Sunday, March 26, 2017

GENEie headbands for my boys

The March for Science is less than a month away!  Have you figured out what you're knitting yet?  When I designed the first two hats in the GENEie Collection (the GENEie - Cable Version and GENEie - Colorwork Version) at the end of January the date of the march had no yet been set.  The weather on April 22 can vary a lot.  This is the week after the Boston Marathon where we've seen frigid weather, moderate weather and 90+ and sunny in just the last 5 years.  I decided the Next Generations GENEie Headband so I could have a GENEie that would work no matter what the weather.  

I needed to knit the headband in three different sizes.  I designed the pattern in Adult L and Toddler, which would fit Keith and Rowdy. I knit these headbands on size 6 needles with Shine Worsted yarn in Pistachio and French Blue.  I needed to create an intermediate size to fit 3 year old Lucky.   I'll go into all of the details below, but I was able to create a child sized version of this headband by using size 4 knitting needles and Shine Sport yarn.

Rowdy's Headband - Toddler Size, Shine Worsted, Size 6 needles.

When I started knitting Rowdy's headband, I wasn't sure if the headband is going to be big enough for me to get away with using circulars, but I wanted to try out my shorty needle tips for the first time.  It worked!

I followed the instructions as written.  In the original sample, I was running out of yarn when I reached the end of the headband.  After the colorwork I knit one round, did one round of ribbing and then bound off in pattern.  On Rowdy's headband, I knit one round after the colorwork and then knit two rounds of ribbing before binding off in pattern.  This seemed like the right amount of ribbing to me but I wish there was one more plain round before the ribbing started.  I decided to do this on the next headband and adjusted the written pattern, too.  This headband used 24 g Pistachio and 7 g French Blue (a combined total of 47 yards of yarn).

We had a week of 60 degree weather at the end of February.  It was beautiful outside, but definitely not hat weather.  Poor Rowdy had zero interest in keeping his headband on his head... even as a cowl! I'm not sure what I can expect to see at the march, but for now I just need to get the other headbands finished.

Keith's headband - Adult L, Shine Worsted, Size 6 needles

I have a smaller head than Keith, but the Adult L headband fits me, too.
Keith already has a headband he can wear (the original sample) but I really wanted him to have one in this matching color scheme.  This headband used 34 g of Pistachio and 10 g of French blue (a combined total of 67 yards of yarn).  My short tip knitting needles are AMAZING for knitting hats and headbands.  I wish that I had started using these tips sooner and now want to buy them in every size.  

The Adult L and Toddler sized headbands knit in worsted weight yarn.
With the completion of this headband, I have perfected the Next Generations GENEie headband pattern.  It is hard to get designs out as fast as I can without rigorous testing!  I'm really glad I finally have a complete version of the pattern, even if I don't yet have written instructions for the chart.  there are so many repeats that it is hard for me to write out the 28 stitch repeat without any errors.

If you want to try to knit a smaller headband for an infant, try knitting the toddler size with a smaller gauge like I did for Lucky's headband below.  

Lucky's Headband - Adult L, Shine Sport, Size 4 needles

I kit Lucky's headband at a gauge of 23.5 sts / 4" and 14 rows/2" over the colorwork pattern with sport weight yarn and size 4 (3.5 mm) knitting needles).  I used 6 g of French Blue and 21 g of Pistachio for a total of 61 yards of yarn.  

The final headband is a little loose on Lucky, but I don't mind since he is still growing so much.  He is so proud to have a headband just like Daddy's.  Now I just need to hope that he'll wear it!  

These cotton blend headbands are silky soft and should be much cooler than wool in warmer weather.  If April 22 is super cold, then we can slide these headbands over a knit wool hat.  If April 22 is super hot, they can be slipped around the brim of a baseball cap.  Hopefully the little boys will wear them at the march, I have a feeling that these might end up as necklaces pretty quickly!

Which of the GENEie designs is your favorite?  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

An Ombre GENEie Pussyhat

The Pussyhat Project was about the creation of pink square shaped hats (to give the appearance of cat ears when worn) for the Women's March.  Crafters were able to knit, crochet and sew hats to create thousands for the participants of the march.  This created a nationwide shortage of pink yarn, so if I wanted to create something in Pink I had to dye my own.  I am not a huge fan of the color pink, but I really wanted to create a Pussyhat that represented me.  I designed and knit the first GENEie Pussyhat, a pussyhat with a cable DNA on either side.  The first hat was knit as an adult size L for a friend who loves pink.  I wanted to create a slightly smaller hat for myself using one of my favorite dyeing techniques, breaking Wilton's violet food coloring.

When I was dyeing the ombre broken violet gradient, I knew that I wanted most of the yarn to be pink.  The original GENEie pussyhat used 67 g of yarn.  I didn't want to have only a tiny bit of pink at the top of the hat, I wanted to make sure it carried through.  

I did consider knitting an undyed hat and then dip dyeing the finished hat.  I was a little afraid that this would look too tie dye.  Plus, the undyed worsted weight yarn I like to use was on back order from KnitPicks until March 16.  I did have some worsted weight sock blanks ready to go, so I decided to dye the gradient before I started knitting.  I cast onto size 6 knitting needles and got started on my GENEie Pussyhat.  

Awe, man!  I should have weighed the cake of yarn after I finished winding the pink.  Whoops!  

The color transitions are really gradual.  As I was knitting, I didn't really notice the changing color until I was fully into the next section.  

I was knitting a smaller hat than the original GENEie Pussyhat knitting pattern.  (I have updated the pattern page with these modifications.

  • Cable Round 1: Skip all of the M1 stitches in Cable Round 1 (staying at 100 sts). 
  • All Cable Rounds will be as follows: K10, Knit 9 sts of Chart Row, K62 sts, Knit the 9 sts of Chart row, K10 (100 sts)

I knit the same hat of the height.  (Rounds 1-26 twice and then Chart Round 1 one more time.)  The great thing about the pussyhat shape is that you can knit until the hat is long enough, there are no decreases to worry about!  I like my hats to cover a lot of my head so you might want your hat shorter.  

I am not sure if I could have planned a more perfect gradient for this hat.  The major colors each take up approximately a third of the hat!  I used 61 g of yarn (134 yards) in this hat, so I have a reasonable amount of pink remaining to use in another project.

I was already in love with my GENEie cables, but I am even more in love with this design now.  I think that I want to create another broken violet gradient to make a GENEie (Cable Version) with this gradient.  However, this project will have to wait until after the March for Science.  I have some other GENEies to create!  

I have had a lot of people contact me to discuss alternate hat sizes, yarn weights, and gauges.  The GENEie Pussyhat is the easiest hat design to create in any colors because the only gauge consideration is for how many stitches you need to fit around your head.  The DNA double helix cable pattern is 9 stitches wide.  The cables are located off center on the hat.  (The placement is symmetrical so you can wear the cable on the right side or the left side of the hat.)  

If you want to use a bulkier yarn, you may want to only include one cable on your GENEie Pussyhat.  This way you don't have to worry about the spacing and decide as you are preparing to stitch (or graft) the top closed where you want your cable positioned.  

The size difference between the GENEie Pussyhat Large (pink) and M (ombre)
I have never knit a hat that represents me as much as this one. I am a woman. I am a scientist. I am a wife and mother. I am a stay-at-home-mom. I knit. I dye my own yarn. I design. I am ChemKnits. I will stand up and resist.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Generic Headband (Perfect for Adding a Duplicate Stitch Molecule!)

Generic Headband Knitting Pattern
Sometimes it is easier to incorporate your design onto a knit garment using a duplicate stitch than knitting something with stranded colorwork.  I wanted to create a generic headband that you could use as a base for any molecule knitting pattern.  In this pattern, you will find the instructions to create the generic headband posted above, plus instructions on how to modify this headband so you can add your favorite molecule.  This would be a perfect accessory for the March for Science on April 22, 2017.

  • Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) double pointed needles or circular needles - I use 20" circular needles but anywhere between 16-24" should work fine.  
  • Yarn: 110-145 yards Worsted weight yarn.  The sample is knit with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Ciel with 21 g, 43 yards.  
  • Gauge:  21 sts/4" and 14 rows/2" over stockinette.   
  • Notions: Stitch marker to note beginning of round, tapestry needle.
  • Molecule Knitting Charts (Optional) - I have charted dozens of different molecular structures.  Check out the list to select your favorite one.  
  • Finished Size: Adult S/M - 19" around, 3" deep

Generic Headband Knitting Pattern
  • Cast on 100 sts in the main color.  (If you want a different size headband you can increase or decrease the number of stitches.  Make sure the total number you cast on is a multiple of 4.)  
  • *K2, P2* around for 3 rounds
  • Knit 15 rounds in stockinette (Knit every stitch around.)
  • Knit 2 rounds of 2x2 ribbing (*K2, P2* around).  
  • Bind off in ribbing pattern.  
  • Weave in loose ends and block if necessary.  (I find the headbands curl a little bit so it is helpful to lightly block the headband so it will lay flat.)  

Tips and General Instructions to plan your headband
If you want to fit a molecule (or any other chart) onto the headband and to be able to see the entire molecule at one time, there are some tips.
  • If you want to put an image onto the brim of a hat or headband, it is best that the chart only take up ~25% of the stitches if you want to see the entire thing.  If the chart is over 50% of the stitches in the headband then you won't be able to see the whole design even when the hat/headband is flat.  (For scale, the dopamine chart is 23 sts wide and I'm casting on a 100 stitch headband.)
  • You can always sketch out your design on graph paper (or use Microsoft Excel.)  
  • Total Number of Rows between ribbing: A minimum of the # Rows in the Chart + 2.  I like to have one blank rows between the ribbing and the chart to highlight the molecule as much as possible.  
  • Would you rather use a hat than a headband?  Checkout the Generic Skullcap Knitting Pattern.

Duplicate Stitch a Molecule onto Your Headband

I created the generic headband knitting pattern specifically so I could duplicate stitch a molecule chart onto it.  Usually I will incorporate the molecules with stranded knitting, but it is easier to not deal with super long floats.  With the sample headband, I decided to knit 15 rounds of stockinette because the dopamine knitting chart is 13 sts tall and I wanted a blank round on either side of the molecule.  

I hope you enjoy this headband knitting pattern and feel confident that you could now incorporate any molecule knitting chart into a fun accessory.  Let me know if you need any help planning out your project!  

Generic Headband Knitting Pattern © 2017 ChemKnits & Rebecca Roush Brown.  This pattern is available for free via for your personal or charity use.  You are not to copy or distribute this pattern without the permission of the publisher, ChemKnits.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Long Broken Violet Gradient

Breaking Wilton Violet Food Coloring is one of my favorite dyeing activities.  I love the way the violet color breaks apart into turquoise and fuchsia.  I've dip dyed a skein of yarn into Wilton's violet food coloring in the past, but I wanted to create a very long gradient for a specific knitting project.  I want to create a hat with a long gradient from brim to crown.  To achieve this effect, I would dip dye a pre-knit blank into Wilton's violet food coloring.

It sounds like a lot of work to knit to create a blank for dyeing only to unravel the finished product, but I didn't hand knit this pre-knit blank.  I used an inexpensive hand crank Singer Knitting Machine to create a worsted weight blank.  (See my review of the Singer Knitting Machine)

  • Materials: 100g Bare Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn, Wilton's Violet Food Coloring, White Vinegar, Pot for the stovetop
  • Create a "sock blank" out of the desired yarn with a crank knitting machine.  Alternatively, you could purchase a sock blank to use for this project. 
  • The dyebath: (10 cups Water, 1/2 tsp Wilton's Violet Food Coloring and 3T White Vinegar)
  • Dip Dye: Watch the below video to see how I dipped the pre-knit blank of yarn into the dyebath to create this stunning ombre yarn.  

Breaking Wilton's violet food coloring is always fun, but it is especially fun when the projects works just as you intended.  I ended up with exactly the right gradient distribution for my hat!  I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.  Before I got to the hat, I had to dip dye the yarn.  With the help of tongs and other kitchen spoons, I gradually dipped my pre-knit blank into the dyebath.  

Once all of the red had struck to the fiber, I let the whole blank soak in the dyebath to absorb as much of the blue as possible.  I removed the fiber and allowed the blank to cool to room temperature.  Once cool, I washed the dyed blank with liquid dish soap and cool water.  

I was so excited by the colorway that I wanted to unravel it immediately.  However, I knew that it would be prudent to wait for the fibers to dry so I wouldn't stretch them out.

However, once the yarn was dry it was so lovely that I didn't WANT to unravel it.  I tried it on like a scarf and had to work to convince myself that this really did want to turn into a hat  

If I weren't filming the video, I would have knit my hat directly from the blank.  I wanted to be able to show you what this looks like as it was unwound.  

There was some fun breaking within each of the stitches.  This was so cool!  

The yarn is crimped because I allowed it to dry in the knit blank.  If I were to wind the yarn onto the niddy noddy I could re-wet the yarn to straighten it back out.  This time, I didn't want to create an extra step so I wound it into a ball with my ball winder.  

Can you believe that all of these colors came from one batch of dye? I have a whole playlist of breaking Wilton's violet food coloring videos.  There are many ways you can take advantage of the separation of the blue and red dye molecules when you are dyeing yarn.  

I created this yarn specifically for a hat... for me!  How often do I knit a hat that is for myself?  Not often enough!  Stay tuned for the next post to see how this yarn converts into an amazing GENEie Hat.  

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  All product selections are my own, I was not solicited to promote any of these products.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Norepinephrine Knitting Chart

When you guys request a molecule, I really like to see if I can make it happen ASAP.  

The structural difference between norepinephrine and dopamine (which I already charted) is really tiny, so it wasn't hard at all to create a new molecule knitting chart:

Norepinepherine Molecule Knitting Chart: 23 sts x 18 rows

Keep the molecule requests coming!  I'll help out if I can.  Make sure you check out the other Molecule Knitting Charts I've created.  Especially as the March for Science approaches I know people are trying to get their science knitting projects underway.  

Norepinephrine Molecule Knitting Chart © 2017 ChemKnits & Rebecca Roush Brown.  These charts are available for free via for your personal or charity use.  You are not to copy or distribute this pattern without the permission of the publisher, ChemKnits.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

GENEie Plasmid - A DNA Cable Headband

GENEie Plasmid - A DNA Cable Headband Knitting Pattern

The GENEie Hat Collection was missing something.  These cable and colorwork hats and headbands didn't have a cable headband!  I wanted to make a small cable project that could be worn to show knitter and science pride at the March for Science on April 22, 2017.

Unlike the other patterns in the GENEie collection, the GENEie Plasmid can be knit flat.  This makes the knitting chart slightly more complicated because there are cables on both wrong side (WS) and right side (RS) rows.  There is also a version knit in the round.  Since the GENEie Plasmid is knit until it is long enough and then the ends are joined together, this pattern is really easy to adapt to any gauge and yarn weight.

  • Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) needles
  • Yarn: Worsted weight yarn.  The sample was knit with Comfy Worsted (20 g, 44 yards)
  • Gauge (blocked): 13 sts/2", 14 rows/2" over cable pattern.  Gauge isn't super important for this pattern since you can just keep knitting until the headband is the length you want.  
  • Notions (optional):  cable needle, tapestry needle. 
  • Finished Sizes: Adult S/M- 18" around (fits with negative ease), 2.25" wide
  • Model Head Sizes: Rebecca - 22" head (normally wears a S/M hat)

Abbreviations Used in this Pattern
  • K – Knit
  • P – Purl
  • Sts – Stitches
  • S1 – Slip one stitch purlwise
  • K-tbl – Knit through the back loop
  • CN – cable needle 
  • M1 – Make One. Make a new stitch by picking up the yarn between two stitches, twisting it and knitting.
  • WS - Wrong Side
  • RS - Right Side
  • C1-fkk:  S1 st on CN and hold in front.  K1, K1 from CN
  • C2-bkk:  S1 st on CN and hold in back.   K1, K1 from CN
  • C3-fpk:  S1 st on CN and hold in front.  P1, K1 from CN
  • C4-bkp: S1 st on CN and hold in back.   K1, P1 from CN
  • C5-fpp: S1 st on CN and hold in front.  P1, P1 from CN
  • C6-bpp: S1 st on CN and hold in back.  P1, P1 from CN

Geneie Plasmid Knitting Pattern - Knit Flat - I am not a big fan of the Provisional Cast on so I decided to sew the ends of the headband together.  However, if you prefer you can start with a provisional cast on and then graft the beginning and end of the headband together.
  • Cast on 15 sts.  
  • Next Row (WS), K2, P11, K2
  • Next Row, start Chart Round 1 (knit the chart right to left or follow the written instructions below the chart.)
  • Continue knitting the chart.  Odd rows are the RS (read the chart right to left) and even rows are the WS (read the chart left to right) of the fabric.  
  • Repeat rows 1-26 five times or until the piece measures 18".  (Note, I designed this headband to fit my 22" head.  The headband has negative ease so it will stretch to fit your head.  If you need more length keep knitting.)  
  • Bind off while knitting Row 1 (or whatever row you are on next in the pattern.)  
  • Block the headband.  (The edge of my headband curled significantly and I knew it would be easier to block the headband while it was still flat then once I had sewn the edges together.)  
  • Sew the cast on edge to the bind off edge.  Weave in loose ends.  

The Chart - Odd Rows are the RS (knit right to left), Even Rows are the WS (knit left to right).  

Written instructions - Flat Plasmid
  1. K8, C2-bkk, K5
  2. K2, P2, C5-fpp, C6-bpp, P5, K2
  3. K6, C2-bkk, K2, K-tbl, K4
  4. K2, P1, C3-fpk, K3, C4-bkp, P3, K2
  5. K4, C2-bkk, K5, K-tbl, K3
  6. K2, P1, P-tbl, P6, P-tbl, P2, K2
  7. K3, C4-bkp, P6, K-tbl, K3
  8. K2, P1, C6-bpp, p6, P-tbl, P1, K2
  9. K3, K-tbl, K6, K-tbl, K4
  10. K2, P2, C6-bpp, K5, P-tbl, P1, K2
  11. K3, C1-fkk, K3, C2-bkk, K5
  12. K2, P4, C6-bpp, P2, P-tbl, P2, K2
  13. K4, C1-fkk, C2-bkk, K7
  14. K2, P6, C6-bpp, P3, K2
  15. K4, C2-bkk, C1-FKK, K7
  16. K2, P4, C5-fpp, P2, P-tbl, P2, K2
  17. K3, C4-bkp, P3, C3-fpk, K5
  18. K2, P2, C5-fpp, P5, P-tbl, P1, K2
  19. K3, K-tbl, K6, K-tbl, K4
  20. K2, P1, C3-fpk, K6, P-tbl, P1, K2
  21. K3, C1-fkk, K6, K-tbl, K3
  22. K2, P1, P-tbl, P6, P-tbl, P2, K2
  23. K4, C1-fkk, P5, K-tbl, K3
  24. K2, P1, C6-bpp, P3, C5-fpp, P3, K2
  25. K6, C1-fkk, K2, K-tbl, K4
  26. K2, P2, C6-bpp, C5-fpp, P5, K2

Working cables on the wrong side of knit fabric is not my favorite thing to do.  It is much easier for me to keep track of where I am in a project when I can follow the chart in the same direction each time.  Therefore, I also wanted to provide instructions to create a GENEie Plasmid headband in-the-round.

GENEie Plasmid Knit Flat (top) and in-the-round approximation (bottom)

GENEie Plasmid - Knit in the Round - I didn't knit a sample of this version of the GENEie Plasmid headband, the picture is an approximation of what this would look like.   This knit headband will have double layer of knit fabric versus the single layer in the flat version.
  • Cast on 26 stitches.  Divide the stitches onto 3 double pointed needles as follows: 13, 7, 6. Join to knit in the round.
  • Round 1: K2, Knit the 9 chart stitches, K14.  
  • Continue knitting chart rows 1-26 five times or until the headband measures 18"
  • Bind off while knitting round 1.  
  • Stitch the cast on edge to the bind off edge and weave in loose ends.  Block if desired.  
GENEie DNA Cable Knitting Chart (for in the Round) - This the chart that was originally found in the GENEie Pussyhat knitting pattern.  Check out that pattern for line by line written instructions.

Chart Key

Approximation of what the GENEie Plasmid Headband (in the round) would look like.  There would be a little more space on either side of the double helix. 

I am so glad that I finally designed a cable headband.  In Boston, where I plan to march, the weather can either be really warm or cold and raw at the end of April.  I am glad that I have options to show my craftivism at the March for Science.

Scale comparison of the GENEie Plasmid Headband and the GENEie Next Generations Colorwork Headband.  
 Designing the GENEie Collection has been a whirlwind. Since the end of January, I have designed 6 different GENEie variants to support the March for Science  I also designed the Ice Cap Aquacessories knitting patterns which have H2O molecules around the brim of a headband and hat (not pictured).

The updated GENEie Collection designed by ChemKnits in support of the March for Science:
GENEie Next Generations Headband and Hat (Colorwork - bottom left and right)
GENEie Plasmid Headband (Cable)

GENEie Plasmid Knitting Pattern © 2017 ChemKnits & Rebecca Roush Brown.  This pattern is available for free via for your personal or charity use.  You are not to copy or distribute this pattern without the permission of the publisher, ChemKnits.