Little geeks unite!

A coworker of mine is about to become a father for the second time. He and his wife already have a three and a half year-old daughter, and the new baby will be a girl as well. To be honest, I never contemplated knitting for them because it’s just not that type of relationship, you know what I mean?

Instead, I became rather fixated on making those adorable stenciled onesies using freezer paper. I knew the parents would appreciate a cute but science-geeky gift, so freezer paper stencils seemed like a natural choice – I could adorn the onesies with neurobiology images! You may laugh… now :).

If you read any crafting blogs, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Ms. Soule made some here and here, and Ms. Shim won me over with tiny blossoms (as well as superlinked the whole freezer paper craze in this post).

But it was only when I saw a fellow knitter, June, make some that I finally said to myself, “That’s it! If a knitter can do it, I can do it!” Granted June is much more than just a knitter, as I’m sure you know if you read her blog, but… you know.

Information on freezer paper stenciling is anything but lacking, and it would certainly be redundant of me to tell you exactly how I made mine, considering I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I’ll mention that I had to purchase freezer paper on Amazon after raiding all the local supermarkets and hardware stores in vain, and that I was mainly guided by a rather informative post on Craftster (which, by the way, made me realize that I’m only a year or two behind the whole craze :)).

I picked neurobiology-based designs that are relevant to our lab. I imagine most of you will recognize the yellow neuron, but probably not the other three:

I used Marabu fabric paints, which are conveniently available in an arts store near my house (pink is Textil metallic-pink, yellow is Textil medium yellow, green is Textil light green, and purple is Textil plus dark violet). I also tried Jacquard Lumiere, but found it to be too thick and cakey.

Big sister received a stenciled long-sleeved t-shirt:

Because this was not a light-colored fabric, I used the Textil plus in dark violet.

Bottom line: my co-worker kept exclaiming that this is, “SO cute!” I think he really liked it, and I’m sure his (also scientist) wife will agree. Furthermore, other co-workers have asked for stenciled t-shirts for their little ones, which of course I’ll gladly make.

Geeks unite! Little geeks unite!


82 thoughts on “Little geeks unite!

  1. Gloria

    Lovely! Stenciling can become very addictive, so watch out. I picked it up last year and then went on a bit of a spree. The Pearl in Central has Speedball screen printing inks, which I find hold up really well after repeated washing. You just need to heat set them for a few minutes.

  2. Bookish Wendy

    I’ve been wanting to try this. We tried doing something similiar using sheer fabric instead of freezer paper. It worked – but I think this would be easier.

    Did you know they have plush animals of viruses, bacteria etc? My favorite is Black Death – the Plague! Perfect for little one.

  3. Alyson

    I’ll be the only one to say it. I’ve never heard of this. Freezer paper what now?

    Hmmmm….this may be something I need to try.

    Meanwhile, your stuff looks fanTAStic!! Too clever.

  4. Jocelyn

    Well, you may be a year or two behind, but at least you have heard of it! This was completely new to me. BTW, I am holding off on submitting my Jaywalker socks so I can be #500! Actually, it’s more like my son has the digital camera and refused to take a picture!

  5. Wanda

    Oh that’s so cute and a great idea. I want to try this for some friends and even family that I could make something cute and personal for them and their child without having to knit it!

  6. JulieT

    So what are the two bottom tee shirt images? Work with me here, I study botany.

    And now I’m probably going to have to stencil myself a chloroplast tee shirt. This is all your fault. πŸ™‚

  7. kelly

    I love them! I don’t recognize the symbols at all, belonging to the wrong geek clubs and all — which of course is the way it should be and what makes the shirts excellent as well as beautiful!

    Welcome to geekdom, little child, I’m so glad Auntie Grumperina is there waiting for you. :o)

  8. kelpkim

    SOOO COOL!!!

    I’m so excited–i’m going to try it out this weekend! i’m going to the fabric store too to get some more fabric for WIP bags and now, i can put stencils on them!!!

    amazing neuron stencil too! geeks unite! i’m here! where are the rest of them? …i must be in the wrong room…


  9. karenology

    Seriously, if you think you are one year behind, that means a good three year lag from me…and I read craftster regularly πŸ™ It might have to do with the fact that I rarely stray from the knitting forums though.

    At any rate, this freezer stenciling business is just the cat’s pajamas. The kids are lucky the parents know a good hearted geek like you!

  10. kmkat

    Count me as another multi-year-behind-the-curve craftster. Freezer paper stenciling was definitely below my radar. No longer, though, thanks to you. I see a t-shirt in #1 son’s Christmas stocking. Yeah, he’ll be 22 by then, what’s your point? He’s off to med school next year, so I’m gonna copy you in more ways than one πŸ˜‰

    FWIW, I see the purple tubing thingy as a pin-headed purple person bowing/praying to San Francison, i.e., west [five times a day]. I’m right, aren’t I?

  11. Liz

    Oh my gosh, those are so cute! Way to get them started geeking early. πŸ˜‰ I love the neuron and the synaptic bouton…but what is the purple shape?

  12. BzzLaraBzz

    Those are so cool! I’ve never heard of this, either, but it looks pretty simple and fun! I bet my daughters would love to do this. And my son could even get in on it if I cut him out a stencil of a car or a light saber or something.

  13. Allison

    Very cute and so appropriate. I have to admit that your stencils are out of my league. My college chemistry class is not enough. But now you make me wonder what I could do for Civil Engineer’s….perhaps a simple moment diagram or a stress curve. I will have to ruminate on it.

  14. June

    Neerrrddd…. πŸ˜€ Stencils look great!

    I can guess what the pink one is (acetylcholine synapse stuff?), the green image is a mystery. The purple image… reminds me a little bit of a colon b/c of the pointy end on the left made me think of a rectum. What can I say, I have intestines on the brain…

    Glad my post gave you the activation energy to try the technique!

  15. Whitney

    Those are fantastic! As a linguist/cognitive scientist/AI person, I only recognize a few of those (the neuron is awesome!), but I’m sure I could come up with some geeky stencils relevant to my own areas of interest. Hooray for geeks, whether grown-up or little!

  16. Mary Tess

    You never cease to amaze me. A brilliant and thoroughly useful baby gift. Little ones wear onesies just about 24 hours a day. And like others who left comments above, I never heard of this technique before. Geeks unite indeed. Please let us know what the other symbols stand for.

  17. Marianne

    I’m a science textbook editor and one of my coworkers is pregnant. I was going to knit her a DNA model, but this might just be even better. I had totally forgotten about freezer paper stencils!

  18. Stephanie

    Clearly I’ve been living in a cave. This is the first I’ve seen anything like this and they are very cool. I have a baby shower coming up and I might throw a couple of onsies into the package with the handknit sweater.

  19. KnitMongrel

    Ah, how you inspire me! I love embracing my inner geek, though I fear my shirts would come out with proper grammar, etymological references and obscure poetry. Yours are far more adorable! Way to start ’em off early. πŸ™‚

  20. stephanieayn

    have fun with stenciling! i started freezer paper stenciling shirts and such recently as well (took a little summer knitting hiatus)…what fun! they look great.

  21. Designer Knits

    I am delurking today to compliment your geekiness Grumperina and to tell you how much your blog has inspired my knitting. The only reason my Jaywalkers aren’t in your gallery is because I ran out of Koigu at the toe decreses on the SECOND sock. I don’t have the guts to rip both and the yarn is no longer in my LYS. I can’t bear to shell out $16 for another skein plus shipping. When I do, I will send them along.

    Please check out my brand new blog Designer Knits

  22. Sarah

    Those are great! I love the idea of using this for baby gifts – and love the idea of little babies getting their geek on even more.

  23. jaws

    here are my guesses, starting in the UL corner clockwise: axonal end with neurotransmitter vesicles, axon wrapped with myelin showing Nodes of Ranvier, cingulate gyrus, and neurocircuitry?

  24. Courtney

    Wow, this is so cool! I am totally out of the loop because I have never even heard of this before. What the heck have I been doing with my time?

    I think it is such a great idea of a baby gift because you can personalize it (as you have done) and it seems like it would be pretty inexpensive. Maybe not. Must. Read. Tutorial.

  25. CatBookMom

    “most of you will recognize the yellow neuron” Ahem. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m clueless about all four designs. It wasn’t part of continuing education for tax accountants. And I don’t think I’ll find it in any LYS’s collection of books. LOL!

    But very cute onesies and nice choice of colors.

    BTW, please note new contact info.

  26. Jo

    Synapses, vesicles and pathways! Oh, my!

    Synapses, vesicles and pathways! Oh, my!

    (Repeat ad nauseum to the tune of Lions, Tigers and Bears a la Wizard of Oz!)

    How incredibly adorable! You need to do these for adults!!!!!!

    There are a few of us raving neuroanatomy types out there!

    How about a phospholipid bilayer with an ion channel to boot! :=)

  27. Meg

    that is so incredibly cute, I can’t stand it!!! Sounds easy too, I may have to try that for Christmas gifts since I’m getting rather behind if I have to knit everyone something πŸ˜‰

    thanks for the info – I hadn’t heard of that before! πŸ™‚

  28. maritza

    Ohmygoodness! That is so cool! So inventive! I love ’em. You should totally sell these on etsy or something.

    (By the way, I only recognize two out of four – yikes!)

  29. Dorothy B

    Very cute shirts! Don’t know what any of it is for sure although I’m thinking that the pink is a representation of the cranial fluids, the yellow neuron as you mentioned, the green represents the neural pathways in an electrician’s diagram and the purple is the base of the brain where it meets up with the spinal cord?

    What’s freezer paper?

  30. Erica

    What a FAB idea! I’ve made a hemp baby kimono for Hubby’s co-worker, but a couple of onesies with double helixes would be PERFECT (Hubby works in biotech)! thanks for the idea….

  31. Karen

    I am just in awe of the simple yet stylish look of these “gems”. The onsies look like the heavy cotton (good quality)….what brand are they, where did you find them. Keep posting your great stories and useful info. Thanks!

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