Thursday, April 17, 2014

Color in Spinning

Color in Spinning by Deb Menz is what I would call a comprehensive spinning book!  Just from looking at the table of contents I'm in awe.

The Chapters:
  • Understanding color principles most useful to spinners - Color theory!  There are some great examples shown on yarn in addition to using the color wheel.  The examples of complementary colors, warm and cool tones etc on yarn are PHENOMENAL.
  • Step-by-step immersion dyeing - Now you might think I'm an expert on dyeing, but my experience is based on food coloring, not commercial Sabraset dyes.  There are instructions here on commercial dyes and how to mix them to get different colors.  What an AMAZING resource. 
  • Painting Rovings for mulitcolored yarns - There are instructions for both painting protein and cotton based fibers, combining painted rovings and spinning yarn from painted rovings.  I want to combine strips of yarn to get more blended twists of color.  I'm excited to try this out! 
  • Blending colors and fibers with a drum carder - I did not look at this section closely because I do not want to want a drum carder yet.  I need to wait until we have a house! 
  • Drum carding for multicolored yarns
  • Producing multicolored yarns with combing techniques - Oh no, now I want to try combing, too.  The illustrations and instructions are fantastic and have me thinking, "I can do that!"
  • Spinning and plying multicolored preparations - The book discussed the pros and cons of plying, and shows examples of choosing color specifically for multi-plied yarns. 
  • A Gallery of finished pieces - After all, you have to knit with what you created! There are no patterns here, it really is just a photo gallery but it is fun to see some stunning color combinations from unique handspun yarns. 

This book is absolutely incredible, and is on my wish list now.  This book has the BEST chapter on color theory for fiber crafters that I've ever seen.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lucky's Lucky Clover

I spent a week in January crocheting a bunch of mini-motifs.  Some of the others I'll share in the coming weeks, but I wanted to share the Lucky Clover Pin first because it is still close to St. Patrick's Day (almost a month late, but I figured that you'd understand!) 

I'm not sure what yarn I'm using, but it is 100% acrylic so Red Heart Super Savers is my best guess.  I chose a size D crochet hook. 

I love that the pattern gives a step by step tutorial!  I made a mistake in round 2 (skipped the slip stitch), which I think made my clover pucker a bit.  I realized this on the last leaf of round 2 so I didn't feel like going back.  Therefore I skipped the Sl sts in the 3rd round, too.  

I chained 10 sts instead of 13 to make the stem because I was running out of yarn.  7 g, 13 yards used with probably about a foot of yarn left.  Now that is some good stashbusting!  

If Lucky were a little girl, then I would love to put this lucky clover onto a headband.  But alas, he is my little boy, so maybe I'll put it on a headband for ME.  After all, I am one lucky mama, right?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I am a huge KnitPicks customer, and I can never let a order go by under $50.  Paying for shipping is money that could otherwise have gone to yarn.  My wish list is filled with needles and odds and ends that I need for my kit but don't have an urgent need for that I can use to top off my order.  This time, I added a pompom maker to the mix, and boy was I excited to get started! 

 As a kid I had a pompom maker, but it was a little less impressive than the ones in this kit.  I have to say that I"m impressed with how easy it was to make the pompoms. 


I decided to explore the pompoms in all of their glory, varying as many different elements as I could.  

Two color:

Big vs Little:

Worsted vs Fingering: 

Two strands together: 

Three strands together 


This was what I could think of while working through my remnant collection of yarns.  Are there any other variations of pompoms I should explore?  All of these were done with 100% wool, I didn't play with different fiber types or novelty yarns.... yet!  Also, what kind of projects should I make with pompoms?  I can't wait to hear your suggestions. 

I finishing all of the pompoms and then realized that there were additional instructions on the inside of the cardboard packaging. Whoops!  At least I seemed to figure it out okay. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Free Easter Crochet Patterns

Due to some changes over at Squidoo, it is no longer the place for me to share some of my free pattern searches.  I will be moving those over here to ChemKnits.  As you know, I love making items for different holidays.  Now that I'm crocheting, it makes sense to take advantage of the work I did looking for free crochet patterns.  I hope you enjoy these free crochet Easter patterns that I had assembled a while ago. 
Free Crochet Easter Egg Patterns
Banana Berry Easter Egg Cover
Cute little crochet eggs. The author also has a variation of the same pattern.
Suzie's Easter Egg Cover
You can see just how this cover fits over the egg. It is lacy so you can see the dyed egg though the cover.
Ancilla - Easter Egg Cover
Beautiful and lacy.
Crochet Easter Egg Garland
Pin the eggs you create to a ribbon to create a garland
Small Easter Egg Pillow
A cute egg shaped pillow with a flower embellishment.
Crocheted Easter Egg Tutorial
This blog post contains EXCELLENT pattern instructions with step by step photos. If you are new to crochet, you should be able to create these eggs with no problem!
Easter Egg
Beautiful striped Easter egg. Even though the colors are in rows, there is a slight chevron feel to it.
Easter Egg Crochet Pattern
A simple little crochet pattern
Filet Cross Easter Egg Cover
A lacy, delicate and stunning egg cover. There is a cross in the lace, too.
Filet in blue Easter Egg Cover
a simple lacy cover
Hanging Easter Egg Cozy
This crochet cozy is VERY lacy, you can really see the details of the painted egg it holds.
Vampire Easter Egg Crochet Pattern
Now this egg brings some fun to the holiday! Embroider a vampire's face onto your finished project.

Free Chick, Bunny and Lamb Crochet Patterns
Chocolate Bunny
Completely 2D
Chicks in Basket
These crochet chicks look like peeps!
Amigurumi Ducky Egg Cozy
Here is a cute little duck to decorate your eggs! You may need to create a free account to view this pattern
Amigurumi Lamb Egg Cozy
You may need to create a free account to view this pattern
Bunny Flowers
These little crochet flowers have tiny bunny faces at the center. So cute!
Chenille Stuffed Easter Bunny
A 3D plush toy that is just asking to be hugged

Free Easter Crochet Patterns
Happy Easter Wreath
This wreath has crochet eggs all around it.
Easter Bookmark
Lacy with ribbon woven through it
Easter Basket
Crochet this Easter basked to place your eggs in!
Shell Stitch Easter Basket
Crochet Easter Egg Basket
Complete with flower embellishemnts
Easter Tote
A simple pattern that would be good for hunting eggs.
Rustic Easter Basket
Small, good to hold some candy (like M&M's)
Crocheted Easter Bonnets
These are so cute, and would help decorate any home for Easter
Easter Egg Rug Crochet Pattern
What a great idea to decorate your home with a fun throw rug! Make a mini one into a matching coaster

This pattern search was previously published on Sqiudoo. However, since they decided to punish articles with high link density, specifically mentioning knitted patterns*, I have decided to move some of my pattern searches here to ChemKnits.  The research gone into producing these lists and comments are100% my own as I was the original author of the Squidoo lens  easter-crochet-patterns under the username chemknitsblog

*"We understand that years ago there was value is creating a lens with a lot of links to a particular topic like knitted owl patterns or places to buy Ford Mustang parts or Disney coloring pages.However our new standards state that you need to use links in moderation." - Squidoo HQ

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Breaking Black Food Coloring: Wilton vs McCormick

I have been dying (lol) to compare the difference between Wilton's and McCormick's black food colorings for a while now.  I decided that I would do a side by side comparison of the two food colorings in a dyeing experiment.  I knew that the food colorings contained different types of dye; both contain Blue #1 & yellow #5, Wiltons contains Red #3 and Yellow #6 whereas McCormicks contains Red #40.  

Shortly after adding the food coloring to the pot.  Wilton's is in the big pot on the left, McCormick's is in the smaller pot on the right.  
I added 27 g of wool fiber to each pot with 6 cups of water + 3T of white vinegar.   In the video (see the end of the post), I added black food coloring to 1/4 cup of plain water.  

McCormick's Black - a few minutes after adding the dye.  It is hard to tell, but there are some distinct blue and red tones mid a lot of block tones.  
Wilton's Black - a few minutes after adding the dye
In the middle of the experiment I started to have doubts about how this was going to work out.  Unlike my Breaking Delphinium Blue video where I added dry fiber to a pot of dye,  I wanted to add the dye to a warm pot of fiber.  I wanted to demonstrate a different way you could make dyes break.  Now, this is a technique that I KNOW works (as you can see clearly from the Wilton's food coloring samples), but I think I may have added too much black food coloring to the McCormick's so that we won't see the breaking super well.  Of course, I added the dye to the top of the pot, so the colors could be different in the bottom layers.  There is no way to know what that looks like until I wash the fiber, so I will ultimately have to wait and see.  

After 15 min of light simmering.  Wilton's is on the right, McCormick's is on the left. (I know, I switched orientations when I took the picture, whoops!)
What a difference!  The Wilton's food coloring broke into reds, purples and teal.  The McCormick's food coloring broke into a reddish brown with hints of blue.  These different blacks can be used based on what kind of breaking (or not) you hope to see in your fiber.  

Completed fiber: Wiltons (right) and McCormick's (left)
Completed fiber: Wiltons (left) and McCormick's (right)

Make sure you check out the video of this dyeing experiment!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Lucky Christmas Hat

It's the most wonderful time of the year... because it is cold outside and you can make lots of winter accessories!  I knew that it would be odd if I didn't make little Lucky a hat for Christmas.  I searched around for the perfect elfish hat, and was thrilled when I came across the  Red, White, & Ewe Santa Hat

I decided to knit this hat in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight wool on size 6 needles, similar to the pumpkin hat and turkey hat that I made Lucky.   I chose to use yarns in Jalepeno and White because I had these yarns in my stash.  (Hurrah for stashbusting!) 

This adorable striped hat comes calls for casting on 70 sts and then knitting in 2x2 ribbing.  This sizing should work great because the pumpkin newborn hat had 60 sts, and while it still fits 8 week old lucky it is getting a little short.  The turkey hat had 64 sts cast on.  However someone commented that this requires multiples of 4, so I cast on 68 stitches for my hat and then only decreased 8 sts on the first decrease round to get to 60 sts.

Unfortunately the pattern doesn't provide the cool uneven striping pattern they showed, so I'll share the striping pattern I used below.  I wanted to make my striping joggless (so you don't see where the rows began.)  I achieved this by using the traveling joggless stripe method

Lucky's Stripes
  • Ribbing - all white.  7 rows, just over 1" in length. 
  • 4 rows green (stockinette)
  • 2 rows white
  • 2 rows green
  • 1 white
  • 2 green
  • 3 white
  • 4 green
  • 4 white.  Measures a bit over 4".  Start decreases on the next green round.
  • 4 green.  *K6, K2tog, K7, K2tog.* across for 60 sts.  This is decrease round 1, follow the rest of the pattern as written.   
  • 3 white
  • 2 green
  • 1 white
  • 3 green
  • 4 white
  • 1 green
  • 2 white
  • 4 green 
  • 4 white
  • 3 green
  • 1 white
  • 2 green
  • 2 white
  • 1 green
  • 3 white
  • 2 green
The base of the hat is 10" long, tassels are 6.5" long.

 I have never used a pompom maker, I've always used cardboard or something that I cut out myself.  I purchased these pompom makers specifically for this hat, hoping that they would make the whole process easier. I chose the 1-5/8" diameter. 

I twisted the two i-cords around each other and then tied the ends together.  They will stay twisted because I wrapped them around each other rather than twisting them together.  I then tied the pompom onto the ends, and Voila, a lovely little elf hat for my little Lucky. 

Once again, I'm waiting for Lucky to wake up from his nap so I can try the hat on him. I wish that I had used a yarn with a bit more drape so it would flop over better.  I can always tack a side down if I need to...  

Shown on 2 month old Lucky (2 days shy of 2 month birthday!)

I'm not sure I'll be able to make Lucky a special hat for every holiday, but I know that I'll try as long as I can!  And what would you know, Google+ autoawesomed Lucky's picture!  Enjoy the sparkles!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Turkey Head

Thanksgiving was months ago, but I am always Thankful for my little Lucky!  At the time of Thanksgiving, he was just 7 weeks old, and now he is almost 6 months!  Wow has time flown by.  Long before I was pregnant, I did a lot of research into costume baby hats, and knew that I would want to make a bunch for my child.  Lucky had been wearing a pumpkin hat since birth (appropriate for an October baby!) and I knew that I wanted to create something special for his first Thanksgiving.  I knew that I had found a winner in the Jive Turkey Baby Hat. 
Seriously I am melting.  I cannot believe how tiny he was!  I think he was 5 weeks old in this picture. 
Cast on while snuggling my (exactly) 1 month old baby boy.  Boy does "Lucky's" mama feel lucky!

The hat pattern is written for a 1 year old.  I want it to fit my 1.75 month old.   For the pumpkin head hat, I cast on 60 sts on size 6 needles.  This hat fit great at 1 month boy with a 14.5" head with room to spare.  I decided to cast on 64 sts, and then start at row 3 when it was time for the decreases.  This is still a multiple of 8 (important for the decrease rounds) and should fit my baby in ~3 weeks... I hope.  The nice thing about a rolled brim is that the hat can easily fit a smaller or larger baby.  Wahoo!! 

The hat was knit with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (Camel Heather - 36 g, 80 yards; White - 4 g, 9 yards) on size 6 double pointed needles. I wish that I had a more caramelized brown color in my stash, but I am happy to be able to create this hat out of yarns that I already have.  Now of course I had to worry about yarn, I'm always worrying about yarn.  I only had 37 g of the brown yarn to start, but it turned out okay in the end.

16 rows is ~2.5 inches.  there are 16 rounds for the top of the hat decrease.  The pumpkin hat is 6.5" long with the brim unfolded.  We don't need the turkey hat to be 7.5" long.... so I will knit in stockinette for less than the 5" directed. I knit just over 4.5 inches, 30 rows. I decided to graft the top together with kitchener rather than 3 needle bind off.  12 g remain after completing the hat but before starting the legs.  

I marked the stitches I wanted to pick up with yarn to line them up on each side before starting the drumsticks.  I love that you pick up stitches for the drumsticks rather than make the drumsticks and then sew them on.   I hate sewing things together, and this is a one piece speciality hat!

After leg 1 of the hat was competed, 7 g of the brown yarn remained.  There should be just BARELY enough to complete the hat, but we'll have to see.  I have a ball in my cart ready to order today if I must.  (Otherwise I'd like to wait for a cyber Monday sale!)

I'm always worrying about yardage.... sigh...

Wahoo!  I had enough yarn, making this project a stash buster (rather than stash increase) after all.  1 g of brown yarn remained at the end.  

Before tacking the legs down
before tacking the legs down
after tacking the legs to the sides

Before tacking the drumsticks to the back of the hat, I wanted to try the hat on my baby.  Of course, this meant that I needed to wait for the baby to wake up. 

 Before tacking (left) and after (right).