Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some More Pictures of Tie Dyeing Yarn

In a past reivew of the eBook "How To Make Tie Dye Shirts, Decor, and More: 18 Tie Dye Patterns" I shared two videos of tie dyeing yarn with a Tulip Tie Dye Kit.  I was recently going through my photos and found a lot of fun pictures from dyeing the cotton yarns that I had never shared with you.  Enjoy!

Presoaking the cotton yarns
A full ball of yarn dyed - I think it looks like a parrot
The commercially wound ball of cotton yarn drying

Comparison of the dried handpainted skein vs commercial ball 
Comparison after winding the commercial ball into a skein.
Time to tie dye some pre knit 100% wool.  Too bad I didn't have the knitting machine yet when I started this project!
After I had added the rainbow colored dyes.  It is so pretty!  
The fabric square wasn't quite big enough for me to get a full spiral, but tit still looks pretty cool.  If I wanted, I could unwind this square and knit something else out of this yarn...  Hmm....
Written tutorials for How to Tie Dye Cotton Yarn and How to Tie Dye Knit Projects are available on AllFreeKnitting to accompany the videos on the ChemKnits YouTube Channel

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tessellated Fish Blanket

It can be awkward getting a request for a particular knit item.  Sometimes it is hard to say yes to the asker, but other times what the person asks for is exactly what you wanted to make anyway!  I've been wanting to make some kind of throw blanket for my in-laws, so when they moved into their new house and requested an afghan to go with their decor, I was thrilled to accommodate them. My MIL selected the pattern, a recipe for fish, and colors from swatches that I gave her last Christmas.  Now all I had to do was finish the blanket.

I tested the fish out before I calculated how much yarn I would need (See A Test Fish).  I decided to go with 10 needles and 34 balls of yarn.  The blanket will have three colors made out of KnitPicks Comfy Worsted Yarn (Affiliate Link):  Whisker (grey), Planetarium (navy) and a mix of the two colors.

I printed out the pattern and put it on a piece of construction paper.  With over 70 fish to create I know I will be referring to this a lot!

I started this project at the end of May.  With a goal of 72 fish, I would need to create 12 fish a month (~4/week) to finish by Christmas.  More realistically (with a baby on the way), I should try to finish this by October, giving me 4.5 months to complete the blanket (~18/month).  Here is my monthly progress:

  • May - 2 fish (See the test knit)
  • June - 23 fish
  • July - 21 fish
  • August - 26 fish I knit the last fish on August 31!  Way to go me!  

I decided to not weigh every single ball of yarn, but instead to count wrappers. In the end I can weigh the fish before stitching it together.  The first 6 balls of yarn resulted in 14 fish (4 blue, 4 grey and 6 double colored.)  *I ran out of blue at the tail of the 14th fish so I had to start a new ball, but there was plenty of grey left so on AVERAGE 14 fish were completed from the first 6 balls of yarn.*  

Midway through June I started knitting a fish a day that I was at home.  I found this to be a great way to get many fish done without becoming bored or frustrated by the project.  I am well on target to finish this blanket by my deadline.  I'm so happy I made my goal of 20 fish in June! I will make a few more before the month is over, but I am well on track to finish this by the time the baby gets here.

The First 20 fish
After 14 wrappers, I had completed 32 fish with enough yarn for an extra half of a fish.  Given that I have 20 balls of yarn left, I think that I am on target to finish this project with yarn to spare.  I just need to average 2 fish/ ball of yarn and I'll hit my 72!  This is a great feeling, since I know I'll need some extra yarn to stitch the blanket together.  

End of July Progress
As August began, I knew that I wanted to try to keep up with my one fish a day goal as much as possible.  By the end of the month, I realized that I would come very close to finishing the remaining 26 fish that I had left.  On August 31 I completed the 72nd fish, and was ready to start piecing the blanket together.

I decided that I wanted to crochet the fish together using a single strand of yarn.  I would use the blue between the two color and grey, and grey between the two color and blue.  I decided to try a crochet based technique first because I wanted to be able to assemble this blanket without needing to cut long pieces of yarn and whip stitch, I thought it would be cleaner.  My plan for attempt 1 is to alternate making single crochet stitches with a single strand of yarn on alternate fish and see where that goes.  I selected a size H hook (5.0 mm) to do this.  This is slightly smaller than the 10's that I used for the blanket, but I think it should suffice.

SO the crochet join is looking really nice.  I'm a little hesitant about using the contrasting color for the join, but I know that using the NON-cc color will make the shape of the fish look different, altering the tessellation pattern.  Oh indecision...  I'm realizing that my crochet join will increase the size of the blanket (a good thing), but will also take forever. I hope I don't regret NOT doing a simple whip stitch join...

I wish that I has weighed the yarn before I started the crochet join... this way I would know how much I would need if I end up needing more yarn.  I certainly have at least 1.5 of each color, definitely 1.5 blue and at least 2 grey.

I did not get as far as I thought I would on Labor day, I only completed in securing 5 diagonal rows together.  This is slow going,, but I am REALLY happy with the way the contrasting joins are working out.

I eventually finished the scraps of blue yarn from the first 16 balls of blue yarn.  The 17th blue ball weighs 50 g.  At this point in the joining, I am almost 50% done with the blue yarn.  I know that I will have enough to join all of the fish together (since I started with less than 1 blue ball, and there are more grey scraps than blue), the question is whether I will have enough to crochet a border around the entire blanket.  I may need to order one more ball of yarn, but we will see.  Thankfully I have plenty of time to finish this project as it is only the beginning of September.

I started the last full grey ball at the beginning of the last big blue fish diagonal row.  (The other scrap is enough to secure the very last fish.)  31 g remain of this after both ends of the blue row are secure.  I'm feeling concerned that there would not be enough of this for a border either, so I think I will likely purchase one more blue and one more grey ball.  At the end of the blanket, I have 7 g of the blue yarn, I will DEFINITELY need more for the border.  I really hope that 1 of each is enough!  

Remaining of original 34 balls of yarn - 31 g grey and 7 g blue

I worked on weaving in all the loose ends from joining while I waited for my new yarn to arrive.  This way, when I finish the border I really finish the blanket!  

When the new balls arrived (52 g of blue and 51 g of grey), I started crocheting the border with the new balls.  I wanted to avoid multiple loose ends if I could help it so there would be a streamlined continuous border out of both colors held together.  I used an I (5.5 mm) crochet hook for the task of a SC border holding one strand of each color together.  The border consumed 25 g of blue and 25 g of grey.  I'm glad that I ordered extra yarn!  

You can't tell from any of the pictures, but the edging doesn't lay perfectly flat when you just lay out the blanket.  I think I like the blanket better with edging than without, but it bothers me on a perfectionist level.  I decided to lightly block the blanket (lay it flat and wet it with a spray bottle) so it would lay better when I give it as a gift, but I know that it will get washed at some point and that my in-laws aren't likely to block it each time they wash it.   

Finished dimensions 54" x 49" (the longer dimension is from nose to tail, the smaller from side to side.) The project used about 17.5 balls of each color, 875 g/1907 g each.  This is 3814 yards!  

KnitPicks Comfy Worsted yarn lives up to its name, the blanket is super comfy and snugly.  I am very happy with the finished product, even with my edge curling concerns.  I know that it will be well loved by my in-laws!  I'm also happy to say that I finished this blanket exactly a month before my due date.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Holiday of Amigurumi Ornaments

This year I decided to give the the gift of knit ornaments.  Here is a summary of the adorable mini knit and crochet projects I've created as gifts over the past year.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Everyone!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

High Time for More Korknisse

I've made some Korknisse in the past (3 and then 5), and I think that these little cork people are adorable.  I had plans to make more, but I never got around to it.  Initially the thing blocking me was the lack of corks, but then I received this stash from a bartender friend:

Now the only thing stopping me is actually casting on and knitting up some little cork buddies.  I used up a lot of remnant KnitPicks Wool of the andes (10 g - 22 yards) to create 4 korknisse on size 2.5 (3.0 mm) knitting needles.

I decided that as written the outfit was a little short.  After the first one (purple outfit on the left in the picture above), I added a stockinette round to both the the "sweater" and "hat".  I secured the outfits to the corks with a tiny piece of glue on the back.

Now all we need to do is to create a little village for these Korknisse or add hooks to the back of the head and hang them from a tree.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hosting a Dye-a-Long

I have had many people contact me saying that they've dyed along to some of my yarn dyeing videos.  I thought it would be fun to teach some of my friends how to dye yarn with KoolAid in person, so I invited my local Crochet Club over for a Dye-a-Long!  In this blog post I will tell you what I did to create this dye-a-long. 

Dye-a-Long Set Up

Normally I do most of my dyeing videos on my granite kitchen counter where I don't worry about the work surface getting stained.  For a dye-a-long, I needed more space, so I decided to use my wooden butcher block kitchen table.  I didn't have a plastic table cloth, so I took 5 plastic bags, cut the ends off and then secured them to the underside of the table with bits of tape.  I made sure that the overlap sections were huge.  I think my table is well protected!  

Two of my guests had me purchase yarn for them.  The first step of handpainting is always a 30 minute soak, but I decided to NOT do this step for my guests ahead of time.  Why?  Some other attendees might bring their own yarn and need to soak it, plus it gives a length of time where we can start mixing the dyes.  

I selected Kool Aid for the dyeing tutorial because it is the easiest to mix up, you don't worry about proportions of vinegar or red dyes potentially crashing out of a too acidic solution.  I decided to look up the equivalent amount of dye in each KoolAid packet to compare with McCormick's food coloring drops to have as a handy reference.  

I have a lot of KoolAid in the house.  For this dye-a-long, I selected to have a rainbow of flavors, Cherry, Orange, Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape.  I put the packets in a pan that I am keeping OFF of the main table.  This should hopefully protect them from spills!

My Rainbow of KoolAid Colors.  I did a test dye when writing up the tutorial and these are the unmodified shades I got from Cherry, Orange, Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape KoolAid each mixed in 1/3 cup of water and applied to a 100 g pre knit blank.  
I also made sure to supply cups for mixing dye, water, measuring cups and plastic wrap for wrapping up the yarn.

Finally, I provided printouts of the instructions we were going to follow in the dye-a-long.  I promised that I would share this handout with the entire Crochet Club so those who couldn't make the dye-a-long could participate on their own later on.  

The Tutorial - Available for Download through Google Drive!  You can use this tutorial for your own Kool-Aid Dye alongs, just please remember to give ChemKnits credit for the instructions.   When viewing the images in a web browser, the pictures appear strange, but when the file is downloaded and opened with a PDF reader program the images look normal.  

Photos From the Dye-a-Long

Waiting for everyone to arrive
The table quickly got messy as we all started painting.  (Unfortunately I forgot to take some in progress pictures until the very end.)

 After the dye had been set in the microwave, I had my friends leave the yarn behind to cool.  This is easily the longest step in the process and I knew that I could handle rinsing and drying the 6 skeins myself.  

6 skeins handpainted with KoolAid and one (far left) kettle dyed with Easter Egg Dye tablets.  
I made sure that my  Downloadable Handout contained instructions for the washing and drying so that even without a demonstration of the technique people would be able to do it on their own at home.

I love the final pictures of the finished skeins.  It is amazing how different people using similar flavors and colors of KoolAid can create such different colorways.  Now I just have to wait to see what people will knit/crochet with their fabulous hand dyed yarns!

My Handpainted Yarn

For my demo, I used black cherry, grape and blue raspberry lemonade. At least 2 packets blue, 1 cherry and 1 or 2 grape.  I diluted some cherry to get a pink but I added the vinegar to the dilution to make sure there was still some acid. I also mixed some of the colors together before applying them to the yarn to get some different shades of the red and pink.  I wanted to make sure that I added the colors in a random way around the skein of yarn, I didn't want to have super regular repeats.  

As I mentioned previously in this post, I demonstrated a second technique at the dye along.  While we were waiting for the yarn to soak, I set up pot on the stove to kettle dye some blank yarn with Easter Egg Dye Tablets.  My crochet club had a lot of fun watching the colors spread out over the yarn.  (More details from this demo will be in a future post.)  


I had so much fun hosting a dye-a-long that I know I will want to host another one in the future.  I've also given some thought to trying to do a live streaming dye-a-long, but I haven't worked out the logistics of this one yet.  Please let me know what you think and I'll see what I can come up with!  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chirphead's Woobie Zebra

As soon as I saw the Woobie Zebra knitting pattern, I knew that I wanted to make it for my first child.  When I found out Chirphead was a boy I needed to order some yarn to make some new projects.  I'm so thrilled that over half the projects I wanted to make for my baby boy could be accomplished out of my existing stash.  However, some projects like the following woobie required that I purchase some yarn. 

I started with the inner ears to find out whether I needed to order more pink yarn.  It turns out that I had enough!  

This project was knit on size 3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles on KnitPicks Shine Sport yarn in Black (139 g, 306 yards), White (51 g, 113 yards), Cosmopolitan (2 g, 4 yards), and French Blue (7 g, 16 yards).  I learned a lot of helpful things when I created the Tiger Woobie for my close friends' baby on the way, including to count my stitches carefully.   (Check out that post for more in progress photographs.)  

Notes from Construction
  • Instead of a provincial cast on, I cast on with the long tail method.  I will pick up stitches to create the picot edge when the time comes.  (This worked well with my previous woobie.)  
  • There are a few mistakes with the stitch placement.  For example, on Round 13 it says "K82, cdd, SM...."  but later on it says that you should knit until 2 sts before the last marker to make the cdd and slip the marker and put it back after.  The added decrease Rnd 1 also needs some adjustment to keep the additional cdd's spaced similarly in each round.  
  • Black Ball 1 finished in the towards the end of round 14.
  • Before folding for the picot edge, I counted to double check my stitch count.  Wahoo!  75, 75, 75, 75.  
  • Picking up the stitches was a little hard because of the black stitches, but I think that it went pretty well overall.
    Wrong side of the folded edge
  • Before the decrease stripe of black stripe 4, I counted sts as follows: 61, 61, 60, 60.  It looks like I probably had an extra cdd at some point, sigh.  I actually found where this extra CDD is located, but it wouldn't be noticable to anyone but me.   I'll keep going and adjust my stitch counts when adding the additional cdd's as I did with the tiger woobie.  (I'm afraid that skipping a CDD to adjust the stitch number now will be more noticable than adjusting hte beginning of the additional decreases.)  
  • Black Ball 2 finished mid way through the first round of black stripe 6 (the border doesn't count as a stripe.)  This is much earlier than the equivalent MC in the tiger, so I am a little concerned about running out of yarn... but not TOO concerned.  
  • After black stripe 10, the counts are as follows: 35, 35, 34, 34
  • Next decrease round (CC row 11):  K15, CDD, PM, K15, CDD, K14, CDD, PM, K15, CDD, K14, K2tog, PM, K15, CDD, K14, K2tog, PM, K15, CDD (with first st of previous round.)  As with the Tiger, there should now be 124 sts and evenly spread between the original markers (31 sts - alternating 15 or 16 sts between new markers.)  Continue the instructions as written.  
  • At the end of the 14th CC stripe, I hit 28 sts.  I switched to the MC (black) to knit the one round even before the "next round" decreases and continue to the crossing of stitches for the head closure.

  •  White Ball 2 finished in the short rows of row 7 of the zebra head.
  • The embroidery went surprsingly well.  Like I did with the tiger, I am going to secure my stitching with a bit of non-toxic elmer's glue.
  • The Mane - Woa boy, I was not quite sure how to start with this one.  Shine sport is a yarn with a lot of drape, not the best for making a mohawk.  I started by securing a row of fringe that was 3 strands x 7 deep.  I then realized that it was slightly off center, so my second row of 3x7 strands seemed to fix that.  Therefore, I decided to do without a third row of fringe as was suggested in the pattern.
  • To finish up, I trimmed the mane a bit to be closer to a 1.5" length rather than a 3" length that we started with.  There is still some floppiness, but then again, what horse has a mane that stands up unless they have a buzz cut?  I'm having extra fun with this trim because I got my own hair cut earlier today!  

    Chirphead snuggling with the in-progress woobie!
In the end, this project consumed 112 yards of White, 306 yards of black, 16 yards of French Blue and 4.5 yards of Cosmopolitan Knit Picks Shine Sport yarn. I am so thrilled with the way Chirphead's woobie turned out, and I know that I will be making more of these in the future.  Can't you see that the tiger and zebra are already best friends?