Monday, November 30, 2009

Tea Dyed

I love dyeing yarn with things that I've found in my kitchen. I have had great success with Kool-Aid and vinegar and food coloring. The colors tend to be very saturated and vibrant, so I wanted to play with methods of making more muted colors.

Brown:

I know that you can stain paper and fabric with tea, so I decided to give it a try with my undyed wool.
I allowed 1 tea bag to seep in 1 cup of boiling water (with 1T white vinegar) for about 1 min. I removed the tea bag and added pre-soaked undyed wool. When I achieved a light brown, I transferred the wool to some luke warm color, but a fair amount of color leaked out (although the yarn was still definitely tan). I added more vinegar and microwaved the mixture on high for 1 min. The color did not get any darker...

Green ("Green Tea"):

I added 2 drops of green food coloring to some of the remaining tea/vinegar/water mixture.

Unlike my previous dyeing experiences, the dye in the water did not completely absorb to the yarn. A large amount of green remained in the water, even after multiple microwave and cool cycles. The only assumption I can make is that the yarn became saturated with the remaining tea in the water, and could not absorb any more color. (I'd like to point out that in my Dinky Dyeing extravaganza, I used 12 drops of green with a similar amount of yarn, and all of the color got absorbed.) Since I had achieved the color that I desired, I did not worry too much.

Pink:

Warm tea/vinegar mixture + 1 drop red food coloring. Since I wanted a pale pink (think pig colored), I did not allow the yarn to soak in the colored water for long, but would dip and remove until I achieved the color I desired. The dye water was still pink, but the pink in the wool stayed!

Experimental handpainting:
1 skein was dipped in cooled-left over pink water (to get some vinegar), placed on the plastic work area and painted with 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of green food coloring. The remaining pink water was brought to a boil, and the skein was dipped into the boiling water.

I was prepared to loose the variegation. I let it boil for about 30 seconds, and saw that most of the dye bled out (which was not unexpected). I was not prepared for the yarn to remain so muted with 8 drops of food coloring! I let the yarn sit in the boiling dye mix for longer, and the color would not completely absorb! I blame the tea. I'm so excited that I've found a way to play with color, but to achieve paler colors! I even still have some variegation:


In Contrast...
For comparisons sake... I did some primary colors at the same time (just vinegar and some food coloring. 4 drops blue, 2 drops green and 2 drops red total. I microwaved the skein for 1 min, and let the wool cool before washing in luke warm water with mild soap. See how vibrant?


Tea Conclusions
Using tea water helps keep the colors muted. Whether it is a change in ph (doubtful) or just the compounds in the tea limit the ability of wool to absorb colors, I do not know. I was, however, successful in achieving the colors that I desired. This was the first time that I did not see full or mostly absorption of the color into the wool. I could have used a LOT more wool with this dye amount....


(After the fact, I found this article on tea dyeing if you would like to do more reading on the subject.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

From Fleece to Yarn

These books discuss more about the spinning process and what to do with your yarn once you're done.

A Fine Fleece: Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd

The patterns in this book are separated into three categories: Light and Shadow (Studies in Contrasts), The Forest and the Trees (Scale and Perspective) and Conceptual Stitches & Emotive design.

The designs are very classic, and to quote the forward author Clara Parkes, the book contains "26 patterns that were conceived from the very start for handspun yarns." Every piece is shown in handspun and commercially available yarn.

There is little in this book about how to spin, so it is not a book to use to learn that craft. (There are some details about caring for your yarn, gauge, different breeds of sheep, and other concerns when you are dealing with a non commercial yarn.) It may, however, help answer the question... so I've spun this yarn... and now what?

Many of the pattens are sweaters, and they are pretty loose fitting, and some are even unisex. (The patterns are beautiful, but they are not my style and similar types of cabled sweaters etc can be found on the internet.) These are projects that would be for an accomplished spinner, as you would need yards and yards of yarn to complete something. Not all of the pictures have both the handspun and commercial yarns in focus, so the comparison is difficult. For some projects, it is clear which garment was handspun (before reading the caption), but for others it is difficult to tell.

In conclusion, I am neither completely satisfied with this book as a spinning book or as a book of knitting patterns.


Spinning Designer Yarns by Diane Varney

There is a nice intro section discussing important things for spinning yarn (troubleshooting, measuring yarn thickness, to ply or not to ply etc.) Then (to my joy) there is a section on dyeing raw fiber, and how to deal with color while spinning. Color blending... I want to blend colors!

There are sections talking about the different kinds of yarn you can spin, such as adding slubs in on purpose (at this point with my hand spinning, I'd be happy for no slubs, thank you very much! I can certainly understand the appeal, however, of creating a yarn that looks very handmade.)

The book is mostly in black and white. I would have loved more photos, but as a reference it is one of the best I've seen thus far. I have not yet seen in a book descriptions on how to create so many different types of yarn. I think this would be helpful once I've mastered the basic spinning techniques, so I may be picking this up for myself someday!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hangover Beer Cozy Pattern

In thinking about the biochemistry of inebriation (and subsequent dehydration and hangover), I thought that it would be funny to incorporate these molecules into charts. How often do you stop and think what you're doing to your body when you're drinking? I therefore present to you the "Hangover" Beer Cozy. This cozy has a scheme of the ethanol metabolism pathway on one side (the inebriated side) and the structure of ibuprofen on the other (the recovery side).

Materials Required
  • Miscellaneous remnants of machine washable worsted weight yarn.
  • size 3 double pointed needles (I like a tight gauge on my cozies)
  • Gauge: ~ 12 sts/2 inches; 17 rows/ 2 inches (The gauge is not critical as long as the cozy will fit around the beer bottle you care about.)
  • A beer bottle to check the desired height
"Hangover" Beer Cozy Pattern
  • Cast on 45 sts in the main color (this will be the top of the cozy)
  • Work in (k2, p1) rib for two rows
  • Knit 1 row even in MC
  • Work the 42 rows of the chart, starting at the bottom, working right to left.
  • K 1 round even
  • *K7, K2tog*, repeat 5 times across. (40 sts)
  • K1 round even
  • K1, *K1, K2tog* Repeat from * 13 times (27 sts)
  • K1 round even
  • K2tog across until the last stitch, K1 (14 sts)
  • K2tog across (7 sts)
  • Cut yarn, pull through remaining stitches and weave in loose ends.
  • Put the cozy on a beer bottle and admire.

"Hangover" Cozy Chart to create a beer cozy with the ibuprofen structure on one side and the ethanol metabolism pathway on the other.


My heptapeptide beer cozy chart was 32x33, versus this 42x45 chart. They both seem to fit onto bottles very nicely.

Bonus:
Incorporate the ethanol degradation pathway or the ibuprofen charts into your own


Ibuprofen knitting chart. Dimensions: 15 x 29


Alcohol metabolism Knitting Chart. Dimensions: 10 x 42.

I hope that you've enjoyed my molecule knitting charts. Keep an eye out for more to come!

This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2009 ChemKnits

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bzzzzzzz: A Knit Bumble Bee!

As a kid, one of my Aunts would add "bee" to the end of names (I was Becca-Bee, she in return was Sue-Sue-Bee...) With this memory in mind, I have designed for you a cute little bumble bee!

Materials
  • Knitting Needles: 4 dpn Size 1, (2.5 mm)
  • Yarn: Remnants of KnitPicks Palette Yarn (Fingering weight) in Black, White and Bare (dyed yellow by me, see below).
  • Gauge: Not important for the completed project, but you want to knit tight enough that you will not see the polyester stuffing.
  • Misc: Toy stuffing, yarn needle.
  • Finished Size: 2.25 inch nose to stinger, 1.5 inch wingspan.

Body Construction:
(Starting at the tip of the head.)
1. CO 6 sts in Black. Join to knit in the round and knit one row.
2. Kfb across - 12 sts
3. K across
4. Kfb across - 24 sts
5. K across
6. K across
7. *K6, K2tog* repeat 3 times - 21 sts
8. K across
9. K2, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K3 - 18 sts
10. K across
11. *K1, K2tog* across- 12 sts
12. K across
Now starting the body of the fly.
13. Switch to Yellow: Kfb across - 24 sts
14. K across
15. K1, Kfb, K8, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K8, kfb, K1 - 28 sts
16. K across
17. Switch to Black: K1, Kfb, K10, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K10, kfb, K1 - 32 sts
Rows 18-20. K across
21. Switch to Yellow: K1, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K1 - 28 sts
22. K across
23. K1, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K1 - 24 sts
24. K across
25. Switch to Black:*K2, K2tog* across, 18 sts
26. K across
27. *K1, K2tog* across, 12 sts
Stuff the head and body with polyester stuffing.
28. K2tog across, 6 sts
29. K2tog across, 3 sts
30. work as Icord 1 round (to make the stinger), pull yarn through remaining stitches and weave in loose ends

For an alternate striping pattern (no pictured): If you would like to try a yellow head and 5 stripes on the body, try Rows 1-12 Yellow, 13-15 Black, 16-18 yellow, 19-21 Black, 22-24 Yellow, 25-30 black.




Wings (make 2):
CO 4 sts. Work in Icord for 15 rounds and stitch caston to castoff edges, forming a loop. Sew the two wings in a bow type configuration at the neck of the bee body.

Dyeing the Yellow:
As described in some of my small scale dyeing tales, this yellow dyebath had 1C water, 1T white vinegar and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. The pre-soaked yarn was placed in the dyebath, and the mixture was microwaved on high for one minute and then allowed to cool until all dye was absorbed. The wool was washed in luke warm water with mild soap and allowed to air dry.



I considered making antennas or eyes for this little bee, but I preferred the almost cartoon-like simplicity of the body and wings. If you would like to add a simple Icord eye, see the plushie fly pattern by Chemknits.



---------------------------------------
Abbreviations Used in this pattern:
Kfb - increase by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.
K - knit
P - purl
SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over.
K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.

This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2009 ChemKnits

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Sampler Afghan - Three Years in the Making

History of the Afghan:
  • Thanksgiving 2006. Purchase the book 60 Easy-To-Knit Pattern Stitches Combine to Create Sampler Afghans, Leaflet 932.
  • Fall 2006. Purchased multiple (30-40, I cannot even remember at this point... WAY more than I needed) balls of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted Weight Yarn (Color: Fisherman).
  • Cast on Christmas 2006. I was afraid of cables, and wanted a project to teach myself more complex stitch patterns. I started out making one square a day. I learned that cables were easy... but a complex multi-cable and bobble square was so time consuming (>5 min a row) and requred a lot of attentiont hte pattern that I stalled.
  • January 2009. I break out the afghan, realize I am so close to 20 squares... and abandon the 30 square idea.
  • April. Square 18 completed.
  • June. 19 squraes done... one left
  • July. Replaced a square that I determined had a too large gauge. one more to go (again).
  • August. Moving. Should not work on afghan, I should work on packing/unpacking.
  • September-November. Start the knit-a-thon. Didn't want to make squares for myself when I could be helping the homeless.
  • November 2009. Finished the 20th square. Constructed the afghan!


As every knitter knows, when you make a flat piece that has stockinette borders, the work will curl up. If you are working with 100% wool, this is easy to block with steam or water. It does not work as well in a wool blend, and this wool-ease is only 20% wool. Therefore, when arranging the squares, I wanted to ensure that curled edges ended up in the interior or the afghan.



When assembling the afghan, I started seeming the outer edges, and only tacking the corners of the inner pieces. I wanted there to be some structure when I tried to deal with the curled edges.



To ensure that edges were flush during seaming, and that there would be minimal puckering in the final blanket, I used safety pins to facilitate the seaming on the curled edges.


Pinned squares (right) and finished stitched squares (left)

Thankfully these curled pieces stitched up without any trouble:


The squares are all stitched together, now to just weave in those loose ends.
All of those 40+ loose ends...


When doing the charity afghan, I wove in my ends as I made the squares, and then used a long piece of yarn to stitch them together. I still ended up with a lot of loose ends to weave in at the end. Since I was initially going to crochet a boarder around each square (fail), I had purposefully left long tails on each square. I did not weave in any ends in any of the 20 squares. I ended up using these ends to stitch the blanket together, doing all of my weaving in at the end. I did not need to use any additional yarn to stitch the blanket together.


The removed loose ends.

My new afghan is so cozy! I am itching to start another one (stupidly). This is the second time an afghan has taken me about 3 years to complete. I just get bored in the middle of the construction. I am so happy with the final product that I am willing to risk boredom again!



Now I need to use up all of this leftover fisherman's wool...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#20

Okay... this is finally (cross your fingers now) the LAST piece of my sampler afghan. I wanted a pattern that I could complete quickly, so I decided on this diagonal rib.

Unfortunately for my afghan (but not for the pine street inn!), I decided to take part in the 3rd annual knit-a-thon for the Boston homeless shelter, and I would have felt strange working on a square for myself when I was trying to make as many squares as possible for the homeless shelter.



Now I just have to piece it together... hopefully I do not need to redo any more squares.....

The Color Purple



I have made two previous attempts to dye wool purple using Wilton's food coloring paste. The first used vinegar as the acid source, and the second used KoolAid Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade. The first attempt resulted in purple, while the second did not (deep blue). I was curious if the vinegar made the difference for the color, so I decided to set up some purple tests.

2 drops of NEON blue is the same as Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade according to a knitty article. So if I divide one packet of KoolAid into two, then I should add one NEON drop to the only vinegar sample. I added 3 mL (~16 drops/mL) + 4 drops of concentrated purple solution to each of the following:
  1. 1/2 C KoolAid, 1/2C water, 1/2T water
  2. 1/2 C KoolAid, 1/2C water, 1/2T White Vinegar
  3. 1C water, 1/2T Vinegar, 1 drop NEON Blue
  4. 1C water, 1/2T Vinegar

Samples 1-4, from left to right.

Dyeing:
  • Soak ~13 yard skeins of wool in water until saturated
  • Add to dye solution, Microwave on High for 2 minutes (Or until the solution is boiling)
  • Allow to cool and absorb the rest of the dye
  • Examine the colors!

I had thoughts of bringing home some pH paper to test the solutions if the colors ended up different, however I discovered from samples 2-4 that the single drop of Neon Blue was enough to change the purple to a deep vibrant blue. The type of acid has a very limited effect on the color, the liquid food coloring drops must be much more concentrated than the paste I used. Once they dried, there are slight differences in the tone of #2 and#3, but this could be the result of the "dye lot" and not the acid.

To see if I could switch the blue back to purple, I added 1 drop of Neon Pink food coloring to sample #1. Success! I achieved purple again!


My samples after dyeing. #1 bottom right, #2 bottom left, #3 top right, #4 top left.

In the end, it is nice to know that the acid source (Kool Aid or vinegar) does not have much of an effect on the dyed color. I am sure that if I were to push the concentration of vinegar higher I could affect some changes with colors, but I will save that experiment for another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Is the Jester in the house?



It always amazes me how baby knitters do not like to do things in the round. I picked up the book 50 Baby Bootees to Knit to make something for my friend's niece/nephew-on-the-way, and most of the patterns involve making a flat piece and then stitching it up. Now, the pattern that I selected (Harlequin Bootees) is easier knit flat to deal with the two colors.



The pattern called for a dk wool, but I decided to use my favorite baby yarn that I happened to have sitting in my knitting cupboard. I followed the pattern with two exceptions. 1) I did not buy a pom-pom to put on the tip of the booties, and 2) I gathered the teal top a bit to make the boot more curved (see below). The overall effect is subtle, but I think that it enhances the playfulness of the booties.


Before (left) and after (right)

This was a fun project! I almost forgot to invert the colors when I started the second bootie. I hope my pal enjoys them!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me!


I'm starting to understand how to create shapes with my knitting. I bring you, my first knit toy.... a Fly. Maybe a Drosophila, I do have fond memories of the geneticists who name mutants by silly names.

Materials
  • Knitting Needles: 4 dpn Size 1, (2.5 mm)
  • Yarn: Remnants of KnitPicks Palette Yarn (Fingering weight) in Black and Marble Heather (grey)
  • Gauge: Not important for the completed project, but you want to knit tight enough that you will not see the polyester stuffing.
  • Misc: Toy stuffing, yarn needle.
  • Finished Size: 2.5 inch wingspan.

Body:
(Starting at the tip of the head.)
1. CO 6 sts. Join to knit in the round and knit one row.
2. Kfb across - 12 sts
3. K across
4. Kfb across - 24 sts
5. K across
6. K across
7. *K6, K2tog* repeat 3 times - 21 sts
8. K across
9. K2, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K5, K2tog, K3 - 18 sts
10. K across
11. *K1, K2tog* across- 12 sts
12. K across
Now starting the body of the fly.
13. Kfb across - 24 sts
14. K across
15. K1, Kfb, K8, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K8, kfb, K1 - 28 sts
16. K across
17. K1, Kfb, K10, Kfb, K2, Kfb, K10, kfb, K1 - 32 sts
Rows 18-20. K across
21. K1, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K10, K2tog, K1 - 28 sts
22. K across
23. K1, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K2, K2tog, K8, K2tog, K1 - 24 sts
24. K across
25. *K2, K2tog* across, 18 sts
26. K across
27. *K1, K2tog* across, 12 sts
Stuff the head and body with polyester stuffing.
28. K2tog across, 6 sts
Pull yarn through the remaining 6 sts, weave in loose ends.

Wings (make 2)
1. With grey, cast on 8. purl one row - 8 sts
2. Kfb, K6, Kfb - 10 sts
3. P across
4. Kfb, K8, Kfb - 12 sts
5. P across
6. SSK, K8, K2tog - 10 sts
7. P across
8. SSK, K6, K2tog - 8 sts
9. P across
10. SSK, K4, K2tog - 6 sts
11. P across
12. SSK, K2, K2tog - 4 sts
13. P across
14. SSK, K2tog - 2 sts
15. P2tog - 1 st, pull end through and weave in the end to the wing.
Weave some yarn through the edge of the wing, and gather slightly so the wing curl (like fly wings, not curl like stockinette stitches curl). Tie to keep the gather. Gather the cast-on edge and sew wings to the back of the fly body.


Diagram for gathering the wings.


Wings and body before attachment

CyO is a dominant curly wing mutation often used as a marker, which is how the wings will appear when you sew them directly onto the back. However, I give you the ability to make the wings straighter. Behold:


WT (wild type, or without the mutation; left), CyO (right). Change the status of your fly by bending the curly wings outwards.

Legs (make 6)
CO 3 sts in black. Work as Icord for 8 rounds. Sew ends together into loop. Attach three to each side of the body.


Legs before (left) and after (right) forming the loops


Underside of the Fly for leg placement.

Eyes (make 2)
CO 3 sts of grey. Work in Icord for 4 rounds. Tie into a circle. Sew onto the head of the fly.

ENJOY!
Buzz your little fly around your house. Annoy your brother (or sister). Place it in your fruit bowl. Make them multiple so you have an "infestation." I hope that this pattern made you smile!


---------------------------------------
Abbreviations Used in this pattern:
Kfb - increase by knitting into the front and back of a single stitch.
K - knit
P - purl
SSK - decrease by slipping two stitches then knitting them together. Alternatively, you could slip one stitch, knit one stitch and pass slipped stitch over.
K2tog - decrease by knitting two stitches together.
Italic
This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2009 ChemKnits