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!  

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.

Sincerely,
Rebecca from ChemKnits