Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Knitting Beyond the Edge

Are you on the edge on your seats for this book review?  You should because we're Knitting Beyond the Edge!  Knitting Beyond the Edge is the third book in a series by Nicky Epstein.  I reviewed Knitting on the Edge and Knitting Over The Edge years ago (almost 5 years ago!)  After that review I slowly added them to my knitting library, so when I realized that there were another two books in the series (Crocheting on the Edge - to be reviewed shortly) I knew that they should join my collection.

This book includes samples of cuffs, collars, corners and edges and closures.  There are amazing cabled button holes and ways to start (or finish) sweaters and mittens.  And knit frog closures!  There are delicious amounts of inspiration in this book that I could see turning into some designs I share here on ChemKnits.

The book does contain some patterns which incorporate fancy collars and cuffs.  The Belle Epoque Jacket (cover) features peplums, cuffs and cord frog closings.  There are three other sweaters before you find a really darling Deep V-neck Sleeveless Sweater (crop top!)  This sweater isn't my style, but it is certainly in fashion right now and the ruffled neckline is really hot.

Finally, there is a section to the book called "necklines &  patterns" where Nicky Epstein discusses how to incorporate some of the edgings in the book into a different pattern's neckline.  This way you can try to use this book to help modify existing patterns versus start designing a new sweater from scratch.

Knitting Beyond the Edge is a great knitting stitchionary that you should add to your library if you have any interest in knitting design or modification.  I've already mentioned that I'm feeling inspired and I cannot wait to play with some of these techniques in my designs.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Space Dyeing a Cake of Yarn with Easter Egg Dye Pellets

Easter egg dyeing kits are so much fun for dyeing yarn.  The food coloring is packaged in little dried pellets with some citric acid and are perfect for space dyeing yarn.  I love making asymmetric cake dyed yarns but I've never tried it out while using Easter Egg dye pellets (PAAS Color Cups).

I've always wanted to put dye in the middle of a cake of yarn.  With liquid dyes the only option would be to use a syringe or something to apply dye to the center.  The Easter Egg Pellets are a perfect solution, if I slip some inside the cake then more dye will penetrate the yarn.  Watch the video to see how it turns out!  (Or check out the spoilers below.)

If you want to try some space dyeing of yarn cakes, what can you do if you can't get your hands on Easter Egg dyeing kits?  Why not try freezing some concentrated food coloring to insert into a cake of yarn.

Top of the cake
Bottom of the cake
I am really excited with the way this yarn came out.  Can you think of any other fun experiments I could do with these Easter Egg Pellets?  I still have more kits to play with in my stash!
The final asymmetric gradient

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Another Crochet Market Bag

I just couldn't help myself.  I loved the first market bag I crocheted so much that I had to make some more!

There are many other free crochet market bag patterns out there, but I decided to stick with the Crochet Grocery Bag pattern I used last time.  (You will have to check out to download the pattern, but no payment is due since the cost is $0.00)  This time I also used a single skein of  Patons Kroy Socks FX in the colorway Cascade Colors (49 g, 163 yards) and size E (3.5 mm) crochet hook for the project.  This yarn has been in my stash so long it is almost the foundation of my stash!  I cannot wait to put this pretty yarn to good use.

There aren't that many non-toy/non-baby patterns that will use under 166 yards of sock yarn.  There are some cute fingerless mitts patterns, but nothing I was enamored with.  I am so happy to have found this market bag pattern.  I was nervous that it was a little small for usefulness, but I polled my favorite crafting Facebook forum and everyone thought they would be perfect.  Wahoo!

This time, I started with more yarn.  The ball of yarn weighed 54 g.  I love it when the yardage is underestimated on the label.  A 10% difference is okay by industry standards, although I tend to be upset if a ball of yarn is short by 5 g.  This yardage difference plus the mid-project weights I took last time mean that I can make this crochet market bag a little larger.

When it was time to start the decreases (9 complete rounds from previous instructions), I had 24 g of yarn left.  I decided I would knit at least 3 more rounds before starting the decreases.  After 12 rounds, 19 g remain. Again I will knit some more.  After 15 rounds total in this last step I'm ready to start the decreases.

Before Decreases
After Decreases
On feedback from my fellow Wellesley Crafters, I considered trying to make hte handles much longer, but ultimately this isn't meant to be an over the shoulder bag.  It is supposed to be a reusable evaivalent of what you could carry in a single plastic shopping bag.  And you can't go wrong with a bag you can use to carry a gallon of milk!  (It starts to pull on the hands a bit, but at least the bag isn't going to rip.)

Adding the handles
5 g remain again!  I think I crocheted a little tighter for this bag but it still fits a gallon of milk with ease.  I also didn't finish this one in a single day but it was a nice mindless project to have that helped me unwind during a stressful week.  I cannot wait to make more of these bags!

Who doesn't need a bag that is strong enough to carry a gallon of milk around?  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My First Sewing Machine

She's here, she's here!  My first ever sewing machine, a Janome 8077 Computerized Sewing Machine.  Name is still TBD, so I'd love suggestions in the comments.

I've been waiting for YEARS to buy a sewing machine, but while we lived in apartments it just wasn't practical.  Where would I keep her?  With Halloween approaching I finally bit the bullet at the beginning of September and purchased a machine.  Why?  Well there is a particular (simple) Halloween costume I want to make Lucky and it requires the use of a sewing machine if I didn't want to torture myself with hand sewing.  So here she is!

If I was ever going to film an unboxing video, this would be my chance.  However, I don't know what have the parts are called so it would be me saying, "Here is this doodad and this thingymagig."  From the labels, it looks like this is the list of what I've got:
  • Zigzag foot A (on machine)
  • Zipper Foot E
  • Satin Stitch Foot F
  • Automatic Butonhole foot R
  • Concealed Zipper Foot
  • 1/4" Seam Foot
  • Screwdriver (flat strange piece)
  • Bobbins
  • two sets of needles (size 12 and 14)
  • Seam ripper
  • Large & Small Spool Holders
  • Spool Stand,
  • Felt
  • Additional Spool pin

Are there any other accessories that would be useful to own?  I'd love advice!

I thought that I'd put on project runway while I was setting up the machine, but I really REALLY need the manual.  I don't know how to wind a bobbin!  The first (brown) bobbin was really wonky, but I didn't realize that I needed to lower the bobbin onto the stand thing.  The black bobbin winding went much better.

When I ordered my machine I also ordered some fabric for the first few projects in the book 1, 2, 3 Sew: Build Your Skills with 33 Simple Sewing Projects by Ellen Luckett Baker (see my review).  Unfortunately the machine arrived before the fabric, so I pressed out some scraps from my no sew pillows and played around with the machine.

Since my first project is going to be Lucky's costume I figured I'd start playing with the wonky brown bobbin and thread. You can't really tell, but I did sew two (fairly) straight seems and even reversed the second one at the end a bit to secure the thread!  Woot woot!  I am sewing on the slowest setting so I can figure out some control.  Of course, working on only one piece of fabric right now I have no idea how I'd use a seam ripper to remove these stitches.

When I was playing with the zigzag stitch (playing with width and closeness) I can tell that my tension is too great for this single piece of quilting cotton.  The tension improved once I started stitch two pieces of fabric together (as one would expect.)  Lower Numbers = less tension!

I also ordered a Fiskars Fabric Cutting Set which has a wide clear ruler, a cutting mat and a rotary cutter.  I'm still waiting on my fabric scissors and seam ripper to arrive in the mail, but those should be showing up any day now.

Well look at that, I'm off and ready to continue sewing.  Now I just need to get my fabric out for my first projects.  Yowza!

Is there anything I should add to my sewing kit to get started?  I'm very new at this so I'm looking for recommendations for basically everything! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Search for Valentines's Day Knitting Patterns

Before our first Valentine's Day, my fiance and I had joked about kindergarten crafts made out of pasta. The result? We both ended up making Valentine's Day cards with pasta! These cards are goofy, but we still have them almost 10 years later.  Valentine's Day is really far away, but sometimes when you're planning crafts you have to work in advance.  Here are some suggestions to get you started with creating something from the heart for your Valentine.  

Free Heart Shaped Valentine Knitting Patterns

When the platform Squidoo existed, ChemKnits did multiple focused free knitting and crochet pattern searches.  These "lenses" were migrated to Hubpages at the end of 2014, but the Hubpages platform does not like Hubs that contain multiple links, especially if these links go to the same site (such as Ravelry.)  I am reposting the search here on ChemKnits.  I did all of the searching to find this list myself, and the descriptions are of my own writing unless otherwise noted.  Please let me know if any of the links are broken, I am working to migrate many pattern searches at once and may have missed one.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Puppy's Lion Snood for Halloween

When I was growing up, my mom always made my Halloween costumes.  I still have the cape she made me from when I was the Count at 2 years old and the dinosaur (dragon?) costume from when I was 4 or 5.  I want to create some Halloween outfits for both Indy and Lucky.  It will be easier to create something for Indy because I can rely on knitting and he's pretty easy going when it comes to dressing up.  The almost 2 YO Lucky on the other hand... well he requires a little more convincing when it comes to wearing costumes.

I hope you enjoy this simple pattern of a dog!

  • Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver or other worsted weight yarn in 3 colors (Carrot, Gold, Cafe Latte).  Yardage: ~20 g (37 yards) of each color for the snood alone, 43-47 g (80-90 yards) of each color. A total of 250 yards of worsted weight Red Heart Super Saver was used to complete the sample photographed here.  
  • Needles:  5 US size 11 (8.0 mm) double pointed knitting needles or size needed to obtain gauge 
  • Gauge: 8 sts/3", 8 rows/2" over stockinette on size 11 needles with 3 strands of worsted weight yarn. 
  • Notions: A measuring tape for checking your dog's measurements, a yarn needle for weaving in loose ends, a crochet hook for adding the fringe.  
  • Dog Model: 25 lb American Eskimo Dog (4 year old "puppy".)  His head is 15 inches around (no including his fluffy fur) and he has 3.5-4 inches between his ears. Each ear is approximately 2" wide.  Indy frequently wears M/L commercial dog costumes.  
  • Finished snood size (without fringe): 5.5" long, 16" circumference.  

I don't normally work in 100% acrylic yarns but I needed something machine washable for when I sewed Lucky's costume together.  I selected the colors Carrot, Gold and Cafe Latte because they complemented the sweatshirt and pants I was going to use for Lucky's costume.  I'm not worried about yardage because each of the balls of yarn is almost 200 g, 364 yards - I know that there will be plenty for both projects plus possibly some extra accessories.  

Sizing - I will make notes through the pattern so you can make adjustments to the shape and placement of ear holes.  The ear holes are entirely optional, but Indy hates to have his ears covered so I wanted to make the costume a bit more pleasant for him.

The puppy snood without the lion fringe.  The base pattern is simple enough that you can modify it to fit your favorite pooch.

The Snood Pattern - The puppy snood is knit holding three strands of worsted weight yarn together.
  • Before you begin, cut and set aside ~2 yards of each color yarn.
  • Cast on 44 stitches.  Join to knit in the round, taking care to not twist the stitches.  (Sizing Note:  Since Indy's head is 15 inches around and my gauge is 8 sts/3", 40 sts should fit exactly, but I wanted some additional clearance so I cast on 44 sts.  The number of stitches you cast on should be in a multiple of 4 for the pattern to work correctly.)  
  • Knit in 2x2 ribbing (K2, P2) around for 3 rounds or until the piece measures ~1 inch from the cast on edge.  (If you are skipping the ear holes continue knitting the rib pattern for # rows or until the piece measures # inches, or desired length, long.)  
  • Next Round:  Bind off 6 sts in ribbing pattern, P2, K2, P2, K2, Bind off 6 sts in ribbing pattern, continue ribbing pattern for remaining 24 sts.  Group 8 stitches between ear holes onto one DPN.  (For sizing purposes, I tried the snood on Indy's head and looked closer at where the placement of the ear holes should be when his ears are up at attention.  Err on the side of larger ear holes rather than smaller ones for the comfort of your dog.)
  • Next Row:  Turn work, *K2, P2* over 24 sts 
  • Next Row: Turn Work, *K2, P2* over 24 sts 
  • Between Ear Space - Using the yarn you set aside before casting on, join yarn to the right of the stitches between the ear holes.  P2, K2, P2, K2.  Turn work.  P2, K2, P2, K2.  You are now done with this scrap of yarn.  
  • Knitting in the round again.  With the yarn still attached to the balls, cast on 6 stitches using the backwards loop cast on method, P2, K2, P2, K2 across the sts between the ear holes, CO 6 sts with the backwards loop cast on method, *K2, P2* across to the end of the round.  (44 sts)
  • Next Round:  *K2, P2* around.  Continue knitting this ribbing pattern until the entire piece measures 5.5 inches or reaches desired length.  
  • Bind off in ribbing pattern.  

Finishing - It is time to add fringe all over the snood to create a fantastic lion's mane for your favorite puppy.  It is better to start with too long of a mane and then trim it than to start too short.

Cut many (DOZENS AND DOZENS) of 6" lengths of yarn.  Using a crochet hook, knot fringe around the snood, starting with the cast on edge.  Apply the fringe all over the snood until you have achieved the amount of mane desired.

A Quick Refresher on Adding Fringe to a Knit Garment with a Crochet Hook

I applied fringe to every cast on stitch  (for a good face frame) and then somewhat randomly around the rest of the hat.  I focused the embellishment on the knit parts of the ribbing and skipping the purl valleys to maintain the stretchiness of the snood.  I did add some extra fringe around the edges of the ear holes.

The fringe only added on knit ribs, not the purl valleys

Depending on the drape of your fringe (and the amount of yarn you have) you can either cover the entire length of the snood in fringe or you can stop once you have a mane you are happy with.  I went just beyond the back of the ear holes and then left the bottom inch or so bare because it looked completely covered when modeled by Indy.

Where I stopped adding fringe
The Lion Puppy Snood is ready for a puppy model!  
The next step is the most important one... Put the lion's mane snood onto your favorite puppy and snap tons of photos!  Indy is such a fluffy puppy normally that adding the mane didn't really change this volume too much, mostly just his color.  

More pictures of Indy being a good sport
Indy was such a good sport in this project.  I kept measuring the snood on him and he would hold steady while I snapped some pictures.  He was so steady that I never dropped a stitch or got poked with a needle.  This very good puppy got a lot of cookies, to the extent where Lucky was confused and started asking for cookies, too.  Maybe I need to rename Indy's treats to something else...

Watch the snood grow on Indy.  I tried the snood on him every couple of rows to ensure a good fit.  

By the end of this project Indy started wagging and getting excited each time I called him over because he knew he would get a treat if he was patient with me.  

The first little bit of fringe gives Indy some bangs!
Beginning stages of the fringe application

Enjoy this simple and super adorable puppy Halloween costume!  Lucky loves his lion brother.

Abbreviations Used in this pattern:
RS - Right Side
WS - Wrong Side
Sts - Stitches
K - Knit
P - purl
CO - cast on
BO - bind off

These knitting pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. You are not to sell, distribute or reprint this pattern without the permission of ChemKnits. © 2015 ChemKnits