Friday, October 19, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Happy Birthday, Dyepot Weekly!

We did it!  It is official!  I made it to ONE YEAR of Dyepot Weekly!  I've been talking about this birthday for a little while, but yesterday the birthday was finally here.

Sneak Peek! Yes this is more than just a birthday message! 

Looking back over the last 78 episodes of Dyepot Weekly, you can see just how much I've grown as an indie dyer.  I have explored multiple different types of dye and multiple new-to-me techniques.  I hope that through this journey I have inspired you to try playing with color on your own. 

Become a ChemKnits Patron!

The Kickstarter is over, and I don't currently have any plans to do another one in the future.  However, if you're disappointed that you missed out on the Kickstarter and would like to participate in some crowdfunding of Dyepot Weekly videos, check out the ChemKnits Patreon!  Patreon is a platform for fans to subscribe to the content creators that they enjoy.  You sign up for a monthly subscription and get access to some really cool perks.  As rewards, ChemKnits Patrons can select options that include early access to new yarn dyeing videos, behind the scene sneak peeks, Etsy coupons, shout outs in videos, and more.  Patrons, your support makes a huge impact on my ability to produce videos with a wide variety of yarn, dyes, and equipment.  Thank you so much for your support!

Dyepot Weekly Birthday Special Edition

Normally Dyepot Weekly comes out every Tuesday morning, and Friday mornings sometimes have a bonus episode of Dyepot Weekly or some other bonus kind of dyeing video.  DPW's birthday was on a Thursday this year, and I didn't want to shift the schedule around... so I added an EXTRA episode of Dyepot Weekly! 

Technically, I added two extra episodes because I bonus "Leave no Dye Behind" episode came out when this one was done.  I thought it would be fun to bring Dyepot Weekly full circle and do a version of the very first episode.  In DPW #1 I speckled two types of yarn, KnitPicks Stroll Fingering and Wool of the Andes Worsted, with KoolAid powder. (Affiliate Links)  In DPW #78 I decided to use these same yarn bases and this time explore dry Jacquard acid dye powder.  The results are STUNNING, right?

Have you missed an episode of Dyepot Weekly?  Don't worry, there is a whole Dyepot Weekly playlist so you can watch them all!


As part of the Dyepot Weekly birthday celebration, I am launching a #ChemKnitsDyeAlong series!  Each month around the 15th, I'll share an inspiration photo on Instagram and Facebook.  I invite all of you to dye along with me and share how you were inspired by the photo.  You can pick all of the colors in the photo, one small element, or to take the theme of the photo to inspire your palette.  Your inspiration can be as literal or loose as you choose, and I cannot wait to hear about it.

Each month I will dye yarn inspired by the photo myself in a livestream.  In the livestream recap, I will feature some of your dyeing projects! To be featured, share your photo with the #chemknitsdyealong hashtag on instagram or reply to the dye along photo with your pictures on Facebook.  (Please note that the ChemKnits Lab Facebook Group is a closed group, so pictures that you share in there will remain private.  If you would like to be featured, please comment on the public photo.)  

Is there a deadline?  Not really.  I might feature some October dye along photos in the November Livestream recap etc.  I might firm up some of these details as time goes on, but I am very excited to dye along with you.  Therefore, make sure you mention the photo that inspired you! 

For the October #ChemKnitsDyeAlong, I selected a photo of a tree that I took myself.  I love the way that leaves are changing, and this tree had a STUNNING gradient to it.  I dyed my own colorway last night LIVE and I would love to hear what you thought!  

YouTube Went Down

On Tuesday Night, YouTube went down.  This is something that any YouTube fears, but this was especially unfortunate because I was in the middle of a livestream when it happened!  I was dyeing some semi-solid yarn with Dharma Acid dyes to see the relative potency of three different colors. Since the stream was cut off in the middle, I attempted to continue the stream on Facebook.... and the quality was really poor.  That stream is still on the ChemKnits Facebook page.  When the yarn is dry I'll film a recap and chat about it a bit more.

I am very grateful that so many of you held on to see if the stream would start working again.  I also think it was hilarious that the stream kept going even though YouTube wasn't working.  I had to cut 8 min or so of me troubleshooting from the end of the stream!

Chanukah Update

This week, I finished dyeing all of the yarn for the 2018 ChemKnits Chanukah Samplers. (Currently sold out.) I thought it was going to be 9 videos, but there will likely be a couple of extra ones.  I played around a bit before deciding on what I wanted the limited edition ChemKnits Chanukah colorway to look like, and I think that I ended up with something beautiful.  The yarn is all hanging up on my drying rack and I wish I could share some sneak peeks so badly.  However, I am committed to #nospoilers, and I will not share any photos of Chanukah yarn until the the video has been released.

Finishing up the Chanukah dyeing means one important thing.... this means that I'm going to have more spoilers again.  Hooray!  Now I just have to go wind a few hundred miniskeins....

Thank You

Almost 10 years ago, ChemKnits began as a blog.  As my YouTube audience grew, many of you continued to follow me in both places.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping form the most amazing community of indie dyers and fiber artists.  I wouldn't be doing this today without all of you.  Thank you, readers! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Belated Birthdays

Friends, I completely dropped the ball last week.  I was so busy thinking about Lucky's 5th birthday that I didn't create a Weekly Roundup!  I hope that you will forgive this belated roundup.  The birthday theme feels fitting since there are a lot of anniversaries going on.  Next Thursday is Dyepot Weekly's birthday, Lucky filmed a handpainting tutorial with me a year ago this week, and Lucky is 5.  FIVE!  I cannot believe that this little boy has grown up so much.

I quickly whipped together a shirt for Lucky on the morning of his birthday. I think I have a backlog of applique projects and costumes I'd like to share, but that is another story.  I've been hard at work on a super simple DIY Halloween costume for this year, and it goes along with the birthday theme very nicely.


This week, I hit a HUGE milestone on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube Channel.  My video "Increasing Knit stitches: M1 (Make One)" hit one million views!  This is an old school ChemKnits video, added to the channel about a year after I started making videos.  I'm so glad that so many people have found this helpful.

I have a LOT more dyeing videos on the channel these days, but some of the knitting tutorials are still my most popular.  Is there anything that you would like to see?  I think my filming set up has improved a LOT over the years.  I cringe a bit when I watch some of these older videos, but I am pleased by how much I've grown.

Dyepot Weekly

I've been on a Wilton's Violet kick recently.  I feel like there are a lot of violet videos coming out back to back, from leave no dye left behind videos, dip dyeing, color layering, and more.  In Dyepot Weekly #75, sponsored by Karen, I took a look at how we can break Wilton's Violet food coloring with what I call the "dry rub" method.  Some members of the ChemKnits Lab refer to this as the "scrub the dishpan method" but I keep coming back to dry rub since I am rubbing dry yarn into dye to randomly spread the colors around.

I looked at the yarn dry rub technique in three different ways:

  1. No vinegar in the dye, dry rub, dip dyeing the yarn into vinegar after
  2. Vinegar in the dye (which had a little surprise to it!), dry rub, then dip dye in to water + vinegar after.
  3. Vinegar in the dye, dry rub, steam setting the color
The results were vastly different, as you can see from the thumbnail.  I did this dyeing project with KnitPicks Bare Stroll Fingering weight yarn (Affiliate Link) which is 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon.  This yarn, and superwash yarn in general, absorbs color SUPER fast, and the red #3 food coloring started to bind to the yarn without any heat or acid around.  This helped give the first yarn the most dramatic color breaking of the three.

I am really excited to try this out with some other colors that we know break.  Or maybe even some colors that don't.  Would we completely erase the dry rub effect or would we get something that was subtle and tonal?

Would you like to sponsor an episode of Dyepot Weekly?  Sponsors get shout outs in the video plus 100 g of yarn that I dyed in the Dyepot Weekly Episode (with an option to upgrade to 200 g.)  You pick the yarn base and some colors to avoid, and I design an experiment with you in mind.  The final colors and technique will be a complete surprise, and it is so much fun.  You can find more details in the ChemKnits Creations Etsy Store.  

When I said that I've been on a violet kick lately... (and really, when am I not on a violet kick?) I dyed some more dip dyed Wilton's Violet for another project.  This one turned out so beautiful that it will be a shame to modify it, but I hope to learn something new.  And isn't this the point of dyeing experiments?  I will test things out and take the risks so then you can decide how you want to dye the yarn yourself. 

Chanukah Update

The 2018 Chanukah Miniskein Sampler Preorders have sold out.  Don't worry, everyone will get a chance to watch the 8 videos and celebrate along with me.  There might be a few extra slots when I start winding the miniskeins.  I also plan to unbox one myself so everyone can see how it turned out.  Would you like me to create other samplers along side special weeks?  What kinds would you like to see?  Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Weekly Roundup - My First Assistant!

This week we welcomed a new member to the ChemKnits family... my very first assistant/employee - an electric motorized skein winder! This device will help me as I deal with fiber prep both before and after dyeing.  In a livestream this week, I tried unraveling a sock blank on my skein winder for the first time and WOW.  This is a process that can take me up to 20 min while I do it by hand, and I think it was all unraveled within a minute or two when I used the machine.  Granted, I usually unravel sock blanks during livestreams, so there is some chatting involved, but I really liked unraveling it on this machine.

I'm still not entirely sure what to name her.  The leading name right now is Trisana, as a reference that goes along with my spinning wheel "Sandry," named after a Tamora Pierce character.  Sandry's magic expresses itself through fiber and weaving, and Tris is a weather mage who makes a lot of cyclones.  I'm still trying it out, but you have all given me some great suggestions on Facebook and Instagram.  I know that preparing skeins from balls of yarn and making miniskeins is going to feel a whole lot faster, almost magical.

My new unnamed friend ready to be put together.

2018 ChemKnits Chanukah Celebration Update

Speaking of mini-skeins, there are still a few slots left for the 2018 ChemKnits Chanukah Miniskein Sampler.  Every night of Chanukah this year, I will release a new dyeing video.  This is 8 nights, 8 mini-skeins, 8 yarn bases, 8 dyeing techniques, and 8 new videos.  I will be closing the full 100 g limited edition sock yarn add-on on Wednesday October 3, so if you want to get the largest sampler don't wait too long!

Dyepot Weekly #73

Black and Grey are really hard to achieve with food coloring.  When I discovered that Americolor has a whole line of grey food coloring ("Nifty Shades of Grey") I wanted to see if could help me create grey tones on yarn.  Unfortunately, the colors are very similar to a broken black, but the final yarn is stunning nevertheless.

I haven't attempted to break Americolor Black food coloring yet, but that is 100% on my list.  These grey tones were fun, but the titanium dioxide was a bit of a pain to rinse out of the yarn.  I think that this is added to add some white tones to icing when it is used in food coloring.

Acid Dyestocks Update

9 months ago, I made some dye stocks with acid dyes for the first time.  This was the only time I've ever gone into the Jacquard acid dye jars.  In all of the videos where I've used commercial acid dyes I have been using these dyestocks.  This week, I decided to film a brief update on how these stocks have been doing.  This is something that I've mentioned in videos from time to time, but I wanted to bring it front and center.

Over time, these 1 L 1% stock solutions have not been terribly consistent.  Some of this has been obvious - sun yellow is my nemesis due to its solubility issues.  Other colors, like the violet, have become much more intense as I've reached the bottom of the jar.  I don't think I've done a good job mixing the stock solutions up each time before using them, so there could be more insoluble particles towards the bottom.  I think that this concentration inconsistency is making it harder for me to get a feel of how much dye to use per skein of yarn.  I plan to start mixing colors fresh to play with so I can hopefully get a better handle on these dyes.

In terms of longevity, all of the stock solutions still work after almost 9 months. I can get the dyebaths to clear, and the colors are vibrant and color fast.  So, while you CAN make stock solutions, I'm not sure it is truly the best option for consistent color saturation unless you were going to use up most of the stock in one day.

You can watch the stock solution update video here.

New KnitPicks Subscription Boxes

KnitPicks listened!  (Disclaimer, I'm not sure that they listened to me in particular, but I think that a lot of the community had similar requests to me in my review of their new subscription boxes.) KnitPicks listened to feedback and has released two new Subscription boxes Crochet Lover and Sock Labs which are both $27.00, which includes shipping within the US.  I'm so thrilled that these are listed at a lower price point and are something that can really appeal to livelong KnitPicks Fans.  The Sock Labs subscription will feature the new hand dyed colorways and some free patterns each month.  KnitPicks, if you want to send me a sample of the Socks Labs box, I'd love to see it!

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon and KnitPicks.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dyeing Yarn with Highlighters

I have always enjoyed back to school shopping... or at least opening up brand new school supplies.  Crisp markers, sharp crayons, and brand new highlighters.  When these markers were fresh, before the bright fluorescent colors were dulled by text book ink, they were so bright and crisp that I wanted to doodle with them.  It was less fun to actually use them to highlight text, but I still enjoyed the process of drawing the bright, crisp lines.

I was OVERJOYED when Paradise Fibers sent me their September Fiber of the Month Club BACKPACK filled with a back to school themed fiber package.  (Disclaimer - I am a Paradise Fibers affiliate marketer and they sent me the Fiber of the Month club for free to unbox and share.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.)  Instead of the box that showed up the previous two months, I opened my front door to find a clear poly mailer with a purple draw string backpack inside.  I knew that I need to unbox this right away.  You can watch the replay of the live unboxing below:

If there was ever a subscription box geared towards ChemKnits... this was the one!  The washable nylon backpack was filled with goodies; 4 oz of undyed Cheviot wool top, 4 - 1 oz bags of recycled Sari Silk pulled rovings, and a zippered pouch that had 3 Sharpie highlighters, 1 pair of vinyl gloves, a Sheep Sticker, a chalkboard sheep pin, and some bubble gum.  The best part of this package... it included an unconventional yarn dyeing tutorial: Dyeing Wool with Highlighters!

A post shared by ChemKnits (@chemknits) on

There were rumors that this package would include a dyeing tutorial, but I didn't anticipate something so unique and whimsical.

I had been thinking about dying yarn with Sharpie Markers for a while (I recently found a huge packet from my childhood saved in one of my old boxes), but I it has never occurred to me to try to dye yarn with highlighters.  I knew as soon as I opened this package that I wanted to try this out in a livestream.  This way you could experience my true reactions (joys and frustrations) without me needing to edit the process down.

dye with highlighters

What You Need to Dye Wool with Highlighters
  • Wool (Roving or Yarn, Superwash or non-superwash, they all worked great!) 
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Sharpie Highlighters - I ordered some extras so I could extract some of the dye in advance and also demonstrate this in the livestream
  • Plyers - to help remove the end cap of the markers
  • 3+ cups to extract the color
  • Dedicated Dye Pot - This should be something that can hold some heat.  I heat set the color in a combination of using hot water, low immersion on the stove top in a steam pan, and steaming in a steamer basket.  You want to use non-food items for this dyeing project. 
  • Gloves - My favorites are purple nitrile gloves.  
  • Syringe (Optional) - I found the best way to extract the color was to inject rubbing alcohol directly into the dye tube, pushing out the dye.  This was significantly faster than cutting up the tubes and letting the dye come out overnight.  
  • Black Light (Optional)

The instructions included with the kit were fairly broad and left a lot of room for creativity.  The general concept for this project is to dye the wool like you were using acid dyes.  Presoak your yarn or fiber in a vinegar solution, add the dye, add heat, and then rinse it out once the colors have absorbed.  

The dye extraction step can take a few hours, so I picked up a few extra highlighters to do a cooking show type swap during the livestream.  The night before, I opened up three highlighters, cut the tubes into pieces, and left them to soak in a 50/50 mixture of warm water and rubbing alcohol.  By the morning, the tubes were much paler and there was a lot of color in the mixture.  During the livestream, I discovered that if I injected rubbing alcohol slowly into the highlighter dye tube, I could push out the dye fairly quickly.  Maybe I didn't need to do the overnight step, but at least there was plenty of color the play with so we could do multiple dyeing projects with these highlighters.  

The livestream is long, but we learned so much during this time.  The yellow highlighter is pH sensitive, so when you add acid it looks like it disappears.  (Later in the recap I discovered that this didn't completely disappear, but I'll get to that in a moment.)  The vibrant yellow as no where to be found, leaving behind a faint butter yellow color.  The pink, orange, and blue were super saturated and bound really well to the fiber.

Immediately after I added the dye 
paradise fibers highlighter tutorial
After an hour
In addition to dyeing the roving I got in my Paradise Fibers - Fiber of the Month Club Subscription, I decided to dye 6 miniskeins in different fiber types. I drew the highlighters directly onto some 100% acyrlic, 100% polyester, 100% cotton, 100% superwash merino, 75% superwash merino/25% nylon, and 100% Peruvian Highland wool yarns that had been presoaked in vinegar.  The yellow had a bit of trouble sticking, but the other colors went on easily.  I steamed the yarn and then washed to to see where the colors stuck.  The highlighters dyed the wool based yarns really nicely, with sharper marks on the superwash yarns.  The highlighter almost completely washed out of the synthetics and cotton yarn, which the exception of a faint trace of pink on each of them.

In addition to the roving and the mini-skeins, I also hand painted some yarn with the highlighter color to see how those would turn out.

The livestream recap for this project is a little more involved (i.e. longer) than normal.  I decided to wash all of the highlighter dyed fiber on camera so you could see how color fast, and how much bleeding, there was in each of the projects.

I think the biggest surprise was that the yellow highlighter actually bound to the yarn.  It looked like it completely disappeared in acid, but when you looked at the yarn under the black light you could see it show through. When I was handpainting the orange and pink yarn, I tried to paint on some yellow and once it disappeared, I covered that up with the pink and orange.  Under the black light, you could see where I had added the yellow!  This could be a super fun way to create a hidden message on a sock blank. 

I was surprised how much fun this project was.  I knew it would be whimsical, but I did not anticipate the level of color saturation you could achieve with highlighters on yarn.  I loved that so many of you decided to join me at home.  This livestream really felt like a dye-a-long - you were able to test things and share your own results in the live chat.  This was unbelievably fun.  I have a feeling that this is something that will end up in a Dyepot Weekly episode in the future. 

how to dye yarn with sharpies

Thank you so much, Paradise Fibers, for sending me this project!  It was a true pleasure to play around with this technique.  Clearly I need to revisit this package of Sharpie Markers... It shouldn't matter that they are decades old, I bet I'll be able to extract some color from them!

This post contains affiliate links to Paradise Fibers, Amazon, and KnitPicks.  Paradise Fibers sent me their products to review, and I was so excited that I did multiple extra videos and blog posts.  I selected items from Amazon and KnitPicks myself.  All thoughts and options are my own.  

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Weekly Round Up - A New Year

The holidays are all around us, and with this comes a lot of reflection.  It is a new year for the world and for ChemKnits.  Truthfully this has been a week of looking forward and looking back.  I've started wrapping up and shipping Mystery Surprise Yarn packages while filming videos for the ChemKnits Chanukah Special.

I really wish that I could share spoilers for the yarns that will be included in the Chanukah Sampler, but I don't want to ruin the surprise for people who are going to be opening up miniskeins with the release of the videos.  It is really fun to try some of my favorite techniques on new yarn types.  Different yarn blends absorb colors slightly differently, but all of the colorways are absolutely spectacular!  Don't worry, the Chanukah Special will be available to everyone, and I'm excited to show what the re-skeined miniskeins look like next to the full skeins of yarn.

What else is coming up this year?  I'm working on the beginning of a monthly dye-a-long!  I'm going to pick something as the inspiration each month and then we'll see how everyone interprets this.  I think this is going to be a fantastic way to celebrate the anniversary of Dyepot Weekly!  Keep an eye out on Instagram and Facebook for more details.

I'm so excited to finally share the video on my solar dyeing yarn project.  The final colors are absolutely stunning.  When you layer dye, water, vinegar, and yarn in a jar and set it outside, you allow the colors to absorb to the fiber really slowly.  This can allow colors to break, but also to get a lot of fantastic coverage.  Want more white in the yarn?  Try adding more acid so the colors strike faster.  I'd love to do this again while just adding dye to the top of the jar to see how far it will spread.

I had wanted to write about Dyeing Yarn with Highlighters for this round up, but realized that there is enough content there for that to be its own post.  I hope to recap all of that later this week.  The holidays mean fewer school days for the kids, and therefore fewer work days for me.  I have gotten a ton of editing done this week, so I'm happy that has been productive.