Elliebelly Is Changing

As you can tell, we’ve got some change going on around here!  It’s the same Elliebelly you’ve always loved, full of pretty yarn and knitting advice, but we’re giving the website a new look and format.

You can still find the Elliebelly Yarn Dyeing and Knitting Blog (also known as Joyce Makes Art) on Typepad, where it has always been.  Click Here.  But, you should also be able to read it below this post on this page (I’m still tuning up my tech skills, so the blog may not be fully up to date at this link).

Stay tuned for changes.

elliebelly yarn

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Knitting Scorecard For This Week

1-There is nothing like a quick trip to your local yarn shop to provide solace when you misplace your knitting. Four skeins of Madeline Tosh later, the whole world is a more beautiful place.


2-The solace of the trip to your LYS is magnified when you discover that they have two lovely, quick patterns for your new yarn. One involves double knitting and is incredibly smooshy.


3-There is, however, no true cure for how dumb you feel when you realize the sweater sleeves you've been knitting two at a time are nowhere to be found. On the plus side: Your were only a few inches in, they were way too big and we're going to have to be ripped out anyhow, and you've still got three untouched skeins plus several small balls of leftovers, so you should be able to muddle through. On the downside: you have to feel guilty about all the times your Mother in Law told you she was developing CRS  disease and you snickered. (I adored my Mil and she could be quite bawdy. CRS stands for "can't remember sh*t".)

4-Glacier is going to be an amazing sweater when it's done. I bound off the front this evening, after conquering the directions, which cheerily advised me that after finishing the left side, I should just reverse all of the directions to knit the right side. Not as easy as it sounds.


But, my stepped shoulder decreases are beautiful and perfectly matched. The moment when I realized this was a profoundly exciting one in my life.

5-I have discovered knitting fiction. I don't read romance or mystery novels, but I'm hooked. What's not to like about a book where our heroine is the only human (and yarn store proprietress) in a town full of trolls, vampires, shape shifters and fairies? My friends on Ravelry recommended the first one, The Great Christmas Knit Off, and now I've got a stack on my bedside table to help with my New Years resolution to knock off working on the computer and read for 20-30 minutes before going to bed. Supposedly this is better for you. I'm not going to encounter great fiction this way but the books have a charm that grows on you, replete with mentions of Noro, Rowan, and the difficulty of knitting bobbles.  My snotty teenaged reader is horrified.  That was the final selling point.

This weekend I hope to find the d@mn sleeves and do the math to knit ones that will fit better, get in some work on my Drachenfels, which has been languishing, and knit a swatch with a colorway I'm trying to work out and have dyed a couple of ways to see which I like the best.  And laundry.  Mountains of laundry.  It really cuts into my knitting time and I resent it!

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Back To Glacier

I'm back to working on my Glacier sweater. I've missed it!

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01b7c80d3b8a970b-pi

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Knitter’s Obsession: Patterns Written By Melissa Schaschwary

Has this ever happened to you?  You look around for what to knit next, and suddenly, one designer pops out at you.  You may have knit a design or two of theirs before, but suddenly, every single pattern they've ever written is calling your name.

That happened to me this morning with Melissa Schaschwary of Dandelion Girl Designs.  I've knit her Nevermind hat.  In fact, I liked the pattern so much, I knit it again after finishing the first one. [The Plucky Knitter's Bulky Snug is THE BEST yarn for this hat, in case you're looking for a recommendation.]  I think I'm going to be spending the months of February and March with her at this rate.  I've managed to get it down to the following patterns and am narrowly resisting the urge to cast on all the things.

1-Timber Bay Hat.  I've got a skein of the Plucky Knitter's Scholar that is just crying out to be knit into this hat.  It looks cozy.  And possibly like it wouldn't even leave you with hat head.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com© Melissa Schaschwary

2. Puddle Duck. Oh my heavens, it is so cute!  And, I've been looking for just the right sweater to knit for my daughter's goddaughter.  The only reason I haven't cast on immediately is that I'm torn between using some girly variegated Elliebelly yarn I have on hand or dyeing a solid.  I've got some lovely undyed Shepard's Farm worsted that I could either use in its natural state or dye up in a pretty, soft color.  I can't wait to knit this one!  I think she's going to need a big, tulle ballerina skirt to wear with it.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com© Melissa Schaschwary

3. Sea Stones.  I really, really love the comfort of Eileen Fisher's clothes, and this long vest/cardigan will be a perfect addition to the pieces I have.  I've got four skeins of the Plucky Knitter's brand new merino/linen blend yarn on the way.  It wants to be a Sea Stones.  I know it does.  I'm going to swatch the minute it gets here.  It's too perfect.  And look at the pockets!  Melissa's clever details are amazing.

Seastonescollage© Melissa Schaschwary

4. Clam Digger.  It has stripes.  It's knit at a dk weight (my favorite).  I've been wanting to find a pattern where I could use my Oryx and Crake colorways together, although I'm concerned the gray and gold may be a little bit too strong in this pattern, which is meant for a little girl.  I've also got some fantastic handspun from my cousin Ann that could be the right main color for this.  Picking out the colors is going to be almost as fun as knitting it.  I love stripes!

image from images4.ravelry.com© Melissa Schaschwary

5. Heathered is going to make the sweetest cardigan for my Mom.  She's hard to find gifts for, but loves hand knit items.  Mom, if you're reading, stop now please.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com© Melissa Schaschwary

It would be positively amazing in this Blue Sky Alpaca silk blend I happen to have in my stash, but it also looks like it would be divine in Plucky sport weight cashmere.  Decisions, decisions.  In a sport weight, this will be the perfect travel project to carry around with me.

image from images4-b.ravelrycache.com

6. The Dandelion Bib. How cute is this?  And such a nice change up from gifting baby sweaters and blankets.  I love to embroider, but rarely do it.  The idea of doing a set of knit and embroidered bibs makes me incredibly happy.

Bib© Melissa Schaschwary

How adorable.  The pattern is cute too.

This pattern looks like a very happy way to spend a lazy weekend day.  It's going to require a soft, but easily washed yarn, so perhaps a cotton or maybe a superwash.  At just 42 yards of yarn, this one is perfect for using up leftovers.  And lucky me, a dear friend is pregnant with her first little girl.

Melissa was nice enough to let me use her patterns and not treat me like a crazy stalker.  Because it's not enough that her patterns are well written and crazy adorable.  She's also incredibly nice.  I'm planning on having a fun time hanging out with her patterns for the next couple of months!

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Bad Dog!

I made a mistake.  I got up early Saturday morning, finished Adama, put it around my neck and went straight out of the house to drop my daughter off to take the SAT.

Miss Fig, my Boxer puppy, has never shown any interest in my knitting.  Not so much as a sniff.  But apparently the small ball of unused yarn that I left buried in the couch got her attention.  Was it the sheepy smell?  I'll never know.  Here she is in all her glory.


It went on and on like this.  For quite some time.  She was quite please with herself and completely unrecalcitrant.  At least it was leftovers in an amount too small to really be put to further use.  I'm hoping this isn't a harbinger of bad doggie activities to come.  I've gotten into the habit of knitting while I watch TV with my family a few nights a week and although I'm usually pretty careful about putting my knitting bag in it's zippered project bag and out of reach at the end of the night, this video is enough to strike terror into the heart of any knitter!  You would think she was part cat.

She's a cutie, though.  Check out that underbite!

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More Dyeing Than Knitting

This week, there has been more dyeing going on around here than knitting.  And with dyeing, comes this:


I truly love my electric skein winder.  Without it, I couldn't make all those skeins to dye, reskein them after a dyebath to more evenly distribute the colors when they are glazed, or to pretty them up after the fact.  I really do love it.  But the noise lives in my head for a long time after a long winding session ends!


I managed to finish Adama first thing this morning, and I was really glad I did. My version is warmer and fuzzier than the looser, lacier versions most people have knit, so it kept me toasty and warm while pictured here, in the early hours, driving our high school kid to take the SAT.  I haven't taken it off all day, although it really needs a good blocking.  I'm not usually a fan of chainette style yarns, but I think Woolfolk's worsted weight Får is definitely a keeper. You should go get some right now and knit with it!

Next up — I need to pull Glacier back out of its hiding place and see if I can fix the humongous sleeves (I will never learn to read through everyone's comments on Ravelry — had I done so, I would have seen that virtually every knitter complained the sleeves were oversized).  I've got to rip them completely out, not a big deal since I'm only a couple of inches in, but them I'm going to have to struggle to math them so that I can make smaller sleeves fit into the armhole size I've knit.  And I've got a good bit of the back left to knit, as well.

Here's a quick peek at some of the yarn I've been dyeing.  This is Elliebelly's Merlin, a worsted weight Merino wool yarn.

Mitzvah Earthday
Although you might think it's too complex, this yarn knits up very well in cabled patterns.  It's a bit counter intuitive, but the results are spectacular.  More on that later this week!


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A Sock and A Knitalong


I've shown you the Paraphenalia Socks Janine knit for me when they arrived a few weeks ago, but I just had to share them again, as I wore them for the first time. You get a different perspective when you put them on, and realize the brilliance of the cabled design is that they fit perfectly.  They don't cling uncomfortably like some socks are prone to do, but rather, they fit nicely in all the right places.  And the interwoven cable is smashing.  It's almost a shame to cover them up with shoes!

If you're interested in taking up sock knitting, head over to the Elliebelly group on Ravelry and get involved in our plans for this years Adventurous April Knitalong.  The theme will be socks. There will be yarny prizes.  And it will be FUN.  We're in the planning stages now and you will want to be in the know as a little bit of Elliebelly yarn, which you can't be purchased at the moment, will be handed out as prizes as we make our KAL plans.

Yarn:  Elliebelly's Juliet 3-Ply Merino in the Oryx colorway.

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Sock Yarn For Shawls

Elliebelly Angel Sock is one of my favorite yarns.  It's a lightly twisted blend of silk, alpaca, and cashmere and it makes colors sing.  There is something at once indescribable and luxuriously colorful about it.  Although I typically have dyed Angel Sock in multi-colored patternings for soft, cozy socks made for lazy days, with the long weekend upon us, I decided to do some up in solid colorways for scarves and shawls.

Angel fingering

The yarn is more muted with this application.  Mystic Tangerine isn't quite as flashy, and that's Glacier on the bottom, one of the colors I dyed after coming home from Iceland.  They look perfect for a sweet piece of lace to wrap around your neck in cold weather or fling across your shoulders over a sun dress on a summer night.  I'm very excited about seeing these knit up!

One pattern that has been haunting me for quite some time is Lori Law's Evenings in Provence shawl.  It is so ethereal and beautiful — I love her version of it, but I've been struggling with finding just the right yarn to knit one for myself.

Evenings in provence© oceanwind knits

I think I've finally found the right yarn with Angel Sock.  I've been working with a new colorway — a soft, almost not there brown, that I want to dye some yarn in for our new sun porch — sort of the opposite of a man cave — so I can have a Big Cabled Afghan and some pillows for the couch.  The room is stained wood and it needs a neural with hints of brown.  After fussing around, I thought this color looked good in testing and decided to play with it on Angel Sock.  I'm going to use it for a Provence shawl, as a test to see how I like the color in a project.


I think it will be just perfect and a nice contrast with my long dark hair.  I'm excited about this one.  It's all I can do not to put everything I'm working on aside and cast on immediately.

This year, I'm trying not to be THAT knitter.  The cast-on-all-the-things girl.  I'm trying to show a little restraint and finish projects in a reasonable period of time.  But the allure of casting on always calls to me, and I know at some point I'll give into it.  I suppose I already have a bit with Adama, my impulse cast on last weekend, which is now making good progress after my angsty little post yesterday about the trauma of not making color changes in the right place and all of that tinking!  I'm going to work on a few things that are already on my needles, while finishing up Adama, before casting on for Provence.  I will not indulge myself in a knit all the things frenzy.  Or maybe, I will.

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Adama Cowl

Adama.  I absolutely adore this cowl pattern.  It's been on my "knit it now" list for quite a while.

image from images4-b.ravelrycache.com© Hilary Smith Callis

I cast on last week, after running into my Local Yarn Store (It's called In The Making. It's a good enough shop that if you're coming anywhere even close to Birmingham, Alabama, you should detour for a visit) to pick up a few things.  The pattern is well-written and has a clever design.  But, you're going to have to listen to me whine about it in this post.  Please keep in mind that the whines are all self-inflicted wounds.  The pattern is lovely and I expect to end up with a charming finished object, if I can just get my act together.


Adama is written for The Plucky Knitters' Scholar, a worsted weight cashmere and merino blend that relaxes after blocking into a smooth, light-weight fabric.  And I had some gorgeous Scholar set aside for this pattern.  But, when I visited my LYS, one of my favorite knitters there was wearing a gorgeous version of Adama, knit in Woolfolk's Får.  Får is a very different yarn from Scholar.  Scholar is a woolen spun yarn, which makes it light and fluffy — it's a web of cashmere with a little merino for balance.  Får is a chainette construction, it looks a bit like a 3D crochet chain, and no matter how hard you pull on it, you would be unable to break it, which is something you can do quite easily with a woolen spun yarn. Får is dense and furry.  It's wonderfully soft and has a pretty halo you don't normally see on a 100% merino yarn.  All of that to say, it's rather a denser knit than the lacey Adama calls for, at least in its in-progress, pre-blocking version.  It took awhile before I could discern the emerging pattern.

Two colors

This yarn is absolutely horrible to have to rip out.  But that shouldn't be a problem, right?  I am, after all, an experienced knitter and this is a simple pattern.  I'm blaming this one on the cough syrup I've been taking at night, but I have ripped rows out of this project, again, and again.  Probably more than everything I knit last year, combined.  This is an easy pattern, and something I would have expected to complete in three or four evenings of knitting. But, the version I saw alternated sections in two different colors and I was so taken with it, I decided to imitate that approach, which is not part of the pattern. On my first try, the row that that looked like the right place to break in the pattern was too late.  Rip.  Second time around, I forgot to switch colors when I got to the proper row.  Rip.  And amazingly, I've forgotten to switch every time I've gotten to a color change, even though I stuck a big purple annotation marker in all of the right places on the pattern.  Definitely the cough syrup.

It's not easy to rip out several rows of knitting in Får.  That is particularly true of the lace rows I've been ripping out.  Even worse, I've been knitting mostly late at night, when the light is poor for a project so dark — the darker of the two greens is very close to black.  So I've been struggling to see the PSSO's and SSKs and get them back on the needle properly, in poor light.  To compound my problem, my other size 7 needles are in use, so I'm using a not pointy, not for knitting lace, pair of Addis, that although a fabulous needle for normal knitting and doable for this project, are horrible for trying to pick apart and unknit stitches.  Like I said, all self-inflicted wounds.

The moral of the project should be, if you're going to use a yarn that isn't quite what the project intended, get yourself the right needles and some decent lighting.  But I'm going to slug this one out because I really want to finish this project.  I'm on the fifth color change out and guess what?  Missed it again.  I'm midway through the rip back — I gave up late last night and I'm going to pull it out in the light of day to make it easier.

Why am I doing this?  The cowl I saw in the shop was so beautiful.  It was warm and fuzzy.  The colors were elegant.  The shape was perfect for a cowl — close fitting for warmth but a striking accessory.  I'm usually a process knitter who enjoys the journey, but here, I'm pure project knitter.  I want the finished object!  So cross your fingers for me.  Hopefully, I won't rip out too much hair while I rip out my stitches and I'll remember the rest of the color changes.  And if you're on the edge about knitting Adama, do.  I'm sorry I waited this long and suspect this won't be the only time I knit it.

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Filed under Adventures in Knitting, Knitting Update: Works in Progress, New (to me) Yarns & Yarn Brands

Some Colorful Yarn


It has been a slow week for knitting around here, so I'll share one more dyeing picture from last weekend with you.  This is one of the classic Elliebelly colorways, Crayon, dyed on a sock yarn base.  It's a surprisingly versatile colorway, despite its boldness, and makes lovely socks and shawls. One of my favorite Crayon projects is ModernKnittress's Clapotis.

image from farm5.static.flickr.com

My personal favorite knit with Crayon was a sweater I did for my youngest boy, when he was at that perfect boy age for dressing how he wanted to without regard for gender stereotypes.  He started a trend for colors among the neighborhood boys. Several dads were not happy with me.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com

This year, I want to knit myself a pair of socks in Crayon. Something to guarantee a smile on a rainy day.  Since our annual April KAL is going to have a sock component this year, it looks like that's going to happen.

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Dyeing, Again

The day of linen dyeing that I showed you here resulted in these finished skeins.


That's Elliebelly Chemise, a silk/linen blend in the new Castle Stone colorway. I'm looking forward to experimenting with different grays this year to try and find my favorites. This one is surely a contender, at least on this base. It's interesting to note that different fibers or yarn bases take dye very differently. With this being an unusual blend of fibers for a knitting yarn, I'll be interested to see what this colorway does on other fibers.

Of course, once I had gone to the trouble of setting up dyepots, it was hard to put them away without doing a little bit more, so despite the frigid cold, I spent some time mixing colors. This skein is dyed using the paintbrush method I developed years ago, but haven't had a chance to do a lot of lately. It's one of my favorite ways to dye for variegated color.


Once I got started, it became a bit hard to stop, so I did several vats of kettle-dyed yarn. That's a bit of the Crayon colorway you see drying–I've earmarked some for giveaways ahead of the Elliebelly Adventurous April 2016 KAL, which I hope you will join us for.  The indoor-at night photos never do much justice, but late night knitting and dyeing seems to be my MO, so we'll have to make do until the yarn is properly dry and photographed.  I wanted to give you a sneak peek!




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