Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns

This book has surprisingly little overlap from the first book, a Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  

The sections differ slightly from the first book:

  • Knit-purl combinations
  • slip-stitch patterns
  • slip-stitch color patterns
  • mosaic patterns
  • fancy color patterns
  • fancy texture patterns
  • twist-stitch patterns
  • cables
  • cable-stitch patterns
  • yarn-over patterns
  • eyelets
  • lace
  • lace panels and insertions
  • borders
  • edgings

As you may see from just comparing the section titles, we are going more in depth into color and lace knitting here.  There is an increase in complexity in cables and other types of stitch patterns.  This book is not meant to replace the first Treasury, but supplement it.  Ideally you would add all four to your collection.

I would be much happier if these books included charts, and if they would be re-published as a multi-volume encyclopedia type series with like stitch patterns in the same section of the book.  Maybe I should write a letter to the editor...  

This popular series doesn't end at the second treasury of knitting patterns, it goes all the way up to four!  Check out the other two below.  (I have not seen them myself as my local library does not carry them.)  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Search for Free Pokémon Crochet Patterns

Pokémon, you've gotta catch them all, right?  Why not crochet them all?  I started out looking for video game themed crochet patterns, and I had NO IDEA that I would come across so many Mario Themed Crochet patterns and Pokémon themed crochet patterns.  It is possible that I will end up with even more categories as I start searching for the characters of other popular games... but we will just have to see.  Enjoy these free Pokémon crochet patterns!

Which is your favorite Pokémon crochet pattern?  With hundreds of pokemon out there, is it really surprising that there are so many pokemon crochet amigurumi?  

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair

For our second anniversary, Keith once again took me to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair in Greyslake, IL.    He is such a good sport as I go around all of the booths at least twice handling fiber, snuggling angora rabbits and chatting up the venders.  

Before going to the fair, I meticulously combed my queue to see what yarn needs I had for this great shopping opportunity.  Are you surprised that I didn't really find anything?  I knew that I wanted to come away from this trip with some fiber to spin, as I loved what I picked up last year.  (PLUS I had spun or knit with everything that I purchased last year! What a good girl I am.)  I feel that this is part of the spirit of my long gone 2013 yarn diet to only get spinnable fiber rather than simply adding yarn to my crazy stash.  

I picked up 3 - 4 oz braids and one art bat of unknown fibers.  Oooo I am so excited to play with these!  The first braid is a Meddow Maggots blend for Susan's Fiber Shop of 55% BFL, 15% Black Diamond Bamboo, 15% Tussah Silk and 15% Tencel.  The fiber blend gives some great visual interest that I know will carry through to the yarn.  And who can beat a great combination of teal and pink?  It caught my eye immediately as I was walking around.   I didn't realize it until I looked at the website, but Susan's Fiber Shop is where I tried out my Kromski Spinning wheel for the first time last year!  It now feels even better to give them some business.  

Next I stopped back at the 365 Days on a Farm booth.  I picked up my first ever art batt of unknown fiber quantity.  It is a spooky colorway of black, purple and hints of a lime green.  I am very excited to play with it.  I also couldn't resist the Merino with silk Noil roving in beautiful green.  

Finally, I had to make another stop back at the Fiber Optic Yarns booth.  I LOVED the BFL/Silk fiber that was one of the first projects on my spinning wheel and I was hoping to get some more.   Unfortunately the only color in that blend was the same color that I've already spun!  I would have been happy to spin the same thing again to get more yardage, but since it has been so long since I've spun (not to mention a different color lot) I didn't want to repeat myself.  Instead, I picked up a 20% silk/80% merino blend in deep saturated greens purples and blues.  

I am so excited to start these new spinning projects, but I need to wait a bit longer.  I have a project in mind that requires some hand dyeing, hand spinning and knitting for my baby on the way.  My other finger candies will just have to wait!  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dyeing Yarn with Kool-Aid on the Stove

Here is a look back on a classic dyeing tutorial that I created ages ago but never shared here on ChemKnits.  In this video you will learn the basics you need to dye yarn with food based dyes on the stove, focusing on Kool Aid.  (Tip, Don't like the Kool-Aid hues?  Add some drops of food coloring to alter the coloration.)  

In the last year, I started a new series on YouTube called Dyeing Experiments.  In this playlist I will dye yarn in different ways without knowing what outcome to expect.  Sometimes things work great, other times they completely flop.  Come join the journey by following ChemKnitsBlog on YouTube!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Treasury Of Knitting Patterns

If there is ever a knitting stitchionary "bible"" then most people would
 point to A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker.   First published in 1968, it is still the standard of knitting stitches that people refer to (and recommend picking up a copy if you can find it for cheap.)  

This knitting stitchionary (stitch dictionary) is spearated into multiple sections:
  • Simple Knit-purl combinations
  • Ribbings
  • Color-Change Patterns
  • Slip-Stitch Patterns 
  • Twist Stitch Patterns
  • Fancy Texture Pattersn
  • Patterns Made with Yarn-Over Stitches
  • Eyelet Patterns
  • Lace
  • Cables
  • Cable-Stitch Patterns
What is the difference between YarnOvers Eyelets and Lace?

In the YO section, not every swatch has visible holes, it is really just that the technique is involved with the pattern.  In some cases, you can see the YO's but they are subtle and accents, rather than the star.  Eyelets and Lace have many things that could fit in either category.  In the Eyelet section, I would say that generally there are smaller repeats and less all-over lacy effect (like you could make it on a sweater and it would not be too risque.)  The Lace section increases the amount of see-throughness.  

Each stitch pattern is named and indexed in the front and back of the book.  I didn't count the number of stitch patterns, but there are plenty to tempt you as you try to modify an existing pattern or start your own designs.  

The greatest downside to this book is that there are no charts, unlike what I read in some of the Amazon Reviews.  It is possible that a newer eddition has charted patterns, but unlikely since the original book is already 300 pages.  

It isn't suprrising that walker publisehd some books related to each individual craft (color kitting, lace knitting) so you only need to refer to one book rather than 4.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader

Dear ChemKnits Followers,

I don't often have non-fiber related posts, but this post is to remind you about the shutdown of Google Reader scheduled for July 1, 2013.  (I don't want you to loose your ChemKnits access!)  If you follow ChemKnits though a different RSS reader or via email, you don't have to do anything.   If you are still using Google Reader, you have two weeks to switch to another service before it shuts down.

To easily retain your Google Reader data and subscriptions (and transfer them to another service) you can use Google Takeout to export your data.  If you miss the July 1 deadline for this service, you can still add all of the blogs you follow manually to the new RSS aggregator.

Below are some articles that discuss various replacements for Google Reader:
Newsblur was attractive to me, but the concern is that you can only see 10 stories at a time... I frequently have 20-25 news items under a feed that I am waiting to catch up on.  I decided to give a couple of services a shot.  Newsblur imported my data directly from Google Reader - no need for me to upload anything.  Nevermind - When I tried in 3/27/13 the free accounts were suspended.  At this point, I don't want to pay $24/year to get a RSS servcie.  

The Old Reader - Next I decided to give the oldreader a shot.  You can sign in through your google account (no creating a new account), and then it gives you instructions how to (and what file to) import from the Google Takeout download.  With a lot of people switching over from Google Reader, your process may be queued.  Be prepared to wait a while (over a week!) for your feeds to be imported, but you can always add them manually if you are impatient.  So far, I have to say that it is comprable to Google Reader and I adjusted quickly.

Which reader did you switch to?  I'd love to hear your recommendations!


Friday, June 14, 2013

WIP - Phalangees Mosaic Mittens

Usually I only post about completed projects, but sometimes there is a project that I just don't enjoy working on, so I need to take a bit of a break.  I was enamored by the Phalangees Mosaic Mittens pattern the moment I saw it.

I don't have circulars the right size to knit these gloves using magic loop/ 2 circular methods.  I'll have to use DPN's and then see what happens when I get to making the fingers. I started knitting Size Large, using size 1.5 (2.5 mm) knitting needles and Palette yarn in Clover (green) and Serpentine (mustard).

Notes from construction:
  • I used my normal long tail cast on.  I find this to be plenty stretchy.  
  • For the 2" cuffs, 21 rows of 3x3 ribbing.  

The pattern itself is easy to follow, but it got a lot more complicated around the thumb gusset.  Since there are two different charts for the different sized mitts, I can understand why the increases cannot say which row of the chart you're on... but it is hard to keep track of the fact that increase round 9 in round 10 on the chart etc.  I therefore am taking advantage of my magnetic chart keeper not for the chart, but for the increase suggestions!

I hate to say it, but this pattern is kicking my butt.  I had so much trouble getting into the rhythm of it, and mosaic (slipped stitch) knitting isn't as consistent as fair isle.  

Have you ever had a project that you've just abandoned?  I haven't given up hope with this one, I have it saved on stitch holders in case I want to come back to it.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Striped Baby Socks

When I found the Baby Mitten Socks pattern I thought the striping was adorable.  At the time I did not know the gender of my little chirphead, so all projects must be gender neutral.

ARGH!  I initially cast on 24 sts not 32!  Time to start over.

Unfortunately the pattern used a self striping sock yarn, so the stripes were not created in the pattern.  I planned to make a black/white striped sock using KnitPicks Comfy Fingering and size 1 (2.25 mm) knitting needles.  My striping pattern will go as follows:
  • Ankle
    • Cast on Black.  +5 rounds
    • 5 rounds white
    • 5 rounds black
    • 5 rounds white
  • HEEL
    • All black - I noticed it said to do a total of 11 rows ending on WS row, but 11 rows would end after a RS row.  So the WS row makes 12 rows total since the first round after heal flap starts with a RS row.  
  • Instep
    • 5 rounds white
    • 5 rounds black
  • Foot 
    • 5 rounds white
    • 5 rounds black
    • 5 rounds white
  • toe
    • All black
I knit these socks in Mid March 2013 when I was still in the middle of my self imposed yarn diet (no new yarn purchases, only fiber for spinning).  I am a little worried about the elasticity (or lack thereof) in the Comfy fingering yarn, but this is what I have to work with.  We will see how elastic the ribbing in these socks appears.  (It seems good)

Due to a formatting glitch in the pattern, I missed the "K 1 round" following each of the toe decreases.  I noticed this when I was knitting the toe on the second sock, so I had to skip these two rounds again.  (I'm not sure why I didn't pick it up, there are similar formatting issues in other parts of the pattern.  Make sure to read it carefully before you knit!)  

The two socks weigh 13 g.  The project used ~8 g of black and ~6 g of white yarn.  The finished socks are about 3.75" long.   I have no idea what size baby these will fit, but hopefully my child won't have huge feet like me right from the get go!  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Spinning Misc Dog Fur

When I received a generous fiber gift, some of the fiber was dog fur of an unknown breed.  It is in some kind of batt, not a commercial roving or combed top like I've spun with before.  My wonderful benefactor received this fiber from her spinning teacher when she started out spinning.  It is perfect since I'm planning on spinning Indy's fur eventually.  I'm also not planning on spinning it particularly thin.

The fiber is arranged as a long batt with no particular orientation of the fibers.  I've been predrafting into a rolag of sorts before spinning each piece.  

I am going to spin this without dyeing it.  I see this as practice for the day when I finally spin Indy's fur that I've been saving!  I'm trying hard for as little twist as possible.  I think I'll N-ply it too.

There are some tiny bits of debris in this fur, and the fiber is so fuzzy that they are a little hard to pick out.  Is it strange to say that there is a lot of shedding when I talk about spinning dog fur?  Look at what it is doing to my pants!  (The photo doesn't quite do justice to what has been happening.  I have had to lint roll myself a few times.)

Indy was interested in the smell of this fur, but not super interested as he would have been if it were a real dog..  

This is not quite as pleasurable a spin as some of the other fibers spin.  I'm not sure why, if it is the softness or how the fiber was prepared, but it just wasn't my favorite.  With some other spinning projects I would be so excited to get to the end that I would power through, but with this project I took a few month break.  I finally finished spinning the singles, and got them all to fit on a single spindle.  

I feel like there is so little twist in this yarn that I am a little worried about it coming apart during plying.   The N-plying was so much more satisfying than the spinning of the singles.  I love the softness and the halo of this yarn.  It is a great bulky weight in a natural winter white.  

I noticed that my spinning was much thinner towards the beginning of the singles than it was when I started plying.  I think that the weight will still be bulky, but it will definitely have a good handmade feel to it.  In this thinner section I had the yarn break a few times, but with N-plying it is easy to ply it together and then these breaks are invisible with no knots!  I maybe put too much twist in the ply at the end as I was really excited to finish up this project after so long.  (So much for creating a balanced yarn...)  I soaked the yarn in hot water and then let it dry around the niddy noddy.  

If Indy weren't the same color as the yarn, I would make him something to wear out of it.  

76 wraps * 4 ft/wrap = 304 ft = 101.3 yards
7-9 WPI = Heavy Worsted Weight

Spinning Completed 5/29/13.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mini Monster Amigurumi

Hoffman's Baby Monster Beginner Amigurumi tutorial is fantastic.  If you have never crocheted anything before but want to try making amigurumi, then this is a great project to try.  Not only are the projects small and simple, but the step by step photographs show you everything from the magic circle to how to make a single crochet stitch.  

The base of this project is so simple, but the possibilities are endless for what you can create from it.  I don't consider myself to be any good at embroidery, but I figured that I would give it a shot.  

I used a Size E (3.5 mm) crochet hook and KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Spruce (teal - 7g) and unknown name burgandy - 8g.  

The teal monster is 1 row short because the row counting for this project did not count the magic circle round as round 1 (unlike the other amigurumi I've made thus far.)  I don't think this is that big of a deal, but it did explain the confusion I had while counting rows. 

If you're worried about running out of yarn, make the monster base first.  Then you can knit the body of the monster as long as you have yarn for.  

I know that most of the magic of these amigurumi comes from the finishing touches, embroidery etc.  This is something that I"m NOT very good at, but I wanted to give it a chance.  (This is also why I only made two little monsters to start out with, what if I don't like the final result?)  

I used size 8 mm safety eyes.  I decided to make both monsters with one eyes to see how I like the embroidery.  I think they came out pretty cute!  I stuffed them with polyfill stuffing and scraps of yarn and then sewed on the circular bottoms with a whip stitch.  

I'm not sure if I'm going to make more in the future, but I am happy with these two creatures.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

ChemKnits in Print!

This has been a good week for ChemKnits.  When I went to go pick up my mail, I discovered not one, but TWO magazines that were featuring ChemKnits projects!  I knew that the Chemical & Engineering News article would arrive any day, but I completely forgot about the request from BugLife back in February.  

I am on the second to last page in both magazines.  Shown with the featured knit items.
When Chemical & Engineering News contacted me earlier in May, I was ecstatic that they wanted to interview me.  This is a weekly publication sent to all members of the American Chemical Society, I had a subscription myself while I was in graduate school!  One of my peer reviewed academic publications is published in an ACS journal.  I was so excited to get some recognition from the scientific community for my chemistry knitting blog.  Event the title of the blurb "Molecules Tied Up in Knots" is awesome.  In addition to the photograph of my hangover beer cozy knitting pattern, the article mentions the caffeine coffee cozy and resveratrol wine cozy.  

C&E News; Volume 91, Issue 21, p 56: NEWSCRIPTS - Settlers Of Mars, Molecules Tied Up In Knots 
I first heard from the charity Buglife  - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust in Scotland back in February asking to feature a link in their magazine.  I asked for a copy of the magazine, and then completely forgot about the conversation.  Boy was I surprised when this showed up on my doorstep!  The blurb features my knit butterfly and links to a squidoo article on insect knitting patterns.  

The Buzz; Summer 2013, Issue 2, p 18: Knit Your Own Bugs! 
I've given permission for other insect charities to use my photographs in their newsletters in the past, and have even have some knit my bumble bee in mass to sell at fundraisers.  Although I always request photographs, I have never heard back from any of these organizations... until today!  I love that my knitting projects can be used for charitable purposes in addition to fun gifts.  

Thank you so much to the editors who sent me complementary issues of the magazines!  They look fantastic.  I also owe a huge thanks to you, my readers, who have made this blog popular enough to get this kind of attention. Thanks for reading!  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Upside-Down Daisy Baby Hat

Besides me, I know at least three other couples that are expecting babies this year.   I therefore am going to let myself knit some not necessarily gender neutral items even though I don't know the gender.  I know that the number of people I have to knit for is only going to grow, so having some extras in my stash until I know all of the genders (or which ones will be a surprise at birth) is a good idea.)  The Upside-Down Daisy Baby Hat is available for free online, or you can find it in the book Itty-Bitty Hats: cute and cuddly caps to knit for babies and toddlers.  

Even the underside of the hat looks awesome!
I am knitting with KnitPicks Shine Sport in Aquamarine, Grass and Cream (actual color name unknown) on size 5 knitting needles.  

I'm using yarn that is smaller than what the pattern calls for because that is what I have in my stash.  I therefore whipped up a quick gauge swatch.  My project is 6 sts/inch.   Based on the reported gauge (5 sts/inch) and the reported stitch counts (56, 64, 72) the hats should measure (11.2", 12.8", 14.4").  With my gauge these same hats would measure (9.3", 10.6", 12").  

Since I am using smaller needles and smaller yarn, I am going to cast on 72 stitches and follow the directions for the 6-12 month hat.  This should, however, fit a much smaller baby.  Between Newborn and 0-6 month based on my calculations above.  

I'll knit until the hat measures 5.5" from the cast on edge - 40 rounds.  I don't mind a bit of a rolled brim.   (I measure with the rolled brim straightened out.)  

Made Row 10 of the petals purl-wise rather than K wise as written.  Even though there were 6 petals, they all knit up pretty quickly.  I finished this pretty late at night so I waited until the next morning to sew them to the hat.  

This project consumed 33 g blue, less than 1 g of green and 6 g of white.  The finished size is 13” circumference, 6” from rolled brim to base of stem (white part of the stem). The brim can be rolled more if necessary.