on in ChemKnits land currently.  Not 6 months ago or in the future, but regular updates on what is in the dyepot, what videos were released, and other updates.  I feel like there are so many different places where I am sharing my adventures lately (videos and social media) and it has been hard to feel grounded.

ChemKnits is first and foremost this website.  A place to ground all of my projects and crafting adventures.  I hope that these new updates (title TBD) will actually help with some of the writer's block so I can go back through these backlogs of crafts to share some of my creativity that doesn't make it onto the YouTube channel.  ChemKnits is approaching its 10th birthday this December, and we've grown so much over this last decade.  I cannot wait to see where the future will bring us and I hope that you will join me for the journey.

The new posts should be starting VERY soon, but if you want to see what I've been up to lately you can always follow @ChemKnits on Instagram or ChemKnits on Facebook.  We also have a thriving fan community in the ChemKnits Lab Facebook group.

Rebecca from ChemKnits

Monday, April 23, 2018

Now on Etsy! The ChemKnits Creations Shop is now open!

I am excited to announce the launch of my Etsy Store, ChemKnits Creations!  The shop has over 100 skeins of hand dyed yarn that have been featured in past, and upcoming, ChemKnits Tutorials yarn dyeing videos.  

Since the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter last fall, I have created over a hundred new dyeing videos.  This means that I have created hundreds of skeins of hand dyed yarn.  Even after fullfilling all of my Kickstarter rewards, I was left with a large volume of yarn.  

Almost all of the yarn in the ChemKnits Creations Etsy store was dyed in 2018.  There are a few skeins that are older, but it is amazing to see what I have created in just the last few months.  I want to destash these yarns to help make room for more hand dyed yarns and so I can buy more materials for dyeing videos.  

Some of the yarns listed in the ChemKnits Creations Shop.
In my dyeing videos, I create many different unique yarns on in a variety of fiber types.  This diversity is reflected in the ChemKnits Creations shop.  There are a lot of worsted weight 100% wool and Superwash Merino Nylon blend sock yarn, but there are also silk blends, acrylic blends, and more.  Did you love a yarn from the sock blank special?  Multiple matched 50 g pairs are in the shop!  

Many of you have been asking me if I sell the yarns that I dye, and I am so happy to finally be able to answer, "YES!" I know that I dye more yarn than I could ever knit with, so I am so happy to be able to share the fiber love.  

Check out the ChemKnits Creations Etsy Store today!  

Friday, April 13, 2018

10 Reasons Why I Love KnitCrate

KnitCrate is a company that provides fun surprise packages through their yarns subscription services.  These crates feature hand dyed yarns (from both in house dyers and independent dyers) and patterns from independent designers.  I was delighted when they reached out to me this February and offered to send me a few months of their KnitCrate Membership subscription so I could test it out. 

Last week, I received my third KnitCrate package. The more I learned about KnitCrate in these last few months, the happier I was to be working with them.  Today I want to share with you 10 reasons why I love KnitCrate. 

April 2018 KnitCrate Membership Package.  Yarn: DK Weight 100% Superwash Merino Wool

1. Monthly Surprise Yarn

Each month when that bright turquoise package lands on my doorstep, I don't know what type of yarn I am going to get.  The yarn weights, colors, and fiber content are a surprise every month!  (Unless you are using one of their sock yarn clubs where you will get a different kind of sock yarn every month.)  One of the best parts of their flagship kit, KnitCrate Membership Subscription, is that even if you see spoilers, there are 3-4 different colorways each month.  Therefore, you might know something about the type of yarn you will receive, but the color in your package will always be a surprise.

My 3 Months of KnitCrate Exclusive Yarns

2.  Free Shipping, Even International!  

The price of all KnitCrate subscriptions include shipping costs.  International members might need to pay import duty and taxes to their home country, but they won't pay KnitCrate any extra for shipping for any of the different crates. 

3. KnitCrates are Economical

KnitCrate subscriptions start at just $19.95 for the Sock Crate Membership.  The KnitCrate Membership Subscription that I've been unboxing is only $24.99 and includes two 100 g skeins of hand dyed yarn, free shipping, 1 crochet pattern, 1 knitting pattern, and exclusive discounts in the KnitCrate Member Central shop and at some KnitCrate partners. 

February 2018 KnitCrate Membership.  Yarn: Worsted Weight 40% Merino Wool, 30% Silk, 30% Alpaca

To put this in perspective, if you love the yarn from a kit and want to buy some more, you can get some more skeins at a discount (up to 25% off in the Member Central.)  Yarns featured in the February and March 2018 KnitCrate Membership kits are $18/skein for members, but $24/skein for people who don't have a subscription.  (You can see the discount when you log into your account.) If you factor in the cost of two $24 skeins of yarn, $5 shipping, and $5/pattern, you get to a value of $63 for the KnitCrate membership kit. 

Members also earn KnitCrate Stash Points every month which you can save up for coupons off your next month's crate or for coupons to use in the Member Central. 

4. Enough Yarn to Make a Project

There's nothing worse than buying some cool yarn and then realizing once you are home that you do not have enough to complete a project.  Each KnitCrate membership kit comes with two patterns, 1 knitting and 1 crochet, and you have enough yarn to make either of the patterns.

5. Bringing Me Outside My Color Comfort Zone

When I pick my own yarns, I tend to choose purples, blues, and greens.  KnitCrate helps me come out of my comfort zone by sending me a surprise color each month.  Sometimes they send me the one I might have picked, otherwise it is something new, that brings me out of my color comfort zone. 

6. Pattern Download, No Extra Paper

I love that the KnitCrates come with links so you can download the knitting and crochet projects either to your computer or directly into your Ravelry library.  I find the patterns to be an excellent suggestion of what to make with the yarn, but sometimes the patterns inspire me to use the yarn for something already in my queue.  Since I don't have to worry about keeping track of paper patterns, I can save them in my library to use when I'm ready. 

The pattern download link is located on the back of the kit theme.  When you type that link into your computer, it is only a couple clicks of a button to add them to your library.

The Designs from 3 months of my KnitCrate Membership.  The postcard has the crochet pattern on one side and the knitting pattern on the other.  

7. KnitCrate Supports Independent Designers 

KnitCrate has multiple different programs for working with independent designers (see the link to Designer Programs at the top of their website.)  For patterns featured in the monthly creates, designers can pick between a flat fee or royalty program. 

For the designer, being featured in a KnitCrate means that you will get more people checking you out on Ravelry.  Each of the KnitCrates includes coupon codes for the designers' Ravelry shops, which provides incentive for people to check out their other patterns.  If I try someone's design and love it, I am much more likely to buy another pattern from them versus try someone new. 

8. KnitCrate Supports Independent Dyers

KnitCrate has two subscriptions that feature Independent Dyers, Artisan Crate and Sock Artisan Crate.  I haven't tried any of these kits, but I love the idea of a surprise yarn package that features a different Indie Dyer every month. 

KnitCrate offers yarn support for dyers FREE OF CHARGE and pays for shipping both ways.  Dyers are paid a flat rate for the yarns to cover their time, dyes, and other materials. I assume that the info card in each package contains information about the dyer's shop so you can learn more about who dyed the yarn.  (And there are likely discounts to the shop as well.)  

There is also a great potential for cross promotions, KnitCrate promotes the dyer, and the dyer promotes KnitCrate.  I know that the first thing I would do upon getting a surprise indie dyed skein of yarn is to look up the dyer's shop to see what other types of yarn they offer.  I really like that KnitCrate makes it so easy for all consumers to see the programs for Indie Dyers and Designers, it makes me really respect the company.  You can learn more about the Indie Dyer Programs by following a link on the top of KnitCrate's website.

9. Brightly Colored Packaging 

When the teal mailer shows up on my doorstep, I know that it is going to be full of beautiful yarn.  It brings me joy straight from the beginning!

March 2018 KnitCrate Membership.  Yarn: Fingering weight 70% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon, 10% Stellina

10. Bare Yarns 

I mentioned above that KnitCrate offers yarn support to their indie dyers, but they also let everyone in the community to buy their bare yarns.  DyerSupplier by KnitCrate is an ethically sourced line of undyed yarns at wholesale prices.  The prices are very reasonable and most of the yarns come in 10 packs.  Singles skeins are available for select yarn lines so you can try the yarn out before committing to buying multiple. 

My First 3 Months of KnitCrate!  

Thank you, KnitCrate, for letting me try out your subscription service!  I am so happy to share this with everyone. Do you want to give KnitCrate a try?  Use the code ChemKnits20 at checkout for 20% off your first month! 

Disclaimer: KnitCrate sends me the monthly KnitCrates for free and I am part of their ambassador program.  All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.