Monday, June 30, 2014

Machine Washing Food Coloring Dyed Yarns (with Video!)

I dye a lot of yarn with food coloring.  This technique is color fast, but until I started working on this post I had never actually tested this.  Well, I have hand washed items that I dyed with food coloring, but I never put a swatch in the washing machine.  Shouldn't I demonstrate that washing a swatch of hand dyed yarn is just as vibrant after washing as it was before washing?


To accomplish this task I needed to use hand dyed yarn that is also machine washable.  I dye a lot of 100% wool, and I didn't want anything to felt.  I think part of the point here is to show that you can toss your hand dyed articles in with the rest of your laundry and they can turn out okay.

I selected my iris dyed yarn with a stroll fingering base.  The yarn was dyed with food coloring and vinegar and heat set in the microwave.  I had knit this into a hitchhiker scarf, so I knew that the yarn I had remaining would be perfect to swatch with.  By using remnants, I would not be "wasting" yarn for this purpose.  (Please note that it is often recommended that you knit and wash a swatch before starting a project that you plan to launder.  This way you can see how the fabric holds up before washing your precious knit garment.)  

I cast on 25 stitches and knit up a little garter stitch scarf on size 4 knitting needles, the same size needles that I used to create the garter stitch hitchhiker scarf.

As you can see in the above photo, I have the bare yarn to compare to the completed knit scarf and my swatch.  I washed the swatch in the washing machine on the warm setting with some old towels.  I selected the warm setting on my washing machine, but the washing machines in my complex don't REALLY have warm water, so I think technically it was washed on cold.  (This is why I say cold in the video, I didn't want to explain our less than optimal washing equipment!)  I then dried the swatch in the dryer.

Before Washing
After Washing
Wahoo!  The only real difference after the washing is that the yarn fluffed up a bit.  All of the color stayed in the yarn and my towels didn't get stained.  I would still recommend washing hand dyed projects with items you don't care about first to make sure the color doesn't bleed, but this goes for commercially dyed yarns too.  Don't forge to watch the video of me doing laundry.  I promise it is more exciting than it sounds.  

As for putting something that I knit through the washing machine (other than this swatch), that will have to come at a later date.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cake Dyeing with Dye Leftovers

Last summer, I had a lot of dye left over from some projects.  I was going to use it for cake dyeing... but then as of 9/3 I hadn't done it, and in October Lucky was born.  In February the dye was still sitting on my counter, and finally by April I'd had enough and knew that I wanted to get this video filmed and edited.

The leftover dyes were from when I was dyeing the roving for Chirphead's baby pod and from hosting a KoolAid Dyeing party.  I mixed all blues, reds and purples together into one batch, and I figured that it would be perfect for some cake dyeing.  Normally I wind a tight cake, and then rewind a looser one. I don't know how I got this mess this...

Thankfully the mess resolved itself and I had a nice, loose cake ready to dye.  I decided to switch up my cake dyeing by presoaking the cake first.  I let it soak in a pot filled with water and 2T white vinegar.  

I let the yarn simmer for 20 min and got a really pretty burgundy on the outside. Watch the following video to see the progression!

I got a fancy new camera in March, and I couldn't resist taking pictures of each step of the unwinding process.  It is just so beautiful to see the cake unwind!

Here you can see the blue hints

I'm a bit surprised that the color didn't penetrate further into the cake, but then again it was mostly reds and reds absorb faster than blues/greens.  Maybe I'll try this again with cooler toned dyes.  


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Baby G's Woobie Bear

Pita like a California Bear, so this made the Woobie Bear the perfect gift for baby G, the first daughter of Indy's dog Godparents.

I used size 3 knitting needles and Shine Sport yarn in Cream (65 g, 143 yards), Mongoose (99 g, 218 yards) and Pistachio (11 g - 25 yards).  In addition to the brown, green and white yarn, I used a yard or so of Black Shine Sport to embroider on the eyes and mouth. 

I cast on using a 7 g scrap of cream yarn that I had in my stash, I figured that it was best to try to use up the small amounts of yarn first.  Hopefully I made my long tail long enough to cast on all 300 stitches the first time around this time.  Predictably, I got to 182 stitches and ran out of yarn, so I had to rip it out and start over again.  I swear, I'm jinxed with these projects! 

Once I had cast on and knit a few rows, I set this project aside for a bit.  I knew that casting on would be the most effort intensive part of this project, and once I had started it would be perfect to take with me to crochet club, waiting rooms etc.  Keith gave me some AWESOME project bags for Christmas, and I'm thrilled to have an excuse to try them out. 

Unlike the other woobies that I've created (a Tiger and a Zebra), this woobie isn't striped.  This will make it a little more difficult to keep track of the decreases as I go along with the project, but not impossible.  I just have to make sure I pay attention.  

Notes from construction
  • Since I did a long tail cast on, I did NOT knit 1 round with CC before starting the increases, I went straight into the increases. 
  • Cream Ball 1 weighed 7 g. Cream Ball 2 weighs 50 g and started at the end of round 1.  (Wow, that was a lot of yardage in just the CO and first round!) 
  •  For decrease rounds, I will s1, then follow odd round instructions.  This first stitch would become part of the last CDD.  
  • Ball 2 finished in the first quarter of round 20.  Cream Ball 3 weighs 50 g. 
  • For the bear woobie, the contrasting color stripe is 3 rounds rather than 2 for the Tiger and Zebra.  I looked at the picture on the Ravelry page to make sure that I was doing this correctly.  The pattern is correct!  (I only questioned it because of my two other woobies.) 
  • Round 25 - started Brown Ball 1 (weighs  52 g.)  I will keep sequential track of my rows from here on out so I know the total # of rows for the project.  
  • Round 48 (towards beginning) started Brown Ball 2 (weighs 48 g) 
  • After row 59, there are 37 stitches between each marker.   Wahoo!  There is no need to do any corrections as I prepare to start the second set of decreases.  
  • The extra decreases began on round 63. 
  • I hit 28 stitches on round 75.  I then knit one more round (76) without decreases before the "Next Rnd" (#77) to 16 sts.  At this point I stopped my counting of rounds and am ready to begin the head shaping. 
  • I keep thinking that I should go down a needle size for the head to make the stitching tighter... but I never have, and I didn't this time either.  Maybe one of these days I'll start listening to myself. 

I purchased 3 brown balls of yarn for this project, but I used all but 1 g of two balls.  While it is a bummer to have a bunch of left over yarn, it is MUCH better than stressing about running out of yarn.  (Which you know I do a LOT here at ChemKnits!)  Thankfully I have another project that will use this brown yarn, so it isn't increasing my stash (something I'm working hard to avoid doing... yet it keeps growing despite my best efforts.) 

I had some trouble securing the ears in a way I liked.   I finally pinned them to the head before stitching them down.  I used the green to whip stitch the front and then brown to whip stitch the backs. 

While knitting this woobie, all I could think about was mint chocolate chip ice cream.  (I mean, I was also thinking about Baby G and how much I love her already!)  Why was I thinking about ice cream?  Well from the KnitPicks color description when I was selecting my colors, "Pistachio is a mint green yarn that lets you create ice cream inspired combinations, pair with Mongoose for mint chocolate chip..." How could knitting with this color NOT be fun?

I finished the woobie on the evening of their baby shower.  We weren't able to be there, but the grandma-to-be video chatted us in so we could say hello as a surprise to the new parents.  Thankfully I finished just in time to bring with us to CA when we went to visit the next week (at the time of writing this post)!

Lucky's woobie already gets along well with Baby G's bear so I know that these little babies will be best Pals! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

3d Needle Felted Penguin

Spoiler Alert:  I did it!

After playing around with some 2D needle felting, I felt that I was ready to attempts a 3D project.  (Gulp!) I even got a new tool to help me with this project. I think that this Clover Needle Felting Tool will help me prick my own fingers less. With 5 barbed needles the felting should be a little more even. (At least this is my hope!)

I picked up a 3D felted penguin kit at the Stitches Midwest expo last fall.  The kit contained all of the fiber I would need, but didn't come with the foam felting square or any felting needles.  (Hence the reason I picked up the 2D felting kit since that came with a needle.)   

This project started with wrapping a bunch of wool around my finger.  Sounds easy enough! 

The new tool is amazing foe this large surface area!!  Although I suppose I should have wrapped it tighter.  The nice thing is that I'm not seeing holes like I did with the single needle.  I'm getting a nice evenly felted surface.  

The base was easier than I thought.  I just make sure to reshape as i move along  Pretty cool, right? 

3D needle felted items are very sculptural.  I was expecting to have a lot of problems with this because I don't do well with free formed crafts.  This is why knitting is great for me, there is some order to what you are doing and it is therefore repeatable.  Embroidery and needle felting?  Time will tell.  

I used the long single needle to secure the oval stomach to the piece and then my new 5 needle toy to make it flat.  The single needle goes much deeper, and is better for precise placement control.  

When I was done, the penguin front was fairly flat.  Looking good so far!  

Time to make the beak.  When making the triangle, I was wishing that I had made the penguin front a little shorter, or removed some of the yarn so I could make the beak even smaller.  In the end, I do like the cartoonish look to the nose.  

The feet are not my favorite part of the sculpture...  but still pretty cute overall.  They were felted flat separately and then attached to the bottom  

Now it is time for the hat and the scarf.  I hope that I can do this piece justice. 


The instructions give very good tips, such as rolling the strip of fiber for the scarf in your hands before adding it to the penguin.  This helps keep the shape more even.  Brilliant tip!

I had a lot of trouble securing the pompom to hat.  I decided to secure to to penguin side and have less crease and more flop.    It is still precariously attached to the penguin, but since this is an ornamental decoration rather than a toy, hopefully people will not touch it too much.  

This is a project that took an afternoon and was a lot of fun. I could see kids getting into this, kids who are old enough to use the tool without cutting themselves. I can see myself making many more needle felted embellishments and ornaments in the future.  I haven't started looking up patterns of things to make, so do you have any suggestions on where to find needle felting instructions?