Wednesday, March 21, 2018

ChemKnits is now on Patreon!

I have some exciting news!  ChemKnits is now on Patreon!  

What does this mean?  Patreon is website that allows people to support their favorite artists and creators.  This is a way for you to pay creators on a monthly basis to help support the content that you love.  It is like an optional subscription service.  

I have created some exciting perks for ChemKnits Patrons.  These can include:
  • Early Access to new dyeing videos.  I will share these videos in the monthly Patreon newsletter.  These videos will eventually be available to the public on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  
  • Exclusive Behind the Scenes Sneak Peeks - Want to watch as I film a scene for a new dyeing video?  Patrons can choose rewards that give them access to fun and interactive sneak peeks.  
  • Shout Outs in the Early Access video
  • Exclusive coupons to my (coming soon) Etsy store
  • Advance notice of when hand dyed destash sales will start so you can get a head start to check out the pretty colors.  

What does the Patreon mean for the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel?  Are you still going to make new videos?  

I will 100% keep making new videos for the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  The purpose of the Patreon is to help fund the yarn, dye, and equipment so I can continue to make fun dyeing videos that everyone can enjoy.  The main difference is that you might hear me mention the Patreon from time to time in my videos.  The public content will not decrease at all, if anything I will be adding more fun videos to the channel.   

If I can't become a Patron, how can I support you? 

Subscribe to the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel (which is free!), watch videos, and give a thumbs up to the ones you enjoy.  Engaging with my videos is the best way that you can support me!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Almost Time for the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong

It is almost time for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along to begin!  I am so pumped to kick off the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong next Sunday night at 7:15 PM EST.  Each day we will have at least one new knit (or crochet) blank dyeing episode PLUS a dyeing livestream.  This weekend, I'll update the Sock Blank Special 2 Schedule with links for the specific livestreams.  If you can't make a stream, don't worry, the replay will be available as soon as YouTube can process it. 

Do you want to learn more about the Sock Blank Special 2 week?  In the following video, I chatted about different types of blanks that I have created for the dye along and what kind of techniques we'll try out over the next week. 

How you can participate?  Over the last few weeks, many of you have been collection your own sock blanks to dye along with me.  These blanks are a combination of homemade blanks, commercial double stranded sock blanks (KnitPicks Affiliate Link), and reclaimed sweaters to dye and unravel.  Share you pictures on social media with the hashtag #ChemKnitsDyeAlong and feel free to tag me as needed.  You can also join the ChemKnits Lab Facebook Group, a group for ChemKnits Fans where labmates are already sharing their own sock blank dyeing projects.  

I am so excited to see what kinds of yarn we all create.  Now I have to be off to make some more of my own sock blanks so I can dye a big variety in the dye along.  

Are you new to dyeing yarn?  Learn more about sock blanks and the tools you need to dye them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Unboxing My First KnitCrate! (Feb 2018 KnitCrate Membership)

Today I opened up my very first KnitCrate!  I was so excited when they reached out to me to see if I would like to test their KnitCrate Membership Subscription.  Of course my answer was, "YES!"  My first package was the February 2018 KnitCrate Membership Crate:

February 2018 KnitCrate
KnitCrate Membership February 2018

What was inside my delightful teal bubble mailer?  The KnitCrate Membership subscription includes 1 knitting and 1 crochet pattern every month and enough yarn to complete one of the designs.  First I pulled out two skeins of Knitologie Glowing Worsted Yarn in the color Mist.  Mist is a really deep and saturated blue/green.  The yarn looks like it has been kettle dyed and has very subtle variations in the depth of color.  Semi-solids like this are one of my absolute favorites to knit with because it gives the finished project so much dimension. The yarn is a 40% Merino Wool / 30% Silk / 30% Alpaca which is not only incredibly warm and soft, but also had a wonderful sheen that almost makes the yarn look iridescent. 

This month, I got two cowl patterns which were shared on two sides of a postcard in my package.  Vincent W. Green designed the crochet pattern "Mariana Trench Scarf" and the knit "Raindrop Cowl" was designed by Noelle Davis.  Both of these patterns say they require 300 yards of yarn, and I have 298 yards total between the two skeins.  I hope that I'm not going to play yarn chicken when I make my cowl!  However, since these patterns were designed with this yarn in mind I am sure that I would have no trouble completing the project.

I really like that the KnitCrate includes a link to download the designs instead of paper copies.  I was able to easily add these patterns to my Ravelry library so they can be searched and downloaded at a future date as needed.  (If you don't have a Ravelry account you can download the patterns directly to your computer.)  The theme of this package is "Petrichor", and I got an explanation of the rainfall and shimmering puddles that inspired the colorway and patterns on a postcard.  This postcard also contains coupon codes for the pattern designers' Ravelry shops, email addresses for pattern support, and the value of each of the included items in the kit (Yarn, Patterns, and Shipping.)

All February KnitCrate Membership packages will have codes for the same knitting and crochet patterns plus 2 skeins of Knitologie Glowing Worsted Weight Yarn.  The colors of yarn will be a surprise.  In addition to Mist, you could receive either of the colors Rain Drops or Verdant.  The total retail value of this kit is $63 (2 x $24 skeins + 2 x $5 patterns + $5 shipping). During my livestream, we discovered that you can buy skeins of yarn found in the kits at full price, but you had better jump fast at the beginning of the month because most of the Feb exclusive yarns are sold out as of 2/21.

Are you interested in trying out a KnitCrate Subscription, too?  Use the coupon code ChemKnits20 to receive 20% off your first order!  (Thank you, KnitCrate!) To hear more of my thoughts as I opened up my KnitCrate, watch the livestream replay below.  (My 4 yo interrupted the livestream from his rest a couple of times. I have edited out the long pauses but left the rest of the interruptions in their unedited form for the true ChemKnits livestream experience.) 

I am so excited to see what shows up in my March package. Which subscription looks the most interesting to you? The Sock Crate is currently sold out, but I think that the Artisan Crate, which features a different indie dyer each month, looks AWESOME. 

KnitCrate sent me the package for free and I am enrolled in the KnitCrate Affiliate Program.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Dye Along Livestream Schedule - The Sock Blank Special 2!

Are you ready to dye along with me in the Sock Blank Special 2?  I have talked about the materials and equipment you will need for the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong, and now it is finally time to talk more about the schedule for the week.  I plan to host livestreams at a variety of times of day so as many of you will have a chance of joining me live as possible.  Don't worry if you can't catch me live, the livestream archives will be available to replay later.

In all of the livestreams, I will dye a combination of KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks and DIY blanks made out of various yarn weights, fiber types, and number of strands.  The Stroll Sock Blanks are double stranded, so when we unravel the yarn we will get two identical 50 g skeins of yarn.  The homemade blanks will feature both single stranded and doublestranded blanks.

ChemKnits Dye Along; Sock Blank Special Schedule 

With each episode/livestream in the schedule, I have indicated if you will need any special materials to dye along with me.  Make sure you refer to the General Materials list just after the schedule for things that will be used in most of the episodes. This list might be tweeked as we get closer to the Sock Blank Special.
  • LIVESTREAM: Sunday 2/25/18 7:15 PM EST -  #ChemKnitsDyeAlong Kickoff!  A chat to get excited about the week ahead of us.  I might work on making some blanks (via knitting machine or crocheting) or unravel some dyed blanks.   
    • Special Materials needed: Sock Blanks!  Finish getting your sock blanks together to dye along with me this week.
  • Monday 2/26/18 8:30 AM EST - Dyepot Weekly #28 comes out a day early!  This isn't a livestream, but I am moving up this week's Dyepot Weekly episode 24 hours so it can help kick off our week of fun.  Want a sneak peek?  Check out the livestream where I unraveled this blank.  
    • Materials Needed: Squeeze bottles for applying the dye (Jacquard acid dyes) to the homemade double stranded sock blank.  
  • LIVESTREAM: Monday 2/26/18 8:00 PM ESTRandom Patterns!  Tonight we are going for true random patterns.  We will tie dye, randomly dip, and more.     
    • Materials needed: Utensils to apply dye to the fiber (brushes, squeeze bottles, or syringes), a dish basen or dye safe bowl, rubber bands.  
  • LIVESTREAM: Tuesday 2/27/18 9:00 AM EST - Stripes, Stripes, and More Stripes! We will dye multiple homemade and commercial sock blanks in a variety of striping patterns. 
  • Tuesday 2/27/18 PM Late Afternoon TBD - A New Sock Blank Special Episode!  
    • Materials Needed: A double stranded crochet sock blank.  (Sneak Peek is coming Monday 2/12!)
  • Wednesday 2/28/18 8:30 AM EST - Snow Dyeing Sock Blanks! This episode has been prefilmed.  For a sneak peek, check out the unraveling of the homemade and commercial snow dyed blanks livestream
    • Materials Needed: KoolAid Packets, Snow (as a substitute, try either crushed ice or ice cubes!)  
  • LIVESTREAM: Wednesday 2/28/18 Noon EST - Stamping and Stenciling Sock Blanks 
    • Special Materials: Guar Gum (a thickening agent), Wilton Gel Icing Colors (they are already thick to begin with!), foam brushes, squeeze bottles, stencils, stamps, and cookie cutters
  • Thursday 3/1/18 Morning TBD - A New Sock Blank Special Episode! 
  • LIVESTREAM: Thursday 3/1/18 8 PM EST - Spray Painting Blanks
  • LIVESTREAM: Friday 3/2/18 10:30 AM EST - Sprinkles, Speckles, and More! 
    • Special Materials: Sprinkles (Sugar Sprinkles or nonpareils), KoolAid packets (or similar drink mix)  
  • Friday 3/2/18 Afternoon/Evening TBD - Ice Dyeing a Sock Blank
    • Materials Needed: ice cubes (multiple trays worth, I filled up a whole dish basen with cubes), KoolAid packet (or powdered citric acid), liquid food coloring.  
In addition to the above scheduled events, I might add some additional unraveling streams as our dyed blanks finish drying.

General Materials Needed for the Dye Along

I covered this in the where to buy and how to make sock blanks post, but I wanted to recap the other materials you should have on hand.  Please refer to the materials list in the "Where to Buy Sock Blanks" post for other items you should consider having on hand. If you plan to use acid dyes, make sure you use dedicated non-food equiptment and utensils for dyeing.
  1. Yarn: In all of the videos, I will dye yarn that is in either a knit or crochet blank (read more about).  All of the yarns will be predominantly protein based fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc.) I will use a mixture of homemade blanks (see how I make them in the videos at the end of this post) and commercial blanks (KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks)   
  2. Dye: This dye along will feature either food safe (i.e. food coloring) or commercial acid dyes. The overall techniques will work for either type of dye. If you plan to use commercial acid dyes, make sure you are using dedicated dyeing equipment and utensils. 
  3. Acid: Either white vinegar or citric acid
  4. Heat: I will either use a microwave (with food coloring dyed yarns) or a pot on the stove.  My dyepot has a steamer basket which I use for yarns handpainted with commercial acid dyes.  
  5. Miscallenous: plastic wrap, gloves, measuring cups and spoons, tongs, heat safe dishes, container for presoaking the blanks, cups for mixing dyes

Other Resources

I have two playlists on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel that features the dyeing of preknit blanks.  There is the original Sock Blank Special playlist from videos and livestreams that took place in December 2017.  All of these videos feature KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks.  These blanks dye and unravel SO BEAUTIFULLY and they are a dream to use.  I just orderd a bulk 20 pack of these blanks, which means that I plan to do some sock blank dyeing videos even after the dye along is over!  (Maybe Sock Blank Special 3?)

I know that purchasing sock blanks can be expensive, so I am also going to use homemade sock blanks.  I have another playlist that features videos of making and dyeing homemade knit blanks.  I use a Singer hand crank knitting machine for all of my homemade knit blanks.  I find that this machine works well for worsted (and thinner) single stranded blanks and fingering weight double stranded blanks.  The machine struggles to make double stranded worsted and DK blanks, but I was able to complete them.  I worried that I might strip the gears, so proceed with caution that you could damage your machine.

Finally, check out the "Where to Purchase Undyed Sock Blanks for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along!" blog post to learn more about what are sock blanks, different companies that offer sock blanks for puchase, and the general materials you will need to dye along with me in the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong.

Timeline Disclaimer

I have two young children and I work out of my home.  The livestream schedule depends on my kids being healthy and able to attend school. If one of them is home from school sick, then I will need to shift the schedule above and potentially delay some of the livestreams.  Thankfully, I am pre-filming many different techniques so you can still dye along even if I have to push back some of the livestreams.

Share Your Own Projects!

Tag your pictures with #ChemKnitsDyeAlong on Instagram and Twitter.  I will have a post on the ChemKnits Facebook Page where you can share your finished dyed sock blanks, the unraveled yarn, and items that you made our of your dyed sock blanks.  I can't wait to see what you create!  You are also welcome to come and join the ChemKnits Lab Group to chat more about ideas and all types of dyeing projects.  The group is filled with hundreds of ChemKnits fans and we are having a lot of fun.

Watch How to Make and Dye Homemade Sock Blanks!

I cannot wait to dye along with you during this Sock Blank Special.  I have tried to take many of the requests from the last Sock Blank Special and incorporate them into the events for this special week.  Are you ready to dye along with me?

This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon and KnitPicks.  All thoughts, opinions, and product selections are my own and I was not approached to promote any of the products.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

DIY Tamatoa Mickey Ears

My family LOVES Moana.  I knew that we weren't likely to see a lot of Moana things at Disney World yet because the movie was so new, but I thought it would be fun to make my own pair of Tamatoa Mickey Ears. Both Lucky and Keith LOVE the song Shiny and the little after the credits scene. 

I made a lot of ears for our Disney World trip, and I can't remember where this set fell in the order.  I do know that this was one that I did a lot of improvisation for although you can find some of my inspiration on my Disney World Ideas Pinterest Board


  • Headband
  • Thick craft felt in black and navy
  • Gold Sequin Fabric (Optional - for the back of the ears)
  • Metallic Gold and Gold Glitter Puffy Paint
  • freezer paper
  • gold sequins in various sizes
  • Blue sparkly fabric
  • "crystal gel" sparkle puffy paint
  • two purple/black sequins for the eyes
  • Hot glue gun
  • polyfill stuffing
  • Sewing Machine (optional, you could use glue instead)
I wanted to do an experiment about creating embellishments for a Tamatoa ears.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying different gold color embellishments, so I tried using some $1 puffy paint on the waxy side of freezer paper.  If these peel off, then I can use them to add some dimension to a Tamatoa shell.

It worked great!  I could crinkle the various shapes to add dimension to my ears.  Next I needed to create the base of the ears because I knew that I wouldn't be able to sew it together after I started adding on the piles of puffy paint.  

With the tabbed template I created in my first set of Mickey Ears, I cut out four pieces from the thicker craft felt.  I cut 3 black pieces and 1 navy piece.  

I knew that the sparkly gold fabric I picked out needed a foundation for it to stand up on the ears.  I pinned the extra sparkly fabric to two of the felt pieces.  Since the mesh was somewhat see through I didn't want to use glue to adhere it.  My plan was to stitch just around the outside and hope for the best.  I did wonder if I needed to add tissue paper over the sequins, but it just worked!  The sewing machine needle went through the fabric with no issues. 

I decided to wait to trim the fabric until I had sewn the front of the ears to the backs, although I did cut the fabric to separate the two pieces. 

For Tamatoa's face, I cut out one triangle and two circles and pinned them to the piece of navy felt.  (I used some scrap fabric that came from my Elsa ears, but it looks like I haven't written up that post yet.)  If you don't have sparkly fabric in your stash you could use a lighter blue felt and add some glitter to it after the fact. 

Once again, I stitched down the embellishment pieces versus using glue.  I like the definition that the stitches give to the shapes.  However, I don't think you would be sacrificing much if you decided to use a fabric glue instead.  

Before stitching down the whites of the eyes, I used a tiny dot of glue to glue them down. I didn't trust my ability to pin them correctly, but I did sew them down with my machine to keep them in place.  

I think that the wrong side of this ear section looked really cool!  

Now that the ear fronts were ready to go, I stitched them to the back pieces and then trimmed off the excess gold fabric. 

Now it was finally time to start embellishing the shiny shell ear.  I covered the black felt with globs of gold and glitter gold puffy paint and added sequins and some of the shapes I created earlier.  My goal was to create a lot of texture and shapes to look like a pile of treasure. 

I did the ear in a couple of stages.  In part I wanted to see how things dried so I knew how to modify my technique.  It worked AMAZINGLY well.  I also did some similar mini embellishments on some freezer paper (not shown) to incorporate onto the bottom of the second ear. 

This ear really does look like a pile of treasure, right? 

For the face ear, I needed to make some Antennae but I also wanted to show a bit of the shell so it would look like Tamatoa was just started to peek his head out. 

I used the crystal gel puffy paint for the Antennae and to attach the darker sequins to the whites of the eyes. 

Doesn't it look like he is squinting? 

I used a fabric pencil to draw out the lines of the shell. I started by adding some of the pre-fabricated shapes to give this mini shell some dimension and then added sequins and glitter. 

Finally I just needed to wait for things to dry so I could finish up the ears.  

How is that for some custom, DIY Tamatoa ears?  Now I'm just missing the headband!  

I lightly stuffed the ear pockets with the polyfill stuffing and then used hot glue to secure them to the ears.  I first glued the center to the top of the headband, and then glued the back tab to the bottom of the headband.  Finally, I glued the front tab around the back and trimmed off any overhangs.  These ears look positively shiny, right?  

I couldn't wait to bring these with me to Disney World!  

Lucky thought the ears were pretty awesome, but REALLY didn't want us to meet Tamatoa at the parks.  He thought that Tamatoa would like these ears too much and try to steal them.  

I was surprised that there was almost NOTHING Moana while we were there.  I started collecting pins on my trip and didn't see a single Moana themed pin.  

I will say that these ears were popular with the staff when I wore them to the Animal Kingdom.  I'll share some photos from the trip in a future post where I show off all of the Disney Ears we wore at the parks. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Where to Purchase Undyed Sock Blanks for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along!

The week of February 26, 2018 I'm going to host a DYE ALONG!  I will do MULTIPLE livestreams to give everyone an opportunity to join in.  The theme?  SOCK BLANK SPECIAL 2!!  I will demonstrate a variety of dyeing techniques on homemade and commercially knit blanks in a series of livestreams and pre-filmed videos.

In this article, I will share many places to purchase sock blanks, tools for you to make your own sock blanks, and materials that are helpful to have on hand so you can dye along with me.

A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on

The Sock Blank Special Dye Along schedule will be released in the middle of February, however I wanted to share the general plan now to give you a chance to get your hands on some sock blanks for the dye along.  I will release a number of pre-filmed sock blank dyeing videos in addition to multiple livestreams.  The livestreams will take place at a range of times (morning, lunchtime, and evening) to give as many people as possible the chance to tune in.

What is a sock blank? 

A sock blank is a knit piece of fabric that you can dye and then unravel to use in a knitting or crochet project.  These make it really easy to create gradient yarns and other unique asymmetric colorways.  When a sock blank is knit with two strands of yarn, aka a double knit sock blank, you can use this to create identical or symmetrical colorways. A single knit sock blank is knit with one strand of yarn.

Where to Buy Sock Blanks

You have two main choices, purchase commercial blanks OR create your own.  You could hand knit a blank, but that would take a long time.  If you want to create your own custom blanks (single or double stranded), I recommend getting an inexpensive hand crank knitting machine. I will talk more about this in the next section.

Here are some choices for purchasing your own sock blanks:
  • KnitPicks -  Stroll Fingering (75% superwash merino / 25% nylon) is one of my favorite yarns to dye, and KnitPicks offers a double knit sock blank with Stroll Fingering as the base.  You can purchase an individual blank that contains two 50 g balls of yarn knit together (462 yards total) for $19.99 or you can buy a 20 pack of sock blanks for $339.80 with the bulk discount (Affiliate Links)  
  • Wool2Dye4 - Wool2Dye4 offers three different sock blank options that you can purchase as a 5 pack.  They offer a double knit blank (i.e. two strands of yarn knit together so you can make identical socks) in their Platinum Sock line (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon).  You can buy a single knit blank as Sparkle Blanks (with 5% stellina for some sparkle) or a single knit blank in Platinum Sock Yarn.   (In the single knit blanks there is only one strand of yarn knit at a time, so you can make a really stunning gradient or striped yarn but you will not get two identical skeins of yarn when you unravel the blank.) Prices for the 5 packs run from $68 - $71.  
  • Dharma Trading - Their single strand Super Sock Blanks are made out of 75% superwash merino / 25% nylon. Prices start at $18.55 and will go down to $15.90 if you order 20 or more.  
  • ACME Fibers - For an additional $6-$6.50 CAD, you can order any of ACME's bare sock yarns as a double stranded or a single stranded sock blank. They offer a wide variety of fingering weight and sock yarns that you could get as a custom blank WITHOUT having to wind it yourself!  This final cost per sock blank will range from about $20 - $27 CAD depending on the yarn base you choose. ACME Fibers is a Canadian company, and I'm not sure whether they offer international shipping.  
  • Fiber to Yarn - You can special order a 10 pack of Ashland Bay Willamette Bay Sock Blanks for $202.50.  The single stranded sock blanks are 80% superwash merino / 20% nylon.  
  • Etsy - You can purchase undyed sock blanks on Etsy for a variety of prices (I've seen anywhere from $14 - $22 USD.)  

Make Your Own Blanks for Dyeing

There aren't many options for purchasing commercially knit blanks for dyeing. All of them are fingering weight yarns and most of them have the same, or very similar, fiber content in a superwash wool / nylon blend.  If  you purchase a hand crank knitting machine, you can create your own knit blanks using whatever yarn weight and fiber content you desire.

Before you make your own blank, it can help to think about what you might want to make out of the yarn.  Do you want to make socks or mittens?  Consider making a double stranded blank so you can get identical pairs.  Are you making a hat or a cowl?  how do you want the colors spaced? Will you want stripes?  These questions can help you decide how you want to dye your blank, but also the type of yarn you want to use in your blank.  Most commercially wound blanks use either a single strand or double strands of sock yarn.  With a hand crank knitting machine, you can create your own blanks in almost any yarn type.  Double stranded lace?  Go for it!  You have your pick of bare yarns to choose from.  The knitting machines that I own (shown below) are intended for worsted weight yarn.  These also work well on fingering weight and double stranded fingering weight yarn.  However, creating a double stranded worsted weight blank was really hard on the machine so I do NOT recommend trying that.  (I have not yet tried DK or sport weight.) 

I use a Singer hand crank knitting machine to make my own blanks.  This plastic machine is designed for children, but it works well enough to make imperfect tubes that I can use for dyeing yarn.  (You can also create flat blanks with the machine but I tend to do tubes because they are faster to crank out.)

I have a few videos that feature my singer knitting machines:

I'll probably do a livestream at the beginning of the Sock Blank Special Dye Along where I will make a double stranded blank.  Maybe I'll even make a flat one!

Materials for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along

In addition to pre knit (or crochet!) blanks, there are some other materials that you need to dye along with us.

DYE - In the Sock Blank Special Dye Along, I will use mostly food coloring or Kool-Aid in the live streams.  However, all of the techniques I will do in the dye along will translate nicely to commercial acid dyes.  I will talk more specifically about the materials I will use in each livestream when I release the final schedule.

YARN -  There are many suggestions on where you can purchase sock blanks or how to make your own above.  I wanted to give a few reminders about the fiber content in this section.  Since we are using either food coloring or acid dyes, we need to have yarn that is made out of protein based fibers such as a wool or silk.  Most commercial sock blanks are wool/nylon blends and these dye beautifully.  I have had great success with 50% wool 50% viscose (a cellulose fiber).  Wool/acrylic blends can work, but the resulting colors will be more muted.  If you are going to make your own sock blanks, I recommend picking yarns that have high % of wool.

ACID - I mostly use white vinegar (acetic acid), but you can also use powder citric acid to help the dye bind to the yarn.  The amount of citric acid found in a KoolAid packet is sufficient for dyeing yarn so if you are using KoolAid then you don't need any additional acid.

HEAT - In the dye along, I will either use a microwave or a pot on the stove to set the colors.  In the microwave, I usually will wrap the yarn in plastic wrap and then steam it, however you can do kettle dyed yarns in the microwave.  On the stove top, I will either have the yarn completely submerged in the dyebath or use a steamer basket to steam the yarn after it has been handpainted.

EQUIPMENT - The following are equipment pieces that I regularly use when I am dyeing yarn.  If you are planning on using commercial acid dyes, please make sure that you use dedicated pots, utensils, and other equipment that you don't use for food.
  • A 3-8 qt pot for stovetop techniques.  My dedicated dyepot is 8-quart with a steamer basket and lid.  
  • A dishpan or large bowl for presoaking yarns and washing the yarns at the end (so I don't have to lay them directly in the sink)
  • A microwave safe plate(s) 
  • Slotted Spoons (to press fiber down in a pot)
  • Measuring cups and spoons 
  • Plastic cups for mixing dyes
  • paper towels for cleaning up messes
  • Plastic wrap for steaming and/or microwaving
  • Tongs (helpful for removing hot yarn from a pot)

OTHER TOOLS - You can apply dye to knit fabric in many different ways.  Sometimes I will just pour out of cups, other times I will use some foam brushes or squeeze bottles to hand paint the blanks.  The following tools are completely optional, but might make an appearance during the Sock Blank Special Dye Along.  When I release the final schedule, I will create some specific materials lists.
  • Foam Craft Brushes (or maybe a sponge) to dab dye onto the blanks
  • Needle nose squeeze bottles - these are great for creating thin lines of color on your sock blanks during hand painting.  
  • Syringes for applying dye to yarn (as an alternative to squeeze bottles.  These are also useful for measuring out dye volumes.)  
  • Misto Pressurized Spray Bottle as an alternative to Wilton Color Mist Sprays.  
  • Cookie Cutters for stenciling 
  • Sprinkles for making speckles
  • Salt shaker or tea strainer

Sock Blank Dyeing Videos

Sock Blank Special - In December 2017, I had a Sock Blank Special week where I released multiple videos featuring different ways to dye sock blanks.  These videos feature techniques like spray painting for graffiti effects, dip dyeing for gradients, and hand painting stripes and random patterns.  We also unraveled some of these blanks in livestreams.  

In addition to the sock blank special, I have dyed a number of homemade blanks:

Sock Blank Special 2; A ChemKnits Dye Along

So what can you expect to see in the Sock Blank Special 2?  I plan to take some requests on the techniques we explore, but here are some of the suggestions that might make an appearance:

  • Stripes (with blanks that I can unravel since the last time I had to send the backer a completed blank)
  • Write a love letter on a blank
  • Stamping/stenciling
  • A crochet blank
  • Space Dyeing a blank
Is there anything that you would like to see?  Please let me know in the comments!  I look forward to another week focusing on dyeing pre-knit blanks.  Hopefully you will get your hands on some blanks so you can dye along with me in the week of February 26, 2018.  

This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon and KnitPicks.  All thoughts, opinions, and product selections are my own and I was not approached to promote any of the products.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Where to Buy Bare Yarns (Undyed Yarns)

Where do you buy your bare yarns to dye?  I have an old blog post on this topic but it hasn't been updated in a long time.  I've dyed a lot more yarn now than I have back then so I know more about what I want as a home dyer.  It also seems like I can find a lot more suppliers than I could find easily back in 2010.  Not to mention that some of the websites that I originally linked to are no longer active.  Let's see where we can find bare yarns now!

There are many MANY websites that offer bare yarns for sale.  I know that I am only scratching the surface in this post.  However, I wanted to assemble a list of some of the companies that have the most name recognition in addition to some smaller players.  If I left your favorite supplier off this list, please let me know in the comments!

  • KnitPicks - Most of the yarn I've dyed over the last 9 years has been KnitPicks bare yarns, and I feature these yarns regularly on my YouTube channel.  You can buy 20 packs of bare yarn at a bulk discount, but since you can buy individual skeins you can try the yarn before committing to a large volume.  The prices are also very competitive, too.  When I started my dyeing adventures, I was intimidated by the need to purchase 1 kg or more of bare yarns at a time, so the ability to purchase individual skeins really drew me in.  Plus there is free shipping over $50, and I never have trouble adding that much yarn to my cart!  (Full Disclosure, I became a KnitPicks Affiliate in October 2017, but I have been using these yarns for YEARS before I started officially promoting them.)
  • Wool2Dye4 - This is a dyer's haven with dozens of different yarn weights, fiber contents, and more available.  They only occasionally have single skeins of yarn available, usually you purchase their yarns in 10 skein packages. They offer wholesale discounts if you make a purchase over a certain weight of yarn.  Under their Kits section, you can sometimes find samplers of 3 of their yarns in a given weight.  I purchased the sock sampler once but I've still only dyed with one of the skeins. (I really need to get on that! I've been saving the cashmere blend for something special.) Shiela's Sock yarn took dye BEAUTIFULLY and is something that I would enjoy working with again.  They have some mini skein packs available which is great if you want to dye coordinating 20 g miniskeins without having to wind them yourself.
  • Craftsy - I had no idea that Craftsy sold yarn in addition to crafting classes until one of my followers mentioned it last fall.  can purchase Cloudborn Yarn Dyeables in sets of 10 skeins (50 or 100g).  The skeins range from fingering to bulky in a variety of fiber contents.  All but one are superwash and the sock yarns are both 20% nylon.  I have not tried any of these yarns but the natural colors vary from pale tan/grey to off white.  (Note, I became a Craftsy Affiliate in January 2018.) 
  • Dyer Supplier by KnitCrate - Well this just sounds like a good place for an indie dyer to look, now doesn't it?  I've heard a lot about Knit Crate recently although I have never purchased anything from them.  The site looks like it is set up to offer a wide range of fiber types and weights, but when I checked in January 2018 many of the categories were empty.  They do offer a range between 10 skein packs of yarn, mini-skein packs, and they even offer some single skein samples so you can try out a yarn base before committing to 10 skeins.  Dyer Supplier offers bulk discounts, so if you're going to get multiple 10 skein sets of one yarn you can save some more money. 
  • Dharma Trading - I've never used any of Dharma's dyeable yarns, but they seem to offer a bunch of different natural and synthetic fiber options.  I purchased my acid dyes from Dharma along with some undyed silk scarves and cotton fabric accessories to use with some of my commercial dyeing experiments.  Dharma also has a wide variety of dyeable rovings that include cellulose and synthetic fibers.  Someone once asked me to find 100% bamboo roving and I'm happy to say that now I've found some!  Maybe I'll have to pick some up the next time I purchase some dyes.
  • New England Farm to Fiber - Natural yarn straight from the New England farmer.  This yarn company has a stall at the Boston Public Market and feature yarns from a dozen farms in the New England area.  Like many skeins of yarn from small local farms, the price per skein is higher than what you might pay from a larger yarn company. This site offers a variety of natural colors to choose from, and I imagine that they would all take up dye beautifully.  Personally I would probably chose to knit something from the natural colored wool, but I also wanted to include at least one local (to me) source on this list.
  • Quince & Co - In addition to huge arrays of fabulous colors, many of their yarn lines come in at least one undyed color.  I love that the thumbnail for each of the yarn lines is a natural, undyed color of the yarn!  The have a category for bare yarns, but this leaves out some of the natural NON off white colors that they offer.  Skeins of yarn are sold individually.  Since the yarns come both undyed and dyed, you can get a solid color and then dye a variegated yarn in the same base to complement it.  Sounds fun to me! 
  •  Yarn Undyed / - It is funny. I just about had given up on the website because it looked like there were only wholesale options and the website for knitters to buy individual skeins didn't seem to work properly. Then I discovered their site through, and it looks like this one is set up for US based shoppers.  This UK supplier ships both to the US and Canada, and offers both single skeins and 5 skein packs in a mixture of fiber types.  Bare BFL yarns?  Yes please!  They also offer camel, cashmere / silk blends and more.  They offer free airfreight shipping on orders over $75 in case you are worried about expensive international shipping. 
  •  Catnip Yarns -  Catnips offers a wide variety of fiber types, weights, and blends.  You can buy the bare yarns by the cone or by the skein, although it looks like there are more cone options available.  The single skeins range from 3.4 - 5.1 oz from what I could find scanning the site. (I am noting this because most other site sell skeins in 50 or 100 g increments.)  Catnip Yarns will provide free samples of their yarns (12" long pieces) if you email them.  I haven't reached out for samples as of writing this post, but if I do then I will update it with some opinions on the yarns.  
  • A Child's Dream - Child's Dream only has 5 different options for undyed yarn. These include a Big loop Mohair Boucle yarn which looks very unique and cool, although it is $43 / 8 oz. The yarns appear to come the Brown Sheep Yarn Company in Nebraska.  
  • Pacific Wool and Fiber - It looks like Pacific Wool and Fiber currently is only stocking bare unspun fibers, but they certainly have a lot of wheel and wheel accessory options.  They carry a nice variety of wool breeds so you can have some choices for the fiber types you want to dye and spin.  
  • Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Company - This small company offers a variety of natural wool yarn colors in addition to some plant dyed colors.  With their natural colors, you can specify whether you would like sport, worsted, or bulky weight in the given natural undyed colorway.  The colors range from a dark chocolate brown, a variegated brown/pale twist, medium browns, to pale grey or off white colors.  I am not sure if yarns are spun to order of if there are any minimums, but it is an option for sourcing a variety of natural colors in the yarn weight you want.  
  • Ashland Bay - WHOLESALE ONLINE. Ashland Bay offers dozens of different undyed yarns and unspun fibers.  I haven't personally tried any of their bare yarns, but I know that they are popular with other indie dyers.  They even provide sock blanks!  Unfortunately, you can't set up a retail account with them. In order to set up a wholesale account, you have to commit to spending $750/year and send them a copy of your business license within the fiber/textile industry.  They do have a list of online and local distributors on their website.  If they have a product you want but you can't find a supplier, maybe you can ask a yarn store that has an account with them to place a special order for you. Three online suppliers (which you can see next on this list) are WEBS, Paradise Fibers, and Fiber to Yarn. 
  • WEBS America's Yarn Store - The local yarn store on the web that has the domain, has a limited selection of natural undyed yarns.  (Search their site for "undyed" for the results to come up.)  They do, however, offer a wide selection of undyed spinning fiber as roving and top.  I have some of their BFL in my stash.  I thought I might blend it with some other, unordered, fiber that I have in my stash but I couldn't bare to mess up the ordered top. They sell Ashland Bay unspun fibers.
  • Paradise Fibers -  They have multiple options for undyed 100% silk yarns in addition to some wool options.  Most of the in stock wool yarns seems to come in cone form versus skeins (the silk yarns are in skeins). They have MANY MORE options for bare spinning fiber than for undyed yarns.  They are an Ashland Bay distributor but at the time I looked the yarns were sold out and they only had Ashland Bay unspun fiber. 
  • Fiber to Yarn - Here is another Ashland Bay Distributor.  They have limited 4 oz skeins in stock, but they will place a special Ashland Bay order for you if you are going to spend a minimum of $200.  It looks like this might be a good place to try out some single skeins of Ashland Bay yarns before committing to a bulk order.  
  • Darn Good Yarn - They offer a limited selection of dyeable yarns that vary from wool to silk sari ribbon.  You can purchase the yarns in individual skeins. (Note, I became a Darn Good Yarn Affiliate Marketer in February 2018.)
  •  ACME Fibers - This Canadian company offer a variety of weights and fiber bases.  All of the prices are listed in Canadian dollar.  WOA!  For an additional $6 or $6.50, you can get any fingering weight yarn that you purchase machine knit into a blank for dyeing... either single OR double stranded. This is a HUGE offer.  I didn't see specific information on shipping to the US, but you can always contact them to ask if they will ship internationally.  
  • Elitespun - This is another Canada base company that offers a variety of yarn bases.  I found a price list for the dyeable yarns on their site, but it doesn't look like they have pictures of the individual yarns.  Elitespun's website feels like a small company, and you will likely need to email them for prices and to place an order. 
  • Lion Brand Yarn - While not really an seller of undyed yarns, I need to include Lion Brand on this list since the first ever yarns that I dyed were Lion Brand Wool Ease in the color Fisherman.  This yarn is 80% acyrlic, 20% wool but it still takes up food coloring surprisingly well.  I know that a lot of my followers like to use Sock Ease in Marshmallow (75% wool, 25% nylon) because it is something that they can find in big box stores without needing to shop online.  They even offer some luxury fibers like cashmere and yak!  As a random aside that surprised me as I was looking at their site, they sell 100% acyrlic roving AND some steel/wool blend yarn.  Who knew? I've had some trouble finding some of these yarns in person lately (although I did pick up some Fishermen's Wool Yarn in Mapel Tweed this week because I thought it would be fun to over dye.)   (Note, I became a Lion Brand Affiliate in January 2018.)

Did I include your favorite place to purchase bare yarn in the above list?  Let me know and I can update the list!