Friday, June 29, 2012

Baby Marley Hat

When writing a review of the book Itty-Bitty Hats: cute and cuddly caps to knit for babies and toddlers by Susan B. Anderson, I fell in love with the Baby Marley Hat pattern (see previous post for the full review). I knew that I needed to cast on immediately.

I knit the 0-6 month size hat with Shine Sport yarn on size 6 knitting needles. I used 7 different colors, but decided to do a different color progression that was in the pattern. I didn't preweigh each of my shine sport colors since I don't remember what many of them actually are. Plus, many of these colors are discontinued anyway! I will weigh the hat at the end to get total yardage. Before weaving in loose ends (and before embellishments) hat weighs 34 g. Before weaving together, the topper weighs 12g, so 46 g total consumed.

Notes from the pattern
  • 14 rows before starting striping pattern. (the 2" brim)
  • Before starting decreases, I completed the entire stripe and stitch pattern as written + 1 plain row (in orange.)
  • After row 15 of decreases (P1, K2tog), I added 1 row of seed stitch. I did not switch colors between row 15.5 and 16 (even though with the 4 row stripes I should have.)
  • The way the topper pattern is written, you end up with one end of the yarn at the point of a curl. This is going to be a pain to weave back through, and will be little help in securing the curls to the top of the hat. Therefore, Rather than making each of the 4 pieces separately and then coiling them together, I made all 24 pieces on one long strand.
  • I also didn't turn and knit the last stitch left on the needles before each cast on of the topper. This kept the curls pointing in alternate directions (it looks a lot like seaweed) which I think will help keep things more "random" once I sew them down.
I selected the colors green, yellow, purple and teal for the topper. I would have loved to use the terracotta orange, but I ran out of that color on the body of the hat. I don't really know how to describe how I sewed the topper together, but here are some pictures I took of the different steps. Once I had threaded each little piece together, I pulled the yarn tight and tied the ends off... BAM there was a perfect little Marley topper.

My only complaint with the book is that I would have liked to see final measurements for each of the hats, or at least seen a section on sizing for babies. I know this hat will fit a baby no problem, but I am not sure how young of a baby it could work for.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Itty-Bitty Hats

Itty-Bitty Hats: cute and cuddly caps to knit for babies and toddlers by Susan B. Anderson is a delightful little book featuring 36 baby hat knitting patterns. This is a book written with beginners who want to start trying other techniques in mind, and provides an excellent reference section. The book starts with an introduction sections "What you Need" and "Let's Knit." These sections bring you through materials you will ened to create these itty-bitty hats and how to do the techniques found in this book. Detailed instructions with pictures are provided for basic knitting, crochet and even embroidery stitches (the ones that you will need in this book.) There is even a pompom tutorial!

Have I ever mentioned how much I love spiral bound knitting books? It is so much easier to knit from a book when you can lay it flat!

When you start to move into the patterns, you enter a section of simple hats. To the experienced knitter, this section may be a bit of a let down, but remember that this book is geared to people who are just starting to knit in addition to more seasoned knitters.

The Pattern Sections
  • Start Simple (3 basic hats + 3 simple toppings)
  • Animals (4 hats including: Bunny Tail, Speckled Hen, Painted Turtle, & Little Chick)
  • From the Garden (5 hats including a Flower Pot, Little Pumpkin and various flowers)
  • Stripes (6 hats featuring vertical and horizontal stripes.)
  • Dots (4 hats)
  • Sweet Treats (6 hats - including Candy Cane, Birthday Cake and more sweet treats)
  • Embellished Hats (8 hats featuring applique pieces, embroidery and other novelty items.Note this section includes some hats that are entirely knit, but there are a lot of embellishments as the title suggests.)
Each pattern breaks down the skills needed (referring you to the page where you can review the technique.) A lot of these patterns have a basic core with some fancy embellishments, but some of these embellishments really make the hats fantastic. For example, in the Rainbow Marley hat is all knit but the striping and texture (and the little knit marley topper) make it over the top (in a good way.) I loved it so much that I immediately went to my stash to find yarns to cast on (This project will be featured in the next ChemKnits post!) Ribbons is a simple rolled brim hat with some eyelet rounds. You then take some great novelty ribbons and weave them through. The effect is really dependant on the ribbons that you find, but it is a stunning hat that would get a big "Oooo" from any expectant mother. Snowman is a darling hat that contains a whole snowman head - hat, scarf, coal eyes and carrot nose included! I love seeing a hat on a hat. Finally, the Upside down daisy hat is a very classic popular pattern (also because it is avialable for free!)

This is a fantastic book, you can bet I will be checking this out of my library again!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fiber Fair!

Today (for our Anniversary weekend), Keith took me to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair in Grayslake, IL. (He was SUCH a good sport!)

There was this cool shag rug... I'm not sure where I would put this in a house but I probably have enough yarn to try to make one of my own!

I made sure to go to the show with cash. Not only would it be easier to make purchases, but also to help me limit how much I brought home! I only made three purchases:

1) Some 85% Alpaca, 10% merino, Sari Silk and Firestar fiber from Illini Alpacas. This coco brown fiber is so soft, and the flecks of color from the firestar and sari silk make it very unusual. I cannot wait to spin with it!

2) Some Bluefaced Leicester (BFL)/Silk roving in Vineyard Batik from Fiber Optic Yarns. Their booth was filled with amazing colors of yarn and fiber, some that were so vibrant I would expect them to glow! (Indy was pretty interested in this one.)

3) I have been trying to be really good about not purchasing yarn that I don't have a project in mind for, but I couldn't resist this sparkly dusty blue lace weight merino/silk blend dyed byGrinning Gargoyle. She also had some Mink Yarn (!!) but not in any colors I loved. The mink was so soft and amazing, that it would be a joy to knit with. Unfortunately it also had a price tag to match the luxury.

In addition to the wealth of fiber, there were tons of accessories, buttons, beads, bag handles, and yarn bowls. It was a dream for a knitter, especially when her husband was being such a good sport. (There was also music, food and live animals to keep non-knitters entertained.)

The fair also had some prize winning llamas and alpacas... I liked the cria the best, but Keith was partial to the one sitting in front of the fan.

I got to hold a 16 week old angora rabbit. Keith did not try holding it so we don't know if he is allergic to rabbits like his is to guinea pigs, but maybe we will add some of these guys to our family in the future.

Last (but not least) I got to try out a Kromski Fantasia spinning wheel in the Susans Fiber Shop booth. They were so helpful and nice, and insisted that I sit down and try spinning. Apparently the work I have been doing on my drop spindle has prepared me for my first wheel spinning, because they told me that I was spinning very evenly!

It was really hard to not buy the wheel (for me, not for Keith), but I know that I loved spinning on a wheel. Of course, this is the first spinning wheel I have ever tried, but it is also one that I was interested in anyway.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I am in love with Susanna IC's crescent shaped shawlettes. When she decided to do a choose your own crescent knit along starting at the end of February, how could I resist? I wish that it were another mystery KAL, but you cannot get everything you want. This was a perfect chance for me to try Annis. I was excited to use the Alpaca Cloud (color tidepool heather) from my stash. I love alpaca yarns, and am hoping to use this yarn line for a larger shawl later this year.

I cast on using the backwards loop cast on onto size 10 needles. P1 row with size 7 needles before starting the lace border. (This happens to be Susanna IC's preferred method to start her shawls. It is a bit finicky, but the edge is so stretchy that you can show off all of the points really well.)

The lace portion of the shawl looked really small. Alpaca Cloud Lace is a bit thinner than shadow lace. Blocking is magical, and made it a reasonable sized shawl.

In March I joined the 12 shawls in 2012 group on Ravelry. It is a fun group and there are a lot of people who share their pictures of completed projects. There are even random drawings for prizes for each of the 12 months. This month, my yardage concern was not that I would run out of yarn.. but that I would use enough yarn in my shawl to be able to count it!

When there was 1 stitch remaining on each end after the short rows, I knit to the end of the row, SSK. Next Row: S1, Purled to the end of the row, P2tog the last 2 sts together. I then bound off using the p2tog method. 19 g remained before binding off.. which means I made the limit... BARELY! 0.64 skeins = 281.6 yards (257.5m)

This project made be fall in love with nupps. I love the way they stand out, and am so happy that I chose nupps rather than substituting with beads. If I make this shawl again (with this yarn) I would add more repeats.

The shawl is as delicate looking as a butterfly wing. I like that it is so transparent, but still will have some warmth!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Easter Egg Dyeing Yarn

People use food coloring to dye Easter Eggs, and I use food coloring to dye yarn, so why not use Easter egg dyeing kits to dye yarn, too? These pellets come with food coloring and citric acid, so theoretically you shouldn't need to add any additional acid to your dyeing process. As you will find from watching the video later in this post, adding vinegar early in the process will help the dye absorb to the yarn faster, making beautiful space dyed colors.

Isn't it amazing how much difference a little acid can make? The two skeins below were dyed with identical materials, but in the bottom/right one vinegar was added earlier in the dyeing process.

After my initial experiments dyeing yarn with Easter egg dye tablets I have come to love these little pellets of color. I plan to make many other space dyed colors in the future following this technique. I cannot believe I will have to wait until next Spring to get even more pellets!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Test Knit Ziyal Cowl

I am becoming addicted to test knitting! The Ziyal Cowl is a beautiful pattern that I think would work for a man or a woman. I have never tried smocking before, and agreed to test as soon as I looked at the amazing smocking tutorial the designer made. I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes yarn in Evergreen (68 g, 150 yards) and size 8 knitting needles.

I like to provide a swatch photo for the designer whenever I test knit an item, especially if I am using different yarns. They yardage consumed in a test knit is very important, in fact I think it is possible the most important feedback you can give to the designer.

If I had made this cowl 5 years ago, I probably wouldn't have blocked it. The way it came off the needles it fit like a turtle neck. I think the cowl looks much better once blocked.

I think the cowl came out amazingly well. I'm glad the designer liked my suggestion that the rolled edges be knit on smaller knitting needles to help them keep their shape better. It was such a pleasure to participate in this test knit! This pattern is so simple to knit, but it looks like it is very complicated. With the help of the tutorial, any beginner could complete it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cute Knitting Patterns For Every Season

Wow is it hot outside! It is really difficult to pick up wool to knit when you don't even want to think about wool touching your skin. Given the weather, I was very excited when I was asked to review the free eBook from 15 Free Cute Knitting Patterns For Every Season.

Here is a book that will help you keep knitting year round. The patterns are split into seasons with 4 patterns for each of Spring, Summer and Fall, and 3 patterns for Winter. (There are so many winter knitting patterns that I don't mind there are fewer patterns.) The eBook contains a lot of diversity, the patterns include lightweight tops, bags, dishcloths, throws, ponchos, Scarves, and Sweaters.

Normally when I think of summer I don't think of Ponchos, but the Lacy Summer Poncho has completely changed my opinion. This simple eyelet design looks cool both in terms of fashion and of temperature. It would be a great item to have with you in case the evening turns a little chilly, but it also shouldn't make you sweat! The other Easy Poncho Pattern fits better in another season because it doesn't contain the same airiness. The Short Sleaved Hooded Sweater (Fall) is adorible, but I would want to lengthen the ribbing at the bottom to make it more flattering on my body type. I love the Thrifty Market Bag (Spring). Knit market bags are fantastic for taking to Farmer's Markets because they won't make you sweaty by carrying them and they allow your produce to breathe.

I am so glad that I know about this free eBook! I know that there are many warm weather knitting patterns available, but I was disappointed in a past search for spring and summer knitting pattern books. Now I see no reason to buy a book when you can get the collection in 15 Free Cute Knitting Patterns For Every Season for free!

Get free knitting patterns, ideas & special offers + a FREE ebook, “15 Free Cute Knitting Patterns For Every Season.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Luxe Hat

Here is the second project I made from the Luxe Accessories kit. I knit this hat on size 8 knitting needles using City Tweed Heavy Worsted/Aran yarn in Emerald Isle. I LOVE THIS YARN. It is so soft and fuzzy, I would love to make something else out of it. This project consumed 65 g of yarn.

The pattern says "note that on rounds 8, 10 and 12 of the chart, you will need to shift the markers one stitch to the left to preserve the pattern." I assumed (because a triple decrease was the last stitch) that this would mean the stitch marker would be slipped at the end of a round (which is fairly common.) But as I started round 8, I realized it wasn't lining up correctly. You have to slip this stitch at the beginning of the round for things to proceed correctly. This is true for rows 22-46, too (the even rounds, at least.) Other projects on ravelry ended up with twisted pattern that wasn't present in the original pattern. I did NOT slip the marker on row 48.

I would definitely make this hat again. It was a very fast, satisfying knit.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Search for Free DNA Helix Knitting Patterns

This the first time I am doing a non-free pattern search here at ChemKnits. The DNA helix scarf has been very popular with the science crowd, and since 2009 I have discovered many other fabulous DNA themed knitting patterns. These patterns deserve mention here at ChemKnits, even if you would have to pay for the honor of knitting them.

Free DNA Helix Knitting Patterns
  • DNA Cable Beer Cozy - I designed this cozy to work out my own DNA cable knitting chart.  This was a swatch for a larger Kindle design.
  • DNA Helix Kindle Cover - I wanted to create a Kindle cover for my Chemist father.  I worked out the DNA chart in the beer cozy above and incorporated this cable DNA helix into a kindle cover.  
  • GENEie Collection - I designed 5 different patterns for the March for Science on April 22, 2017.  These hats and headbands involve both cable and colorwork representations of the double helix.  
    • GENEie (Colorwork Version) - 10 colorwork strands of DNA run up the hat.   
    • GENEie (Cable Version) - 10 knit DNA cables run up the hat.  The cable is on a reverse stockinette background and is the same cable featured in the above beer cozy and Kindle cover.  
    • GENEie - The Next Generations - Maybe I should have named these hats and headbands plasmids because a strand of colorwork DNA runs around the brim of the hat.  Toddler and adult sizes are available.  
    • GENEie Pussyhat - The iconic shape of resistance has two DNA cables on a stockinette background.  One runs up front of the hat and the other runs down the back. Of all of the GENEies, this is the easiest to adapt for different yarns and head sizes.  
    • GENEie Plasmid - Now you can knit my DNA cable flat!  I have provided a chart with WS and RS instructions in addition to written instructions to make this sideways headband.  
  • DNA Scarf - A beautiful scarf with the DNA helix running down the length.
  • Eye of the Helix Socks - Deceptively classic looking top down socks, you may not realize at first that these are helical. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.
  • DNA Hat - This hat has a DNA cable helix running around the brim of the hat.
  • DNA Armwarmers - The cable helix runs down the back of the hand up the arm. (These are fingerless mitts)
  • DNA Lace Scarf - The DNA helix is represented in a lace pattern rather than cables in this scarf. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.
  • ProtoPretty DNA Sweater Shell - I was not expecting to see a DNA Sweater! The helix runs down the front of this tank top and is flanked by some interesting lace.
  • Central Dogma Hat (DNA --> RNA --> Protein) - In colorwork, you see the pattern go from DNA to RNA to protein as you start at the brim and go up to the crown of this hat. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.
  • Rosalind - This is another DNA scarf, but once again there is a new twist (haha!) This is an illusion DNA scarf. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.
  • Dreaming the Day Away Kindle Cover - Cover your kindle in a cabled DNA case. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.
  • Chromosome Hat - You don't see the double helix here, but the brim of this hat is surrounded with an unmistakable (to a scientist at least) chromosome design.
  • Chromosomal Flash Drive Cozy - In addition to the chromosomal cable design, there is an icord loop so you can attach the cozy to something.
  • Baby's First DNA molecule - a 3D double helix.
  • Maryanne's Splicable DNA - Another 3D DNA toy but you can "connect" different base pairs. Pattern is available as a free download. You may need to create an account.

In my search for free DNA helix knitting patterns I also came across many amazing patterns for sale. I wanted to list these, too, because I may want to make some of them in the future. The prices listed are current as of 4/1/2012 (no this isn't a joke!) Many of these patterns are available for Ravelry download, and you shouldn't need to make an account to purchase them. (I may be wrong on this.)

DNA Helix Knitting Patterns for Sale
  • Denature - This is a sock pattern that I have been wanting for a long time. The helix cable splits ("denatures") on the gusset. $5.00 USD.
  • Green Genes Socks - Sock with the DNA helix running down them. I love the title! $5.00 USD.
  • Double Helix Socks - There is a double -double helix pattern down each side of the socks. This is done through lace stitches. ~$4.79 USD.
  • Knitting is in my DNA - A fingerless mitts pattern where the cabled DNA helix wraps around the hand. $5.00 USD.
  • Imagine - A sock pattern where the helix rounds down the top outside edge of the foot. $5.00 USD.

I hope you enjoy all of this helical goodness!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Iris Dyed

I is no secret that I love to dye yarn. I love to experiment with different techniques, but there is still nothing quite like handpainting yarn.

The Iris is my favorite color. I love the shade of violet purple, the different green hues and the yellow surrounded by a hint of white. I used these colors as the inspiration for my Iris Dyed yarn.

I mixed up three different dye colors in 2/3 cup of water. Yellow - 8 drops yellow. Green - 9 drops green, 6 drops neon green, 2 drops black. Purple - 8 drops blue, 5 drops NEON pink. In the end of my painting, I ended up doubling the purple and turning the rest of the yellow into another shade of green to get enough coverage on my 100g of wool/nylon blend (presoaked with a healthy splash of white vinegar).

Irises haven't been my only inspiration lately. I have have been playing with my favorite colors, blue green and purple in the creation of this cool toned rainbow colorway.

Do you want to know how I do it? Make sure you check out the following video and tutorial on how to hand paint yarn that I published in conjunction with AllFreeKnitting.