Keep On Truckin’


It’s been a while since you have heard from me, again, hasn’t it. Every time I think about posting to my blog, I think, if I just wait until X, I can include that in the post as well! The last of those items on the X list happened today, so today I am posting.

First off, I finished some spinning. Both of these fibers are from Fiber Optic.

The first is the 50% superwash merino/ 50% bamboo blend that I got as part of her “As the Whorl Turns” club. It was great to spin, as it was pencil roving and required no predrafting on my part. The second is the BFL/silk that I got from her at MDSW dyed in the gradient from gold-crimson-espresso. It spun incredibly fast. Both need to be blocked yet, since I plan to knit with both of them, but that can wait.

Next up is a toy that I knit for my great-nephew’s first birthday.

The pick-up truck pattern and yarn came as part of a kit from Knitpicks. It was a great project, though sewing the tires on with the black yarn really was a test for my eyes. Here is the little guy after opening up the gift.

He seems to actually like it! And, he will still be able to use it no matter how much of a growth spurt he has.

Finally, the socks in the slip stitch plait pattern are done.

This are part of my gift to Mr. Penney for his birthday, which is today! They are in his favorite color (and that was no accident.) The yarn, Sanguine Gryphon‘s Bugga, was great to work with. Luckily, I have more of this in my stash, so more socks will be on the way (like that was ever in question.)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Penney!

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

Color My World


While I loved working with the natural gray of the blanket, it was time for some color after completing it. Luckily, it was also time to finish up another project.

My YMCA socks are done. These socks are nice and comfortable and fit well. As an added bonus, the colors didn’t pool or form any noticeable pattern that I could distinguish. Cheers all around!

With YMCA done, I permitted myself to start a new pair of socks.

This is a slip stitch plait pattern that I got out of one of my stitch dictionaries. Part of the pattern is to drop the stitch that has been slipped for a couple rounds while working other stitches before picking it back up to knit it so that the whole pattern looks like a cabled pattern. It was felt odd to purposefully drop a stitch, but it all works out ok because the stitch originates a couple rounds below the round that is being work, so the dropped stitch does not get pulled or anything that would cause a run of dropped stitches. (I hope that all made sense, because I can’t think of another way to describe it.)

The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon’s Bugga that I got at MDSW. It is possibly the softest sock yarn that I have ever felt. No wonder people go on about it like they do.

While we are on green projects, I am trying to get myself back to weaving on my smaller loom.

This is Atropos from Spirit Trail Fiberworks that I got as MDSW a few years ago. I starting putting this warp on the loom a while ago, but let it drift off because warping this loom became a pain, literally. Now that I know that I can use the stepstool to sit on while threading heddles, I hope to get back to it this weekend, as this project has been mocking me every time that I go down into the basement. Just mock mock mock. We shall see who has the last laugh.

There has been spinning as well. Over Memorial day weekend, I did quite a bit of spinning.

The blue at the top is more of the merino/bamboo from Fiber Optic, while the bobbins below it are each two ounces of the BFL/silk in the Espresso-Crimson-Gold gradient that I got from Fiber Optic at MDSW. There will be a good bit of plying action that will be happening soon (mostly to free up bobbins for continued spinning).

On the future spinning front is this.

Back in April was the weaving guild’s auction, and I was lucky enough to get the day with the guild’s dyeing study group. The day was back in May, and I dyed this cashmere and silk blend that I had along with a yak and merino blend that is not seen here. I steamed the rovings the following weekend, and despite my best attempts to ruin everything (the plastic wrapped “burrito” actually fell into the water and boiled away for a while), it all came out great. There are places where I didn’t apply enough dye, but I figure those will work out somehow when I spin it all up.

So, is that enough color for you?

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

Hip to Be Square


So it all started with the gray Romney fleece that I got at last year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

That fleece then got spun into singles.

The result of all of that spinning was 10 skeins of singles that contained over 200 yards that were about 14 epi.

Now, I knew I wanted to make a throw, but I wasn’t sure on the design or the colors. I really wanted to dye the yarn to coordinate with the family room; but I am a rather inexperienced dyer, and I am not that secure in my color sense.

Well, I ordered some colors of Washfast acid dyes from Pro Chemical and Dye. They arrived, and they just sat there. I could not decide which colors to use, nor could I figure out how I was going to dye singles and not wind up with a kinky, curly mess. Oooh, kinky!

In the meantime, I started playing around with possible weave structures for the blanket. I already had the idea in my head to do a rib weave similar to this shawl that I wove for my mother a while ago.

After playing around with it, I decided that I wanted to weave squares into the fabric and use a broken twill inside the squares so that the diagonal that you see in the shawl doesn’t distract from the squares.

And then, still more procrastination about color. So much procrastination that is now April, and I need to get a warp on the loom if I want to get this blanket done in time for the festival. So, color problem solved, there will be no dyeing of the yarn because there is now no time for it and the complications that might ensue.

I divided up the ten skeins into groups that were consistent in thickness within the skein and from skein to skein. Those five skeins together would be the weft for the blanket, and the rest would be used for the warp, since it is easier to manipulate where warp threads fall to disguise inconsistencies in yarn.

It turns out that I was pretty consistent throughout most of my spinning, with only one skein that was more thick and thin than the rest. I wound the five warp skeins on my warping mill, and sleyed the thick and thin skein across the width of the blanket in the reed, and filled in the spaces with the other four warp skeins. Overall, the reed was sleyed at 10 epi. Then, I started threading heddles.

Notice that the sectional beam isn’t on my loom anymore. After about five years on the loom, I figured it was impeding my weaving rather than helping it. With the sectional beam off, I am no longer confined to having to have my weaving with being a multiple of two inches. Maybe someday when I am the production weaver that I have always imagined myself to be, the sectional beam will go back on the loom, but not until that day comes.

In threading the heddles, I also found that we have a little Rubbermaid stepstool that is just the right height for me to sit on and do the threading. I have never threaded so many heddles without having a backache after doing so. It was truly a great find.

Once the heddles were threaded, the warp was tied onto the back beam, wound on, then tensioned and tied onto the cloth beam. Weaving commenced, and went fairly quickly, when you consider the size of the weaving.

The only real problem that I had was the selvedges. The selvedge thread kept on getting pulled into the main body of the weaving, rather than staying as the outer most thread. I have an idea of how the solve this for the next time, but I didn’t think of it until I was through with the weaving on this blanket.

After weaving, I did a blanket twist on the fringe (which seemed to take forever), fulled the blanket, let it dry, and trimmed the fringe.

Here is a close up that shows the weave structure.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the way it came out. For a medium course wool (it is a Romney fleece), the blanket is soft and pretty lightweight for what it is.

At the festival, the blanket got a third place in its category and got a Best of Maryland Wool award. I was honestly a little disappointed to get a third place, but was assured that first through fourth place were extremely close in my category and were not decided until the last possible moment. This I believe, because I happened to be there to set up the display of entries, and they still hadn’t decided my category an hour after they were supposed to be done with the judging. That’s the way the ball bounces, sometimes.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

The Weekend


Ah yes. Another year, another Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. What a time. The day before the festival, I helped one of the vendors, Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks, set up her booth. She had an armada of helpers, most of whom I recognized from years past when visiting her booth. Myself and one other person were the new faces.

Set up only took a three hours, and we were done. She had things pretty well organized, as expected for doing this festival and a number of others for a few years now. As a thank you, I got a little something-something, which you will see later when I show my haul. Yes, this little piggy went to market!

Later that day, I went back to help set up the skein and garment competition after the judging. As a special bonus, Mr. Penney came along to help out. After seeing the goings on with the set up, I think Mr. Penney is really wanting to provide his organizational skills to the task. Either that, or never come back again. One or the other.

Finally came Saturday, the opening day of the festival, and I took a half day course with Charlene Schurch on new toe-up heels for socks.

This is what we made. Don’t worry, it is not supposed to fit anyone. And I would be worried if it did fit someone. The heel at the bottom is the reverse French heel and the heel towards the top is the unwrapped short row heel. It was a great class, and if you have the chance to take a class from Charlene, I would advise you to do it.

After class, I met up with my friend Bonnie and we grabbed a little lunch and went on our way, shopping. Oh, and did I shop. Look for me on an upcoming episode of Hoarders! I’ll just tell you which booth I purchased what you see below. If you really want to know what it is, I should have it up on my stash page on ravelry soon. Also, the name of the photos will give you a pretty good idea of what the yarn and/or fiber is.

First, Spirit Trail Fiberworks, some purchased, some being the thank you from Jennifer.

Next, Fiber Optic, which, to my and apparently their own surprise, had their own booth this year. Apparently, they were asked on Saturday morning if they could replace one of the vendors that dropped out at the last minute.

And, then came Sanguine Gryphon.

Next up, Cloverhill’s booth, which had Wullenstudio, Dragonfly Fibers, and many others.

I finally joined the club this year and made a purchase from Brooks Farm to knit a sweater. (Actually, I had made a purchase of mohair from them many years ago, of which I made my nieces scarves.)

And my regular purchase of Romney and mohair blend from the Barefoot Spinner.

What you don’t see here is the Romney x Corriedale fleece that I purchased at Triple R Farm because it immediately went to Zeilingers to be processed.

What happened to the Romney fleece that I purchased last year from Triple R Farm?

I went back to the festival Sunday afternoon to pick up my entry. More on that the next time.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

I Know There’s Something Going On


Last time, I promised you that I would show what else I had going on besides the rugs; and true to my word (if a bit late), here it is. Let’s start with Benedict.

I am on my second of the six skeins of baby alpaca and am just about to start decreasing for the armholes, so I know that I should be good on the amount of yarn that I originally purchased. Woohoo! My calculations were correct!

Benedict isn’t a difficult knit, but it is a long knit due to all of the cabling. It is a six row pattern, and it takes me about an hour and a half to do one pattern repeat. Yeah, this may take a while, which is why it is nice to have something that goes a bit faster.

This is Wullenstudio‘s colorway “YMCA”. (I am the one that contributed the name. Thank you. Thank you very much.) I am doing one of my old standby’s, the basketweave rib. This stitch pattern seems to work well no matter what the yarn’s color patterning is because of the combination of garter and stockinette. As of this writing, the first sock is done, and I am about to start the second.

Now, knitting has not been the only things going on. There has also been spinning.

You have seen both of these before in their single state. Now they are plied and complete. Both are from Dragonfly Fibers. The first is silk and camel in the Bad Moon Rising colorway. It is four ounces, and I still have another four ounces of this colorway to spin, as well as another six ounces of silk and camel in the Titania colorway to go along with it. The other yarn is Sea Monster (silk, merino, and seacell) in the December Baby colorway. You are looking at a total of eight ounces that is pretty close to worsted weight. Both of these yarns will be used for weaving.

This is merino and bamboo that I got as part of Fiber Optic‘s “As the Whorl Turns” fiber club. Each month, Kimber makes three colorways using a country as inspiration, and as a member of the club, you get to select which one(s) you would like to purchase. What you see is the February selection, Jai Ting, from the inspiration country, China. I have this single Navajo plied, but I have to go back and fix it up some, as it is a bit overplied.

With that said, I have quite a bit of spinning in my future, as I have participated in several clubs, including Dragonfly Fiber’s winter mini club:

With what you see here being Admiral Benbow colorway in Bigfoot roving (BFL and silk), With a Cherry on Top in Sea Monster, and Winter Wood in Polwarth roving.

My March selection for the aforementioned Fiber Optic “As the Whorl Turns” club is this:

The inspiration country is Scotland and this colorway is called Thistle in BFL and silk.

Last but not least, I am also a member of Spirit Trail Fiberworks club, with the first two shipments being these:

The first one is February’s colorway in Polwarth. The second one is March’s colorway in merino and silk. April’s colorway just arrived today. It is a beautiful combination of deep blue and purple on silk and cashmere roving. Yum!

All of the dyer’s I just mentioned will be at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in some shape or form. Wullenstudio and Dragonfly Fiber can be found at the Cloverhill booth. Fiber Optic can be found at the Fold‘s booth. And Spirit Trail will have their own booth.

Speaking of the festival, if you need to find me, this is where I will be.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)


Been quiet around here, hasn’t it? Well, I have been trying to keep from publishing until I got these off of the loom.

And they finally are off the loom.


There is still a few things left to do before I am completely done with them. But they have gone through the initial cycles of washing and drying for fulling. Now, I just have to cut them apart and sew in the hems. After that, one more time through the washer and dryer.

I think the part that made this project such drudgery was the ironing. One night at knitting, I was talking to Sheila about the rugs and did a quick calculation in my head. While it wasn’t 500 miles, I did do over 300 yards of ironing for just these two rugs. Sheila’s reply when I told here the amount? “You probably shouldn’t have done that calculation.”

On Saturday, I finished up the ironing for the rugs and that night, Mr. Penney and I went to Border’s after dinner. At Border’s, I happened upon Betsy, the president of the local weaving guild. When I told her about the rugs and the ironing that I finished up that day, she was astonished that I did all of that ironing. “I usually just twist my strips so that enough of the right side of the fabric shows.”

Now, ya tell me.

That will have to be something I will have to try the next time. If there is a next time….

Next up, everything else that I have been working on.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

Tight Fit


Yeah! I got another pair of socks done.

It seems like it has been forever since I have completed a pair of socks, and after trying on the first sock of this pair, I was almost going to rip them out and try again. I had a devil of a time trying to get the sock past my heel because the ribbing of the leg was so tight. I am glad I didn’t rip out though because, of all of my socks, these stay up on my legs the best. Yes, there is a little effort in getting the socks on; but once they are on, they are on!

The sock yarn is Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in the Bad Moon Rising colorway. I love this colorway, so much so that I have the same colorway in her camel and silk roving which I started spinning last night. I was able to start spinning the camel and silk because I finished spinning the singles of this.

This is Sea Monster roving in the December Baby colorway, again from Dragonfly Fibers. What you see on the bobbin is a four ounce braid that I spun up a couple weeks ago, and the actual roving before being pre-drafted is taking up the rest of the picture. All it takes me is about four hours to pre-draft and spin a four ounce braid of this stuff. The fiber content is 50% silk/30% merino wool/20% seacell. Once I get into a plying mood, I will be making a two ply that I will use for weaving a scarf or shawl, depending on the yardage.

With having a long weekend, I finally got the first slip stitch sock done.

This sock is off the needle now after doing 25 rows of 3×3 ribbing for the cuff. It is great when a plan comes together, and that is what is happening here. The yarn is Shiela’s sock yarn in Green Tamborine and WItchy Woman. This is taking a little longer than anticipated because of all of the slip stitches. Eight rows of the slip stitch pattern equates to about six rows of stockinette in length. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind for later.

Ok, now brace yourselves. You are about to see something that you haven’t seen on this blog in a while. Are you ready? Here it is. Continue reading

Being Boring


So, when I last talked about the rugs I am weaving, this is how they looked.

I wove in a few more strips since then and decided that I did not like the results. It was boring me to tears. Unlike the warp-face rugs that I had woven before, the weft strips were going to be the main focus of these rugs; and I was going to need a fabric more exciting than a solid quilting cotton whose color is called “tea stain.” (Honest, that is the name.)

So I went back out fabric shopping and came back with these.

I got five yards of the salmon colored one (which is brighter than photographed here) and three yards of the paisley. Rather than get back out the rag cutter, I just cut the strips using a rotary cutter and quilting ruler. The main thing I had to worry about there is folding the fabric correctly so that all of the layers were on grain and that there were no wrinkles in the fabric. That process went fairly quickly.

There is one hitch in using these prints as the weft for weaving, and that is that there is a right side to the fabric and a wrong side, and the difference is fairly pronounced with the ones that I picked. I needed to do something to the strips of fabric so that the printed side of the fabric would show up most of the time. To take care of this, I ironed each strip in half.

As you may have guessed, this is a tedious task. But by taking this extra step, I can count on the right side of the fabric being what shows up most of the time in the final weaving.

And the weaving is underway with the new fabrics. I am liking the results much better, so much so that I have finished weaving the first of the rugs. Unfortunately, for how I am doing the striping in the weft of the rugs, I don’t have enough of the salmon colored fabric to complete a second rug. Hopefully, I can get another five yards of it, otherwise I am going to have rugs that coordinate, rather than match.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for

Lucas with the Lid Off


Knitting is still going on here, especially with my weaving undergoing a re-group. More on that in the next post.

My first new project of 2011 turns out to be my first completed project of 2011.

This is Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Maltese Fisherman’s Hat from Knitters Almanac. I used two strands of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca throughout. Even with using two strands, the gauge only wound up being 11 stitches per 3 inches. The instructions are for 11 stitches per 4 inches. Luckily, most of the numbers were divisible by 3 in the pattern, so it was a simple matter to changing things over to meet my gauge.

I had to do this in quick order, because it is for a friend that is, literally, closing up shop and moving to Portugal. Yeah, wild thing to do! He wanted a traditional hat that is worn over there, and this Maltese hat was pretty close to the description, so I went with that. It took about all of 8 hours to knit. I used size US 10.5 needles (6.5 mm), which felt odd to me, being that I am usually working with 2.25 mm and 2.5 mm needles for socks.

And I am still working with those small needles, though.

The first of the ribbed cable socks is done, and I have cast on for the second. I went to the trouble of twisting the knit stitches when doing the tubular cast off, since the whole rib is worked with twisted knit stitches. Now that I see how it looks, I am not sure if that addition effort for the cast off was worth it. Maybe it will be more noticeable after the sock has been washed.

I am also still working on the slip stitch sock.

I did a short row heel because it solves a multitude of problems in doing things with a slip stitch pattern that I am just not sure how to do (like increases and decrease). Short row was always for the plan for me here, anyway.

I would like to know how to handle the change in colors in the round.

There is more than subtle change where the start of the round is. I am not to worried about it, but it would be nice if there was a way to avoid this. Since this is a slip stitch pattern, I have my doubts about whether a “jogless” jog would work here. Any thoughts?

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for



So, what was I doing New Year’s Eve?

Well, during the day I was cutting strips with my rag cutter. I dug it out so that I could cut up the eight yards of fabric that I am using as the weft to weave the rugs that were being put on the big loom at the end of the last post. Those rugs are my parents’ Christmas present. (My family is used to getting I.O.U.’s for gifts.)

The rag cutter basically works like a pasta maker. You turn the crank to feed the fabric through against the guide to get a consistent width strip cut by the rotary blade that is sandwiched between two rubber discs that press again a large metal cylinder, that is actually connected to the crank. The blurry picture below gives you an idea of what it looks like in action.

This took an amazingly long time. It was close to three hours to do the eight yards of quilting cotton in 1 1/4″ strips. I tried folding the fabric to cut more than one strip at a time, but that actually took longer because of having to keep the fabric together so that all of the layers would press up against the guide. This is probably one of the reasons why I don’t make rag rugs that often. The last time that I used the rag cutter was when I made these rugs about ten years ago.

The cutter was also making an awful grinding noise during a portion of the turn of the crank. It was a concerning noise to me, and an irritating one for Bogey and Mr. Penney.

This tool is probably meant more for rug hookers that rag rug weavers. The rag cutter has the option of placing several blades together, and rug hookers generally use thinner strips (about 1/4″ wide as opposed to 1 1/4″ wide) of thicker fabrics (woolens rather than quilting cottons). I bought the cutter back when I thought I needed every weaving tool ever created. I am long over that period now.

In any case, all of the fabric is cut up.

And weaving has commenced.


I am unsure about how I feel about these rugs at the moment. I am kind of wishing I picked a darker fabric as the weft, but that may just be the fluorescent lighting in the basement. I have seven yards of warp on the loom, and I only have to get two 40″ long rugs off of it, so I should be able to try other fabrics without re-warping the loom if I think I can do better. Weave on!

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for