Friday, January 13, 2017

Luckysaurus and Rowdrasaus - Handprint Dinosaurs

I love doing handprint and footprint art.  Neither Lucky nor Ryder are drawing much more than scribbles yet, so this is a way to incorporate their young selves into art that I will keep forever.  When I was planning Rowdy's dinosaur birthday party, I came across some awesome Dinosaur handprint and footprint projects and knew that I had to give them a shot.


For the handprint stegosauruses, I needed to start with the base body of the dinosaur.  I thought that this was something I would need to paint on, but then I realized that it was actually cut out of construction paper.


My freehand attempt wasn't so bad.


Normally I would have had Lucky help me glue the dinosaurs down, but I had a huge list of handprint and footprint crafts that I was hoping to do with the boys this weekend (sometimes it it easier to save them up and do a bunch at once) and I wanted  the base to be dry in time.


Now that Rowdy is 10 months old, making hand prints is MUCH easier than when he was only a few weeks old.  He isn't the biggest fan of the process, but having him sit in his high chair with another adult (Keith) to hold his arm kept us from getting painted ourselves.  (Lucky is a pro at this by now!)


Finally, I just had to paint on some eyes.  I was painting a bunch of other projects so it was easier than finding googly eyes to glue on.

Eyes in progress for multiple projects.
These are so fun!  I don't know what I'll do with them after Rowdy's birthday party, but I think they deserve a semi-permanent spot in our playroom.  


Want more inspiration?  Check out my Handprint and Foodprint art Pinterest board!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Will food coloring dyed yarns fade? Is food coloring light fast?

Sometimes I struggle to keep up with comments on my YouTube videos, but I do take questions and suggestions seriously.  I try to use your comments to improve my videos and to try dyeing experiments that you would like to see.  Sometimes I get the same question on multiple videos, and this inspires me to create a video with my explanation so it isn't just buried in the comments.

After asking "Why didn't food coloring dye my [acrylic] yarn?", the most frequent questions I get are about whether yarn dyed with food coloring is colorfast and lightfast.  Today I wanted to address the lightfast question.

The simple answer is that no, food coloring dyes aren't light fast.  If you leave yarn dyed with food coloring in direct sunlight for months on end, you will see some fading.  In the following video, I show an amigurumi butterfly that I knit (the wings) out of yarn dyed with food coloring.  I left this butterfly on my windowsill for months as decoration.  I realized one day that the colors on the wings have faded a lot, especially when you compare them to the yarn on the underside.

In contrast to the butterfly, some winter accessories that I knit with the first 100% wool I ever dyed have very little fading at all.  I wear these accessories frequently in the winter (which involves going outside in sunlight) and there is no apparent fading.  When I get home I frequently toss these on a chair, so they're exposed to light constantly... just not direct sunlight.

It isn't just food coloring based dyes that aren't lightfast, you can see fading on many different objects, too.  I think it is a good rule of thumb to keep things you don't want to fade out of direct sunlight.

Check out the following video for more of my explanation.


There is another hand dyed item that I didn't share in this video... my 10 hour afghan. Since this blanket normally lives on a chair in my living room it has been exposed to light for years.  I have no idea how much it has faded, but there is still a lot of color in the blanket (knit with a mixture of commercial and hand dyed 80% wool/20% nylon yarn.)  

I create a new playlist for the videos I make based on FAQ's.  I really hope these help!  Please let me know if there is anything else you wish I'd address on my channel.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Thanksgiving Handprint and Footprint Wall Hanging


In Halloween 2015, I created my first handprint and footprint artwork for Halloween.  Since then Lucky and Rowdy have helped me create a Valentine's/Spring montage and some sunflower hand/footprint art.  I really wanted to do some Thanksgiving prints right when Halloween ended, but decided that I wanted to wait for both of my boys to be present for further prints.  I didn't finish this project until just after Thanksgiving 2016 but I know that I will hang it proudly in my front hall every year from here on out.


Like my previous handprint/footprint artwork, I started with three 9"x12" canvases.


I mixed red, yellow and orange paint with some brown to mute the colors a bit.  I want the true colors to be able to show up on top in the handprints.  


The cheap acrylic paint required 2-3 coats of paint.  I really like how the colors are different from the holiday canvases I already have in rotation.  I also wish that I spread Lucky's "hand feathers" out a bit more.

Lucky's handprints

I mixed Red, Orange and Yellow together to do the turkey hand prints.  I had them create a semi-circle of feathers out of their fingers.  I wish that I had started this a little higher up on the canvas, but they are cute little starbursts.


After allowing the handprint starburst feathers to dry, I painted each boy's foot with brown paint and placed the turkey body on top of the feathers.  I used Lucky's left foot on the red and Rowdy's right foot on the yellow.  It was hard to position the foot prints on top of the hand prints, but I think it worked out in the end.  I wish the brown paint had come out a little thicker, but there is no mistaking that these are turkeys!


I used white paint dots for the eyes and red triangles to form the beaks.   All of these creatures look a little creepy in the above image as I waited for the white eyes to dry.  Once the eyes dried I added smaller black dots using the back of my paintbrush to form the pupils. 


I needed something else Thanksgiving-y to go on the middle panel. Since I couldn't come up with a third Thanksgiving print idea that I liked, I decided to make the middle canvas simple and say "Thankful".    I freehanded (gulp!) the word in the center of the canvas.  I picked the (approximate) halfway point and started by panting the N and K.  I worked my way out so this would be roughly centered. Now I just need to figure out how to decorate that further. 


This canvas has no handprints or footprints on it.  I decided to start writing the names of people I am thankful to have as a part of my life.  We have our immediate ChemKnits family, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, dear friends, and teachers. 


Somehow I hit the end of my ideas and had exactly enough space to fit 2016 into the corner.  I am very thankful that I was able to complete this off the cuff and have it work so perfectly!


I added some additional embellishments to the turkey canvases: "gobble, gobble gobble!" and "Happy Thanksgiving".  I also added some decorations around the corners to help tie things together.  


Since Thanksgiving just ended when I had finished up this project, I was able to find some 3 yard - 5/8" ribbon in the clearance bin at a local craft store.


Previously I used craft glue to secure the ribbon to the cavases, but this time I took out my hot glue gun and quickly attached the ribbon to the the back of the canvases.  The glue cooled so fast that I was able to turn it over and hang it up within minutes.


I'm sure that the boys and I will do many version of these handprint turkeys over the next 17 years, but I am happy to have something to memorialize our first Thanksgiving as a family of 5.  (Sorry, Indy, someday I'll include your paws in the artwork, too!)  


I hope you enjoyed my latest handprint/footprint project!  I have a few more creatures that I created at the end of 2016 to share with you.  I have a whole pinterest board of handprint and footprint craft ideas.  If you come across anything fun please share it with me.  I'm always looking for more inspiration!


Happy Birthday, Mimi!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Play Kitchen Potholders


A friend of mine built the most epic play kitchen for her son out of an old TV entertainment center.  When she asked me if I could make him some potholders I gave a resounding YES!  She suggested making the potholders with the cardinal directions N, S, E and W on them since those also happen to correspond to the frist initials of the kids and the dog.  I thought this sounded like a plast and went to start creating.


I wasn't sure about the scale of the project, but I started with two fat quarters and a 1/4 yard of the cherry fabric.  I'm limited by the 9" length of the 1/4 yard, but that is bigger than I'd want for this project anyway.


I have a lot cotton batting scraps left over from Rowdy's dinosaur quilt and I saved them just for a project like this.  If I don't have enough to cut a 6.5" inch square I can stitch the batting together to make it work.


I decided to make 6" potholders so I cut 4 - 7" squares out of the front fabric, the batting and the back fabric.  This will give me a 1/2" seam allowance on all sides.  My cotton batting was wide enough for this project so I didn't have to stitch any together.


I struggled with the N and the W for some reason.  I should have just freehanded it but I was trying to use the sides as guides and it resulted in me second guessing myself.  The max heigh of each letter is 4".


I ironed the letters on the bias. I felt that this would be a nice way for me to make the arrows and really show that these are directions in addition to initials.  After ironing on the letters, I basted the top squares to the batting with a 1/4" seam.  I plan to applique through both layers.


I used my zig-zag stitch (#8) with a length of 3.5 and a distance between stitches of of 0.4. Normally I don't use a stitch this wide when I'm sewing the zigzags.  I found it really awkward at the corners where it wasn't a 90 degree angle.


I played around with different stitches on my machine to use for the arrows, and ultimately ended up using the astisk stitch.  With some practice on scrap fabric, I was able to figure out when it the stitching I could turn the fabric 90 degrees to finish the arrow without losing any points in the stars.  The arrows are subtle on top of the busy kitchen fabric, but I like how they came out.


What am I going to do for loops?  Do I have any ribbon in the house? I KNOW that I have some orange ribbon somewhere because I used it for the napkin loops in one of my first ever sewing projects.  I really need to take some time to organize my craft supplies, I feel like things are spread out everywhere around the house.  The ribbon could be with the ribbons (nope), or the Halloween decorations (maybe) or in one of my many miscellaneous craft stashes in the attic.


I did have a lot of ribbon left over from making garters for my bridesmaids, so I decided to take this blue ribbon (which is close to the bright blue on the front of the pot holders) and use it for the loops.  Orange would have been nicer, but I hope to finish these up tonight and I won't have time to go find more orange ribbon.

I cut four 5" pieces of ribbon and pinned them to the corner of my quilted piece.  I then pinned the front and back of these pot holders right sides together.  I stitched around with a 1/2" seam leaving a ~3" gap.  I trimmed the corners and turned them right side out and pressed.  I finished the pot holders with a 1/4" seam around the entire edge (which helped to close the opening.

In progress of the final steps.  Corners clipped (N), turned RS out (S), Pressed (E) and with the final 1/4" border (W)

This ended up being a fast project and I was able to complete all 4 play potholders in a day.  Wahoo!  I haven't had much time for sewing lately so it felt great to do a project from start to finish.


My friend LOVED this gift.  The toddler's Dad was very relieved that I wasn't sending his kids to go cook on the stove and that these were for the play kitchen.  I'm now feeling very inspired and can't wait to finish up some of my crafting to do list so I can create some items for Lucky's kitchen.


Project started and completed 12-6-16

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Winter Holiday Felt Crafts with Toddlers


I love doing craft projects with Lucky.  We've had a lot of success with $1 kids from craft stores and using glue and stickers to put things together.  It would be a lot cheaper if I designed my own crafts, so I wanted to see what simple crafts I could come up with that involved minimal cutting and giving him a lot of chance to glue.


The green felt I'm using is left over from the Dinosaur Hooded Sweatshirts I sewed for the boys.  The blue and white felt is left over from their R2D2 and BB8 Halloween Costumes (which isn't on the blog yet but you can check it out on my Instagram account.)

These projects are very simple, but I still wanted to provide step by step instructions to remove any guesswork so you can do it, too.  I highly recommend using a craft felt glue versus standard white glue because that doesn't sink into the felt as fast so things have a better chance at staying glued the first time.

Christmas Trees


  1. Cut out 3 triangles and one little rectangle.  
  2. Glue the rectangle to the bottom back of one of the triangles.
  3. Glue the remaining two triangles on top of the first triangle.  Voila!  You have a tree
  4. Decorate the tree with sequins or glitter glue.  (With an older child you could decorate right away, with a toddler I'd recommend waiting for the tree to dry before decorating.)

Star of David


  1. Cut out two triangles. (I held two pieces of felt together while cutting so they would be the same size)
  2. Flip one triangle over and glue on top of the second triangle as shown.
  3. Decorate with sequins or glitter.  
I completed one of each of the projects by myself while Lucky was taking his nap.  This way I could make some that fit the vision in my head before I allow Lucky to have complete creative control.  I find that it helps stop me from "correcting" him.  


When I was waiting for my projects to dry, Lucky saw them and got really excited.  He couldn't wait to make his very own Christmas trees!  We glued the pieces together and then waited for them to dry before decorating.



It was hard for him to pick up the sequins, so it might be easier to (gasp) use glitter with a 3 year old than sequins, but nevertheless he had a blast.  


While Lucky was busy gluing, I was inspired to attempt a more complicated felt project.  

Menorah (or chanukiah as Lucky likes to "correct" me.)

  1. For the Menorah itself, cut out a semi-circle,  a small triangle, a small rectangle, and then a rectangle large enough to fit all of the pieces.  
  2. Cut 9 skinny rectangles for the candles (try to make sure they are thin enough so they can all fit on the menorah.)  
  3. Cut 9 little orange diamonds to be the flames.  
  4. Glue the pieces together.  
  5. If desired, use some glitter glue (I used glitter puffy paint) to make the flames sparkle.
  6. Decorate your menorah with sequins.  
  7. (Optional) Cut a second rectangle large rectangle and glue it to the back of the entire project to reinforce it.  I glued my whole project onto some scrap felt and then cut it out after it had dried.
At the time I was writing this post, I hadn't had a chance to do the Menorah with Lucky. Since this one has so many more pieces I know that it will be harder.  However, since I've decorated a window ledge with our bedazzled holiday items Lucky has been asking to make his own Chanukiah every day.  I now need to wait for a Rowdy nap so we have some uninterrupted gluing time.


There are so many pieces this time but I plan to let Lucky take it step by step.  I'll show him my version and ask him how he thinks the pieces should go together.  I'll give him the menorah pieces first, then the candles and finally the flames.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with!  


This was a two-for-one project for me.  I added some more holiday cheer (especially some Jewish symbols since our tree sort of dominates a lot of the decorating process) AND had a lot of fun crafting with Lucky.