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How to Dye Yarn with Kool-Aid

October 3, 2017




Way back when, in 2011, I had just become a stay at home mom and I needed to find some ways to pass the time. I opted to hone my fiber arts craft and spent the days knitting and crocheting.

One day, my mother mentioned to me that I should try dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid. And I did! I was a long process. I didn’t know about putting yarn into hanks yet, so I ended up with a ton of yarn barf.

Of course, over the years I taught myself a few different dyeing techniques and learned ways to make dyeing easier for myself. Recently, I was looking for something to do with my 8-year-old and 3-year-old sons toward the end of the summer break and I decided to go back to basics.

Since speckle dyeing is the trend right now, I wanted to teach the boys that technique, but without using the professional powdered yarn dyes I use. I thought, let’s dye yarn with Kool Aid!

Even better, why not make something for them that they could show off out of that yarn that they made. The idea was instantly a hit with the kids; they always love watching mom dye yarn, looking like a mad scientist in the process.

Here we go!




What You’ll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • A Liquid Measuring Cup
  • One hank of an animal based fiber yarn (we used my OMG Liberty yarn base; a worsted weight 100% Superwash Merino Wool) – cotton and acrylic yarn will not work for this technique
  • One Large Pot (at least 4 QT)
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Kool Aid packets of any flavor without sugar added
  • Ice Cube Trays, at least 2
  • Freezer
  • Sink
  • Dish Soap
  • Laundry Rack or Hanger

Instructions:

Prep Work – Make Kool Aid Ice Cubes

  1. Using hot water, mix approximately 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of water with one Kool Aid packet until the powder is completely dissolved. Use as many different colors as you like, but remember that the colors may mix, so remember your art classes from school. Purples and greens together will end up brown or other weird colors.
  2. Pour mixture into ice cube tray. If you are using multiple colors, use multiple trays. My mixtures of each color created about 6 to 8 ice cubes.
  3. Place trays in freezer and let freeze.

 Prep work – Soak Yarn

  1. Fill sink with luke warm water and add 1 cup of white vinegar.
  2. Place desired amount of yarn in water and soak it for 20 minutes.

 On to Dyeing Your Yarn

  1. Place presoaked yarn in a large pot. It does not have to be in there in any specific way, but make sure the entire bottom of the pot is covered and your yarn lays flat.
  2. Add about one cup of warm water evenly to the yarn in the pot. This is so that the yarn does not burn when heated on the stove. Make sure that there is not too much water in there. The yarn shouldn’t float and there should not be enough water for the colors to distribute through the water.
  3. Place ice cubes randomly on the surface of your yarn.
  4. Put pot on stove and heat yarn on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Make sure that the yarn does not burn. If your water boils off, add more to the pot.
  5. Remove pot from heat. Your yarn is hot and so is your pot. Use oven mitts to carry the pot and dump yarn in the sink.
  6. Let yarn cool for 10 minutes in sink.
  7. Wash yarn with a little bit of dish soap and cold water until the water runs clear from the yarn.
  8. Hang yarn to dry.




That’s it! You have a skein of yarn dyed and ready to craft with.

3-year-old Sharky chose Grape, Pink Lemonade, and Cherry for his flavors/colors.

 

8-year-old Peanut chose Blue Raspberry, Pink Lemonade, and Cherry for his Kool-Aid flavors/colors.

 

Of course, I started knitting these hats right away.

Want to learn how to make the kids’ cute cabled hat that I made with their yarn?

Kool Aid Hat Preview

How cute are Sharky and Peanut?!

You will need the following knitting skills to complete this project:

  • Knit
  • Purl
  • Knitting in the Round
  • Purl two together
  • Knit two together

The gauge is approximately 5 stitches per inch in the cable pattern.

The pattern is written for use with OMG Liberty (my worsted weight yarn) or Lion Brand Wool Ease (worsted weight). Sizes range from baby (about 12 months) to adult.

Lion Brand’s Wool-Ease is just a little bit different than OMG Liberty, so instructions include the different needle sizes needed.

Tip: I’ve made several of these hats to test the pattern. If you find yourself playing yarn chicken with OMG Liberty in the adult size, use the smaller cast on for stitches, but follow the rest of the pattern as is, it’ll fit adult size too.

Click here to buy the pattern.




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Free Pattern: Landon’s Sweet Baby Blanket

April 24, 2017




In an effort to keep all my patterns in one spot, I’m moving this free pattern over to the OMG Yarn (balls) website. It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and I designed this for a (now former) co-worker’s baby.

Pattern

Well, it’s a good thing that I actually kept notes and wrote myself a basic pattern for the blanket I made for our family friend’s baby named Landon, it seems he’s gone viral overnight!  I posted his picture last night on the Midwest Yarn Facebook page upon receiving the appreciation photo – actually, my husband got it texted to him with a follow up saying that the picture was too cute and he might want to hide it from me (because I love baby pictures!).

So Landon’s Sweet Baby Blanket is quite simple to do and it’s a perfect weekend project to whip up if you have a short deadline like I did.

Yarn

  • Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK, 105 yds/50g: 5 balls of main color, 2 balls of the complimentary color.
  • OR any DK weight yarn that will get the gauge listed below.

Gauge

  • 5 sts per in on US 6 or size to obtain gauge.

What You’ll Need

  • 40″ US 6 Circular Needle or size to obtain gauge (I used a US 5 because I wanted my stitches to be tighter together – big or loose sts mean little fingers can get tangled up in there)
  • A tapestry needle to sew side seams and weave in ends.

Glossary

  • MC: Main Color
  • CC: Complementary Color
  • slm: slip marker
  • pm: place marker



Blanket 
Cast on 140 sts in CC.  Work in garter st until blanket measures 2″ from cast on edge.

Switch to MC.

Row 1: Work first row of letter chart (below), pm, k to end of row.
Row 2: Purl to marker, slm, work next row of chart.
Row 3: Work next row of chart, slm, k to end of row.

Repeat Rows 2 & 3 until letter chart is complete.

Continue in st st in MC until blanket measures 28″ from cast on edge, ending on a WS row.

Switch to CC. Work in garter st for 2″. Bind off loosely.

To complete borders, pick up about 3 sts for every 4 rows along side of blanket. Work in garter st for 1/2″. Bind off loosely. Repeat on other side.

Weave in ends. Lightly steam to block.




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How to Choose the RIGHT Yarn for Your Next Project

April 5, 2017




Having good results with any knit or crochet project depends a LOT on the yarn you choose to work with. It can make or break a design and it can determine how much you (or a lucky recipient of your hard work) love to wear the completed item.

As a yarn shop owner, I always enjoyed helping customers pick out yarn for all kinds of patterns: sweaters, shawls, afghans, mittens, you name it. I know some shops like to make the sale, but I liked happy customers, and nothing made customers happier than getting the right yarn every time (or most of the time…). My quaint little yarn shop depended on repeat customers who depended on what I’d picked out for them. Let’s just say that I had a couple repeat customers who had such amazing taste in yarn, I couldn’t wait for their next visit to sit down and page through my catalogs and samples to find just the right yarn that I had available through suppliers (Dear Skacel, your yarn catalog was my favorite to page through and fawn over).

To be honest, I’ve even walked through my local JoAnn’s and helped people select good yarn for a project there – I mean, that’s the kind of yarn I had access to before I was introduced to yarn shops. When you don’t have someone to help you look through yarn or who is pushing the sale of yarn you don’t need or want (yes, there’s such a thing), you need to know what you should consider when picking the right yarn for your next project. So let’s take a look, shall we?

The Project

Of course, the first question I asked was, “What are you making?” Is it a sweater/jumper? Is it a shawl or scarf? Is it meant to be worn next to the skin? Is it meant to be worn over or under something? All of these are important questions. I mean, would you want to wear a scarf next to your neck that has itchy or tough fibers that poke at your skin? Probably not.

Budget

Believe me, I know budgets can be tight too. If you don’t have a big box store nearby, your local yarn shop is the answer, however, those boutique level yarns can get pricey. Not everyone can make a sweater or afghan out of yarn that costs $20 for each 100g ball. Remember, though, you get what you pay for with “economy” yarns.

The small print to read here though is: even expensive yarn can have poor manufacturing, so make sure you read reviews if you can before you buy. I won’t blast any yarn companies in particular, but nothing peeved me more than yarns from manufacturers with poor quality control. Self-striping yarns at $15-$25 per ball with knots in them, abrupt color changes, or out of sequence color changes can totally throw off your project’s aura in a heartbeat.




Yarn Composition and Characteristics

The same yarn may behave differently for different knitters/crocheters AND can behave one way for a knitter but another way for a crocheter.

Ahem, BIG CHUNKY FURRY EYELASH YARN IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO CROCHET WITH! Well, at least for me anyway. The fur hides the stitches and they’re sooooooooo difficult to keep track of. I always ended up with weirdly shaped scarves.

If your project needs some drape to it, like for a scarf, shawl, skirt, or dress, you will want to choose a yarn that will do that. Plant or non-animal based fibers are always good for those types of projects (think cotton, bamboo, silk, tencel, etc.).

If your project needs to insulate or keep someone rather warm, choose animal-based fiber blends. Alpaca fibers, in particular, are hollow and thus insulate really well, so you’ll notice that projects made from this luxury fiber will keep you warmer. You might want to avoid alpaca for summery shawls or accessories.

Yarn “Memory”

Projects that require some bounce-back or memory – think projects with ribbing like socks or sweaters – you want to use fibers/yarns that will meet that challenge. Most cotton fibers will create loose, drapey fabrics, so they will lose their shape with wear or added moisture from sweat. As a result, I don’t usually suggest cotton for socks or sweaters.

Notions and Tools Needed

You also need to consider whether or not you’ll be able to use that yarn with all the notions and tools you’ll use to complete the project. If your project needs buttons or zippers, avoid single plies or lofty fibers that will get caught or tangled.

The Wearer

As a mom of three, I LOVE to make little sweaters and things for my kiddos. When you need to knit or crochet for babies and kids, you have to remember that they will fidget, cry, or rip off any clothes that are not comfortable. That’s why I don’t like to use wool for their projects. If I do need to use wool or that’s my absolute only choice, I pick merino wool, which is the softest to work with.




You will also need to consider if the person you are making the project for has any allergies. If they have allergies to specific dyes, like from hand dyed yarn, or to wool, you will need to use alternative fibers that are a good substitute for what you cannot use. Cannot use wool, but need something with memory to it? I am a big fan of Kraemer Yarn’s Tatamy yarn – a cotton/acrylic blend that comes in worsted or DK and is soft, hard wearing, and not quite as memory-free as most cottons.

The Case of Hand Dyed and other Novelty Yarns

Big shocker, I’m going to add a special section about hand dyed yarn. When working with hand dyed yarns or intricate novelty yarns, you want the yarn to speak for itself in the project. So if you’re looking at these kinds of yarn without a project in mind, pick the project to show off the yarn. Most simple, beginner-friendly projects, are GREAT for these kinds of yarns. Single stitch scarves, mostly stockinette stitch sweaters, non-lacy items, those would be the best to choose. If you have a beautifully mosaic dyed sock yarn, vanilla socks are the way to go.

I hope this helps the next time you’re stuck on what yarn to use for your next fiber arts endeavor. Let me know how it goes!




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The Kitten Hat: Free Knit Pattern for the Littlest Resisters

February 27, 2017

Disclaimer: Of the few things I feel strongly enough to speak out about, Women’s Rights and equality are amongst them. I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to continue posting about the pink hats that have taken over a lot of fiber arts discussions in a big. I, for one, am a big fan of not rocking the boat, because I don’t like attention or confrontation. So if you’re opposed to a free pattern for these cute little cat-eared hats modeled by my gorgeous little girl, this post is not for you. I still love you though. There are plenty of other patterns that probably will be for you and they’re coming soon.  I will always be a safe space for everyone. EVERYONE. Knit and crochet on, sisters (brothers and non-binary gendered fiber artists).

The Kitten Hat

For those not in the know, I’ve made a giant pile of pink hats with my friend Beth of The Big String. A portion of the proceeds from the hats went to women’s issues, supported local female-owned small businesses, and also helped this little blog get off the ground. Making all these hats has its advantages, mostly that the pattern keeps evolving. It’s not quite the pattern that initially started circulating. We had to change with what worked and what didn’t for making these hats wearable, comfortable, and as quickly as possible. We even busted out my mother’s Ultimate Sweater Machine for a few, because the demand was so high. I’ll probably share my notes on using the machine to knit these hats sometime soon here too.




I also had my kiddos add a little extra positive energy to each of the hats that were sent to others. They proudly donned these hats and wore them around the house, happy to help mom not drown in the sea of pink yarn. Peanut would even announce the current hat count to everyone in line at craft stores and shout that “mommy bought ALL of the pink yarn!”

As we got more and more involved, I noticed that the original hat pattern could technically fit all three kiddos and myself, just with slight modifications. For baby Ola, I had to fold up the brim, meaning she needed a shorter brim. For Sharky, it was just a hair too big, so that meant a shorter hat body, but same brim length. Peanut could wear the adult hat just fine, but the ears were not as defined. From there, the Kitten Hat was born.

Pattern

The Kitten Hat comes in two sizes: baby (about 4 months and older) and child (aged 2 and up). You’ll see notes for where you can size up or down to customize these hats if your kiddos have bigger or smaller than usual head sizes.

The hat is worked flat and then sewn along the sides for the fastest construction. Feel free to add some duplicate stitch sayings, like “resist” or “persist” to personalize the hats even more. Use different colors or stitch patterns for further customization. Make this hat your own.

TIP: I have found that a slightly stiffer fabric helps the kitty ears stand up better, so you’ll notice that I am using a smaller needle size for what the yarn calls for. It works. I’ve made a bajillion of these.

Yarn

  • One ball Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Yarn, 100% Acrylic Yarn, 3 oz./85g, 145 yds/133 m  in your color of choice
  • OR any heavy worsted weight yarn that will get the gauge listed below

Gauge

  • 4.5-ish stitches per inch in stockinette stitch on US 8

What You’ll Need

  • A pair of US 7 straight needles
  • A pair of US 8 straight needles
  • A tapestry needle to sew side seams and weave in ends

Glossary

  • K: Knit.
  • P: Purl.
  • RS: Right Side.
  • WS: Wrong Side.

 




Hat – Instructions are for baby size with larger/child size in parentheses.

Cast on 34 (38) stitches on smaller needle using a long-tail cast on.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).

Switch to larger needles. Work in stockinette stitch (knit row on RS, purl row on WS) for 6.5″ (9″). Ending with a RS row.

Note: For a child that’s between 2 and 4 years old, you can shorten that larger length by about a half an inch to make the ears more prominent.

Switch to smaller needles.

Establish brim ribbing as follows:

Row 1 (WS): K2, *P2, K2; repeat from * across.
Row 2 (RS): P2, *K2, P2; repeat from * across.

Repeat Rows 1&2 for 2.5″ (3″).
Bind off loosely. Sew side seams. Weave in ends. Lightly steam to block.

 

Some really cute outtakes from photographing Ola in her hat. She needed a nap.

 

Work from Home Mom Tips: Time Management

February 16, 2017

As irony would have it, the time I had scheduled to sit down and write this post kinda fell by the wayside due to a fussy baby girl who needed her mommy. Family ALWAYS comes first, so this post is slightly delayed. Baby girl got her nap, and mama got the best snuggles. You can’t get these early years back…

There’s a hashtag floating around Instagram using the term “mompreneur”. I suppose you could say that I have been a dedicated mompreneur for a good five years now, and it has not always been easy. A lot of people ask me how I do it, and I even blogged about being a mom and business owner back in 2012. Back then, it was just Peanut and I.  Sharky and baby Ola have been added to the mix, so how we do things has changed a lot.

With the support of my partner, #TeamDennis, and the encouragement of my mother, I’ve been back at it doing the mompreneur thing. I’ve likened it to spinning plates that are on fire in a lion’s den while those lions are juggling chainsaws, but that could possibly be a slight exaggeration.




Being a work from home mommy is not for the faint of heart and it’s not for every family. Every family has different needs. It’s important for me to have something to do while my kiddos are in school or enjoy free play time around the house, because they all are pretty independent.

I thought that my personal experience may not be like everyone else’s, so I consulted with a few of my mompreneur friends for input as well. Here’s some tips and tricks on how you can manage your time and work flow with your babies in tow:

  1. Be productive during nap time. Just about every mom that responded to me mentioned that they try to get the most work done during nap time. Every so often, the stars align and I can get Sharky and Ola to nap at the same time and I can focus on items that require my undivided attention. If your babies can sleep through conversations, get your important phone calls out of the way. You’ll have little to no interruptions from your toddler who might want juice, food, potty time, or just needs mom’s attention. If you have a business where you utilize shipping, make sure shipment pick ups or drop offs are scheduled around naps. There’s nothing worse than a kiddo who has not gotten their full nap AND there’s some valuable time lost if your deliveries wake up the kiddos.

    Sharky is proudly proclaiming that he’s helping mommy carry the mail.

  2. Plan, plan, plan. Planning and to-do lists help us maximize efficiency as well. How do you know how to prioritize if you don’t even know what needs to be done and when? When I worked in account management, I spent the first hour or so of my day sipping coffee and building my to-do list in order of priority. Projects with upcoming deadlines came first; projects that were on hold because of data issues came last. Emailing clients came somewhere in the middle, depending on the urgency. I’ve also had it where there was a National Needle Arts Association show and I only had one day to dedicate to the out of town show. I planned the heck out of that trip and went through the entire show in a blaze of glory, seeing all that I needed to and even managed to have time to lose my rental car keys for a while. Yup, I flew to Columbus, rented a car, saw the sights, got lunch, and flew home in an 8-hour day. It was glorious.
  3. Automate as much as you can. With social media being a major part of marketing/advertising for online businesses, you can utilize tools like Hootsuite to plan your social media posts around peak usage times for your followers. My followers tend to respond more to Instagram posts around 6pm Central Time, which unfortunately, is dinnertime for our family. I believe in having all of us eating dinner at the same time, so this tool is especially important. Tracy B., owner of Nails by Tracy on Milwaukee’s East Side, likes to use Google Calendars for reminders on upcoming events and client appointments. This eliminates the need to carry around a planner and allows access to her schedule from any mobile device. I prefer my iPhone calendar, but have linked it to Google Calendars and Facebook Events as well (that way I don’t forget birthdays for family and friends either).
  4. Let kiddos help with some basic tasks. I’ve found that it’s a good life lesson for older children to help with some basic housekeeping or assisting with specific things. It helps them take ownership and see how well hard work pays off. Amanda C., a Perfectly Posh consultant and mom of three, plans everything from her Facebook posts to in-home parties around her husband’s schedule. If dad cannot bearound to watch one or more of the kids, she baby wears or has her oldest daughter assist with showing off products. I’ve had Peanut show customers his favorite yarns around the yarn shop or sweep the front walkway when he offers. Sharky enjoys helping carry packages to the car or handing them over to our letter carrier if we can’t make it to the Post Office.
  5. Go mobile – make the world your office. It’s the age of the iPhone (or Android, etc.), so take advantage of the powerful mobile devices you have available. Sure, it’s easy for me, because of the industry I am in. I can knit or crochet anywhere, I have a portable spinning wheel, and do not always have to dye yarn. When it’s nice outside and I need to take the kiddos to the park so that they can run off some energy, I bring my most portable project along with. If I got emails or calls to the Google Voice number that were for my yarn shop, I could literally operate my business anywhere. Somewhere there’s even a picture of me knitting by the side of the freeway when our transport van broke down on vacation (kiddos weren’t with us, so I worked on knitting a shop sample to pass the time while we waited for help).

    Yarn, coffee, and soda: Just about everything a fiber artist mompreneur needs to take the show on the road.

  6. Keep the kiddos entertained with things that interest them. Katurah M. always kept her boys entertained with their favorite toys when they were younger. Peanut always had an iPad to work on his home-school work or to catch up on the latest episodes of his favorite cartoons on Netflix. It was definitely a good way to keep him busy during knit and crochet lessons.
  7. When all else fails, get baby sitter, grandparent, or someone else close to you to help with kiddos (if you can). I always enlist my mom for wrangling the kiddos when I have trade shows or big meetings. It is poor business decorum to bring children or babies to some of these events (although, I have attended a few trade shows where it was acceptable to be a baby-wearing, breastfeeding mom – those shows know how to cater to us hardworking ladies).

I hope some of these tips and tricks gave you perspective on how to get more done as a mom who works with her kids around. Feel free to share some of your mompreneur hacks in the comments below!

Additional momprenuer tip: Baby wear or tandem baby wear if you have multiples. You’ll be happy you did. It maximizes my efficiency and lets me run around doing housework whilst multitasking business items too.

Special thanks to: Amanda C., Katurah M., and Tracy B. and all the other hardworking moms that contributed to the making of this post. Make sure to check out their businesses too, by clicking the links where they’re mentioned above!

How to make a Boho Chic Headband: A Crochet Tutorial

February 9, 2017

Ola’s Boho Chic Headband

Like most people these days, I spend a lot of time looking on Pinterest for projects, inspiration, and development. Usually when I’m searching for crochet projects, I come across some gorgeous lacy design that’s just a chart or a picture linking to a website in Portuguese, Spanish, or Russian. Although I’m fluent in Spanish, the other two languages are just too far off from it that I can’t decipher what anyone is trying to do.

This time, I came across a simple chart with no explanations, no project linked to it, nothing. I thought, “That would be a really cute headband for Ola!” So I sat down and muddled through the diagram and figured out how to make something similar looking and thought I’d share the project.

 

What you’ll need:

  • A ball of “Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread” in the Classic 10 size or any lace weight yarn
  • A steel crochet hook, size 7 (1.5mm) or whatever hook matches the gauge for the yarn you’re using
  • Scissors (to cut thread when you’re finished)
  • A poly/clear ponytail band

 

Gauge isn’t important here though, because the length of the headband will depend on the size of the head you’re making it for. Ola’s little head is about 17″ around (for now).

 

Crochet Techniques You’ll Use:

  • ch – chain
  • sl st – slip stitch
  • tr – treble crochet

 

Instructions:

1. Ch 10 sts.

 

2. Join in ring.

 

3. Ch 4 sts.

 

4. Treble crochet through center of ring.

 

5. Treble crochet 3 more times in center of ring. Total 5 tr (includes your starting ch 4).

 

6. Right from that last tr, Ch 10.

 

7. Join in ring.

 

8. Ch 4 and attach it to starting ring with a sl st.

 

9. Turn.

 

10. Make 9 tr in center of the ring you just made.

 

11. Ch 10.

 

12. Join with sl st to form a ring.

 

13. Ch 4 and attach that to previous ring with sl st. Turn.

 

14. 9 tr in ring. Keep repeating steps 11-13 until about 4″ shorter than desired length. Keep in mind, with the nature of the stitch and how it’s worked, it will have a little stretch to it too. It may take a little trial and error before you get the right length. You want the total length of the headband (including the poly band) to be about an inch or two smaller than the circumference of the head it will go on.

 

15. With last ring, 5 tr and finish off.

 

Attach both ends of your work to a poly band however you’d like and that’s it!

 

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