Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pumpkin Posse

This Halloween, Keith was collecting some pumpkins. Here is another little fellow I made to join his crew. The pattern is available for a free ravelry download (you just need to create a free account). I knit with US size 3 double pointed needles and remnants of Orange and avocado wool of the andes yarn.

I knit this pattern in the round, not flat as instructed. I suppose that flat makes sense if you don't have a bunch of dpn's laying around, but it saved a lot of seaming to knit in the round!

In the end, the arms were 2" long and the legs 5" long (not including mittens or shoes!)

  • I knit all pieces in the round (except for the leaf which was flat.) The patterns were easily adaptable to round knitting.
  • In the head, I only did 8 repeats of the ribbing (16 rows) rather than 12 repeats (24 rows).
  • On the mittens, I increased the rounds in the palm to 7 from 4.

I overstuffed the head so it would be wider than it is tall. It actually makes a really fun ball.

The pieces are all ready... now some magic is needed to bring them to life!

When twisting arms and legs, I tied a not at the end with a scrap of orange yarn to help me make them the same length (and so I wouldn't risk loosing my twist!)

Arms and legs looking like straw.

One arm is attached.

The vine pipe cleaner was pretty fun to make. I inserted the pine cleaner and secured it in the stalk before I wrapped it with the green yarn. With wrapping, I did it such that both ends of the yarn ended up inside the stalk. The yarn was on the verge of easily slipping off the pipe cleaner, so I dabbed some glue over the outside to secure it (after twisting).

Inserting the pipe cleaner before I start wrapping the vine.

To connect the arms and legs to the body, I used a yarn needle to pull the excess limb the body until I got the length I wanted. The twisted cord was thick enough that it was quite stable without needing too much reinforcement.

AHHH Faceless pumpkin! Run!

I didn't have any felt so I used black construction paper for the nose and mouth. The length of the arms and legs in the pattern was too big for my guy.

Keith, here's the latest member of your posse!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

ChemKnits has now been around for two whole years! Thank you readers for keeping me going strong.

So what is coming up in the next year?

In November 2010 I joined Squidoo where I have expanded my online writing to some topics beyond knitting. (Although knitting is still a huge focus of mine!)

I am also pleased to announce that in February 2011, I will launch ChemEats, a blog for my cooking explorations.

You can now follow me on twitter, and keep track of all of my writing projects.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goldfish Knitting Pattern

Here is a quick little project that I made because I thought it was hilarious. They are so cute you could just eat them up (Disclaimer: ChemKnits claims no responsibility for what happens if you eat a knit cracker). Simple, subtle... and that is what I try to do!

  • Knitting Needles: US Size 4 Double Pointed Needles
  • Yarn: Worsted Weight Wool of the Andes Yarn (from KnitPicks)
  • Gauge: Not important for the completed project.
  • Misc: yarn needle for embroidery.

The Pattern
  • Cast on 12 stitches
  • Join in the round and knit 3 rows
  • K2 tog across (6 stitches)
  • Kfb across (12 stitches)
  • Knit 5 rounds
  • SSK, K2, K2tog, SSK, K2, K2tog (8 sts)
  • SSK, K2tog, SSK, K2tog (4 sts)
  • cut yarn and pull through remaining stitches.
  • sew the cast on edge together to finish the fin.
  • Embroider on a smile or leave it plain! Here is a subtle little smile. (This one with orange on orange is so subtle you can barely see it! maybe photoshop it to make it more visible)

The smile was embroidered with the same color yarn as the body. In the photo on the right, I lowered the saturation so the embroidery would stand out.

I wouldn't eat the knit goldfish!

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. © 2010 ChemKnits

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I am the Batman!

Sheldon was one of the first toys that I ever knit. This pattern was also my first experience with knitpicks yarn, and I have to say I've been addicted ever since.

Knitpicks offers many sheldon costumes, so you can swap out the turtle shell and turn him into a super hero, pirate (coming soon), bee, sheep and more. I have selected the pirate costume to make for Keith's stuffed turtle. When The Dark Knight was new, Keith had a lot of fun sneaking up on people and saying in a harsh voice, "I am the Batman!"

In my latest huge knitpicks stock up, I ordered one ball of Bison Shine Sport to create this costume. But then there was a problem: indicated that this pattern will take 2 balls of shine sport... Thankfully I found a user on ravelry who indicated that the pattern only took 70% of one skein. I even sent the user a message to make sure that wasn't a typo (that she hadn't meant 1.7 balls). It looked like I would be okay with the amount of yarn I had.

I followed the pattern as directed, using the yarn (although a different color, since Fedora was not available).

The back legs get tucked back around the body.

I knit the wings before the arms because I was still concerned that I would run out of yarn. I figured, if I ended up with a second dye lot, the arms would be mostly hidden so it wouldn't matter. (This ended up not being a problem.) The pattern only showed pictures of the finished product, so I took a lot of pictures during the construction process.

The "sweater" size compared to Sheldon's body.

The finished wings and body (minus arms)

I liked picking up the stitches for the armholes rather than knitting arms and sewing them on. (Of course, you cannot really sew on sweater arms without there being a hole for the arms!)

The completed arms.

Keith is going to have to choose. Does he want Sheldon to be a turtle, bat or a pirate?

Sheldon as a turtle vs. a bat. Which do you prefer?

With the extra yarn, should I might try to make a batman mask. What do you think?

The remaining yarn and bat costume. I think the project took less than 1 ball!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Knits Around my Home

Merry Christmas, Everyone! In honor of today, I decided to share with you how I've decorated my home with knitting objects.

Purple Christmas Tree

Do you recognize any of these ornaments from past posts? Some of them you will even see in future ones!

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The gosling makes an appearance as the "partridge" in the "pear tree"

The one year my Christmas stocking will be on the RFR side!

Some old friends have been decorated for the holidays.

I created numerous ornaments this holiday season so I could give some away as favors at my Holiday Party. I don't have an after photo, but most of these favors are now gone from my home!

Happy Holidays from ChemKnits!

If you're looking for some other holiday crafts, you should check out the following articles that I published at Squidoo. I also have some other non-knitting related crafts highlighted over there!

Friday, December 24, 2010

On Top of the World

Knitting on Top of the World: The Global Guide to Traditions, Techniques and Design by Nicky Epstein

Different areas of the world inspired Nicky Epstein to create patterns, and the patterns are separated based on these regions. Each pattern has a country/region of inspiration and then a more standard pattern title.

The book brings you the knitting history of each region, which techniques originated there and what items were traditionally made. The patterns themselves are a more modern take on these traditions.

I found the titles of the patterns to be a bit redundant. If you're going to indicate the region/country that inspired a pattern, why must you also name the pattern off of a city in that country?

My overall thoughts on the patterns are mixed. I love the concept of the book, and that there is history included with the patterns. I also like the variation of garment types. Usually when I don't like a pattern I just find it boring, but there are some in this book that are just plain ugly. (See below for my thoughts on particular patterns.) I don't see how one author can design some elegant, modern pieces and also produce some that no real woman would ever want to wear.

The Patterns
  • Far North
    • Iceland, Norther Lights Cardigan - Yoked cardigan with colorwork and bead details. The sleeves look like they hit just above the wrist.
    • Denmark, Copenhagen Royal Shawl -This is some beautiful lacework. The shawl is L-shaped with a connected scarf. The geometric pattern in the lace works well with the overall shape of the shawl. I think that his looks very cozy and elegant.
    • Latvia, Princess Bride Mittens - Mittens are some of my favorite things. There is a crown motif embroidered on them. A frilly cuff. The colorwork is fairly basic. Shouldn't the country be Florin based on the title?
    • Russia, St. Petersburg camisole - I am not sure who could wear this as a flattering garment. There are oddly shaped bows just inside of the shoulders, and there are wide ruffles that hit the body at weird lengths (about a foot between each ruffle.) There is a hint of a historical feel to this, but it is very costumy at best. It also happens to be more of a short sleeved sweater than a camisole.
    • Estonia, Baltic Cuffs and Cap - The colors used in this project work really well. The cap is square shape when laid flat, and fits over the head and ties at the chin. The cuffs are elbow length. The entire effect is very elfish, but in a good way.
    • Sweden, Bojus Swing Coat - Cardigan without any buttons down the front. This is very similar to the Norther Lights Cardigan pattern, with a bow at the front and yoked collar. The sleeves are gathered at the wrist, and there are pockets on the front.
    • Scandinavia, Snowflake Sweater Cape - So this is really a poncho. It is hard to tell from the photo what is part of the cape and what is the sweater the model is wearing underneath. (Since she is wearing a navy sweater, at first you think the cape has attached armholes.) This is a standard poncho shape with a huge charted snowflake located off center. There is a ribbed turtleneck cuff with some bobble type things as a bow tie. The snowflake chart is excellent.
    • Norway, Liten Olaf Sweater - A Child's sweater with traditional Scandinavian colorwork. It would be absolutely adorable.
  • Windswept Isles
    • Isle of Aran, Evening Gala Aran - This could be a pretty sweater. But... in place of bobbles there are pearl beads, and there is a feather boa trim at the neckline. These details through it over the top.
    • England, Londonderry Rose Coat - The hem of the coat ends in this choppy step like pattern. There are applique roses over the collar. The effect is not very flattering.
    • Scotland, Sanquhar Bonny Socks - Cute, have a folded cuff, simple colorwork pattern.
    • Fair Isle, Simply Smashing Cardigan - The fit of this cardigan is more like a man's sweater on a woman, loose and boxy. The collar has a deep V-neck with great color details that are echoed on the cuff and around the hem.
    • Guernsey - Cowl Collar Jumper - Sleeveless, wide cuffed cowl (ribbed). It makes for a cute sweater dress. I actually like this quite a lot. It looks fantastic and it can be made by a novice knitter.
    • Scotland, Hunter's Argyle Socks - Very classic.
    • Scotland, Highland Fling Plad Jacket - It doesn't help to show all photos of a garment stylized with something that cannot be created. There is a wide belt over the jacket, which ends up hiding how the coat will fit.
    • Ireland, Celtic Hooded Coat - Lots of cables. There is a ribbed cuff that goes to the elbow, and then the sleeve gets much baggier. The whole coat is really large, and looks like it could fit someone much larger than the model.
    • Fair Isle, Faux Fair Isle Fairy Socks - Two color, "mock fair isle" because one of the yarns is variegated.
    • Shetland Island, Edwardian Lace Coat - This is the cover pattern. I notice the dress the model is wearing more than I notice the coat. (Those bows around the neck are pretty cool.) I wouldn't want the jacket for myself. The back is open like the front, just connected around the collar. When I saw this view, I like the garment even less.
    • Great Britain, World Class We Sweaters - Cute kid sized sweaters. I really like the petite fancy fair isle, especially if you were to remove the applique flowers around the collar. Strangely, one of these sweaters is shown on a woman's head as a hat.. with the arms tied together to close the top. This is really weird.
    • Fair Isle, Fair Isle Tam Capelet - Three circles are made and then a collar is added. Very strange.
    • Ireland, Galway Bay Shrug Shawl - I looked at the front of this garment and got excited. It appears to be a chunky cardigan, but in a way that actually fits. However, when you flip the page, you see that there is a huge cut out in the back. Strange...
  • Old World
    • Italy, Roman Holiday Shrug - A cabled, bobbled and apliqued flowers shrug. Sleeves end just above the elbow.
    • France, Parisian Entrelac Wrap - his is really pretty. There are sleeves and then it wraps around in a way that looks very comfy.
    • Bavaria, Black Forest Mitts - Cabled, LOTS of embroidery. Fingerless gloves that go to the elbow.
    • France, La Belle Cardigan - Very pink and frilly. The ruffle and flower on the collar would be pretty if there wasn't so much else going on in terms of frills. The baggy sleeves are gathered three times with ribbons, giving some poofs that are costumy.
    • Austria, Austrian Alps Zip Jacket - This is cabled, and the changes in the texture are interesting. I would personally end the jacket above were the belt loops are located.
    • Germany, Oktoberfest Glove Cuffs - These aren't actually gloves, these are orange and black mitered squares as a cuff that you attack to a pair of leather gloves. They are cute on their own, but I would prefer to add a glove pattern to the top of them rather than sew them to a pair of gloves that I purchased.
    • Austria, Tyrolean Leg Warmers - These are really cute. I really like the buttons down the outside of the leg.
    • Italy, Florentine Shrug - Yuck. Baggy, long sleeves, short on the back and top, this shrug has no shape and a bold grape vine pattern.
  • Around the Mediterranean
    • Spain, Spanish Rose Trellis Scarf - Lots of rose applique.
    • Syria, Damascus Dream Dress - The shape and overall silhouette are nice. I don't like the tile pattern on the skirt. I would make it a more regular geometric pattern.
    • Spain, Senorita's Floral Pullover - The appliqued flowers give it a flamenco sense. It doesn't look like the body of the sweater has any real shape.
    • Turkey, Ottoman Empire Jacket - Looks like a simple cabled vest over a crazy patterned shirt. It would be interesting to knit, but strange to wear.
    • Spain, El Matador Jacket - This is like a matador's jacket because there are shoulder patches with spiral fringe coming down off of them. More costume than fashion.
    • Portugal, Lisbon Lace Jacket - Yuck. This looks like many pieces were knit that were then stitched together, leaving huge gaps. Even if the construction is more elegant than I described, it has an appearance for a bad moth infestation.
    • Egypt, Isis Tunic - I like the braided straps. The tunic is weird. It's like a cropped tank top with flaps in the front and back. And it happens to have some Egyptian-like designs on it.
    • Greece, Greco Mosaic Bags - Beautiful, simple.
  • Far East
    • China, Shanghai Garden Scarf - Beaded, eyelet lace, applique beaded flowers.
    • Japan, Shibori Blossom Bag - CRAZY bobbles over the top of this bag.
    • Japan, Fuji Feather Lace Wrap - This is beautiful. I also really like the pin used to fasten it. There is feather like lace running over the length of the wrap. There are "tassels" that are made of solid knit pieces (rather than the normal fringy tassel)
    • Mongolia, Mongolian Warrior Pullover - The concept is very interesting, although the final product is not. There are woven straps that are woven during the knitting and then joined in a way that they cannot be undone. The construction is ingenious.
    • Japan, Hai-Riyo - AWESOME. This is a dragon stuffed animal. It is really well designed and you know what it is immediately upon seeing it.
  • New World
    • Peru, Andes Tunic Vest - As described. I think it would look really nice with a belt at the waist.
    • Mexico, Fiesta Skirt - I don't usually like knit skirts anyway. It looks like there is a drawstring waist, and it is ankle length.
    • Canada, Cowichan Vision Wrap Coat - Another oversized cardigan/coat/jacket.
    • U.S.A., Great Bear Zip Tunic - This charted pattern is fantastic. I wish that there was more shape. (Without a lot of shape it makes the garments look like something you'd wear to bed or around the house. Why would you want to spend that much time constructing something if you weren't going to wear it in public?)
    • Bolivia, La Paz Scarf and Cap - I could do without the huge balls at the end of the scarf, but the pattern is really cute.
    • U.S.A., Great Plains Blanket Bag - This has a very traditional feel, and is quite lovely.
Do you need any last minute gifts for a knitter in your life? Knitting books make fantastic gifts for knitters.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fermentation pathway

This is a chart that I created almost a year ago, but I never incorporated into anything. My plan was to use it on a beer cozy, or some other kind of alcoholic beverage container, but I just never got around to finishing the design.

Dimensions of the chart: 25 stitches x 63 rows.

I challenge you, my readers. Make something interesting with this chart, and share it with me ( I will dedicate a post to you and your awesomeness!

This pattern was created by ChemKnits for your Personal or charity use. The charts and directions of this pattern are not to be republished without permission of ChemKnits. © 2010 ChemKnits

Friday, December 17, 2010


This pumpkin is a fast and fun project. I was a bit of an idiot at the beginning, interpreting the "inc1" stitches as "m1", which didn't work out at all. I then realized that I should have read the "inc1" as kfb (knit in the front and back of the stitch). Once I figured this out (and felt pretty stupid), I flew through the rest of the knitting.

I used US 10½ - 6.5 mm needles for the body and US 5 - 3.75 mm needles for the stem. The yarn was Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Orange and Jalapeno. Final dimensions: 2.5 inches high (to tip of stem), 2 inches wide.

The felting happened really quickly. I am still felting by hand, but I started a variation of my normal technique. I put warm slightly soapy water in a mopping bucket, and then stir it with a large spoon. (I happened to be felting the pumpkin with a larger item, too. For something as small as this pumpkin I wouldn't have bothered.) This really saved my hands from overexposure to really hot water, and prevented me from accidentally reshaping as I agitated the fibers.

I lightly felted the stem, since the contrast of the felted pumpkin and non-felted stem was too high for me.

Gourd and stem, before I felted the stem a bit.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Search for Disney Related Knitting Patterns (Failed)

I loved Disney movies growing up. I wonder what kinds of Disney related knitting patterns are out there. I'm hoping to find things that aren't just chart based, but we'll see! (It'd be great to find characters.)

I'm mainly looking for the animated features, not live action....

  • Ogre my ogre - Give yourself Shrek ears with this Shrek hat. You will need to create a ravelry account to access this download. So this isn't Disney... but it was the kind of thing that I was HOPING to find from Disney movies...
  • Sleeping Beauty Maleficent Doll - Now this is what I'm talking about! Make a plush toy of this vilian. There is even a tiny raven for her shoulder!
Charts (I didn't do an extensive chart search, because I was much more interested in NON-charts.)
  • Charts of Characters - Micky, Minnie, Peter Pan, Shrek, Bambi, Nemo, Bell, Pooh, Simba, Donald and Daisy Duck, Tigger, Piglet, 101 Dalmatians, Alice, Cinderella, Ariel and more. These charts are rather large, between 50x50 and 100x100 stitches. These are very accurate images, so it's a good place to visit.
  • Stitch Face Chart - (You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern)

For Sale Items - So my goal is to always find free patterns... but I thought there was a chance that Disney may want to profit from knitting.

I largely feel like I failed with this search. I can find some lion and deer patterns, and those you could pretend came from Lion King or Bambi... but there is very little out there. This was much harder than I thought, apparently people don't often mention Disney when they make a related pattern. I suppose there could be copyright reasons for why they aren't distributed....

Do you know of any Disney related knitting patterns? Send me an email at, and I'll add it to this list.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Inspired by Italy - Part 2

The following was on the side of a church in Messina, Sicily. Time removed some of the color from the stars, leaving some beautiful variation in the design. At first I thought that the building was incredibly unique because of all of the different stars, but on another side of the building the stars were not worn in a symmetric pattern.

The tiles that are the inspiration for the 8 charts shared in this post.

Star Charts:
The following three charts are based loosely on the stars shown in the original image above. They are all 25x25 stitches.

Star A - 25x25 stitches

Star B - 25x25 stitches

Star C - 25x25 stitches

Divider Charts: This square and triangle tile design inspired the creation of five small charts.

The original tiles.

Divider A - 7x21 stitches (each repeat adds an additional 4 stitches)

Divider B - 5x21 stitches (each repeat adds an additional 4 stitches)

Divider C - 5x21 stitches (each repeat adds an additional 4 stitches)

Divider D - 7x23 stitches (each repeat adds an additional 6 stitches)

Divider E - 7x43 stitches (each repeat adds an additional 6 stitches)

I would like to eventually use these patterns to design some mitten patterns. I love the thought of making something that is 100% inspired by my trip to Italy. I will likely need to edit them back (removing circle borders and the like), but it should be a fun project. More charts are coming!

These patterns were created by ChemKnits for your Personal or charity use. The charts and directions of this pattern are not to be republished without permission of ChemKnits.

© 2010 ChemKnits