Monday, March 31, 2014

Turkey Head

Thanksgiving was months ago, but I am always Thankful for my little Lucky!  At the time of Thanksgiving, he was just 7 weeks old, and now he is almost 6 months!  Wow has time flown by.  Long before I was pregnant, I did a lot of research into costume baby hats, and knew that I would want to make a bunch for my child.  Lucky had been wearing a pumpkin hat since birth (appropriate for an October baby!) and I knew that I wanted to create something special for his first Thanksgiving.  I knew that I had found a winner in the Jive Turkey Baby Hat. 
Seriously I am melting.  I cannot believe how tiny he was!  I think he was 5 weeks old in this picture. 
Cast on while snuggling my (exactly) 1 month old baby boy.  Boy does "Lucky's" mama feel lucky!

The hat pattern is written for a 1 year old.  I want it to fit my 1.75 month old.   For the pumpkin head hat, I cast on 60 sts on size 6 needles.  This hat fit great at 1 month boy with a 14.5" head with room to spare.  I decided to cast on 64 sts, and then start at row 3 when it was time for the decreases.  This is still a multiple of 8 (important for the decrease rounds) and should fit my baby in ~3 weeks... I hope.  The nice thing about a rolled brim is that the hat can easily fit a smaller or larger baby.  Wahoo!! 

The hat was knit with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (Camel Heather - 36 g, 80 yards; White - 4 g, 9 yards) on size 6 double pointed needles. I wish that I had a more caramelized brown color in my stash, but I am happy to be able to create this hat out of yarns that I already have.  Now of course I had to worry about yarn, I'm always worrying about yarn.  I only had 37 g of the brown yarn to start, but it turned out okay in the end.

16 rows is ~2.5 inches.  there are 16 rounds for the top of the hat decrease.  The pumpkin hat is 6.5" long with the brim unfolded.  We don't need the turkey hat to be 7.5" long.... so I will knit in stockinette for less than the 5" directed. I knit just over 4.5 inches, 30 rows. I decided to graft the top together with kitchener rather than 3 needle bind off.  12 g remain after completing the hat but before starting the legs.  

I marked the stitches I wanted to pick up with yarn to line them up on each side before starting the drumsticks.  I love that you pick up stitches for the drumsticks rather than make the drumsticks and then sew them on.   I hate sewing things together, and this is a one piece speciality hat!

After leg 1 of the hat was competed, 7 g of the brown yarn remained.  There should be just BARELY enough to complete the hat, but we'll have to see.  I have a ball in my cart ready to order today if I must.  (Otherwise I'd like to wait for a cyber Monday sale!)

I'm always worrying about yardage.... sigh...

Wahoo!  I had enough yarn, making this project a stash buster (rather than stash increase) after all.  1 g of brown yarn remained at the end.  

Before tacking the legs down
before tacking the legs down
after tacking the legs to the sides

Before tacking the drumsticks to the back of the hat, I wanted to try the hat on my baby.  Of course, this meant that I needed to wait for the baby to wake up. 

 Before tacking (left) and after (right). 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Join Two Strands of Yarn Without Making a Knot

Weaving in loose ends is my least favorite part of any project.  I want to spend my time knitting, not on the boring finishing details!  Recently I have worked on some knotless techniques for joining pieces of yarn together.  These methods, the Russian Join and the Felted Join, not only secure two ends of yarn together without a knot, but they completely eliminate any loose ends to weave in once you've completed the project!  Watch the videos below to find out how to do these two techniques.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Into the Whirled Fiber Club

Wahooo!!!!  My Into the Whirled Fiber has arrived!  If you follow me on Facebook, you may remember back in December when I was debating joining this fiber of the month club.  I requested to join the club on 12/20/2012, shortly after I received my spinning wheel for my 29th birthday.  I chose this club because in addition to fantastic colorways, there is a different kind of fiber used each month.  For a novice spinner like myself, this is PERFECT since it allows me to try out different types of fiber.  It took almost a year for me to get off of the waiting list.  I heard that I was off a day before my 30th birthday. 

First bag of fiber arrived 1/22/14

Why did I hesitate to join the club? Since I've had Lucky, there has been less time for spinning.  I have other fiber that I have not yet spun in my ever growing stash and I don't want to waste money.  However, I realized that this would make me happy and that I should try it out for at least a few months. 

Second bag of fiber arrived 2/24/14
I made a promise to myself that if I didn't keep up with the arriving fiber then I would cancel the fiber club... and here I am with two months worth not yet spun.  I got behind with the spinning because I had some very important deadlines to hit in February.  I wanted to complete a hat for Lucky's Fairy Godmother and a Woobie for Indy's Dog Godparents baby due VERY SOON!    However, now that I don't have any impending deadlines on the horizon I can start spinning again.  What to spin, oh what to spin?   Stay tuned to find out, those will be their own posts, but I had to share the exciting colorways with you right away. 

Each month comes with some fiber tags, to help me keep track of the yarn that I spin.  Awesome!

Do you want to keep up to date with my spinning projects?  Follow ChemKnits on Facebook! I share a lot of pictures while I'm spinning, much sooner than you'd see here on the blog. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs

I am a novice spinner.  As a novice spinner I still don't know many terms or what kinds of options are out there.  I'm basically been trying one technique, and I don't even know what it is called.  There is so much I need to learn, and this is why I'm grateful I've come across the book The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs: Techniques for Creating 80 Yarns by Sarah Anderson.

This book can teach you how to create some amazing art yarns that are so unique that if I were to ever see one in a store I would have to buy it right away.  But this is why I have a spinning wheel, so I can try to create them myself.  And with this book, I actually think that I could do it.

Beyond these advanced types o f yarns, The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs takes you through some basics.  You learn about different types of drafting techniques and when you may want to use one over another.  You can learn about different types of singles, and then the dozens of different ways you can ply them together.  There are many comparisons to show why you may want one type of yarn vs another for a project.   Ultimately everything boils down to preference, but this book shows the most comprehensive options of any spinning book I've seen thus far.

As a bonus, the book comes with little flash cards that show the different types of yarns you can create.  They are broken down into the single types, the final yarn and then what page you can find the instructions.  What a great way to flip through to figure out what you want to create!

After flipping through this book I immediately sent the Amazon link to my husband begging for it. (At the time of writing this review, my birthday was right around the corner so I was no longer allowed to buy stuff for myself.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Test Knit - Speedy Vintage Baby Jacket

A the time I signed up for this test knit, I am 38 weeks 1 day pregnant.  The baby could arrive any day, am I testing fate?  The Speedy Vintage Baby Jacket pattern looked very speedy indeed, and I figured that I would be able to finish it quickly.

Options for the test included 1 strands of super bulky yarn, 2 strands of bulky or 4 strand of worsted.  I had some Brava Worsted remaining from the Very Hungry Caterpillar project, so I thought this would be perfect. I decided to mix Hunter, Tidepool, Wine and Umber Heather together for this cardigan.  I started testing my gauge with 4 strands of worsted weight yarn on size 15 needles.

The size 15 needles gave a gauge of 9 sts/4", which is too tight.  I switched to size 17 needles.  Much better, I hit 8 sts/4"!

At the end of the yoke, the stitch count lines up perfectly.  This is something that is always a pleasure to tell the designer!  The stitch count is also perfect after setting the sleeve stitches aside.  

After knitting the yoke I realized that there are some differences between the instructions and the sample shown at the beginning of the test.  The instructions have you making buttonholes every 8 rounds, which means 2 on the yoke of the smallest size.  The sample, however, appears to have buttons every 4 rounds.  The buttons I have for the sweater are a little small for my buttonholes anyway, so I was considering sewing the buttons on and then adding snaps to the back.  We'll see what happens as the knitting goes forward.  

I knit 18 rounds after setting aside the underarms to measure 5".  I bound off in seed stitch on a WS row for a total of 19 seed stitch rounds.

On the underarms, I picked up an extra stitch on either side of the 2 picked up to decrease to help avoid a hole.  I then knit a total of 16 seed stitch rounds for a total of 4.5" before binding off in seed stitch.  

The cardigan sample showed three buttons above the seed stitch bottom, much closer than the 8 rounds written in the actual pattern.  My 3/4" buttons are a little small for the button holes anyway, so I decided to sew the button holes closed, sew buttons to the top and snaps to the back for a closure.  

This project consumed 57-58 g of each yarn color, ~127 yards.  Final measurements:  9.5" collar to hem; 10" wide when buttoned at hem; 6" wide collar when buttoned;  sleeves 3.5" wide; sleeves 8" long from the cuff to the neck.  

11 day old Lucky, modeling the cardigan on his due date.  

I signed up for the test knit on 10/6.  I started having contractions at 2:30 AM on 10/7.  What was I doing in between contractions?  Finishing the body and knitting most of the first arm.  My baby boy was born 10/8.  Thankfully I was able to complete the project by the testing deadline.  (Interestingly I finished the cardigan on my original due date of 10/19!) 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rainbow Dyed Long Gradient

Sock blanks are machine knit tubes created out of sock yarn to use as dyeing tools.  Frequently these blanks are knit with two strands of sock yarn together so when you dye your blank in any pattern you will be able to get matching socks.  I'm not a big sock knitter, so I decided to create some of my own blanks using a hand crank knitting machine.  Today I'm going to demonstrate handpainting this blank into self striping yarn (a long rainbow gradient) with KoolAid using 100g of KnitPick palette yarn in a blank.  (You can read more about my knitting machine here.)

The Plan, Dissolve 1 packs of 6 KoolAid Colors into 1/3 cup of water each. We used Cherry, Orange, Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape.  Presoak Blank for 30 min.  Squeeze out excess water and hand paint large sections to get a long gradient.  This project was so beautiful that I ended up taking multiple pictures along the way.  

Handpainting a rainbow with Kool-Aid
Wrapped up in plastic wrap to prevent the colors from mixing

Rinsing the yarn - see how clear the water is?  All of the color is in the fiber

My dyed blank drying (Is it still a blank once it has been dyed?  It certainly is too vibrant to be called a blank now!)

Another view of my drying rainbow yarn
The gradient didn't turn out perfectly.  There was some leaking of colors from where the reds and purple dye spilled out the ends, but overall we have a really successful asymmetric gradient.   The different sections of color are not evenly distributed, but this is something I knew from when I started filming the video.  I could have divided the blank into 6 equal sections first, and then scrunched up the middles rather than guesstimating as I did... however I think that this will still be a fun colorway so I don't mind!

If you look closely, you can see some of the areas where color bled into the yellow and blue sections.
The color sections aren't even, but are pretty nevertheless

Ready to unwind!
When winding into a center pull ball, I'm realizing that the imperfections from the machine knitting (link to post) made it impossible to unwind easily.  Somehow these twists didn't easily resolve on their own, and I ended up cutting the yarn and making Russian joins and/or felted joins in multiple places.  (This would NOT be an issue with a commercial knit blank, so this is why I did not mention this in the video.) 

Winding into a center pull ball

The finished yarn

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Colorwork DNA Double Helix Knitting Chart

I designed a DNA cable knitting chart, featured in a Beer Cozy and Kindle Cover knitting patterns, but when I read a comment on my EGCG Molecule Knitting Chart I decided to make a colorwork version of the chart.  This could be rotated 90 degrees to ring the cuff of a pair of gloves or kept vertical to run up the side of a hat.  Maybe I'll have to make something with this chart soon! 

The chart is 9 stitches wide and has a repeat of 26 rows. (28 rows are shown to mimic the chart from the DNA Cable Beer Cozy.)

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. © 2014 ChemKnits

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cupcake Knitting Patterns

I love everything about cupcakes.  I love baking them, eating them, decorating them.... but it can be dangerous to one's waistline to keep up this love for cupcakes.  Why not turn the love to a non-edible version by knitting cupcake themed projects?  Below you will find some of my favorite free Cupcake Knitting Patterns.

Free Cupcake Hat Knitting Patterns
Cupcake Hat-Child Size
Ribbed bottom, the top comes out a bit sort of like a beret. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cupcake Beanie
A cherry pompom on top. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cupcake baby hat
This hat is more loosely based on a cupcake shape. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cupcake Hat in Squiggle
Short ribbed brim, novelty yarn decorates the "frosting"
Toddler Cupcake Hat
A simpler shape than some of the other hats.
Yummy Cupcake Hat
Complete with a small knit cherry on top.
Bulky Baby Cupcake Hat
Another cupcake hat with a red pompom on top.
Hostess Cupcake Hat
The trademark curly frosting goes on top of the crown.
Bulky Adult Cupcake Hat
You don't need to be a kid to walk around with a cupcake on your head!

Free Stuffed Cupcake Knitting Patterns
Cupcake Knitting Pattern
A ribbed base and cherry on top.
Cupcake Pincushion
This one has a good shape, with a cherry on top.
Knit Cupcake
You can remove the wrapper to "eat" this stuffed knit cupcake.
Pearled top, ribbed base, cherry on top.
Fancy Cupcake
Frosting with sprinkles are drizzled over the top of this cupcake.
Amigurumi Hi-life Cupcake
These knit cupcakes have a swirl of frosting on top (think soft serve ice cream swirl)
Pink Bobble Cupcake
Rather than a ruffle edge to the frosting, this has a bobbled edge.
Floofy Cupcakes
Novelty yarn icing is super cute.
Divine Cupcakes
These come out of their papers to reveal smiling faces.
Birthday Cupcake
Knit in a bulkier yarn You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Loomy-licious Cupcakes
This item was made on Knifty Knitter Looms.
Yummy Scrummy Cupcakes
Embellished with holly or little flowers. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Playtime Petit Fours
You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.

Other Free Cupcake Themed Knitting Patterns

Cupcake Bib
A cupcake with a candle in it charted onto a bib. (The pattern may have written directions, but looking at the images you could convert it to a visible chart that you could use on any project.)
Cupcake Dishcloth
This dishcloth is shaped like a cupcake and has a ruffled edge where the frosting ends. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cupcake Broach, Corsage
Appears to be slightly stuffed You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cupcake with Cherry on Top Dishcloth
A VERY simple cupcake design.
Cupcake Mary Jane Booties
Looks cute with a cupcake hat. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Knitted Cupcake Decoration
A 2D cupcake with beaded sprinkles and a cherry on top.
'I love you cupcake' Tea Cozy
The top of the tea cozy has a cupcake perched on it.
An apron with cupcake decorations (I cannot tell if these are functioning pockets or not.) You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cup Cake Egg Cosies
There is also a matching tea cozy pattern
Fairy Cake Tea Cosy
Your tea pot becomes one large tea cozy. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Cake Bags
Knit bags embellished with 2D cupcake designs. You will need to create a free Ravelry account to view this pattern.
Chocolate Cake Tea Cosy
This could easily be converted from a cake to a cupcake if you change the striping at the bottom.
This pattern search was previously published on Sqiudoo. However, since they decided to punish articles with high link density, specifically mentioning knitted patterns*, I have decided to move some of my pattern searches here to ChemKnits.  The research gone into producing these lists and comments are100% my own as I was the original author of the Squidoo lens  cupcake_knitting_patterns under the username chemknitsblog

*"We understand that years ago there was value is creating a lens with a lot of links to a particular topic like knitted owl patterns or places to buy Ford Mustang parts or Disney coloring pages.However our new standards state that you need to use links in moderation." - Squidoo HQ

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How to Block a Crescent Shawl

I love creating crescent shaped shawls because they are so easy to block.  A sturdy bind-off edge doesn't requre any pins, you are only pinning the points of the lace out.  I thought it would be fun to demonstrate this technque by blocking the Polaris Shawl I made for my mom.

Most of the items I wet block are made out of wool, silk or cotton.  This shawl was made out of a Rayon/Metallic blend and as you can see it blocked beautifully.  If you're not sure how your yarn will block, try knitting a swatch and testing your blocking method on that first.  (Or, you can always go look at other projects created with the same yarn on Ravelry, but it is still best to check yourself, first!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lucky Knits

Little Lucky loves the things that I've knit for him!  Here are some new photos of him playing with and wearing things that I created for him while waiting for him to come into this world. 


Turtle Butt

The Zebra Woobie
A fishy hat

 I sure love my little boy!