Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Baby Rowdy in Some of His Hand Knits

You've seen me talk about many items I've created for baby Rowdy, but since these posts were created before he was born there are no images of him wearing them.... until now!  I hope you enjoy some of the cuteness of the newest member of the ChemKnits family!

First up is baby Rowdy in his Puerperium cardigan.  I haven't yet posted about the construction of this sweater but I finished it up a week before he was born!  

The sweater is in the same yarn as Lucky's Frozen sweater.  I am SO proud of the image I captured below!  

Back before Lucky was born (and was known by the nickname "Chirphead") I hand dyed, spun and knit a baby cocoon for him. This cute little photography prop made the rounds of many of Lucky's friends who were born in the same year.  The pod made it back in time for me to photograph Rowdy in it.  

My photography skills (and photoshop skills) are very amateur but I enjoy it so much.  It helps to have such an adorable subject!  

The crochet newborn dinosaur cape was just big enough to fit my newborn baby.  It was hard to pose with the spines but I am happy with the images I captured.

Finally my little Rowdy is snuggled with his Rainbow Unicorn Woobie in his Chevron Rainbow Hat.  

This is not the last post of Rowdy pictures wearing handknits. Stay tuned for more cuteness!  If Rowdy is referred to as "Boogaloo" then you know the post was written before he was born.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Homemade Fizzy Bath Bombs

I'm not sure if I've ever discussed my homemade bath bombs here on ChemKnits, but last winter I decided to make up a small batch for Christmas gifts (and to use myself.)  One of the biggest comforts while pregnant was taking a nice relaxing soak in a tub.  The tub was the only place where all of my achy muscles could relax and for those brief periods I could leave all of the third trimester aches and pains behind.

Bath Bombs - the Simple Version
  • Baking Soda - 8 oz
  • Citric Acid - 4 oz
  • Epsom Salts - 4 oz
  • Corn Starch - 4 oz
  • Essential Oils - 2 tsp (~10 mL)
  • Olive Oil - 2.5 T
  • Water - 1 T
Mix the dry ingredients together well, eliminating any clumps.  Separately mix together the liquid ingredients.  Combine, stirring fast to stop any fizzing until you get the consistency of damp sand.  Press into a mold (I use a cupcake tin).  Remove from mold and let dry completely.  Store in ziplock bags or similar.  Enjoy a relaxing bath!  One match makes 5-6 cupcake sized bath bombs. (For more detailed instructions, check out the whole Homemade Bath Bombs Tutorial that I wrote a few years back.)  

My old kitchen scale disappeared somewhere along my move.  I had it with me at my in-laws before we could move into our house but somewhere between Brookline and Newton I can no longer find it.  
I now have a American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale and even though the stage is small, I like that I can weigh things up to 0.1 g. (For this project I"m weighing in ounces, but for yarn and dye reasons I liked increasing the precision of the scale.)

Mixed and ready to mold (left), Dry Ingredients (right)

Pressed into the mold.  Press the sandy mixture in to the mold tighter than you might expect.

When you press them into the mold, press down tightly so it is really compact.  In the above image I probably could have made only 5 bath bombs by filling the cupcake tins higher, but this way the fizzy relaxation will last a bit longer.

If I were to just use the bath bombs myself I store them in zip lock bags.  However, for gifts I put the cupcake shaped bath bombs inside some 3.75" x 6" clear treat bags, like shown in the image below.  

This time I made three scents.  Orange, Grapefruit and Orange Mint.  For the third scent I used 1/4 tsp Mint extract and 1.75 tsp Orange oil... the mint is strong!

Aren't they cute?  I can't wait to use the extras myself!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What's This? A Hat for Lucky's Pal!

What's this?  A fun winter hat for one of Lucky's friends!  We have a group of friends that we call the Pals.  We started out as a group of 6, but as the years go by we have increased up to 11!   One of Lucky's friends (Pals #9 aka Buddy Nueve) is 11 months younger than him and also lives in MA.  I didn't want to part with any of Lucky's hats from last winter because we want to keep them in reasonable shape for Baby Boogaloo (Pals #10).  

I know that Buddy Nueve has a large head for a 1 year old, so I had his mom take some measurements for me.  In October, Buddy Nueve's head (13 months old) was 18-3/4" around and about 12" eartip to eartip.  When Lucky was 12 months old, his head measured 18" around and was about 10.5" eartip to eartip.  I believe that Buddy Nueve's head has been in the 90th percentile whereas Lucky was pretty consistently in the 50th.  

I would have started knitting right away, but Lucky was at school today so I couldn't even try on his hat from last year to see how it compares.  I want to make sure that this hat will fit Baby Nueve for a while!  That is the whole point of having an extra large folded brim, the hat can "grow" to accommodate a growing toddler.  At 2 years old, Lucky still fits into his What's this? hat!  the brim is getting a little short in the back but the hat is still a functional garment for keeping my toddler warm.  Perfect!  Lucky's head currently measures 19" around and 12" from eartip to eartip, meaning that the what's this? hat as written should have no problem fitting Buddy Nueve.  

I thought this would be a good opportunity to make this design using some commercial yarns, since the original What's This? Toddler Skullcap knitting pattern used my handspun worsted weight yarn.  I had Berroco Peruvia worsted weight wool in 7104 Oat (20 g, 34 yards), 7153 Purple (36 g, 63 yards), 7145 Blue (16 g, 27 yards) and Brown (10 g, 17 yards - color # unknown) in my stash.  I'll use size 5 (3.75 mm) double pointed needles.  

I started with over 110 g of these remnant colors.  With 174 yards/100 g, this is going to be more than enough yarn for me to create Buddy Nueve's hat.  I wanted to have some fun with the striping, and to sort of change it up as I go along.  

Striping pattern:
  • Cast on and then knit 5 rounds of ribbing in purple
  • 1 tan ribbing round
  • 3 brown ribbing rounds
  • 3 purple ribbing rounds
  • 5 blue ribbing rounds
  • 2 tan ribbing rounds
  • 1 blue ribbing rounds
  • 2 brown ribbing rounds  - At this point the ribbing portion measures 3.25" from the cast on edge.
  • 4 purple rounds (all stockinette from here on out)
  • 2 blue rounds
  • 2 purple rounds
  • 5 tan rounds
  • 1 purple round
  • 3 tan rounds
  • 1 brown round
  • 2 blue rounds
  • 5 purple rounds
  • 1 tan - Here the piece measures just shy of 9.5" from the cast on edge even though only 26 stockinette rounds were knit.   
  • 1 blue round - The first decrease round.  Follow decreases in pattern as written.  
  • 4 tan rounds
  • 2 purple rounds
  • 2 brown rounds
  • 4 blue rounds - 20 sts remain
  • 4 tan rounds - then pull in loose stitches and weave in loose ends.

The hat alone weighs 69.5 g.  A total of 122 yards of yarn needed to create the hat.  

With a size H crochet hook and the purple yarn, I created a 15 loop bobble (see pattern for instructions).

I was bad and didn't check my gauge, but since this is made with a really wide brim the hat can be too long and that's perfectly okay.  

Lucky's hat is a bit stretched out by this point, but the hats are basically the same size.  This should last Buddy Nueve for this winter and through next, if it doesn't get lost! 

Lucky was happy to model his buddy's new hat.  I'm so glad to see that a toddler size hat can last multiple years!  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Side Fabric Pencil Holders

I'm onto chapter 3 of 1, 2, 3 Sew!  This chapter is all about organizers, I will be making items that exist in three dimensions without the help of a pillow form to hold them out.  Now is the time when mistakes will really start to show up, so let's get started!

This project is supposed to teach the skills of "circular bottom construction" and "button and elastic loop closure".  I am going to fail on the second category because I don't have any elastic cord in my stash.  When I went to the craft store to get supplies for the previous few projects, they didn't have any black cord and I didn't want to use white on my Halloween Themed little holder.  I think this is the first time that I'm cutting corners in a 1, 2, 3 Sew project.  I am adding another skill, and that is using iterfacing on a project.  I plan to use quilting cotton for the inner and outer layers so I will have to line them with some interfacing to make this cup more stable.

Now do I need to add interfacing to one side or both?  I purchased Pellon #931TD Fuisble Midweight  interfacing.  I would have liked to have picked a slightly lighter weight one, since now reading the instructions this looks like it is meant for heavier fabrics, but Lucky was with me in the store and I didn't have a lot of time for research.  I'm just going to line the outer fabric piece and see how this turns out.  I will cut the interfacing to the same dimensions (maybe a tad bit smaller) as my fabric, although I will attempt to get the 1/8" seam allowance.

I cut the interfacing circle first, fused it to the outside fabric and then cut around the edge.  For the rectangle, I cut the interfacing at 1/4" less in each dimension and then ironed it onto my fabric.  I think this worked out pretty well.

I have no idea how I'm supposed to press the seams open when I have tubes that I don't want to put creases in, but i tried my best.  Maybe I really need to get an ironing board with an arm attachment.  Putting my fears aside, I think I did a reasonable job because the tubes were wider than my iron.

this wasn't sewing in a circle as much as it was sewing around the outside of a cylinder in a straight line.  Thinking of it this way made it a little easier to proceed.

I pressed the top such that the lining came up slightly above the outside fabric.  This way when the top is folded over you don't see that seam on the top.

The lining doesn't exactly lay flat on the inside, and there is some puckering around the outside but I think that it looks pretty awesome.

I'm not totally satisfied after the completion of my first pencil holder.  I want to try to make another one!  Like the first one, I ironed the interfacing onto the outer fabric but not the inner one.

At the time I finished sewing, I wasn't sure how I would incorporate these into my party decor.  They are a little too tall to hold forks and knives, although I could always just fold down the lip more.  I'm sure I'll come up with something creative to do with them!

I'm still not sure if I should have put the interfacing on the inner edge, but if one of the layers is going to be wrinkled it makes more sense for it to be the lining.

If you have any tips for adding a circular base onto a piece, I'd love to hear it.  I found this really really hard and my second attempt isn't that much of an improvement over my first.

Even though I didn't add the loop and button to allow these to fold over and close, I sort of wish that I had added some kind of handle to these little bags to make them a basket.  I'm feeling optimistic with the next project, a Storage cube.  maybe adding a square base will be easier than adding on a circular base.

Project started 10.19.2015

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Overdyeing Roving Previous Dyed with KoolAid

Sometimes I love the way yarn I dye turns out... and other times it isn't quite what I want for a project.  When I snow dyed roving with KoolAid I got really fun greens blue and purples on my roving, but there was a little too much blank undyed fiber for my taste.


I don't know how I want to spin up this fiber yet, but I would like it to have more color in it.  Plus, this is an opportunity to demonstrate overdyeing fiber when you don't like the results the first time around.  This can show how colorfast the original colors are because they don't bleed or disappear during the "cooking" process.  

I created a blue dye bath with blue food coloring and vinegar and overdyed my braided roving.

Video Contents

  • [0:00] Introduction 
  • [1:14] Setting up the dyebath and adding the roving 
  • [4:08] At a simmer, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 min 
  • [4:42] Washing the overdyed roving 
  • [5:50] Finished Dyed Fiber

The braid picked up a lot more blue which brightened the purples and greens and removed a lot of the gray space.  Plus, dyeing it in a braid resulted in some really fun mottling.  There are still some undyed spots and we have even more variation of color.  I know this will look really cool when I get the chance to spin it up. 

What do you think I should make out of this fiber?  Hand dyed roving has so much potential because I can decide how to spin it AND then what to knit out of it. I have 100 g and since I need to spin it first the possibilities are endless.   Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Paper Covered Toilet Paper Pumpkins

I saw a really cute image of toilet paper rolls covered with Halloween fabric to make little pumpkins.  While I have a lot of Halloween fabric in my stash right now (oh my I'm getting a fabric stash), I didn't want to use any of them to cover rolls of toilet paper.  I did decide to try to make my own pumpkins using packing paper and the cardboard toilet paper tubes.

First I laid out some of the packing newsprint (left over from our move) and painted some vibrant patterns on it.  My polka dot attempt is a little strange, but I  know that the paper will get a little wrinkled as I'm working.  From the other tutorial, I knew that I wanted about a fat quarter sized (18"x21") piece of paper so I estimated this as best as I could.

I'm really proud of the plaid I created!  I don't even mind that I didn't wait for the black paint to dry before adding the orange stripes.

I've been saving toilet paper tubes with planning Lucky's Halloween Birthday Party in mind, but also because I know there are SO MANY crafts you can do with them so having a stash of these tubes on hand won't be a problem for our crafting future.  (I really can't wait for when Lucky can get more involved with these crafting projects!)

I cut around the patterns I painted and prepared to fold over an empty toilet paper roll.  Unfortunately my first attempt didn't stay together, I need some glue!  Or maybe I just need some weight, the paper pumpkin attempt was so light that a puff of air would knock it over.  Maybe there is a rationale for using full toilet paper rolls.

With my first polka dot paper, I couldn't get the pumpkin to stay closed in the paper towel roll. I needed to bust out my trusty rubber cement to hold it closed.  Thankfully, the paper is glued to paper so the roll of toilet paper will still be usable once we're done with these Halloween decorations.  

The next two pumpkins assembled easier and didn't require any extra glue.  

For the stems, I cut one piece of construction paper into three long strips lengthwise (vines) and three short fat pieces for the stems.

I rolled up the stems and inserted them into the tops of the pumpkins.  I didn't use tape or glue or anything, they held their shape pretty well when inserted.

For the vines, I took the long strips of paper and cut them in half again.  I realized that they were too thick to curl.  I then rolled one of the new thin strips around my finger and pressed a bit to set the curl.  I took it off and stuck one end into the pumpkin, pulling out the curl a bit.   You can trim this shorter if you'd like.

These painted toilet paper pumpkins are super easy to create, and best of all you can still use the toilet paper once you no longer need them as party decorations!  I'm not quite sure where these will end up at my party, but it really might end up being the bathroom.  Not that a guest would know to look in these for extra toilet paper, but I won't mind unwrapping them when needed someday since they were so fast to assemble.