Friday, February 23, 2018

Almost Time for the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong

It is almost time for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along to begin!  I am so pumped to kick off the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong next Sunday night at 7:15 PM EST.  Each day we will have at least one new knit (or crochet) blank dyeing episode PLUS a dyeing livestream.  This weekend, I'll update the Sock Blank Special 2 Schedule with links for the specific livestreams.  If you can't make a stream, don't worry, the replay will be available as soon as YouTube can process it. 

Do you want to learn more about the Sock Blank Special 2 week?  In the following video, I chatted about different types of blanks that I have created for the dye along and what kind of techniques we'll try out over the next week. 

How you can participate?  Over the last few weeks, many of you have been collection your own sock blanks to dye along with me.  These blanks are a combination of homemade blanks, commercial double stranded sock blanks (KnitPicks Affiliate Link), and reclaimed sweaters to dye and unravel.  Share you pictures on social media with the hashtag #ChemKnitsDyeAlong and feel free to tag me as needed.  You can also join the ChemKnits Lab Facebook Group, a group for ChemKnits Fans where labmates are already sharing their own sock blank dyeing projects.  

I am so excited to see what kinds of yarn we all create.  Now I have to be off to make some more of my own sock blanks so I can dye a big variety in the dye along.  

Are you new to dyeing yarn?  Learn more about sock blanks and the tools you need to dye them.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Unboxing My First KnitCrate! (Feb 2018 KnitCrate Membership)

Today I opened up my very first KnitCrate!  I was so excited when they reached out to me to see if I would like to test their KnitCrate Membership Subscription.  Of course my answer was, "YES!"  My first package was the February 2018 KnitCrate Membership Crate:

February 2018 KnitCrate
KnitCrate Membership February 2018

What was inside my delightful teal bubble mailer?  The KnitCrate Membership subscription includes 1 knitting and 1 crochet pattern every month and enough yarn to complete one of the designs.  First I pulled out two skeins of Knitologie Glowing Worsted Yarn in the color Mist.  Mist is a really deep and saturated blue/green.  The yarn looks like it has been kettle dyed and has very subtle variations in the depth of color.  Semi-solids like this are one of my absolute favorites to knit with because it gives the finished project so much dimension. The yarn is a 40% Merino Wool / 30% Silk / 30% Alpaca which is not only incredibly warm and soft, but also had a wonderful sheen that almost makes the yarn look iridescent. 

This month, I got two cowl patterns which were shared on two sides of a postcard in my package.  Vincent W. Green designed the crochet pattern "Mariana Trench Scarf" and the knit "Raindrop Cowl" was designed by Noelle Davis.  Both of these patterns say they require 300 yards of yarn, and I have 298 yards total between the two skeins.  I hope that I'm not going to play yarn chicken when I make my cowl!  However, since these patterns were designed with this yarn in mind I am sure that I would have no trouble completing the project.

I really like that the KnitCrate includes a link to download the designs instead of paper copies.  I was able to easily add these patterns to my Ravelry library so they can be searched and downloaded at a future date as needed.  (If you don't have a Ravelry account you can download the patterns directly to your computer.)  The theme of this package is "Petrichor", and I got an explanation of the rainfall and shimmering puddles that inspired the colorway and patterns on a postcard.  This postcard also contains coupon codes for the pattern designers' Ravelry shops, email addresses for pattern support, and the value of each of the included items in the kit (Yarn, Patterns, and Shipping.)

All February KnitCrate Membership packages will have codes for the same knitting and crochet patterns plus 2 skeins of Knitologie Glowing Worsted Weight Yarn.  The colors of yarn will be a surprise.  In addition to Mist, you could receive either of the colors Rain Drops or Verdant.  The total retail value of this kit is $63 (2 x $24 skeins + 2 x $5 patterns + $5 shipping). During my livestream, we discovered that you can buy skeins of yarn found in the kits at full price, but you had better jump fast at the beginning of the month because most of the Feb exclusive yarns are sold out as of 2/21.

Are you interested in trying out a KnitCrate Subscription, too?  Use the coupon code ChemKnits20 to receive 20% off your first order!  (Thank you, KnitCrate!) To hear more of my thoughts as I opened up my KnitCrate, watch the livestream replay below.  (My 4 yo interrupted the livestream from his rest a couple of times. I have edited out the long pauses but left the rest of the interruptions in their unedited form for the true ChemKnits livestream experience.) 

I am so excited to see what shows up in my March package. Which subscription looks the most interesting to you? The Sock Crate is currently sold out, but I think that the Artisan Crate, which features a different indie dyer each month, looks AWESOME. 

KnitCrate sent me the package for free and I am enrolled in the KnitCrate Affiliate Program.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Dye Along Livestream Schedule - The Sock Blank Special 2!

Are you ready to dye along with me in the Sock Blank Special 2?  I have talked about the materials and equipment you will need for the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong, and now it is finally time to talk more about the schedule for the week.  I plan to host livestreams at a variety of times of day so as many of you will have a chance of joining me live as possible.  Don't worry if you can't catch me live, the livestream archives will be available to replay later.

In all of the livestreams, I will dye a combination of KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks and DIY blanks made out of various yarn weights, fiber types, and number of strands.  The Stroll Sock Blanks are double stranded, so when we unravel the yarn we will get two identical 50 g skeins of yarn.  The homemade blanks will feature both single stranded and doublestranded blanks.

ChemKnits Dye Along; Sock Blank Special Schedule 

With each episode/livestream in the schedule, I have indicated if you will need any special materials to dye along with me.  Make sure you refer to the General Materials list just after the schedule for things that will be used in most of the episodes. This list might be tweeked as we get closer to the Sock Blank Special.
  • LIVESTREAM: Sunday 2/25/18 7:15 PM EST -  #ChemKnitsDyeAlong Kickoff!  A chat to get excited about the week ahead of us.  I might work on making some blanks (via knitting machine or crocheting) or unravel some dyed blanks.   
    • Special Materials needed: Sock Blanks!  Finish getting your sock blanks together to dye along with me this week.
  • Monday 2/26/18 8:30 AM EST - Dyepot Weekly #28 comes out a day early!  This isn't a livestream, but I am moving up this week's Dyepot Weekly episode 24 hours so it can help kick off our week of fun.  Want a sneak peek?  Check out the livestream where I unraveled this blank.  
    • Materials Needed: Squeeze bottles for applying the dye (Jacquard acid dyes) to the homemade double stranded sock blank.  
  • LIVESTREAM: Monday 2/26/18 8:00 PM ESTRandom Patterns!  Tonight we are going for true random patterns.  We will tie dye, randomly dip, and more.     
    • Materials needed: Utensils to apply dye to the fiber (brushes, squeeze bottles, or syringes), a dish basen or dye safe bowl, rubber bands.  
  • LIVESTREAM: Tuesday 2/27/18 9:00 AM EST - Stripes, Stripes, and More Stripes! We will dye multiple homemade and commercial sock blanks in a variety of striping patterns. 
  • Tuesday 2/27/18 PM Late Afternoon TBD - A New Sock Blank Special Episode!  
    • Materials Needed: A double stranded crochet sock blank.  (Sneak Peek is coming Monday 2/12!)
  • Wednesday 2/28/18 8:30 AM EST - Snow Dyeing Sock Blanks! This episode has been prefilmed.  For a sneak peek, check out the unraveling of the homemade and commercial snow dyed blanks livestream
    • Materials Needed: KoolAid Packets, Snow (as a substitute, try either crushed ice or ice cubes!)  
  • LIVESTREAM: Wednesday 2/28/18 Noon EST - Stamping and Stenciling Sock Blanks 
    • Special Materials: Guar Gum (a thickening agent), Wilton Gel Icing Colors (they are already thick to begin with!), foam brushes, squeeze bottles, stencils, stamps, and cookie cutters
  • Thursday 3/1/18 Morning TBD - A New Sock Blank Special Episode! 
  • LIVESTREAM: Thursday 3/1/18 8 PM EST - Spray Painting Blanks
  • LIVESTREAM: Friday 3/2/18 10:30 AM EST - Sprinkles, Speckles, and More! 
    • Special Materials: Sprinkles (Sugar Sprinkles or nonpareils), KoolAid packets (or similar drink mix)  
  • Friday 3/2/18 Afternoon/Evening TBD - Ice Dyeing a Sock Blank
    • Materials Needed: ice cubes (multiple trays worth, I filled up a whole dish basen with cubes), KoolAid packet (or powdered citric acid), liquid food coloring.  
In addition to the above scheduled events, I might add some additional unraveling streams as our dyed blanks finish drying.

General Materials Needed for the Dye Along

I covered this in the where to buy and how to make sock blanks post, but I wanted to recap the other materials you should have on hand.  Please refer to the materials list in the "Where to Buy Sock Blanks" post for other items you should consider having on hand. If you plan to use acid dyes, make sure you use dedicated non-food equiptment and utensils for dyeing.
  1. Yarn: In all of the videos, I will dye yarn that is in either a knit or crochet blank (read more about).  All of the yarns will be predominantly protein based fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc.) I will use a mixture of homemade blanks (see how I make them in the videos at the end of this post) and commercial blanks (KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks)   
  2. Dye: This dye along will feature either food safe (i.e. food coloring) or commercial acid dyes. The overall techniques will work for either type of dye. If you plan to use commercial acid dyes, make sure you are using dedicated dyeing equipment and utensils. 
  3. Acid: Either white vinegar or citric acid
  4. Heat: I will either use a microwave (with food coloring dyed yarns) or a pot on the stove.  My dyepot has a steamer basket which I use for yarns handpainted with commercial acid dyes.  
  5. Miscallenous: plastic wrap, gloves, measuring cups and spoons, tongs, heat safe dishes, container for presoaking the blanks, cups for mixing dyes

Other Resources

I have two playlists on the ChemKnits Tutorials YouTube channel that features the dyeing of preknit blanks.  There is the original Sock Blank Special playlist from videos and livestreams that took place in December 2017.  All of these videos feature KnitPicks Stroll Sock Blanks.  These blanks dye and unravel SO BEAUTIFULLY and they are a dream to use.  I just orderd a bulk 20 pack of these blanks, which means that I plan to do some sock blank dyeing videos even after the dye along is over!  (Maybe Sock Blank Special 3?)

I know that purchasing sock blanks can be expensive, so I am also going to use homemade sock blanks.  I have another playlist that features videos of making and dyeing homemade knit blanks.  I use a Singer hand crank knitting machine for all of my homemade knit blanks.  I find that this machine works well for worsted (and thinner) single stranded blanks and fingering weight double stranded blanks.  The machine struggles to make double stranded worsted and DK blanks, but I was able to complete them.  I worried that I might strip the gears, so proceed with caution that you could damage your machine.

Finally, check out the "Where to Purchase Undyed Sock Blanks for the Sock Blank Special Dye Along!" blog post to learn more about what are sock blanks, different companies that offer sock blanks for puchase, and the general materials you will need to dye along with me in the #ChemKnitsDyeAlong.

Timeline Disclaimer

I have two young children and I work out of my home.  The livestream schedule depends on my kids being healthy and able to attend school. If one of them is home from school sick, then I will need to shift the schedule above and potentially delay some of the livestreams.  Thankfully, I am pre-filming many different techniques so you can still dye along even if I have to push back some of the livestreams.

Share Your Own Projects!

Tag your pictures with #ChemKnitsDyeAlong on Instagram and Twitter.  I will have a post on the ChemKnits Facebook Page where you can share your finished dyed sock blanks, the unraveled yarn, and items that you made our of your dyed sock blanks.  I can't wait to see what you create!  You are also welcome to come and join the ChemKnits Lab Group to chat more about ideas and all types of dyeing projects.  The group is filled with hundreds of ChemKnits fans and we are having a lot of fun.

Watch How to Make and Dye Homemade Sock Blanks!

I cannot wait to dye along with you during this Sock Blank Special.  I have tried to take many of the requests from the last Sock Blank Special and incorporate them into the events for this special week.  Are you ready to dye along with me?

This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon and KnitPicks.  All thoughts, opinions, and product selections are my own and I was not approached to promote any of the products.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

DIY Tamatoa Mickey Ears

My family LOVES Moana.  I knew that we weren't likely to see a lot of Moana things at Disney World yet because the movie was so new, but I thought it would be fun to make my own pair of Tamatoa Mickey Ears. Both Lucky and Keith LOVE the song Shiny and the little after the credits scene. 

I made a lot of ears for our Disney World trip, and I can't remember where this set fell in the order.  I do know that this was one that I did a lot of improvisation for although you can find some of my inspiration on my Disney World Ideas Pinterest Board


  • Headband
  • Thick craft felt in black and navy
  • Gold Sequin Fabric (Optional - for the back of the ears)
  • Metallic Gold and Gold Glitter Puffy Paint
  • freezer paper
  • gold sequins in various sizes
  • Blue sparkly fabric
  • "crystal gel" sparkle puffy paint
  • two purple/black sequins for the eyes
  • Hot glue gun
  • polyfill stuffing
  • Sewing Machine (optional, you could use glue instead)
I wanted to do an experiment about creating embellishments for a Tamatoa ears.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying different gold color embellishments, so I tried using some $1 puffy paint on the waxy side of freezer paper.  If these peel off, then I can use them to add some dimension to a Tamatoa shell.

It worked great!  I could crinkle the various shapes to add dimension to my ears.  Next I needed to create the base of the ears because I knew that I wouldn't be able to sew it together after I started adding on the piles of puffy paint.  

With the tabbed template I created in my first set of Mickey Ears, I cut out four pieces from the thicker craft felt.  I cut 3 black pieces and 1 navy piece.  

I knew that the sparkly gold fabric I picked out needed a foundation for it to stand up on the ears.  I pinned the extra sparkly fabric to two of the felt pieces.  Since the mesh was somewhat see through I didn't want to use glue to adhere it.  My plan was to stitch just around the outside and hope for the best.  I did wonder if I needed to add tissue paper over the sequins, but it just worked!  The sewing machine needle went through the fabric with no issues. 

I decided to wait to trim the fabric until I had sewn the front of the ears to the backs, although I did cut the fabric to separate the two pieces. 

For Tamatoa's face, I cut out one triangle and two circles and pinned them to the piece of navy felt.  (I used some scrap fabric that came from my Elsa ears, but it looks like I haven't written up that post yet.)  If you don't have sparkly fabric in your stash you could use a lighter blue felt and add some glitter to it after the fact. 

Once again, I stitched down the embellishment pieces versus using glue.  I like the definition that the stitches give to the shapes.  However, I don't think you would be sacrificing much if you decided to use a fabric glue instead.  

Before stitching down the whites of the eyes, I used a tiny dot of glue to glue them down. I didn't trust my ability to pin them correctly, but I did sew them down with my machine to keep them in place.  

I think that the wrong side of this ear section looked really cool!  

Now that the ear fronts were ready to go, I stitched them to the back pieces and then trimmed off the excess gold fabric. 

Now it was finally time to start embellishing the shiny shell ear.  I covered the black felt with globs of gold and glitter gold puffy paint and added sequins and some of the shapes I created earlier.  My goal was to create a lot of texture and shapes to look like a pile of treasure. 

I did the ear in a couple of stages.  In part I wanted to see how things dried so I knew how to modify my technique.  It worked AMAZINGLY well.  I also did some similar mini embellishments on some freezer paper (not shown) to incorporate onto the bottom of the second ear. 

This ear really does look like a pile of treasure, right? 

For the face ear, I needed to make some Antennae but I also wanted to show a bit of the shell so it would look like Tamatoa was just started to peek his head out. 

I used the crystal gel puffy paint for the Antennae and to attach the darker sequins to the whites of the eyes. 

Doesn't it look like he is squinting? 

I used a fabric pencil to draw out the lines of the shell. I started by adding some of the pre-fabricated shapes to give this mini shell some dimension and then added sequins and glitter. 

Finally I just needed to wait for things to dry so I could finish up the ears.  

How is that for some custom, DIY Tamatoa ears?  Now I'm just missing the headband!  

I lightly stuffed the ear pockets with the polyfill stuffing and then used hot glue to secure them to the ears.  I first glued the center to the top of the headband, and then glued the back tab to the bottom of the headband.  Finally, I glued the front tab around the back and trimmed off any overhangs.  These ears look positively shiny, right?  

I couldn't wait to bring these with me to Disney World!  

Lucky thought the ears were pretty awesome, but REALLY didn't want us to meet Tamatoa at the parks.  He thought that Tamatoa would like these ears too much and try to steal them.  

I was surprised that there was almost NOTHING Moana while we were there.  I started collecting pins on my trip and didn't see a single Moana themed pin.  

I will say that these ears were popular with the staff when I wore them to the Animal Kingdom.  I'll share some photos from the trip in a future post where I show off all of the Disney Ears we wore at the parks.