Another Reason Knitting Is Good For Your Soul

Knitting is good for your soul.  Anyone who knits can tell you that.

And here is yet more proof for that proposition.


This lovely yarn is being sent to some wonderful knitters who sent money, generous amounts of money, to the Red Cross to support tornado recovery.  To thank them for their thoughtfulness, they are receiving some of the newest Elliebelly colorways.  Starting at the left side with the paintbrush colorway and moving clockwise, they  include Good Day, Gulf Shores, P. Campbell, Kaleidoscope (not new, but oh so much fun for me to dye again!), Grapevine, and Steampunk.

Knitters always seem to be involved in helping others, and it's particularly gratifying to see this small amount of yarn turn into help for people who are trying to restart their lives.  Thank you knitters!


Eco Friendy Gift Wrapping Option For The Holidays – Hand Dyed Silk

As the holidays approach, I wanted to share a great idea for green gift wrap with everyone. 

For years, I dyed large squares of habotai silk that were used as children's toys.  The are called playsilks.


They're beautiful and great for kids to play with.  It's easy to make a do-it-yourself version for an inexpensive and completely reusable gift wrap, that has the fringe benefit of being one of the best children's toys around.

You can buy a silk blank for less than the cost of one of those cute little gift bags at World Market.  Dharma Trading, a long time purveryor of tie-dye supplies, has them in 35 and 44" squares, as well as a host of other sizes.  And although they're plenty pretty on their own, you can sizzle them up with just a little bit of effort.  Dharma has a washing machine dye packet (this silk does just fine in a gentle wash cycle and a low temp dryer run) that looks interesting here.  But you could just as easily swish them around in a bowl of koolaid — Paula Burch has great directions for silk tie-dye, but you could just as easily do solid, in your microwave.  Best of all, it's quick and easy.  And, you can use a big chunky rubber stamp dipped in paint (I like Lumiere's for stamping on silk — the gold and silver are the perfect holiday touch) for some extra holiday decoration.

If I was a really good blogger, I would have pictures lined up for you showing you the steps, but I've never been one of those good do-the-holidays-in-advance kind of people.  We're strictly a last minute sort of operation around here.  But having spent the better part of the last week in bed with what may be the worst and longest lasting virus ever, I've been reduced to web surfing on my laptop in bed in between long naps, which actually got me thinking about wrapping gifts in advance.  I ordered some silks last night so that they would be ready to dye when I was ready to wrap, and I suddenly thought what a great idea it would be to share our tradition of playsilk gift wrap.  So, get your supplies ready, and I'll make sure to post as I work on mine.  And keep in mind it's both incredibly easy, and something your children will love doing with you.

You could even use natural dyes.  One caveat here — because most plant dyes require the use of a chemical mordant, alum is a common one, to set the dyes, "natural" dyeing can be much more difficult and also involve greater environmental impact than some commercially produced dyes.  But, you can achieve a nice range of semi-permanent color with powdered tumeric, which won't require a mordant.  Or you could spring for this interesting looking but rather pricey kit for new natural dyers (let me know how this one turns out if you get it!)


If you become addicted to the process of dyeing silk (and it really is addictive; it's so easy and the results are so beautiful), I have an old tutorial on the crackle dye process pictured above.

And, if you need inspiration for more environmentally friendly, recycleable holiday wrapping options, take a look at this video.




Virtual Yardsale – Updated 2/11

Welcome to My Virtual Yard Sale.  I’m spring cleaning, so I’m looking for good homes for art supplies, children’s clothing, and other household items.  It makes me sad to see things going unused on the shelves.

Kiln for Precious Metal Clay and other PMC Items — contact me at joyce at elliebelly dot com if you are interested in any of these items.  I would prefer to sell it all together

Lot of Boys 4T/5T clothing for $20 plus shipping

image from www.elliebelly.com
size 4 navy blue “place” long khaki style pants
5 gap kids khaki shorts with great pockets
4/5 red bravaa soccer shorts
4/5 grey crew cuts cotton jersey shorts – only work twice
100 hanna anderson blue jersey shorts
unknown brand green plaid shorts
4 gymboree plaid shorts
4 polo jeans company tee in nice worn in boy shape
4-5 crew cuts navy tee
5 T circo yellow/gray striped tee
4/5 crewcuts lobster tee — very very cute
5T cherokee white/argyle vest-cute for easter with 1 very small minor stain at the neckline that should come out but you have to look pretty hard to see it. Including light blue shorts that look cute with them but do have a nickel sized stain 4″ down from the waist — again i think this will come out



Dyeing Alpaca Roving

I saw this gorgeous handspun yarn on sale today.  It wasn't really enough for any of the projects I have in mind, but it looked like it was so beautifully spun that I was unable to resist an offering for a "your fiber, my spinning wheel" slot.  Although this appears to be a brand new spinner, or at least new to offering her yarn for sale, it was too beautiful to resist.

So, I'm spending some time tonight with this.


This is some Baby Alpaca roving that I've been saving for an extra special use.  I've got about 13 ounces of it, and decided to dye it in the old Elliebelly Melted Crayon colorway, so I could have some special yarn to use for Miss Ellie's fall sweater.  I can't wait to see the results!


Studio Sunday

Among the joys of a rainy three day weekend is having a lazy studio Sunday.


I'm spending some time dyeing; but as you can see, this one is a surprise for now.  Any guesses?

The multi-blue square I've been working on for the knitted Barn Raising Quilt is finished.  I'm meeting my goal of one a month — I didn't want to shut down all of my other knitting to work on it, but it's hard not to.  The squares all look so pretty together.  I need to pull them all out soon and do a photo of them together for you to see how it's coming along.


I'm devoting most of my day to working on a collage piece.  I started this a while back, prepping the canvas and dyeing a piece of silk organza to lay down as the background.  The problem was, I liked that simple, paler-than-ballet-shoes-pink rectangle so much I became unable to work on it.

Yesterday, an old post card of the Capitol caught my eye and I decided to play with this piece.  It is evolving into a multi-page altered book spread, done on one canvas.  This is an idea I've been playing with for a while.


The basics of each of the three pieces are blanked in, but I'm still working with ideas for unifying the piece and I'm still auditioning the embellishments.  I'm hoping I can find a larger skeleton key tucked away somewhere, as the one thing I definitely want is a long key that stretches all the way across the middle collage.


I like the buttons anchoring the bottom here, but am thinking I may want some darker buttons.  Either way, I'll sew them on as the last step.


I'm still debating how to adhere the mica here.  I rarely use mica, but it seemed just right on this piece.  And that sweet little flower, which came off of an old hat, is definitely destined for this piece.


This last segment is still very unformed.  In the studio it isn't shiny as in the picture, but rather it's a very textural bone colored base for the tiny collage I've temporarily adhered with nail heads (who knew you could make them gold by smashing them into a gold stamp pad and baking the color on with a heat gun?)  This part is very much in play still.  Really, the whole thing is.  I'm glad to have some time to see what it's going to become.


Today: Felting a Scarf

Today I am felting with the wonderful Chad Alice Hagen. I've admired her work from afar for years — having the chance to take a class with her was an incredible opportunity.  The class is called "hand felted bark scarf" and is based on Japanese Mokume dyeing.

Because we only have one day to work, Chad pre-dyed our batts for us.  Mine looked like this.


We've spent the morning, first felting the batts and then stitching them for the Mokume patterning.


I think they look sort of pretty just with the stitching in.


Next in store for them is a second dye bath.  I'm leaning towards purple, although a rich brown still isn't out of the question.  It has been a great class so far!