It’s A Gansey (Sort Of)

I'm a little bit obsessed with Amy Miller's new mini-sock patterns, and have been working on a pair of Jimmies in between other projects.


Because knitting Jimmies made me even more obsessed with the other three mini-sock patterns, I sent off yarn to Ravelry knitter, Mommajnine, for a pair  of It's A Gansey, another of the patterns in the set.  Ganseys are sweaters with distinctive local patterning, which this sock pattern mimics, and to kick up up just a bit, I sent four different colors of yarn to use for the sock, rather than knitting it as a solid. 

Ganseyyarn© Mommajnine

The yarn is Elliebelly Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) Constant, dyed in Dear Theodosia (Green), Muslin (Neutral), Lady Mary (Blue), and Lost Coast (Salmon Pink).

Gansey© Mommajnine 

Janine, who is the most amazing of sock knitters, turned the yarn into a pair of It's a Ganseys, quicker than I can turn the heel on a sock!  Here they are in all of their loveliness.  I adore how she aligned the colors.

I'm enjoying knitting my Jimmies and encourage you to pick up some sock yarn and knit a pair of Amy's socks.  They are the perfect quick little knit to make sure that you don't forget yourself in the middle of holiday knitting for friends and family.


Dyeing Round Up

In between knitting row after row of sleeves, I've been doing a little dyeing.  Want a quick peek at what I've been up to?


January and February seem to be the months where I'm the most focused on dyeing new colors, as I'm planning what I want to knit in the year ahead.  My first priority this year has been working on a linen silk blend, so that in addition to the sweater plans you've already seen, I can have some pretty colors for a lightweight shawl and a simple cowl to wear this summer.  Lady Mary, on the left, isn't a new color, but it's new on this base yarn.  Chateau, on the right, is completely new, and intended to take advantage of the blend of silk and linen.


I've also had blue on my mind.  This soft blue with lavender-gray undertones is called Frostbite.  It's dyed here on an aran weight Blue Faced Leicester, and is intended for a pair of cabled mittens.


I love gray.  And I love dyeing gray.  I wanted a dark gray that looked like a solid, but with the light hitting it in places, rather than flat and solid.  That proved to be a little bit of a challenge.  After a number of attempts that didn't work, I set the problem aside to think about.  I finally mixed up this new color, which I'm very happy with, this is Anthracite on Elliebelly's BFL Constant, a new sock yarn.

Vintage Silver

I love the Castlestone Gray I'm knitting my summer sweater in, but I also wanted something that was a little bit deeper, something like the gentle patina your grandmother's silver flatware gets over time with love and use.  This color, Vintage Silver, is show here on Sea Silk, but I like it so much, I've been dyeing it up on all sorts of bases and it's a strong contender for the color I'm going to choose for this year's knitalong.  (Quick note: we do a KAL every April on the Elliebelly group on Ravelry.  This year, there will be several different sock patterns to choose from.  There are polls up now and we welcome everyone to knit along with us, whether you plan on using Elliebelly yarn or something else.  There will be a few chances to win some Elliebelly in March as we all clear our needles for the KAL.  Please join us for the fun of the no-deadlines, no stress knitting adventure we have planned).

Berlin Flea Market

This new color is called Berlin Flea Market.  I have a beautiful hand embroidered wool shawl I purchased years ago.  I love the background color and wanted to see if I could get close on Wool.  This is my final version, dyed on Blue Faced Leicester.  I have plans for a fall sweater in this color.

I hope you enjoy this quick look at some of the dyeing that has been occupying my free time for the last few months.  Now that we are closer to the start of the Adventurous April KAL, I'll be dyeing some old favorite sock colors, and experimenting with a couple of new ones.


Sleeve Island

It feels like it has been forever, but it has only been half of a sleeve.  It's a pretty hefty sleeve, but still, every time I hold it up to my arm, I notice that it hasn't gotten any longer.  It's a knitting black hole.

First sleeve

I always tell myself, "oh, I've only got the sleeves left, I'm almost done," when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.  I've already knit an entire skein into this sleeve.  The sleeves will be at least a third of the knitting on this sweater, not just an itty bitty little task before finishing.  It's sort of like child birth, I never seem to remember.  And with all of the fidgety thought process involved in the direction to "increase one stitch on each end and take into pattern," it's much slower than knitting the body pieces.

Despite all that, I'll confess to you in confidence that I'm really enjoying the sleeve knitting process.  The mental exercise has reinforced my belief in the accuracy of studies like the 2012 Mayo Clinic one that conclude knitting keeps your brain working.  Watching the cable form and expand out across the increased stitches is wonderful.  And, one day, I will have sleeves.  


Knitting sleeves always makes me think "sleeve island," as one of my longtime knitter friend calls it.  This ALWAYS makes me think of Gilligan's Island and I end up with a terrible earworm. Want an earworm of your own?  Then watch this.



A New Elliebelly Website!

There is a new look at elliebelly.com

If you've been reading the blog for awhile, you know that in the deep past, I sold Elliebelly hand dyed yarn on the website, as well as on Etsy.  Although that's on hold a bit longer, there is a fresh new look on the .com site, with a lot more to come.  Expect information on techniques, yarn and patterns.  And hopefully at somepoint, I'll be smart enough to seamlessly integrate the blog so you can read everything in one place.

Until then, here's a little bit of eye candy I created for the new site.  A compilation of classic Elliebelly colorways.

Elliebelly Collage


Quick Knitting – Happy Knitter


My Paddle Mitts are all finished and I am very happy.  They are warm and snuggly, just in time for the return off cold weather.  It will be a struggle to convince myself to take them off for long enough to block them!

The verdict on these mitts is — knit them in dk or worsted, simply by adjusting the size you choose.  The simple stripes are appealing, but I'm planning on making this my go-to pattern for gift knitting next year, and knitting them in several variations using the basic recipe.  Best of all, you can knit up a pair in an afternoon, making them the perfect last minute or feel good project.  I'm already looking forward to knitting them again!


World’s Biggest Gauge Swatch

A year ago, when I was new to Plucky yarn and not nearly as committed to swatching for gauge as I am now, I fell in love with a simple pattern for fingerless knits, Tincanknits Paddle Mitts. They are rustic and adorable and I needed a pair immediately.  

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

© Tin Can Knits

Although the pattern was written at a DK weight, there were numerous projects in Plucky worsted weight yarns, which made sense as I had slowly been deciphering Plucky's custom milled yarns and realized that their worsted weights were much closer to DK or even sport.  So I cast on, using some gorgeous Plucky Scholar I had on hand.  It's a quick little pattern, and shortly thereafter, I realized that instead of the cute, rustic little mitt I was anticipating, I had knit a gargantuan, bloated thing.


Scholar, it turned out, was the exception to the Plucky rule, knitting up much closer to a true worsted weight and leaving me with a behemoth too large for even my darling husband's paws.

It took a surprisingly long time, but I decided the time had come this week, so before frogging Gargantua, I using my "gauge swatch" for complete measurement, and determined I need to knit the toddler size in width but the adult small in length.  Like all Tincanknits patterns (her Antler Cardigan is another of my all time favorites), this simple pattern is so well-written and straightforward that it is very simple for even the math-challenged, like me, to make the necessary modification and knit a mitt to fit.


I'm actually further along than pictured — the first mitt is complete and I'm waiting for the reskeined yarn from Gargantua, which required a bath to get the kinks out, to dry so that I can knit up its mate.  I always wonder why I wait so long in situations like this.  These mitts are adorable and every bit as wonderful as I imagined when I first saw the pattern.  I'm so happy to have these in the works at last!


Wrap It Around My Neck

There is nothing as wonderful as a soft, fluffy piece of knitting to wrap around your neck when it's cold.  I shared pictures of my Forest Park Cowl and Moto Vest (modified into an infinity scarf) yesterday, but I've got better photos available after a day without rain and I'm pleased enough with these two knits to share them a second time.


The delicate cables in the cowl, interspersed with outlined bands of garter stitch, are really very clever.  The pattern is very pretty, definitely meant to be knit in a color that is light enough to show off the play of the cables.  It's not so complicated that you can't memorize the pattern at some point during the project, but you will feel proud of the intricate look of the cables when this cowl is snugly wrapped around your neck.


My reworked Moto Vest is nothing more than a bulky, ribbed scarf with the ends mattress stitched together into an infinity loop.  It reminds me that often, the simplest knits can be the most satisfying.  I tend to notice big, simple knit pieces like this when looking at fashion photos.  Truth be told, a scarf like this could be knit — easily — in an evening.  But sometimes the basics hold a lot of appeal.  I'm really happy with this impromptu piece, and have plans to do another simple but smooshy knit along these lines with some cashmere I've been hoarding.  If you want to replicate this look, it's a simple 2×2 rib, knit to approximately 60" in length before seaming.