Every Day I Write the Book


The following projects have gotten me to try something new for me: taking notes.

You see, usually, I just go by memory and examining the first item I knit of a pair to knit the second one of the set. That doesn’t seem to be working for me anymore.

Case 1:


These are Seed Vessels cowl and mittens from The Country Diary Book of Knitting, knit in Spirit Trail Fiberworks’ Brigantia that I got as part of Jennifer’s club. Actually, it is more accurate to say the cowl and mittens are based on, rather than actually are, as the cowl in the book is over 20 inches long, and I couldn’t imagine someone wanting 20 inches of knit fabric under her chin, so I kept it to 12 inches. That, and the mitten pattern is knit flat and sewn together to make very small mittens that would not fit an adult. This is where the problems came in.

I used Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns as the basis for the mittens, adding the cable pattern to match seed vessels. I played around with the cap of the mitten, and got the result you see above. When it came time to make the second mitten, I could not get the count right for where to start the cap so that the mittens would match up with the cable pattern. I knitted, ripped, knitted, ripped, and knitted again. I finally got it right, but if I had written things down as I went, I could have saved myself some trouble.

Case 2:


These are the basketweave socks in Sheila’s Hounddog colorway. (On a side note, Sheila is closing the doors to the dye shop, so if you want a particular colorway, you better hurry.) I did the first sock, but didn’t get around to the second sock for a month or so. Figuring out which row I stopped on to start doing the heel was annoying. Again, if I had just made a few notes, I would have saved myself some aggravation.

So, that is where this comes in:


I picked up some journals with grid paper that I can take notes in for my projects. I have a journal for knitting, for weaving, for spinning, and for dyeing.

And I have started using the knitting journal.


This is the Brigantia that I picked up at MDSW. Pretty sweet, huh?

BTW, in totally unrelated news, Mr. Penney and I are now officially married! Woot!

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com



This blanket started out as just wanting to make a blanket to enter into the blanket competitions at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year. Now, being that I came up with this bright idea somewhere around March, I knew I didn’t have time to spin the yarn for the blanket. In fact, I wasn’t exactly sure when I was going to be able to go and shop for yarns for this blanket either. Then it hit me, “I have been weaving a lot with sock yarns. Why not use the sock yarns that are in my stash for the blanket?” And so my quest began in earnest.

The sock yarns in my stash are mostly fingering weight and light fingering weight, so each skein is usually at least 400 yards. After decorating the bed with all of these yarns, I chose five skeins of Djinni (by Kate at Dragonfly Fibers) in different shades of blue/blue-green for the warp. I decided to wind all of the yarns together at once so that the color could blend together when viewed from a distance. (At least, that was my hope.)

I still hadn’t decided on a color for the weft, and was immediately thinking of something around orange as blue’s complement. But after seeing the warp chains, the warp reminded me of water, with the light reflecting off of it. I ran with that theme and went looking for a blue/blue-green for the weft.


Fortunately, just as I was finishing winding the warp chains to dress the loom, the Homespun Yarn Party came around for me to look for weft yarn. Kate was going to be there, as well as other vendors that may have a yarn to use as weft for the blanket. Because of the quantity that I needed (at least four skeins) I got there early. Evidently, a lot of other people “needed” yarn as well, because there was a line to get into the place. After doing a few loops of the place to determine my options, I was right back at Kate’s booth, buying Djinni in the Blue Spruce colorway for the weft.

With the warp on the loom at 12 epi and a weft yarn in hand, weaving commenced.


The pattern is a variation on what is called a progressive twill. The threading sequence, along with the treadling sequence, causes the pattern to kind of gradually go from one color to the other. I chose it so try and get two different effects, one of a simple twill from a distance, and close up showing something much more complicated. (It is not really that complicated, but it is not as easy to figure out compared to a simple twill.)

I found my Schacht end deliver shuttles just before starting the weaving, so I decided to use them. It turns out that this light fingering weight yarn is as big as I would want to go with these shuttles. That said, using them again after a long absence reminded me of how much I love them and why I got them in the first place.

The blanket was woven in about a month, with a few days of quality spent with me, it, and Mary Kate and Ashley. I actually had a day or two to spare before entering it into the festival, which gave me just enough time to obsess over it.


I really do like the finished blanket and am very happy with the results. I call it “Still Waters Run Deep”, taking off the water theme and something that appears very simple and quiet from a distance, is actually rather complicated and interesting when viewed up closed. And speaking of up close.


Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

What I Got


Another Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival has come and gone. This year, the weather could not have been more perfect. It was just cool enough for those that wanted to wear the sweaters and shawls that they had knit could do so without dying from heatstroke, and it was sunny the entire weekend. People thought I was a little underdressed (I was in t-shirt and shorts), but I work in a freezer-like environment, so my personal thermostat is a bit off at this point.

While I still got plenty of fiber this year, it is nowhere near the amount that I have purchased in past years. This is mainly due to not having gotten to working with what I have purchased in past years, and I didn’t see a point in just adding to the queue if I didn’t already have a project in mind for it, or if I already had something extremely similar waiting for me at home. So I did not get a fleece this year, nor did I get any large bumps of Romney and mohair.

That is not to say that I came home empty handed.


On Saturday, my first purchases was at Kimber’s Fiber Optic booth. She has started applying her gradients to yarn as Paintbox Gradients, and she had those that she has already released at the booth. I picked up Bitter Lime to Rose and Copper to Verdigris on Kashmir sock yarn. Each little skein is 30 yards, for a total of 450 yards for each colorway.


I then stopped by Jennifer’s Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth for yarn to make a cardigan. As I already mentioned, I work in a freezer-like environment, so I have decided that I am going to make myself a cardigan to wear at work. This yarn is Brigantia, a DK weight that is 85% Polwarth wool and 15% silk. The skeins are arranged as shown because I am planning on a stripe across the chest. I am going to be using one of Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Book of Handy… patterns for the cardigan, though I have not entirely decided which one.


On Sunday, I went back to Fiber Optic to pick up Bitter Lime to Rose in the merino/silk to spin. For some reason, I always miss this on the pre-orders, so I picked it up at the festival, since it has all of my favorite colors in one place!


I also picked up a bullseye bump from Loop. The colorway is Sand Dollar, and the fiber is merino, tussah silk, and bamboo. I have seen these around for awhile and always wanted to try one. I currently have it on the wheel, and will give you a report on it later.

Finally, on Sunday, I picked up my entries.


The shawl got a first place, though it was moved from shawl to scarf, which is fine by me.


And my blanket, that has been a poorly kept secret, also got a first in its category: blankets made with at least 50% wool. I will tell you more about this next time.

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Point of No Return


These socks took close to forever for me.


I blame this on the needles. No, really. The needles. And those needles? Signature Needle Arts 6 inch double points. Why? Because they are too damn pointy. I was splitting yarn like I have never split yarn before.

I got the needles at last year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I had heard so much about them, and such raves, that I thought that I would give them a try. To try them out, I made the socks above using Smooshy with Cashmere that I got from Cloverhill at the same festival. And a splitting I went with the first sock. Another problem that I had is that I had a difficult time seeing my stitches on the main part of the needle, as the needle’s color was close to the yarn that I was using. Maybe I just need better lighting, in that case.

The first sock took a darn long time, but since the needles were new to me and the yarn was new to me, I needed to eliminate one variable to see what was causing the splits. So for the second sock, I changed back to my Addi Turbos. No splits. Not a one. (BTW, Smooshy with Cashmere? Very nice yarn. Will definitely use again.)

Just to confirm, I started another pair of socks in a yarn that I have used before with no issues, Sheila’s Wullenstudio sock yarn.


As you can see in the photo, I am back to using Addi Turbos. Why? Because I was splitting with the Signatures.

Now maybe all of those that rave about these needles aren’t using the stiletto points, but that is all that is available for the double points unless you get a custom order or get the 4 inch needles, which are too small for me. Or maybe they are using the needles with yarns that have a harder twist than what I have tried before. I will have to give that a try, as these needles are too expensive to just let sit idle.

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com.

Yesterday’s Songs


I was starting to put this entry together and was thinking about what I was going to say about the final product, when I realized that I have really gotten behind on showing things here and never showed the yarn that I used for it.


This is yarn that I spun a little over a year ago from two different colorways of BFL from Dragonfly Fibers. I got them when Kate had a trunk show at Cloverhill. The colorways are Cherry on Top and Ode to Sock Summit. I spun up each colorway and plied the two together. I figured that there was enough common between the two colorways that it would all work out.

I originally spun this yarn to make something for someone else. But we always think we have more time for things than we actually have, and I only got as far as the yarn.

Lately, I have been on a kick to use my handspun, so, with a year passing, I figured it was time to make something with this yarn to see how it all work together. I decided to make a small, simple shawl, which is what I had originally planned because with all of the color going on in the yarn, any kind of fancy stitch pattern or tricky design would fight with the yarn.


I really like how it all came out. The colors worked out well together. While working this shawl, I really enjoyed seeing the color combinations go by.


I gave this shawl to a friend of mine that just finished up her chemo treatments. She was surprised to say the least, and very thankful.

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com.

Wave on Wave


You may remember this handspun from a while ago.


The fiber is superwash merino and bamboo from Fiber Optic. When I saw it, it reminded me of water, which made me think of my sister, as she and her family like going “downy oshun”. (No, they do not talk like that.)

With that in mind, I went looking for a shawl or shawlette pattern that work with the yarn. I found the Sally Rand pattern on Twist Collective. Feather and fan is one of my favorite patterns for variegated yarn because curves made by the stitch pattern gives such movement to the colors. It all made me think waves crashing on the beach. I thought it would make a good birthday gift for my sister.


I didn’t do the full shawl because I didn’t have enough yarn for that, but it should be good as a shawlette. The bamboo in the yarn gives it a nice drape. I am pretty happy with how it came out.

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com.

Like a Feather


Back around Thanksgiving, Mr. Penney was talking to his mother. At this time, she hinted that it would be really nice if I could knit her a cowl like she saw at J.C.Penney. I went and took a look at the cowls that J.C.Penney was selling, and decided that I did not like any of them, so I was devise one of my own. And here it is!


The yarn I used is Dragonfly Fibers’ Djinni Sock in Wood Hyacinth – B side single. (B side single meaning that it is not the regular for the colorway). The cowl itself only took about a half of a skein.

The main stitch pattern is Japanese Feather from A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara G. Walker. The top and bottom of the cowl is just seed stitch. Since the Japanese Feather pattern is an odd number of stitches to the repeat, I did an odd number of repeats so that there would be an odd number of stitches for the cowl overall, and thus, the seed stitch could be worked as a continuous k1, p1, with no break between rounds.

Once I was done knitting, I blocked the hell out of it. I am pretty happy with the way that it came out, and my mother-in-law got it for Christmas and loved it.

Copyright 2013 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Wrap Her Up


Well, the temperatures have dropped here; and I have finished Mr. Penney’s Christmas present just in time for him to use it! Now, don’t get too excited. It’s his Christmas present from last year. (In my defense, he was given the option of a scarf from yarn that was already spun, or from fiber that had yet to be spun. He chose the fiber that had yet to be spun.)


I have been working on this for quite a while. So long, in fact, that members of the knitting group that I go to would go, “You are still working on that?” when I would pull my knitting out. My initial intention when spinning was for a yarn that was a sport weight, but I wound up spinning a light fingering weight. This meant a long time spinning and a long time knitting; but it all turned out well, so it was worth it.


The yarn is spun from a 80% merino/20% cashmere blend from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, and is a chain-ply. I used about 7 of the 8 ounces that I spun for this scarf. The stitch pattern is the pennant stitch, and it gives kind of an accordian effect long the width of the scarf, forming natural pleats. Now, Mr. Penney can be warm and toasty.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com