Today’s Episode Of Yarn Chicken

Today in Yarn Chicken, we learn that dyers have no one but themselves to blame when they run short on yarn. #AngryYarnChicken

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Although I technically dyed enough yarn for this sweater, as a loose knitter, I know that I always take slightly more yarn than a pattern calls for. But I persist in willful ignorance of this fact. So, I knit the first sleeve in an effort to figure out how much yarn I would need to reserve for the second sleeve. Now, I’m finishing out the third ball of yarn on the body. I’ll use the fourth ball to knit the neckline, before knitting the second sleeve. Any leftover yarn will go to lengthening the body.

There will be a lot of prayer on that fourth ball of yarn. I did dye up a bit of extra yarn, but true confessions, the four initial skeins were so perfectly matched that I have not alternated. I don’t believe the newly dyed skeins are a perfect match to the earlier batch. Worst case, I will use them on the sleeve ends where I am planning on altering the pattern and doing some ribbing.

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I have fallen in love with this new tool/accessory. It is something I found on Etsy and had not seen before. Since I travel frequently with my knitting, I often have problems, particularly when knitting with double pointed needles, with stitches falling off of a project that is hastily put back in a tote bag. This little cover, which snaps over the needles has put an end to that problem. I purchased it from Pokdej, a seller located in Canada, and received my order very quickly. I have no connection with the seller, but liked this little item so much, I wanted to share it with others who may have experienced similar problems with stitches sliding off of needles.

Sent from my iPhone


I am weirdly sticking my arm through the neck hole of my Mithril sweater to try on the sleeve for length. I’m convinced tape measures lie and this careful effort to try the sleeve on without dislodging the needles will give me the precise fit I’m looking for.

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I knew from the outset I would be playing yarn chicken on this one. I’ve got to save enough yarn for the picked up neckline, so I’m going to do the sleeves and then get as much length as I can on the body, leaving an ounce or so of yarn to cast off and do the neck.

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I adore the cable down the front. It’s so simple and understated, and it also gives you something to look forward to every few rows as you’re knitting.

My Knitting Weekend


This weekend, I'm dyeing some yarn.  That's "Blossom," the palest pink that I dye.


I'm knitting away on Mithril whenever I get a few free moments.


My doggies are showing their support by sleeping a lot.  That's Trouble and Miss Fig, the Boxer.


I finally got a good picture of the beautiful Ivette Cardigan my wonderful friend Rita knit for me.  We've known each other since we were pregnant with our now 17 year old daughters, and she is one of my knitting heroes.  She knit Ivette in Elliebelly Angel Fingering.  It's a blend of Alpaca, Silk, and Cashmere, and I wanted to see how it would knit up for a sweater.  Other than having to use sharp point needles to avoid any issues with splitting, she seems to have had a great time knitting it, and it's stunningly gorgeous.  I have cleverly blocked it out a little bit so that it's really too large for anyone other than me to wear.

In other knitting news, I managed a quick hour at In The Making, my local yarn shop, to try and pick out buttons for Lake Effect.


While there, I got to visit with Jamie Thomas, who writes really beautiful, wearable patterns.  Her newest pattern, Vested Interest, is knit in Quince's aran weight Linen ribbon yarn, Kestrel.  It's the perfect, light weight summer piece.  I sat in the shop and knit for a few minutes while I pretended to deliberate, but I knew I had to buy the pattern and the yarn on the spot.  I'm looking forward to casting on when I finish Mithril.  Isn't the yarn gorgeous?

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A Little Yarn Pørn In The Making

I was excited to get some time with Amy of Amy P. Photography recently. Amy is a local photographer with a fun, laid back, easy to talk to style.  Although she specializes in babies, weddings, and all sorts of sweet, timeless photos, she also does some product photography.  We decided to try a session with yarn and knits to see how it would work out.


I had no idea you could have so much fun watching someone take pictures!


We went through a large bin of yarn and two baskets of knits.  Plus some sweaters.


Amy seemed to intuitively grasp the vibe I wanted.


And, I really enjoyed watching how she put items together.  She has that knack for piling a few things together and having them look perfect.

By the end of our shoot, I was incredibly sorry my children are all too grown for baby pictures.  

Now it's all on me to learn some new skills and make the Elliebelly Dye Works website match the new look on the Blog.  And most importantly, I'm hoping to put to use the experience I've gained from my experimentation with dyeing and knitting with the yarn I've dyed over the last few years to share some insight into the selection of yarn and patterns that work well together.  It's a slow work in progress, but I'm so glad to have started down that path.  I think as knitters, we all want to share the knowledge we have to help others — it's one of the best parts of being a knitter.  I'm so happy I'll have Amy's wonderful photos to help illustrate what I've learned!

Inspiration & Knitting

After an unexpected few days of early summer rain, our garden is beautiful. We have a small urban lot, full of shade from trees in the back, so our garden is a small strip of border in the front yard that I cut in by hand when we bought our house, almost 18 years ago.  Yearly work on the clay soil has made it rich enough to support my plants.  When we bought the house, there were some scraggy bushes and a very sad tree growing.  Now, it brings me inspiration for knitting and dyeing, and a lot of smiles when I discover its secrets.  I thought I would share some of it, beautified by the rain, this morning.




This surprise growth zucchini vine is causing me a lot of amusement and also, providing dinner for tonight.


Sweet woodruff, with it's tender whorls, is my favorite ground cover.  I've been nursing some tiny cuttings I planted under our cherry tree, in hopes I'll end up with a big swath of it. 


And because this is apparently the year of the ant in Alabama, I have Tansy, two large stands of it, growing on the path that leads to our front door.  Not sure it deters the ants, but it's certainly pretty.


Every garden needs a lion-guardian.  Harry is mine.  And because Maine Coon Cats are curious critters, he's always very engaged in my knitting.

The rest of the week I'll be knitting on Drachenfels, my forever project (on the left).  I'd like to finish it in the next few weeks, but since it's all garter stitch and I'm in the long stockinette portion of my Mithril sweater, I may have to cast on something a little bit more fancy — some brioche or some lace — for those times when you need to be all wrapped up in the knitting.  I've just wound the yarn for Mithril's sleeves (on the right), but I'm enjoying the silk & linen yarn so much, that I think it will give Sleeve Island a good name for a change.


Knitting The Bulky Shawl: Big, Quick, Warm, & Comforting

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Although I'm typically more comfortable knitting with lighter weight yarns, I'm drawn to bulky weights again and again because I like the finished items.  And there is a certain satisfying feeling to a quick knit.

This pattern, Little Church Knit's Big Island Wrapper really fits that bill.  First, full disclosure, it's a free pattern so you have to be willing to do some work on your own, but most everyone who has knit it has left behind pattern notes, and you won't have any trouble if you take a quick look through them and make some decisions before starting.

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This is a great knit that you can easily pull off in a week, or even a more determined weekend.  And although I had some concerns about the picot edging (the pointy bits) in a bulky weight yarn, even that part turned out just fine with a little gentle blocking.  I laid the shawl out wet and smoothed it carefully, no pins.  The result is really lovely.

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Not Just Another Pretty Skein

I buy yarn because it looks pretty in the skein.  I just do.  I don't always have a project in mind.  If it makes me happy, it's probably coming home with me.  I'll worry about how it looks knit up later on.  That's my personal approach.

But, as I've had time over the last couple of years, as a hobbyist dyer, to contemplate how color placement in the dyeing process works on a finished project, I've developed a lot of focus on how the pretty skeins I dye will look when they become sweaters and cowls and baby blankets and hats.  And realizing that I can't knit fast enough to do all of the testing I want to do, I've been fortunate enough to find a dedicated group of knitters, whose testing work has really advanced my ability to tweak how colorways are dyed to produce both a pretty skein and a pretty finished project.


I was thinking about this as I put my Big Island Wrapper out for blocking (Thanks, family cats, for the lovely claw marks on my blocks.  No, not a scratching post!)  And I decided to go back and look at projects I've knit with my own yarn.  I confess, I'm not as good about getting them into Ravelry as I should be, but when I went through them, I was able to create a group of 27 Elliebelly projects.  Wow, were my early photos bad.  I'm still not a master yarn photographer, but, just ouch!  Were my kids ever really that small?  It's fun looking back through the projects and seeing still-favorites like Steven West's Honegart Hat, which I wore last winter, although it was knit in 2011.

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And, it was a good reminder that it's the time of year to pull out the Clapotis I knit in Elliebelly Chemise.  It gets softer and softer every year and I love wearing it.

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I'll always love the sweater I knit for Ollie out of Crayon when he was small.  It's still a favorite.

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I love looking at these older photos and examining the projects closely.  The more you dye, the more you learn about dyeing and about knitting. And I hope I'm constantly evolving as a dyer. My goal is to create yarn that isn't just another pretty skein.  Although I love the pretty skeins too!

Big Island Wrapper, Color #3

Big Island Wrapper is a three color, bulky weight, shawl, that I'm knitting in Elliebelly Big Blue.  I've added in the third color, Peacock. 


The patterning in this third part of the shawl is predominately mesh, once past the transitional two color section. (It's important to note if you knit this pattern that although the section is labeled brioche, as written, it's slip stitch color work.  There are directions in several sets of pattern notes for creating a brioche look.)  Although these last few pictures are while the shawl was still on my needles, I enjoyed knitting this so much that I was unable to put it down last night until I finished.


Next up, it's going to need a good strong blocking.  The cast off is a picot edge, and I need to see it blocked out before I decide whether I'm committed to it.  Right now, it's a bit of a mess as you would expect with a bulky picot edge, pre-blocking, but I have high hopes for it.