lesson – OMG Yarn (balls)
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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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Put Down the Yarn Balls for a Minute: Let’s Make Some Slime

July 12, 2017




As a work from home mom, I need to find a good balance of work and play. That means sometimes I have to put the yarn down and pick up some fun activities that the kiddos can enjoy.

This time, my not-so-little Peanut had been BEGGING to make slime. I gave in. Of course, with this being a trend, and even having seen a YouTube goddess on Good Morning America with her own slime recipe, I had to try it.

The problem: All the slime recipes contained Borax. I make my own laundry detergent, so this is a common household item for me, but I also know that it destroys my skin if I touch it with my bare hands. I can only imagine what that would’ve done to my kiddos’ hands.

And because we do things with the OMG Factor, we needed to make bright and glittery slime without the requisite glitter epidemic that follows (I usually refer to this as glerpes, because once you have glitter, you have it for life).

My instructions are for one batch of slime which is enough for one child.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 6oz bottle of Elmer’s Glitter Glue
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Contact Solution
  • OPTIONAL: You’re welcome to add little things to the slime like toys, those little styrofoam balls, or whatever you like to make your slime even more awesome for your kiddos. I opted to add “Slime Ballz” that I found at Michael’s.

Other supplies:

  • Measuring spoons – Tablespoon and teaspoon
  • Mixing bowl – You might want to use disposable bowls or ones that you don’t care if you don’t use them again for anything else
  • Wooden stirrer – Like a paint stirrer or popsicle stick used for craft projects
  • Ziplock bags – For storage

Making slime is so easy, even 3 year old Sharky helped!

Instructions

  1. Pour the glue into the mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking soda to the glue and stir until it’s completely mixed in. The glitter glue will look cloudy when ready. OPTIONAL: If you’re adding any toys or other things to your slime, this is the step where you add them.
  3. Add the contact lens solution. The mixture will start to harden quickly, so stir as much as you can before it turns into a ball. It will also stick to the stirrer, so you can pull the slime off of there when you get to the next step.
  4. Knead the slime by hand. Knead your slime into the remaining contact solution in the bowl like you’re making bread. The contact solution will make the glue become less and less sticky.
  5. Enjoy your slime! Play games with your slime. See how far you can stretch it. Mash it into a ball. Whatever you want, the sky is the limit.




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Quick Crochet Tutorial: How to do a Standing Double Crochet

July 5, 2017




You know I love to do ALL things fiber arts, right? That includes crochet.

I’m always knitting and always crocheting and sometimes things don’t always work out how you like them to, so you learn to fudge it, scheme it, or just plain make it work.

The goal of the site is to help cut out some of the scheming to make your projects look better by actually teaching some of the complicated stitches you might come across in your patterns.

Standing Double Crochet: A Brief Tutorial

I came across the standing double crochet while working on a cute little crochet sweater for Sharky two Christmases ago.

Even with almost two decades of crochet experience under my belt, I had never heard of this stitch which was being used to start rows of stripes along the front of his sweater. Sorry, I just remember what pattern I was using.

I initially shared the short tutorial on Instagram back in 2015, but it’s time to put this all in one searchable place that both you and I can come back to for reference. So, here we go:

Using the photograph above as a guide, complete these steps…
1. Yarn over hook twice. 2 loops on hook.
2. Insert your hook into the stitch, draw up a loop. 3 loops on hook.
3. Yarn over and pull through two loops on hook. 2 loops on hook.
4. Yarn over again and pull through two loops on hook. 1 loop remains and you’re done!
5. Once your next stitch is completed, your tail is tucked into the work.




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Learn to Knit: Continental Knitting

April 13, 2017





Now that you’ve learned how to cast on your stitches, how about learn how to knit and purl those stitches, eh?

Knitting is made up of knit stitches and purl stitches, and just like with crochet, you can hold the yarn in your left hand or you can hold the yarn in your right hand. The difference with knitting is that the stitches themselves and the direction in which you knit do not change with how you hold your yarn.

I’ve come across several conversation threads where crocheters are learning to knit and were searching for left-handed knitting vs. right-handed knitting…nope, knitting is funny that way…the stitches are the same no matter what.

Choosing how to hold your yarn is a matter of comfort or preference. I’m teaching you about this one first, because it’s the trickiest and takes longest to master. I will say this: those speed demon knitters use this style of knitting. So you’ll be a fast knitter once you master this technique!

What is Continental Knitting?

Continental knitting, also known as German or European Knitting, is a style of knitting in which the yarn is held in the left hand and the right hand uses the knitting needle to work the stitches. You can be left- or right-handed to knit this way, so it’s kinda misleading to call it left-handed knitting (read: just don’t call it that…LOL).




What you’ll need:

  • Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
  • Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will need both of your knitting needles.
  • Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to knit and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students how to master the stitches. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.

Before you start…

Cast on a good 24 stitches or so using the long-tail cast on method I taught you.

Watch the video (and subscribe to my YouTube Channel)

In the video I started out with some stitches already worked, so that it was easier for you to see what I’m doing. The long-tail cast on actually knits on some stitches for you anyway, so it’s like a bonus row already done for you.

You will need to hold the needle with all your cast on stitches in your left hand. The tension on the working yarn is kept by using your left finger as demonstrated in the video.

Knit Stitch

  1. Hold your yarn in back (behind the needle).
  2. Insert right needle from front to back.
  3. Grab the working yarn with your right needle. Remember, the working yarn is the yarn that is connected to the yarn ball. Make sure you are not grabbing the tail from where you cast on your stitches.
  4. Use the needle in you right hand to pull that working yarn through the stitch to the front.
  5. Complete the stitch by using the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.

Congratulations! You’ve knit your first stitch. Keep practicing that knit stitch for a couple of rows until you get the hang of it.

When you get to the end of a row, all your loops are on your right needle. Take that needle and move it to your left hand with the tip facing toward the right, like how you started the row.

Once you feel like you are ready, try the purl stitch (in the same video).




Purl Stitch

  1. Your yarn is held in front for a purl stitch (in front of the needle). Uh oh! What the bleep does that mean?! At the beginning of a row, it’s easy, just swing your yarn to the front. If you’re in the middle of a row, bring the yarn to the front in between your two needles NOT over the top of either needle (that will create yarn over, which means extra loops, and your project will start to grow…you don’t want that).
  2. Insert your right needle from right to left. Check out the different angles of my video in order to see what that looks like.
  3. Use the right needle to wrap the working yarn around. This is the tricky part. Watch this section of the video many times. Yes, it’s that important. To be honest, I have a hard time describing this part in a written fashion. You may think to yourself, “but if I just grab the yarn with the needle and pull it through the back, that’s easier!” Unfortunately, if you do it that way, your stitch is twisted and it is not a proper purl stitch. Use your left finger to help wrap the yarn and stabilize it.
  4. Once your working yarn is wrapped properly, pull that loop out through the back (as shown in the video). Like with the knit stitch, use the right hand needle to pull the loop you started with off the left needle. The working yarn loop that you pulled to the front is now on your right needle.

You did it! You can knit!




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Long-Tail Cast On: Start Your Knitting Off Right with This Method of Casting On Stitches

April 12, 2017

There are tons of different ways that you can get started with knitting. It’s called casting on, which is how you get all of your stitches onto the needle so that you can begin a project.

While there are so many ways that you can get your stitches on the needle, the long-tail cast on is what I teach all of my beginners, because it’s the most versatile and best looking.

Let’s get started with my favorite method of casting on stitches. It’s called the long-tail cast on. Below the embedded video you will see my written out steps on what to do here.




What you’ll need:

  • Yarn (of course) – In the video below, I used Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s 100% acrylic and one of the softer wallet-friendly yarns that I like to use for projects.
  • Knitting Needles – Choose the needles suggested by the label on your yarn. For this demonstration, I used US 9 circular needles (beginners, use straight needles – they come in a package of two with nothing connecting the two needles). You will only need one of your two knitting needles.
  • Patience – It’ll take some time to learn how to cast on your stitches and usually I took an entire 2-hour class period for teaching my students this method. That way they could practice over and over again and then get their project started before the end of class. Don’t get frustrated, every one takes quite a few tries before they get it.





Here we go!

  1. Make a slip knot and place this loop on your knitting needle. This counts as one of your cast on stitches. So, for example, if the pattern you’re making says cast on 36 stitches, that slip knot counts as one of those 36 stitches. Woohoo, you’ve already started something!
  2. Grab your tail. It’s important to remember that for how I teach the long-tail cast on, the tail of your yarn is always looped on your thumb. Thumb and tail both start with the letter ‘T’ and that’s how I remember.
  3. Wrap the tail around your left thumbJust as shown on the video, once you grab the tail of your yarn, you’re going to wrap the yarn around your thumb, forming a loop. It’s very important that you start the wrap by bringing your thumb from over the top and loop the thumb around in a counter-clockwise motion.
  4. Wrap the working yarn around your left index finger. Your index finger is going to come up from underneath the working yarn, the strand that is attached to the ball of yarn. The next step will help form that loop around your index finger.
  5. Rotate your left hand to get your yarn into position. The video is better at demonstrating this, but you’re left hand is going to rotate so that your palm is face up. That act helps loop the yarn around your index finger and thumb and makes the loops presentable for the act of casting on more stitches.
  6. Thread the needle through the loop on your thumb from below. Refer to the video for this step. Your needle tip will come from underneath the loop and through said loop.
  7. Grab the yarn from your index finger with your needle and pull through the thumb loop. Essentially, you’re pulling that top yarn, the index finger yarn, with the needle and pulling it through the loop on your thumb. Keep watching, the magic is about to happen.
  8. Drop the thumb loop. What?! Yes, I promise. Drop that loop off of your thumb. That will allow the loop you just made to close onto your needle.

You’re going to repeat steps 3-8 for the complete number of stitches that you need to cast on.




Some helpful hints:

  • You can use your thumb to tighten the stitches onto the needle, but don’t pull too tight. 
  • If your cast on stitches are too tight – the stitches should be snug on the needle, but loose enough to move freely once you start your next row – start over and keep playing around with tension.
  • Don’t drop the yarn from both fingers every time, just the thumb. The act of re-wrapping the yarn on your thumb can also help tighten your stitches.

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