Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Back to School

The beginning of September always feels hectic.  The end of summer, the beginning of the school year, holidays, and all kinds of lists. SO MANY LISTS!  But with all of these lists, there is a lot of fun on the way.

Paradise Fibers curated a fantastic Back to School kit in their September 2018 Fiber of the Month Club Box (Backpack!)  This month's kit included a dyeing tutorial... dyeing Cheviot Roving or Yarn with HIGHLIGHTERS!  If you sign up for the Fiber of the Month Club today, your first box will be October's Box, but you can still get in on the fun.  All you need are some Sharpie Highlighters, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, roving, and some dye safe containers!  (You can find the Cheviot Roving I used in my livestream on Paradise Fibers' website.) I'm planning on talking all about this in more detail in next week's Weekly Round up since I'm still waiting for all of the fiber to dry.  However, I really feel like we started off the new school year on a high note.  Thank you, Paradise Fibers, for sending me your kits to unbox!

Speaking of Back to School... how adorable were the ChemKids on their first day this year?
My boys had a great start to the school year.  This isn't that strange, they were at camp over the summer months, but as a parent the school year is a little easier to prepare for.  No more swim bags, multiple changes of clothes, and towels to hang up at the end of the day.

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This summer, I had a super productive filming schedule.  So productive that I started working on multiple "special" weeks of videos. (Cellulose Week*, Indigo Week, 2018 ChemKnits Chanukah Special) I've got a huge editing queue to get through, but it also means that I'm pretty up to date when it comes to the new videos that are about to come out.  I've been waiting for this week's Dyepot Weekly to come out for a long time.  I think I shared the sneak peek back in July! 

*There wasn't a specific Cellulose Week Playlist, but I used this as an opportunity to update my "How to Dye Cotton Yarns" Playlist.

This week, I released Dyepot Weekly #71 - Winding a Super Wide Skein to Create a Hand Dyed Yarn Gradient with Acid Dyes.  I wound a super wide 2 - ft skein, and then tied it up so that it would be arranged in a super wide gradient. (See the thumbnail below.)  I thought it would be fun to dip dye this yarn to get a gradient.  I did not expect to get some of the resist from the ties, so the final gradient had some stunning reverse speckles on it. 

Ultimately, this technique takes a similar amount of time to prep as winding a blank on a hand crank knitting machine.  However, you don't need any special equipment to do this.  I used a PVC pipe niddy noddy, but you could also use the back of a chair, a textbook, or any other object in your home.  With proper planning (or even handpainting), you could avoid the reverse speckles to get a much cleaner gradient than you sometimes get with blanks.  I'm personally a fan of the mottled and speckled look from unraveling blanks, but some people want more solid tones in their gradients.  

Sometimes it takes a while for me to share a new video on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  There is a lot that goes into the video production: fiber prep, dyeing, waiting for the yarn to dry (and sometimes second prep steps), and finally editing.  If you would like to get some behind the scenes sneak peeks of what I'm working on currently, check out the ChemKnits Patreon.  Some of the perks for becoming a Patron include behind the scenes sneak peeks. I'll start a livestream while I'm filming for a DPW episode so you can get the first look, watch me do multiple takes, and ask questions as I'm filming.  The archive of replays are up for all new "Wool" Patrons so you can go back through and watch the older sneak peeks.  How do these unedited streams compare to the final video I release?  Watch to find out!  

This post contains affiliate links, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.  The affiliate partners mentioned in this post are Paradise Fibers, Amazon, and KnitPicks.  

Monday, September 10, 2018

KnitPicks Skill Builder Subscription Box Review

Last month, KnitPicks released three different subscription boxes! For $48.00/month, pick between "Skill Builder" "Sock Yarn" or "Fan Favorites". If you decide to prepay for 3-months, you can save $15!  Shipping is free within the US but there are some international shipping options available.  I reached out to KnitPicks and asked if they would send me a sample to review.  I was so excited when the box showed up on my doorstep, it was so big and heavy!  Let's take a look at what is inside the first Skill Builder Subscription Box. 

August 2018 - Socks!

August's Skill Builder Box is all about Socks.  I was amazed when I opened up this box and realized that I didn't own any of the items in it already!  This box also happened to be perfect for me because I've been talking about trying to knit socks in livestreams over the past few months.  Now I really don't have an excuse! 

KnitPicks Skill Builder Subscription Review

This Box Includes:
  • 2 - 50 g Balls of Stroll Sock Yarn (Navy)
  • 2 - 50 g Balls of Stroll Tweed Sock Yarn (North Pole Heather)
  • Sunstruck 32" Circular Needles Size 2 (2.75 mm)
  • Majestic Double Pointed Needles Size 2 (2.75 mm) - 5"
  • Locking Stitch Markers
  • Retractable Tape Measure
  • Project Bag (100% Organic Cotton) 
  • Enamel Pin (Sock Themed!) 
  • Socks for Everybody! - softcover book
  • Go Your Own Way Socks - printed instructions

The box contains everything you could possibly need to start knitting your own socks.  Yarn, circular AND DPN needles, measuring tape, stitch markers, and PLUS sock knitting patterns.  Fine, almost everything.  You will need to bring your own scissors and reading glasses.  But everything else you could possibly need is in the box!

Stroll is one of my favorite yarns to dye, and the KnitPicks wooden needles are my favorites to knit with.  I'm thrilled that these are included in this box!  The included book looks at multiple different ways to construct a heel, toe, and body of socks to give you plenty of choices for your first pair.  I think this box was curated to appeal to as many knitters as possible, and they sure didn't disappoint! 

Skill Builder Subscription Box Value

KnitPicks said on their site that these subscription boxes have a $60 value.  I decided to take a closer look at the value of the contents in my box. I went through the KnitPicks website and added everything into my shopping cart. 

When I added the kit contents to my cart, the total value of the items was $64.20.  This is INCLUDING 40% off of the Socks for Everybody book and 50% off the Department of Toasty Toes pin.  If those items weren't on sale right now, the total value would be even higher.

What is not included in this total?  Shipping ($5.99 on orders $64.99 and under) and the Go Your Own Way Socks instructions.  The pattern is available for free, but a color print out does have some value.  I love that this kit included everything you need to start knitting socks, PLUS it provides you with plenty of options for that first pair.

My Dream KnitPicks Subscription

I would love to see a subscription option that would work for KnitPicks Superfans.  I own a LOT of KnitPicks yarn, books, tools, and swag already, so I would worry that I would receive duplicates of something I already own if I were to sign up.  (I'm actually really impressed that I didn't own anything in the skill builder box!)  I would love to see a subscription box that featured the latest and newest items.  Tools, colorways, new yarn lines, etc.   It is possible that the Fan Favorites Subscription might include new things, but I think the new vs favorite balance would be super important. Sock Lab Yarns? New Felici Colorways?  Getting the first look at items before they're released to the public would be super tempting.

I would also love a dyers subscription box.  KnitPicks has DOZENS of bare yarn bases, and I think it could be really fun to send out a 3-pack of a yarn base each month with a tutorial.  KnitPicks, if you would ever like to collaborate on something like this, I'd love to help out!

I think it is important to think of these subscription boxes as KNITPICKS boxes, versus yarn subscription boxes.  Whatever subscription you choose, you will get a surprise carefully curated box of yarn, needles, tools, and patterns that has a FANTASTIC value.  I think that this box would make an excellent gift for a beginning knitter who is ready to expand their skills.

Watch the Unboxing 

Want to see my LIVE reactions to the KntiPicks Skill Builder Subscription Box?  Watch the replay from my live unboxing: 


Learn to Knit with KnitPicks

If you think you're not quite ready for the Skill Builder Subscription, check out the Learn to Knit boxes from KnitPicks.  You can start with a Dishcloth, Scarf, or Hat kit and get everything you need in your box.  

Learn to Knit Kits from


I think that the Skill Builder Subscription is perfect for someone who is comfortable with basic knit stitches and wants to expand their confidence level, and tool collection, for other techniques.  I have no idea what will be in future boxes, but there are so many possibilities;  lace, cables, brioche, colorwork, toys... I could keep going.  I have a feeling that many people are going to include one (or multiple) of these subscription boxes on their wishlists this holiday season! 

Which KnitPicks Subscription Box would you most like to try out? What would they put in your dream box?  Let me know in the comments what you would love to see in your dream knitting (or crochet!) subscription.  

Disclaimer: This post contains KnitPicks affiliate links.  I have been a KnitPicks affiliate since October 2017, but I have been using their products in my designs and videos for almost a decade.  I reached out to KnitPicks to ask them to send me one of their new subscription boxes so I could share it with all of you.  

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Dyeing Yarn with Squirt Guns

Last month, I talked a bit about the #lucasandmommyfantabulousweekend where Lucky and I had a weekend just the two of us and had a blast.  One of the highlights was dyeing yarn with squirt guns together.

Yesterday I released TWO videos featuring this squirt gun technique.  One with me and Lucky dyeing yarn side by side, and a second where I used some of the leftover dye on a sock blank.  (There is actually a third video, too, where I dyed some more yarn by mixing together all of the leftover dye.  However that one only tangentially used the squirt guns.)

We filled each squirt gun (bought in a 3-pack from the dollar store) with 6-7 drops of food coloring from the Wilton Color Right Color Performance System. (Amazon Affiliate Link) The food coloring is fairly concentrated and viscous, but I didn't have any trouble adding the drops directly into the squirt guns and then mixing up the dye.  The squirt guns DID leak, so if you don't want to dye your hands with food coloring, then you might want to try wearing gloves.

I was inspired by a viral video on hair dyeing from a few years ago where some stylists used squirt guns to dye hair a rainbow of colors.  This was one case where hair dyeing techniques translated easily to dyeing yarn.  I'm so glad that I gave it a shot, and I know that both Lucky and I really want to do this again!

If it is possible, I think I had even more fun dyeing a double stranded knit blank (KnitPicks Affiliate link) with these squirt guns. I love the way the streaks and splatters turned out on the blank.  I would really like to fill these squirt guns with some tie dye and try this out on a T-shirt, I think that you could create a really unique and interesting ombre.  (You KNOW that I am going to try this at some point in the future!)

There are many different ways to get a speckled gradient on a sock blank, and I've explored many different techniques on my channel.  A lot of the yarns might look fairly similar on the niddy noddy.  However, sometimes it is very much about the process as you are creating the yarn.  There is no question that dyeing yarn with squirt guns is SO MUCH FUN.  Mess fun, but it was a perfect way to spend a summer evening. 

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  Shana Tovah to all of you who are celebrating the new year. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ChemKnits Creations Shop Restock!

It has been a while since I've restocked the ChemKnits Creations Etsy store.  There are DOZENS of new skeins of hand dyed yarn in the shop!  Many of these yarns were dyed in videos that have already been published or featured on Instagram.

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I think my favorite of the new yarns is the "Pumpkin Tree" inspired yarn I dyed this yarn in a livestream on August 21 and it was so much fun.  I don't often try to mix specific colors.  Frequently, I let the colors, the dye, and the fiber "speak to me" and I'll change my plan based on how things are turning out.  It was fun to try to look at a specific inspiration for a change.  There are THREE skeins of this yarn in the Esty shop!  Each were dyed in the same pot at the same time, but they are subtly different due to the technique.

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This overdyed and glazed yarn is one of my favorites I've ever dyed.  I dyed the yarn in a livestream while I was filming Dyepot Weekly #55, and then condensed the dyeing for the finished episode.  I tied up the yarn with knots of scrap yarn to preserve some of the stunning original colors from the black overdye. 

The 2018 ChemKnits Chanukah MiniSkein Sampler isn't part of the new restock, but there are still a few slots available.  Don't miss your chance to unwrap a miniskein of yarn while watching how it was dyed each night of Chanukah this December! 

Do you recognize any of the others new skeins from my restock announcement photo?  Which one is your favorite? 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Stripes and Repeating Colorways

Self striping yarn is a lot of fun, but it isn't something that I have a lot of experience dyeing.  Some of my favorite dip dyed skeins do create repeating colorways that can almost look like microstripes or spirals depending on how they pool, but this isn't the same as a true self striping yarn which would allow you to get multiple rounds in one color on socks or mittens. 

In Dyepot Weekly #68, I used two balls of yarn to create a crochet chain of crochet chains.  I divided my 100 g skein bare KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (Affiliate link) in two 50 balls of yarn and then crocheted two strands with a K hook into a long chain.  I wound this chain into a center pull ball, and used both ends of the ball with a size N hook (9.0 mm) to create a much thicker crochet chain of crochet chains.

In the video, I decided to fold the chain up and paint it so we could get a self striping pattern.  All of the stripes won't be perfectly even, but the two 50 g skeins are perfectly matched to be used together or separately.  

I just love how the yarn looks on the niddy noddy! 

In Dyepot Weekly #58, I did a similar technique to make my crochet chains, but I started with fingering weight yarn and some thicker hooks. First, I separated 100 g of KnitPicks bare stroll fingering weight yarn (Affiliate Link) into two 50 g balls.  I used the size N (9.0 mm) hook to make a super loose chain of the fingering weight yarn.  My chains got looser and looser as I went on, almost like I was n-plying vs crocheting.  Just like in the previous one, I used a larger hook (jumbo in this case) to crochet the two ends of this crochet chain together.  

Finally, I took the two ends of this chain and held them together to create one LARGE crochet chain.  This time I used my hands instead of a hook, just like if I were to crochet some roving.  This gave us a piece of yarn that we could dye to get some kind of repeating pattern. 

I decided to dip this braid into some Wilton's Violet food coloring to see how the colors might break.  The result is a speckled gradient that goes from purple to a pale blue.  Since the yarn was folded over on itself multiple times, this is a bit of a repeating gradient.  

I was a bit disappointed that the breaking wasn't as extreme as we see sometimes, but I think that I forgot that we had a LOT less surface area here, so the reds were able to bind to more of the yarn.  Nevertheless, the final result is STUNNING and I think that I would try it again sometime. 

I plan to do some more traditional self striping techniques in the future, but I thought it would be fun to try out another type of blank.  The benefit of these crochet chains is that anyone can create one pretty easily.  You can get a self striping pattern easier with a long and skinny chain than you could with a wider blank.  There is a lot of manual work involved, but I prepped all of this yarn in an evening while watching some TV.  

I look forward to playing with some more traditional self striping techniques, including multiple miniskeins and some VERY long skeins of yarn. I haven't started prepping for these videos yet, but they are certainly high up on my list!  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

ChemKnits Creations Labor Day Sale!

It's the ChemKnits Creations Labor Day Sale starts today! Get 10% off all ready to ship skeins of yarn. There are over 100 skeins of yarn included in the sale that were dyed in past or upcoming ChemKnits Tutorials dyeing videos.  Most of my colorways are one of a kind, so if there is one that you love don't miss your chance to bring it home. 

Some exclusions apply: The sale does not apply to Dyepot Weekly Sponsorship, dyed to order skeins, or the 2018 Chanukah Miniskein Sampler preorder. The sale cannot be applied to shipping fees or past purchases. The Labor Day Sale discount cannot be combined with other promotions. Sale ends 9/3/18 at 11:59 PM EST. No coupon code is necessary, sale prices are marked.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Indigo Week!

It is Indigo Week on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel!  Stony Creek Colors sent me some of their American grown, plant extracted indigo so I could start my first vat.  This project was full of up and downs, but I am so happy that I was able to publish SIX fun videos with my indigo journey this week on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel. 

It is Indigo Week on the #ChemKnitsTutorials YouTube channel! The first three videos of my adventures feature my failed attempts to set up an iron vat, and then how I successfully reisolated the indigo to set up a hydrosulfite vat. Thank you so much @stonycreekcolors, for your beautiful plant derived Indigo and for helping me troubleshoot my way to a working vat. πŸ’™πŸŒΏ If you want to follow the whole journey, check out the indigo week playlist, or you can start with Dyepot Weekly #66 to watch me make my first successful indigo dyed yarn. . . . . #indigovat #naturaldyeing #dyepotweekly #stonycreekcolors #indigo #dyeingchemistry #dyewool #dyecotton #indiedyer #fiberartist #summercrafts #outside #indiedyersofinstagram #dyestagram #playwithcolor #dyeallthethings #yarn #yarnlover #yarnie #trysomethingnew
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A few weeks ago, I talked about my first indigo vat fail in the weekly roundup. I was so excited to try this out, but unfortunately my first attempt to set up the iron vat just did not work.  The indigo didn't reduce and I was unable to dye fiber.    Stony Creek worked with me that week to come up with a plan to convert my failed iron vat into a successful hydrosulfite vat.  I am so happy that I decided to stick with the project and get something that worked! 

As I was preparing for my first indigo vat, Stony Creek Colors was working on developing their own 5 gallon kit to sell through their website.  They recommend Graham Keegan's protocols, which unfortunately did not work for me.  They, too, ran into issues with Graham's protocol. Graham has been selling an indigo kit (using Stony Creek Colors' Indigo - which is why they directed me to those instructions) for a while.

Stony Creek Colors now has their own protocols for a few different types of indigo vats.  They have their own iron vat protocol (this one works!) and a hydrosulfite vat protocol which is very similar to the one that I used successfully.  You can even buy a kit so you can get everything you need to start dyeing with their plant derived indigo yourself. 

I greatly appreciate Stony Creek Colors working with me while I was troubleshooting this vat. Without their help, I would have thrown this away and given up.  Instead, I was able to isolate the indigo and convert my iron vat to a hydro vat where I successfully dyed yarn with indigo.  HORRAY!

It is so fun to see the range of blues that can be created with this technique!  I plan to re-start my vat again so I can try a few other yarn dyeing techniques and also play around with dyeing some fabric.  What would you dye with indigo?  

Sometimes things don't work as expected.  Watch as I attempt (and fail) to create my first ever indigo vat.  This video is edited as I proceeded.  You will see my hope, doubt, and disappointment.  Thank you so much, Stony Creek Colors, for not only sending me the indigo, but also working with me all afternoon when the first protocol I followed didn't work for me.  You helped me reach a strategy to resurrect this vat (switching from an iron vat to a hydro vat) so I could successfully use the indigo to dye yarn.

You can watch my whole indigo vat journey in the indigo week playlist here:

KnitCrate Flash Sale!

KnitCrate flash sale is still going on!  If you sign up for the August 2018 KnitCrate Membership Subscription you will get a BONUS free crate for just the cost of shipping charges.  This is two crates for $29.99!  When you got to the website, wait for the pop up and click the "Get My Free Crate" button.  (Note, the free crate will vary based on availability, but you will see a preview of the free crate in the popup.)  

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