Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas! ChemKnits Stocking Knitting Patterns Summary

When I was taking a picture of my hand knit stockings on the fireplace, I realized that I have never made a summary post of the designs I created for my family.

These designs are very special to me.  I created our first stockings after Keith and I got engaged.  My stocking has two sides, my maiden initials (RFR) on one side and my married initials on the other (RFB).  I only ever used my stocking for one Christmas as RFR, but it was nice to have the stocking transition to my new name along with me.  

Coordinating Stocking Patterns:

I will be back with many more posts for the ChemKnits blog in 2018.  I have SO MANY PROJECTS that I still need to write up.  Not to mention all of the awesome Dyepot Weekly videos.  Thank you for all of your support for the last (almost!) 9 years.  I cannot wait to see where the next year will bring us.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope everyone has a winter season filled with warmth, light, and lots of squishy yarn.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sov, Sov, Sov!

Happy Chanukah, everyone!

I had a lot of intent to make new Chanukkah outfits for the boys this year, but unfortunately I ran out of time.  I decided (on the morning of the second day of Chanukkah) to draw some cute little dreidle shirts with puffy paint.

I freehanded these shirts.  I'm finding that I'm a lot more confident in my drawing abilities.  To be fair, these had a bunch of straight lines, but I've been doing more details on things lately (We made handprint turkey shirts for Thanksgiving, I should be sharing those soon!) so I thought it was fun to create these.

I have a blended family, so we celebrate both Chanukkah and Christmas in this house.  I was able to find some fun Chrismukkah decorations at the store this year, and it meant a lot to find something that represented my family.  I hope to design some decorations of my own that celebrate our togetherness after New Years that I can hang up next year. 

Happy Holidays!  I hope that you spend the rest of 2017 filled with warmth and light.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thank You Kickstarter Backers!

We did it!  The Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Campaign was a smashing success.  Thanks to you the Dyepot Weekly video series has enough funding for at LEAST the first 35 episodes.  I have used the funds raised for new equpitment (including a new dyepot), new dyes (food coloring, natural dyes, Rit liquid dyes, Jacquard acid dyes), and a lot of bare yarn from KnitPicks (Affiliate Link).

I would like to thank all of the Kickstarter backers for supporting my dream.  Not only did you fund the physical materials and supplies for the dyeing videos, but you have motivated me to create videos on a regular schedule.  This support, knowing that so many strangers (who aren't really strangers to me anymore) want me to succeed gives me so much more confidence in my own abilitlies.  I'm not sure where the future will take ChemKnits, but I am excited to find out. I do know that we will be dyeing a lot of beautiful colors together!

Sponsors Level Backers - When I set out to start this Kickstarter, I wasn't sure if anyone would want to back it.  I am so honored that 18 people decided to sponsor individual episodes of Dyepot Weekly.  The sponsored epsiodes just started coming out, and I sure hope that you all enjoy your videos (and your yarn!)
  • Marjorie
  • Elisa
  • Little Bird Stitchery
  • Rachel Wielgopolski
  • Carly Lanners
  • Kelly Kiehnhoff
  • Marek
  • Melanee Mortensen
  • Deborah
  • Diane at Singing Wolf Dyeworks
  • Tanya
  • CLFN
  • Victims for recent earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires
  • Elizabeth Theresa
  • Marilyn New
  • Sarah Birki
  • c4stuido
  • Madeline Turnipseed

Yarn Level Backers - From picking their own to just getting a little taste from a mini-skein, these backers supported my new endever.  I hope that you love your yarn!
  • Laura Mendez
  • Tabitha Carroll
  • Julie E.
  • Naomi
  • Jill Gower
  • Meaghan
  • JayCee
  • Sharon aka Bronx Knitter
  • Khristy Male
  • Jackie Kostick
  • Orla
  • Miranda from Anchored Soul Studio
  • Rosamunda Carter
  • Tracy
  • Keli Hansen - Owner of On a Quest for Fiber
  • Anonymous
  • Christy in AK
  • Jackalgirl
  • Maureen Bramberger
  • Heidi
  • Angela Fry
  • Nancy Brandt
  • Jami Moyer
  • Barbara Wade
  • April Hoy
  • Liz
  • Marci in Indiana
  • Leslie W.
  • ChemChica
  • Eve Underwood
  • Molly
  • Marie Hahn
  • Lindsey M. 
  • Teresa Leonard
  • Erin Hall from I Can Craft That
  • Amanda Cluxton
  • Recycled Rainbow
  • Lisa
  • Sarah Peterson
  • Elspeth Craggs
  • Veronica R. from Maryland
  • Martin Van Horn-Hickerson
  • Ladynthread
  • June from Alton, IL
  • Sarah from Massachusetts
  • Lacey Smith
  • Amanda W.
  • Seneca
  • Barbara Lowell
  • Michelle Stone
  • WB
  • Tanya Seaman
  • Rachel C.
  • @SeekingSunshine_knits (Instagram)
  • KT
  • Sewnut Barb
  • Beth Roberts
  • Shannon
  • Sarah
  • Liz Clothier
  • Steph Karpe
  • Sandy
  • Mary Margaret
  • Alé "Aeyt" Santos
  • Maggie
  • Catherine McClarey
  • Frisky
  • Tiffany G.
  • June Kryk
  • Marilyn Bunzo
  • Jess DuMond
  • Mary Ellen Meggs
  • Roselyne Caron
  • Nomad
Shout Outs - Thank you for believing in this project enough to support it for the digital rewards!
  • Rianne
  • Barbara
  • Phoebe A.
  • Hanna from Virginia
  • Stitchpunk
Thank you, also, to everyone who wished to remain anonymous or who declined a shout out.  Thank you also to those of you who selected the Cheer Squad or no reward, your vote of support means so much to me.  

Here is the official Kickstarter Thank You Video. I decided to add a dyeing project to the background of the shout outs.  In this video, you will watch me space dye 200 g of yarn, 100 g of 100% superwash wool and 100 g of untreated 100% wool with some Easter Egg dye tablets.  I sped up the dye spreading out 587% so you have something to watch while I read out the names. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT! I really hope that I pronounced everyone's name correctly! 

At the publication of this Thank You blog post, 10 Dyepot Weekly episodes have been published.  Is there a dyeing experiment you would love to see?  Let me know in the comments and I can add it to the list!  I look forward to the next year of dyeing adventures.

This post contains some KnitPicks Affiliate Links.  I have been using their yarns for years before becoming an affiliate in October 2017.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Beginning of Dyepot Weekly

Thanks to all of your support, the first episode of Dyepot Weekly was released on the day the Kickstarter Campaign ended.  Dyepot Weekly #1 - Dyeing Speckled Yarn with Dry Kool-Aid is a fun project that I had been saving up just for Dyepot Weekly.  I was blown away by all of the support I received to launch this new series of dyeing videos.  We hit our goal within the first 24 hours of the campaign and then ended at over 350%!  On day 2 of the campaign, I started planning and filming the episodes so I could launch the series as soon as possible.

Before I speckled the yarn, I wanted to create an all over base color.  I used some Kool-Aid Bursts squeeze bottles to dye two 100 g skeins of yarn, Bare Stroll Fingering and Bare Wool of the Andes Worsted (KnitPicks Affiliate Links), a pale mint/blue color.  I was surprised that the superwash merino /nylon blend took up the color from the cool beverage almost immediately to create a really cool splotchy color.  I knew as soon as this happened that I needed to design some superwash versus untreated wool dyeing experiments.

I used a tea strainer to speckle the dry Kool-Aid on top of the damp yarns.  I was more heavy handed with the cherry KoolAid on the 100% wool skein, and I feel like I really got my rhythm on the superwash/nylon fingering weight yarn.  The specks on the sock yarn are so tiny, it is incredible!  I have a suspicion that it is the superwash treatment that is allowing the colors to bind to the yarn so quickly, but this is something that I still need to explore further.  

Check out the first episode of Dyepot Weekly to see exactly how I created these stunning yarns!  

Thank you for all of the support you have shown me here on the blog over these years.  I can't believe that I started this site 9 years ago.  I get so much inspiration from all of your comments, questions, and suggestions.  Thank you for fanning the flame of creativity that is inside of me.  I can't wait to see what we create together next! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

The KnitPicks BIG Sale is here!

Are you ready?  I LOVE the biggest KnitPicks Sale of the year!  Thousands of yarns are up to 60% off and they released a few new yarn lines this morning.

Since I'm on the East Coast, I didn't have to wake up super early to check out the sale.  I did, however, start refreshing the KnitPicks website a bit before 9 AM EST.  I placed an order this morning and I'm really happy with what I added into my cart:

I am super excited by the new "Simply Wool" and "Simply Alpaca" lines of yarn.  The natural colors of wool are stunning, and I think that it would be really fun to overdye them.   I ordred a medium gray "Winkle" that I think would be REALLY FUN to overdye. I plan to overdye the WOTA pink roving, too.  KnitPicks also released lace weight Chroma yarn and new colors of Felici Sock Yarn

In addition to the yarns that will be on sale all week, there are going to be limited sales most days (or at least Wednesday and Friday according to the BIG Sale dashboard.)  Today (Monday 11/13), all pattern project kits are 40% off.  In the past I've used discounted kits like this to build up my stash.  I know that it is always useful to have more Wool of the Andes colors around since I use those all the time. 

I have a feeling that I might end up placing a second order sometime this week, especially if some something else goes on sale to tempt me.  I need to sort my stash and see what things I need to add to my personal collection.  What do you think I should buy?  I am tempted by a knitting unicorn pin and some of the tote bags.  I wonder what the special deals will be on Wednesday... 

Disclaimer:  I am a KnitPicks Affiliate and all of the links in this post are affiliate links.  I have been knitting with KnitPicks yarns for YEARS before becoming an affiliate and absolutely love their yarns.  Feel free to ask me about my favorites!  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mini-skeins from Memory Lane

The variety of hand dyed mini skeins mailed to Kickstarter Backers

The Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Campaign smashed my expecations, and smashed all of the stretch goals I came up with out of the park.  One of these stretch goals was that every backer who selected a shipped reward would receive a mini skein of hand dyed yarn.  Depending on the selected reward, the bonus mini-skein would be handspun or dyed on a commercial yarn.  

I did not label the individual mini skeins of yarn.  Instead, I thought it would be fun to write up a summary of all of these yarns, and to see if I could figure out exactly what video or blog post they came from. Are you ready for this trip down memory lane?

Hand Dyed and Handspun Mini-skeins

With one exception, all of the hand dyed and handspun miniskeins were spun recently.  So recently that I haven't even been able to write up a blog post about them!  However, all of the fiber dyeing takes place in different videos. Some of the spinning took place in livestreams, too!  Let's take a closer look at these 5 yard + miniskeins of handpusn yarn starting from the left:
  1. I dyed the fiber for the first two skeins on the left in a livestream this past September.  I handpainted 200 g of 100% wool roving with Kool-Aid.  This was the first time I did a dyeing livestream, and it was so much fun to interact with everyone while I was dyeing the fiber.  I also got a great tip, put the fiber though a salad spinner to help it dry.  This tip was LIFE CHANGING.  I think I might buy a salad spinner to use with non-food safe dyes.  In the first yarn, I N-plyed (chain plyed) the yarn in another livestream.  I don't think I wrote down the WPI (wraps per inch) for this yarn, but I got a minimum of 57 yards out of this yarn.
  2. The fiber in the second mini skein of handspun yarn was dyed in the same video as the previous one.  I spun Z singles, wound the singles into a center pull ball and then made an S 2-ply yarn with both ends of the yarn cake.  I didn't film any of the plying for this yarn. 
  3. The fiber from the middle two skeins is some unknown 100% wool fiber that I dyed in the original breaking black food coloring video.  I've come a long way since some of these early dyeing videos!  I spun the fiber recently with mini-skeins in mind.  I spun uneven Z singles, wound them into a center pull ball, and then plyed both ends in the S direction.  Skein #3 came from breaking Wilton's Black (the old formulation). 
  4. This fiber was dyed and spun in the same ways as #3.  The only difference is that I broke McCormick's black food coloring to dye this fiber.  The breaking is super subtle in this fiber, but you can see the blues peak out in some places. 
  5. This yarn is a very special yarn to me.  I space dyed this roving with food coloring I had mixed in a previous video.  With this roving, I attempted to spin my first chunky yarn.  The yarn was bulky, but not as chunky as I had hoped.  What is super special about this yarn?  I used this yarn to knit a baby cuccoon to use in my son's newborn photoshoot.  I spun a chunkier yarn that I was going to use for the body of the pod, and I knew that I didn't quite have enough yardage. I used this to cast on the top edge and then used it to finish the bottom when I ran out of the other yarn. 
  6. The sunset colored yarn on the far right was the first yarn I spun when I was planning the hand dyed and handspun miniskeins reward.  To get these bright colors, I space dyed braided roving with Easter egg dyeing tablets. Like many of the ther yarns, I didn't think too much about plying until I was already spinning the singles.  I wound the singles into a center pull ball and plied the yarn in the S direction. I ended up with about 67 yards of this yarn.  
I recently discovered that when I make a 4 foot skein on my niddy noddy that it is actually a bit longer than 4 ft.  Therefore, all of my yardage estimates, which I calculate by counting the wraps and multiplying by 4/3, understimate the yardage I got while spinning.

Hand Dyed Mini Skeins

These hand dyed miniskeins came from all over.  Some came from dyed blanks, some are remnants from projects I was knitting, and others are full miniskeins that were featured in a dyeing video.  Some of these yarns came from 100 g skeins of yarn that I had in my stash.  I will tell you more about all of the yarns below.  

This first set of yarns comes from some of my early adventures with Tulip Tie Dye Kits (Amazon Affiliate Link).  Originally, I was gifted a kit from AllFreeKnitting and Tulip to dye some yarn.  I enjoyed this brand of tie dye kit so much that I now choose it and purchase it with my own money for dyeing videos.  All 3 of these yarns were dyed with the orignal kit I received.  Three yarns, you might ask, there are 11 yarns in this image.  Let me tell you a little more about them:
  • Left: In 2012, I created the video "How to Dye Cotton Yarn with a Tulip Tie Dye kit".  Two 50 g balls of sport weight cotton yarn in this video.  I used Simply Cotton organic sport weight (KnitPicks Affiliate Link) These four yarns are some of the ones that came out of the complete ball of yarn that I dyed.  Notice how the colors change based on whether they were on the outside of the ball (far left) or the inside (the greener yarns on the right.)  The video also features some of my favorite tie dyed t-shirts that I made in college. 
  • Bottom Right: I showed three mini skeins here to show how much more consistant this colorways is, especially compared to the two other dyeing projects in this picture.  I wound the 50 g ball of the sport weight cotton yarn into a skein and then handpainted that with all of the colors in the kit.  The colors came out super vibrant and then yarn is a lot of fun.  You can see the dyeing in the same video linked above. 
  • Top Right: In this video, I wraped up a pre-knit blank (that I hand knit, by the way) and then tie dyed this hand knit fabric into a spiral.  The yarn base is 100% wool, Bare wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (KnitPicks affiliate link).  I now have a hand crank knitting machine that I use to make my own blanks.  It takes much to long to knit them by hand!  These 4 miniskeins look super different from one another, but they all came out of one dyeing project.  

Here are a bunch of 100% wool yarns in differnet weights and dyed with very differnt techniques.  Starting on the far left:
  1. This is a VERY special yarn, an I knew that I wanted to send out some miniskeins of this yarn to Kickstarter backers.  This is the first 100% wool yarn I ever dyed.  Ever.  I only had this blog, I didn't even have a YouTube channel yet!  I used a mixture of Kool-Aid and liquid food coloring to dye 100 g of bare KnitPicks palette yarn (Affiliate Link) in the microwave.  I've used this yarn to make multiple different projects, some of which are featured in the FAQ video of finished knit projects made with hand dyed yarns.  I used this yarn to make a hat, a pair of mittens, and then later in the video, a hexapuff.  I wanted to dye this yarn because I loved the look of mixing variegated yarns with black, it sort of looks a little like stained glass.  This hat is one of my favorites and I wear it frequently. 
  2. Some of these yarns come from super old videos, like 4 addresses ago!  This is the first time I ever explored breaking purple food coloring.  I had successfully dyed some solid purple yarns previously and now I wanted to see what all of this breaking talk was about.  The yarn base is KnitPicks bare palette yarn. 
  3. This yarn was dyed using some food coloring I bought at the Christmas Tree Store (random brand) and then dipping portions of the skein into dye in the microwave.  I would add 2/3 of the yarn at a time into a different bath of water.  I haven't done this technique in a long time, and I'm not entirely sure why. I think that I need to do some dip dyeing in multiple colors soon!
  4. This purple yarn is STUNNING.  The colors are spotty and mabled.  How did I do this?  I dyed the yarn using some rice that had soaked up some food coloring.  The technique (and video) are a lot of fun, but unfortunately it was a HUGE pain to remove rice from these yarns and to wash out all of the starch.  I can't image doing this on 100 g of yarn!  The yarn base is a mini skein of bare wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (KnitPicks affiliate link).
  5. This yarn is a sublte, semi-solid purple.  I loved it so much that I wanted to share how these subtle tonal changes can be super stunning with all of you.  The yarn base is KnitPicks bare palette yarn.  I used a Tulip Tie Dye kit and added the color to dry yarn.  The tie dyeing instructions recommend using presoaked yarn, but suggested that it wasn't a requirement.  I was curious how the colors would bind to the yarn if I just randomly squirted it on.  I think that I eventually needed to add some more water because the dye sort of beaded up on the surface, but this was a really fun experiment. 
  6. & 7. The last to yarns on the right were dyed as miniskeins with a very specific project.  I needed to color match some yarns I used in Lucky's first birthday outfit AND I wanted to try dyeing yarn in mason jars on the stove top, sort of like a double boiler.  I should have put a towel under the jars!  Whoops.  These colors ended up not being close enough to what I needed, but they are so pretty!  The yarn base is 100% wool worsted weight wool of the Andes yarn.  You will even see some pictures of Rowdy in his birthday outfit with some of the dinosaurs I crocheted out of the yarns I kept from this video.  

The last two yarns were dyed recently, and only one was dyed by me.  The left yarn was dyed using some old (like, months-years old) tulip tie dye that had been sitting in squeeze bottles for a very long time.  This video will come out on November 24, 2017.  The final yarn (on the right) was dyed by Lucky!  Lucky dyed this yarn while I worked on a rainbow colorway.  Lucky wants to keep all of his yarns, and I turned almost all of this yarn into a brand new hat for him.  There were 10-12 g of yarn left over after I finished the pompom, so I knew that I needed to share these with two backers.  Both of these yarns are 100% worsted weight wool.


Preparing shippments for the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter backers is like a huge trip down memory lane.  Most of the full skeins of yarn I've dyed over the last few years are packaged up and ready to start getting shipped to backers. (The linked Facebook album is now like an archive of dyed yarns.  Each image has links to the dyeing video in the comments.)  

I hope that you love your bonus mini-skeins!  I will need to wind a few more for some of the next shipment rounds.  Actually, I have a lot more dyeing to do before the next shipping round.  Wahoo!  

Monday, November 6, 2017

Complex Folds - Star Tie Dye

One of the most popular videos I released since Ryder's birth is a video called "Let's Tie Dye T-shirts!" I did a simple accordion fold on the diagonal and created some fairly monochromatic T-shirts for my college reunion.

I have a long history of loving tie dyeing.  In 4th grade, my class raised money for the local Humane Society by selling tie dyed T-shirts.  We dyed almost weekly and sold shirts, socks, and other cotton items to family and friends.  In college, the chemistry department would have an annual tie dyeing activity.

An approximation of how the folds work to create a star shape

I wanted to try to step outside of my comfort zone and try a complicated fold to create a star on the front of a shirt.  How hard could this be?  It was actually pretty hard to fold shirts into fifths.  You can hear me mention what take I'm on in the filming and then wonder how to proceed with tying up the shirt with rubber bands.

In the following video, I demonstrate the fold first on a piece of paper and then on the shirts themselves.  I fold four different shirts which gave me four different chances to end up with a star.  For the four shirts (two kids XS and two 18 month onesies), I used two full bottles of Tulip One-Step Tie Dye.  I think I might have been able to stretch the dye onto three shirts, but the package (of 3 bottles, I didn't use the yellow), indicated that there was enough for six projects.  I think it would be hard to use two bottles on four adult T-shirts.

If this works, I might try to do this live sometime in the future.  Or at least maybe I can go live for the reveal, if I can figure out how to set up my camera to see my bathroom sink!  (I was able to make a live reveal work!  Check it out below.)

Going Live for the reveal was so much fun!  There were some growing pains (I edited out over 3 minutes from the beginning of the feed when I was trying to figure out why my static link didn't work.)  However, I got stars!  Many of you got to experience the joy of a successful crafting project along with me.  How fun! 

My favorite shirts are the ones with the star design only on the front of the shirt.  I feel liek the overall design is much more defined.  

It is now November and the boys have worn these shirts A LOT.  Rowdy might not fit into his much longer, but we'll try to get as much use out of it as we can!  

The other two shirts look a lot more like starfish than stars, but that is still super cool.  My kids never ended up wearing these shirts, so I guess I'll have to find a sibling pair to share these with someday. 

A brand new Tie Dye T-shirt video will come out on Friday morning.  In fact, the video is exporting as I finish up writing this post!  What do you think I'm going to dye this time?


This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  All of the opinions and product selection were my own.  None of the product mentions were solicited.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone!  I'll be back to my regular posting schedule, soon. (Including how I made these awesome costumes!)

I have so many draft posts in my queue, but I've been behind on writing.  I'm so sorry!  I have so many fun dyeing, sewing, and knitting projects to share with you. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

36 Hours Left!

There are 36 hours left until the end of the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Campaign.  Thank you all for your tremendous support for this new series of yarn dyeing videos!  If you haven't backed the project, there are still many rewards available.  These include custom dyed sock blanks, hand spun yarn or mini-skeins, sponsorship credit on videos, or even just the $1 cheer squad where you can give input into the content of the series and see sneak peeks.  Don't miss out on your chance to get some yarn that has been featured on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel!  

This also means that there are only 36 hours left until the first episode of Dyepot Weekly comes out!  All episodes of Dyepot Weekly will be available for free on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  Have you subscribed to the channel yet?  I tend to post the videos that come out here on the blog after a bit of a lag, so if you want to stay up to date with my latest dyeing experiments make sure you subscribe!

I've started doing more livestreams recently.  I know that many of you enjoy it when I spin yarn live, but I am also trying to find fun ways to dye yarn live.  This weekend on I Love Yarn Day, I handpainted some 100% worsted weight wool and some 75% superwash merino/25% wool sock yarn with three different colors of Wilton's Icing Color (Violet, Royal Blue and Black).  The only issue with dyeing yarn live (besides real life interruptions) is that you can't see the finished dry yarn at the end of the video.  In this live stream, I couldn't even unwrap the yarn because I needed to wait for it to cool.  

Therefore, I try to share a recap of the video so you can see the colors that we dyed.  What do you thin of this way of sharing dyeing videos?  Most Dyepot Weekly episodes will be pre-recorded and edited, but I hope to also include more live content from time to time.  Please let me know what you'd like to see!  

This post contains Amazon and KnitPicks affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited and all opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Soda Series - Dyeing Yarn From the Grocery Aisle

When I approached the end of the first day of the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Campaign, I was so excited because I knew that you were going to help make this exciting series of yarn dyeing videos a reality.  I ran to the grocery store and shopped in the soda aisle picking up some of the brightest colors I could find.

It is more economical to dye yarn with food coloring itself, or even concentrated drink mixes like Kool-Aid, than it is to use bottles of soda.  However, the bright colors were calling me, and I was curious just how much food coloring there is in one of these bottles.  Check out the following videos to find out!


Gatorade comes in a wide variety of colors.  I've gone through diet Gatorade phases, and my favorite flavors are lemon lime (which my dad used after basketball games while I was a kid) and grape.  This time, I shopped the aisles for the brightest colors I could find. I selected "Green Apple" and "Grape" for this dyeing experiment.  I dip dyed the yarn into both colors to create a special gradient.

A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on

In this experiment, I used KnitPicks Bare Stroll Fingering Weight Yarn, a 75% superwash merino 25% nylon blend.  This is one of my favorite yarns to dye with, and you can see in the video just how quickly it absorbed the dye from the Gatorade.

Hawaiian Punch

When I opened the bottle of Hawaiian Punch, I felt transported back to my child hood.  The smell reminded me of birthday parties and class celebrations.  I haven't tasted it in years (and I didn't in this video) but I remembered how this red beverage stained anything it touched.  What would it do to yarn?

A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on

I decided to dye 100 g of bare Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn (100% wool) with the whole 2 L bottle of soda.


I'm not sure I've ever consumed Fanta, but the commercials were super catchy.  I wanted to add something orange to the mix, and I thought it would be fun to test out a carbonated beverage.

A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on

To add another twist to this experiment, I decided to try some resist dyeing.  I tied off the 100% wool bare Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn tightly with some crochet cotton to leave some white patches.  I then dyed the entire skein of yarn in the 2 L soda.

Coke Zero

On each of the soda series videos I released, I kept getting requests for more and more beverages.  People really wanted to see what would happen if you dyed yarn with Coke (or its equivalent.)  Coke contains "caramel color", which is derived from dairy to create that beautiful brown.  Will it bind to yarn like red #3 and yellow #5?  There is only one way to find out, and that was to put some 100% wool yarn (bare Wool of the Andes worsted weight) in Coke Zero Sugar and turn up the heat.

I am still getting requests for more sodas.  I don't have plans to explore more flavors of Gatorade or different colors of soda.  Depth of color might vary, but you should expect something like Grape Soda to behave similarly to the orange Fanta.  I do, however, plan to play around more with concentrated and powdered beverage mixes.  Stay tuned for Mio and other concentrated liquid beverages! (These should come up in an early episode of Dyepot Weekly but I'm saving this for one of the sponsored videos.)

Thank you so much for all of your support.  Not only did we reach our goal, but we smashed the goal.  I will now produce at least 35 Dyepot Weekly episodes, and they start in one week!  Since we hit some bonus episodes, I might even release more than one video a week at first so I can start sharing the sponsored videos sooner.  What do you think?   If you haven't backed the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter yet, please check it out.   You still have a week to pick out a fun and exciting reward, many of which include amazing hand dyed yarn!  I'm so excited to go on this journey with you!

None of the selections in this video were sponsored.  All opinions are my own.  I recently became a KnitPicks Affiliate because I love their yarns and have been using them for years.  All KnitPicks links in this post are affiliate links.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Thank You!

Dear Fans of ChemKnits,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I am awed and humbled by the support, encouragement, and love you have shown me this week.  Thanks to you, Dyepot Weekly is going to be a reality!  ChemKnits is so many things to me right now.  I'm a blogger, a designer, a dyer, a YouTuber... and many of you follow me for different reasons.  However you found me, I'm glad to provide entertainment, education, and fun.

The Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Campaign is active through October 18, and there are still many fantastic rewards available.  The smallest reward starts at $1, where you can provide backer input to help shape the Dyepot Weekly episodes and get access to backer only Kickstarter updates.  Other rewards include hand dyed and handspun mini-skeins, surprise skeins of yarn, sponsorship of videos (and you get the dyed yarn from that video!)  At the highest level of sponsorship still available ($150), you get to pick what types of dyes, fiber and technique is used in your sponsored video.  Funds raised above the original goal will go towards more fiber and types of dye so I can bring you a lot of variety in the first 25 episodes of Dyepot weekly.

I can't wait to start filming the yarn dyeing series.  I have a lot of fun dyeing experiments planned.  Backers have already provided so much feedback over what types of dyes, yarn, and techniques they want to see in the videos.  I get a lot of requests though YouTube, so it is fascinating to see what specifically my backers want to see most.

Your chance to obtain yarn dyed by ChemKnits is limited to the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter campaign.  I have no plans to open an Etsy store for my yarn.  I get joy from creating dyeing videos and exploring interesting ways to apply dye to fiber.

Please continue to share photos of your dyeing projects with me on Facebook, Ravelry and Instagram!  I love seeing what you dye, and I can't wait to see what you create with your new yarn.

Rebecca from ChemKnits

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dyepot Weekly - Now on Kickstarter!

I have a really exciting announcement!  I just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first 25 episodes of my new yarn dyeing video series, Dyepot Weekly.  I want to start sharing new and exciting dyeing videos on a regular schedule and expand my arsenal of tools to include commercial acid dyes, natural dyes, and even more varieties of food coloring.  Will you help Kickstart Dyepot Weekly?  

The Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Video

With your support, I will purchase new dyes and equipment to use in Dyepot Weekly videos.  Don't worry, I won't stop exploring fun and innovative ways to dye yarn with food coloring.  I have a list of over 50 dyeing video ideas that just deal with food coloring!  I want to expand my experiments to other dyes so I can answer more of your questions.  I am frequently asked how commercial acid dyes compare to food coloring.  I know that the dyeing techniques themselves are very similar, but I don't know how quickly acid dyes absorb to yarn, if any of the colors break, or just generally what it is like to use them.  In addition to dyes and yarn, the funds raised will help me purchase new pots and other equipment so I can safely use non-food grade ingredients to dye yarn.  

I'm offering backers of the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter Project many exciting rewards.  For the first time ever, you can get some yarn dyed by ChemKnits!  The physical rewards include yarn dyed in past ChemKnits Tutorials videos, hand-dyed & handspun miniskeins, tie dyed T-shirts, yarn dyed in future Dyepot Weekly episodes, and more.  You also have the opportunity to select sponsorship credit and potentially creative control over the project in a Dyepot Weekly episode.  

I hope you will take the time to check out the Dyepot Weekly Kickstarter campaign.  Thank you for following me through all of my crafting adventures.  You, my readers, are the ones that have inspired me to design, write, and explore more crafts.  I look forward to all of the beautiful projects we create together.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Dip Dyeing in to Break Different Brands of Black Food Coloring

I've been on a dip dyeing kick lately.  This technique is one of the best ways to accentuate the way different food coloring mixtures will break apart, i.e. separate into the individual colors.  I realized that Wilton changed their formulation of the black icing color in the last few years.  It used to have a mixture of Red #3, Blue #1, Yellow #5 and #6 to Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #40 and Yellow #5.  We know from experience that Blue #1 and Red #3 break brilliantly (see all of my Wilton's Violet videos).  The McCormick's Black* has a formulation similar to the new Wilton's Black food coloring; containing Red #40, blue #1 and Yellow #5.

*My McCormick's black is the same that I used in the past video, so it is many years old.  I'm not sure if they've changed their formulation.  

I thought it would be fun to redo an old dyeing experiment of mine.  I first shared the video Breaking Black: Dyeing Yarn with Wilton's vs McCormick's Black Food Coloring over three years ago.  Color breaking from kettle dyeing fiber is beautiful, but the results of the breaking can be more exaggerated when you dip dye your fiber.  I decided to take three full skeins of yarn, make three pots of dye, and then dip dye the fiber side by side so you could see the differences.

Did you know that I usually leave a table of contents in my video description? On YouTube (or here), if you click on the highlighted time, it will jump to the relevant section of the video. Sometimes these videos can be pretty long, so I wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to jump around and find the information you need for your own dyeing projects.

VIDEO CONTENTS: [0:00] Introduction and description of the formulation in the different black food colorings [2:22] Mixing the dyes (into 1/2 cup of water) [5:10] Setting up the Dyebaths - 8 cups water + 3T white vinegar + the dye mixed in the previous clip in separate pots [7:39] Presoaking the yarn (3 skeins of 100g KnitPicks Bare Worsted Wool of the Andes yarn) [8:23] Dip dyeing one skein into McCormick's black food coloring [14:17] Dip Dyeing one skein into the old formulation of Wilton's black food coloring [18:10] Dip dyeing one skein into the new formulation of wilton's black food coloring [22:18] Quick comparison of the yarns [23:25] Washing the dyed skeins [24:49] Conclusions and comparison to a dip dyed Wilton's violet skein of yarn

I'm starting to pay more attention to the specific ingredients in various shades of food coloring.  The Chemistry of Food Coloring is pretty interesting.  I also used the term "yarn chromatography" in a YouTube comment today and that is still making me giggle even though it is a perfect term for the color breaking.  

What kind of dyeing experiments would you like to see?  Most of my favorite videos are inspired by your comments! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dinosaur Footprint Birthday Banner

When my little "Rowdy" dinosaur tuned one year old last January, I needed to create a splash for his party.  I put a lot of work into his brother's first birthday party and I wanted Rowdy to be able to look back and feel like I did a lot for him, too.  A central part of any birthday party is the "Happy Birthday" banner.  Keith and I created this amazing rainbow dinosaur footprint birthday banner for Rowdy's party and we wanted to share the free printable with you today.

Download the FREE Rainbow Dinosaur Footprint Birthday Banner PDF (via Google Drive) so you can add some fun rainbow footprints to your own party.  The PDF also includes some blank footprints in each of the 5 colors so you can add a name or change the message on the banner.

The FREE Rainbow Dinosaur Footprint Birthday Banner PDF

For Rowdy's party, we printed one footprint per page.  The banner took up a whole wall!  I taped each footprint individually to the crepe paper wall I had set up.  Alternatively, you could attach them to some string and then hang them on wall.  For a smaller banner, you can print the footprints 2/page.

I used a free Jurassic Park font for the letters.  I don't think that anyone noticed the font at the party, but I liked knowing that there was an additional dinosaur connection.  The letters themselves are very narrow and so we used 500 pt font to get them to fill the footprints nicely.

Slowly I'm getting through all of the DIY projects I did for Rowdy's birthday party.  (Very slowly, he is almost 20 months old!) I thought I was almost done but then I keep discovering more projects!  Make sure you check out my Dinosaur First Birthday Party Pinterest Board to see more of my inspiration.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summary of my first Live Spin-Along!

At the beginning of August, I held a Live Spin-Along on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel where I spun an entire 2-ply yarn on camera over the course of 6 episodes.  When I testing out going live I asked you what you wanted to see, and someone asked me to do some spinning live.  In this first spin-along, I spun roving from two different ChemKnits videos, Breaking Wilton's Violet Food Coloring for Speckled Roving and Dip Dyeing Braided Roving with Wilton's Violet Food Coloring.

I have a playlist for the whole spin along, but you can also watch the whole series embedded here in this post.

In the first video, I introduced the spinning project and talked a bit about the tools that I use for spinning.  My spinning wheel is a Kromski Fantasia and I LOVE it.  I consider myself a novice spinner but I found it really easy to learn with "Sandry" as my instrument.

In the second episode, I let the viewers pick which roving I would start spinning.  The dip dyed braid was the overwhelming winner. I spun almost all of this fiber in this episode.  Unfortunately comments during the YouTube Livestream don't show up in the final video. I try to keep track of questions I get during the video and post relevant links as soon as the replay is done processing.

In the third episode, I finish spinning the first set of singles and start spinning the speckled roving. Both rovings have similar colors (although one is a base of Full Circle Roving in Pigeon and the other is Bare Wool of the Andes Roving) since they were both dyed with Wilton's Violet food coloring.  However, the singles are quite different because the dip dyed roving gave us longer color repeats than the speckle dyed roving.  

In the 4th part of this series I completed the 2-ply yarn.  Plying yarn is so much faster and requires so much less attention than drafting.  I find that it is a lot harder to make mistakes.  Of course, when I started doing some N-plying I discovered that I couldn't really talk, focus on keeping my hands in camera and ply at the same time.  I'll try to do another N-ply demonstration sometime in the future.  

Finally, in the conclusion of this series I share the finished yarn and talk about some of the stats from this project.  I spun two Z singles and combined them in an S 2-ply yarn.  I created a few yards of an N-plyed yarn with the leftover singles.

The finished yarn: 
Big Skein - 90 wraps = 360 feet = 120 yards
Small Skein - 20 wraps = 80 feet = 26.7 yards

With over 140 yards of yarn I have more than enough to make a hat!  The 2-ply yarn is ~10 wpi, or worsted weight

The small skein of N-ply yarn - 5.5 wraps (~2 ft/wrap) = 11 ft = 3.7 yards.  This means that I had 11 more yards of the dip dyed yarn than the speckled yarn.  This isn't so bad if you consider how many yards I spun to begin with.

Along with these series, I made a bonus Time Lapse video.  Thank you, Jake for making this request!

 What would you like to watch me do live?  I leave most of my videos pretty long and unedited so you guys can see more of the dyeing process, but there are certainly some moments that I leave out.  Make sure that you subscribe to the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel so you can get notifications for when I go live.

This post contains some Amazon Affiliate links. None of the product selections or opinions were solicited.  

Monday, September 4, 2017

Star Wars R2D2/BB8 Mickey Ears

It was time for me to make the first pair of Mickey ears for myself.  I planned to make myself a pair of Little Mermaid ears, but I still needed to track down the supplies.  I had all of the felt that I needed to create some adorable droid ears, so this became my next project.

Last year, Lucky and Rowdy were R2D2 and BB8, respectively, for Halloween.  These are the best costumes I've ever created, in my opinion, and I wanted to bring that essence into my ears.  My plan was to cut shapes out of felt, sew them down with invisible thread and then add a few more details with puffy paint.

I wanted to put a little more effort into this set and make the ears two sided.  They're not exactly reversible, but people should recognize who the ears represent from my back.  I also made the bow removable so that I could be more or less feminine depending on my mood.  (The bow obscures some of the cutest details, but I do love the black sparkles!)

Materials for R2D2/BB8 Mickey Mouse Ears

I used the patterns I created with my first sets of ears to cut out four pieces of thick white felt.  (I was in a Star Wars mood so I was also working on Keith's Boba Fett ears at the same time.)  The felt I used is the more expensive $1.99/large sheet felt at craft stores.  It has enough stability to stand up on headbands without additional reinforcement.  My plan was to decorate all 4 flat pieces with the sew-on felt sections, sew the ears together, add pufy paint, and then stuff and attach the ears to the dollar store headband with hot glue.

I looked around Pinterest for BB8 and R2D2 inspiration, and then took a deep breath and started cutting shapes.  I cut these pieces by eye and then adjusted them to be the size that I wanted.  Rather than cutting the shapes to fit the curves of the ear base, I let them overhang and would trim them after the ears had been assembled.  This gave me some allowance should the pieces slip during sewing.

You don't have to use Invisible Thread to sew down the felt embellishments, but I like not having to change out my thread colors as I switch felt colors.  I stitched around all of the shapes, including along the outside curved edge.  I knew that I would sew over this again when I attached the front and back pieces together, but I wanted to make sure that the colored felt pieces were secure.  

With wrong sides facing, I stitched around the outside of the ears and along the bottom notches.  I left the tabs section open so I would be able to stuff the ears before securing them to the headbands.

Once I trimmed the ears, you could really see the droids.  The hand cut shapes aren't perfectly matched, but I think that helps give R2D2 and BB8 a cartoonish vibe.  

I waited to add the puffy paint until after I had sewn the ears together because I remember how hard it is to sew over puffy paint when I made Rowdy's BB8 costume.  I used an air soluble marking pen to plan out where I wanted to add some of the white accents on BB8's face, and then freehanded the paint embellishments on the rest of the droids.  

When I started putting the puffy paint on the BB8 mickey ear, I wasn't sure if I ruined it.  The lines were so much cleaner before I tried to add the ridges.  I like how the ones on the back of the ear came out, and I think R2D2 looks AWESOME.  I know that I will wear this with pride no matter what.

To add some more dimension to the ears, I lightly stuffed them before attaching them to the headband.  After I added the stuffing, I placed a line of hot glue along the bottom edge to join the pieces of felt together and to secure the center point to the top of the headband.  Next, I glued down the back tab along the bottom of the headband.  Once that was secure, I glued down the front tab towards the back and trimmed off any extra.

The R2D2/BB8 Mickey Ears are the fourth set of ears  that I worked on, and the first that I wanted to have a bow.  The black fake sequin fabric is really drapey.  Initially, I wasn't sure if I should reinforce the bow with some felt triangles inside either side.  Ultimately I loved the drape of the fabric so I didn't reinforce the bow with any kind of stabilizer.

I got the idea to make a removable bow when I was testing out the bow size I wanted for these ears.  I secured the center of my prototype bow with a pipe cleaner and I loved the ears with and without the bow.  Unlike the other ears I plan to make for myself, in this case the bow really does cover up part of the droid faces. Why not sew the bow and then keep the pipe cleaner so I could wear the bow as needed?

For the bow, I cut two pieces of fabric; 9" x 10.5" for the main bow section and 0.75" x 9" as a ribbon for the center section.  I folded the fabric in half (4.5" x 10.5") with right sides facing and stitched a 1/4" seam.  I had never sewn through sequins, but it came out of the machine okay.

I turned the bow right side out, and then hand stitched the last edges together.  I could have machine stitched this but I wanted some control. After stitching this edge closed, I didn't cut the thread.  I centered this second seam in the back of the bow, and used the thread to wrap around the entire bow to cinch the middle together.  This gave me the chance to manipulate the shape o the bow and the gathers to the way I liked it.  I made a knot but kept the thread connected.

I sewed down one edge of the skinny piece I cut above and then wrapped this around the bow a few times and then trimmed the edge.  In retrospect, I wish that I had used a folded over piece with no raw edges.  I'll do this next time.  I tacked down the edges of some of the center piece to help keep it straight.  I finally tied a knot and cut the thread.

To make the finished bow removable,  I cut a pipe cleaner in half and inserted it into the back of the bow.  TIP: if you are having trouble feeding it through fold down one of the pointy edges so it doesn't catch on the fabric.  I twisted the pipe cleaner so it would be perpendicular to the bow and then twisted it around the top of my headband.  I tucked the remaining edges around the headband and my detachable bow was ready to go!

What do you think?  Do you like this headband better with the bow or without?

I think that this is the only set of Mickey Ears where I will want the bow to be removable.  I plan to glue the rest of the bows I make onto headbands.  I think that the other bows I have planned I will want to be attached.

When I was trying to photograph the Droid Mickey Ears, Rowdy want to get in the pictures, too.  (He climbed in my lap and said "CHEEEEE")  I decided to throw a pair of ears on him, too, and mix the worlds of Star Wars and Frozen.  I'm not sure he'll keep the ears on at Disney World, but he sure is adorable at home!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  None of the product selections were solicited.  I selected all of the products in this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.