Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Winning and Failing

This has been a week of highs and lows.  I tried a new technique, and it failed spectacularly, I discovered a fun new dollar store hack, and I unboxed some glorious new fiber subscription boxes.

Overdyeing with Resists and Glazing

Dyepot Weekly #55 came out this week, and I think this might be one of my favorite dyeing videos ever.  I took some KnitPicks Chroma Worsted (Affiliate Link) in the colorway Lupine and overdyed it with a combination of resist dyeing and glazing techniques.  Isn't the difference between the before and after striking?


I got asked recently if you should disclose whether your yarn is overdyed or dyed with food coloring when listing it for sale.  If I were to sell particular this yarn, I would disclose that it was overdyed in the descriptions.  I wouldn't want to take credit for the beautiful chroma gradient, so if I had listed this in my shop I would have said that it was "an overdyed commercial colorway with commercial acid dyes."    But what if you are overdyeing a pale yellow, neon green and are completely changing the color of the yarn?  I personally don't think it is necessary to disclose that you didn't start with a white or an off white yarn.

I tend to provide more information that is necessary in the ChemKnits Creations shop because I think that one of the coolest parts of my yarn is that you can watch exactly how it was made.  I use a wide variety of dye types and yarn bases, and I think it is important for me to disclose this especially when I am doing a more experimental technique and I'm unsure about the longevity of the colors.

Nevertheless, when you want to play around with a new dyeing technique, it can make a step feel less "scary" when you start with a commercially dyed yarn.  I think that if I had dyed this stunning gradient on my own, I wouldn't have wanted to try overdyeing it and risk losing all of the work I had put in originally.


A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on


Paradise Fibers - Fiber of the Month Club

Opening the Paradise Fibers - Fiber of the Month Club (Affiliate Link) July 2018 Box was a true highlight of the week.  The presentation, packaging, and fiber are all stunning.  This would have been a pleasure to open if it were just the fiber in plain plastic bags in a box.  However, the wrapping and opening made this a true gift like experience.  I feel like someone personally wrapped me a present with a lot of care and attention to detail.  I am so grateful that Paradise Fibers sent me this box so I could share it with all of you.  I unboxed this fiber box live on the YouTube channel.  If you want to see my realtime joyful reactions, you can watch the replay.

A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on

I think that this fiber of the month club is complimentary to a lot of other fiber subscription services and would make a phenomenal gift for for someone, or a fantastic way to treat yourself.  I love that this box includes something I know how to use right away, things for me to learn about, plus suggestions on how to combine them all.

Indigo Vat Fail 

We all have fails sometimes. I followed a set of instructions, and they didn't work for me. Different dyers have different recipes for many of their techniques, and sometimes we give different advice with regards to heating, timing, and acid. The protocol I followed today is one that works for one dyer, but not some others, and I'm in the later category. I'm not sure how I want to edit this together yet, but I do know I will edit it together.

I think that there is as much value in a project that doesn't work as one that does. This is not the fault of the dye, but was user error. Maybe I'll be able to rejuvenate this vat so it is usable. Maybe I won't. I know that the other natural extracts (WALNUT!) will be a bit more straight forward to use. I have a (likely synthetic) indigo kit upstairs that looks super user friendly.


A post shared by ChemKnits Blog (@chemknits) on


The biggest lesson today is that if you have a gut feeling that something isn't working as it should. Stop and ask a question. There is no harm in postponing your experiment and waiting to try another day if you don't think things are working.  Double checking isn't a bad thing. If I had done this while setting up the vat, I would just need to order some more FeSO4 instead of potentially needing more plant grown indigo, too.

Today, I am working to resurrect my vat. I let the indigo settle to the bottom, removed the liquid on top, and I am going to try to convert this to a hydrosulfite vat using some Rit Color Remover.  My dollar store hack?  I got some water squirters from the dollar store (similar to the ones I've linked below.) These worked like a pipette and I was able to remove the liquid without disturbing the sediment, and saved a lot more of the indigo and removed more of the rusty water) than I could have done with pouring.  Win!


If my attempt to get the indigo vat going again doesn't work today, I'm not going to be sad.  I'll have some videos to share with all of you that show that things don't always work perfectly, and how I tried to get them to work again.  There is value in failure.  Honestly, this failure made me feel like I was back in the lab!  

Friday, July 6, 2018

Weekly Roundup - Mystery Surprise Yarn and Playing with New Colors

This week, I decided to add a new twist to a dip dyeing-a-thon livestream.  I wanted do dye with mixtures of Wilton Icing Color and to pull the color combinations at random out of a bowl.  Here are the colors we ended up picking:


I presold the yarn for the livestream as part of the ChemKnits Creations Shop Update, so viewers were able to pick the yarn base for their surprise yarn.  I loved mixing up the base AND the colors for this steam.  I will absolutely do something similar again.  You can watch the replay of the yarn dyeing livestream on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel.  

The yarns fresh out of the drypot.  Top row left is #1, bottom row left is #5.  

Some of you have asked how I dry my yarn.  I have a collapsible drying rack (similar to the one linked on Amazon) that fits perfectly in a bathtub.  I can fit MANY skeins on the rack at once, and then the drain can catch any drips.  If I have space, then I will lay the yarn across multiple bars to give air more access to the drying yarn.  In the picture below, there are 9 skeins of yarn laying out to dry.  If I have more yarn I want to dry, I'll hank the yarn over 2 bars.


Sometimes it is hard to wait for the colors to dry.  On wool, colors stay pretty similar from the way they were when wet, but some other fiber mixes will lighten significantly when they're drying.  This is why I always try to do a recap after a livestream.  Want to learn more about these mystery surprise colorways?  Watch the recap below:


All ChemKnits Patrons get early access to a new dyeing video each month, and get to vote in a poll to shape the direction of the next month's early access video.  I am so excited about Dyepot PS #4 that I had to share some sneak peak pictures.  Look at these stunning hues I extracted from Red Cabbage!  The pigment is pH sensitive so you get something that is more blue in basic conditions and more pink in acidic conditions.  I think that there are some fantastic applications for some home science experiments with children using red cabbage, and I'll chat about that a bit in the video, too.  


I am so excited about this red cabbage dyeing video.  The colors aren't quite what they look like while still in the dyebath.  Some colors did remain without mordants, but I need to try to pump up the volume next time.  (Red cabbage is known as a fugitive dye, so it will fade with time anyway, but the liquid itself is so much fun to play with!)  The dyeing video will be available for ChemKnits Patrons in July (hopefully next week) and will released to the public sometime in August.  If you want to get early access to videos like these, plus some other fantastic perks, check out the ChemKnits Patreon.  


Trying new techniques is always a learning experience for me.  Sometimes I like to try things in their simplest form to know what works and doesn't work before I start adding more materials and steps.  I hope to explore more natural dyes in the future.  

Monday, July 2, 2018

ChemKnits Creations Shop Update!


I just added a TON of new inventory to the ChemKnits Creations Etsy Store! Each listing includes information about the yarn itself PLUS the title of the video where I dyed the yarn.  If you check out the new items, you will get some sneak peeks to new content coming up on the channel.  If you want to know more about the yarn, the video title usually gives a good hint about the technique.  

Why should you buy ChemKnits dyed yarn if you now know exactly how to recreate the colorway? (I hope that I have inspired you to try dyeing yarn yourself!)  When you buy yarn from the ChemKnits Creations store you are getting more than a beautiful skein of indie dyed yarn, you are supporting new ChemKnits content.  Through the shop you get to support ChemKnits, watch the creation of beautiful yarn, and bring it home.  


I have a lot of hand dyed hand spun that I haven't had a chance to use.  I decided to add them to the shop in case anyone wanted to take them home.  All of the roving dyeing videos are on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel, and there are spinning videos for two of them, too. 


Join me tomorrow morning (7/3/18) for a fun LIVE dye-a-thon at 9:30 AM EST on YouTube!  I am planning to dye at least six skeins of yarn in different mixtures of Wilton Icing Color.  How am I going to pick the color combinations?  Randomly!  I've been wanting to add all of my icing colors to a bowl and pick two out at random for a long time.  Once I've selected the colors, I'll pick the proportions (to avoid muddy colors) and then we'll dip dye to see how they break.  Remember the stunning combination of Teal and Copper?  I'm hoping that we accidentally discover some magic like that.

If you want to join in on the Mystery Surprise Yarn Fun, you can preorder a skein that will be dyed in the livestream. You get to pick the yarn base and the queue # for that skein of yarn and then watch LIVE as I dye it just for you.  If you preorder before the livestream begins (9:30 AM EST 7/3/18) you can get 20% off the yarn!   If there are still skeins available when the stream begins, you can purchase them for a 5% discount, but the yarn base will default to "Surprise Sock."  We'll see how this all works out tomorrow, but I thought it would be a fun way to let people claim the yarn from a livestream without waiting for a future shop update.

Available Today in the ChemKnits Creations Shop!  The dyeing video will come out later this summer.   

Now I need to get back to editing some videos!  (I only put yarn in the shop once the video has been edited, uploaded and scheduled on the YouTube Channel.)