Hound Dog


Well, I said that I would tell you what was keeping me away from the blog, so here it is.

Actually, it is more than one thing. I have been very busy at work, so coming home to sit at the computer to write some more isn’t high on my list of things to do. But the bigger thing has been what many of you are already aware of, we had to say goodbye to our dog Bogey back on July 31.

snowprisoner Bogey in action

We did see the day coming. In fact, the socks that I made for Mr. Penney’s birthday are in the Hounddog colorway because of how closely it mimicked Bogey’s own coloring.


It sounds silly to some, I know, but without having Bogey around; things just have not been the same around here. Motivation to do things kind of went away with him.

As time passed, we decided to start looking at rescues because we thought that maybe we should give another dog a home. At the same time, we decided to donate items to be raffled off by our vet because of how good they were to us when the time came for Bogey. They use the funds from the raffle to pay for the medical expenses of strays that people bring in as well as those that don’t have enough to meet the bills that a pet can sometime rack up. Paul donated a gift certificate for a massage, and I donated the shawl that I entered in this past year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.


Just as Paul was about to leave the house to take our donations up to the vet, the vet emailed Paul. Mind you, the vet had no idea that Paul was coming over there with donations, nor that we were contemplating adopting a dog. The email was that a beagle had just come to them through one of their other clients. This beagle’s owner had just died, and the beagle needed a home or he would be going to the pound. Were we thinking about adopting a dog?

The stars had aligned and we adopted Comet, a six year old beagle on December 15.


Are things the same? No, but they aren’t supposed to be the same either. Comet is a very good boy, like Bogey was, but has a good bit more energy. He is still getting adjusted to his new home, as he was shuffled around for awhile before he came to us.

I must say, when I was contemplating writing this blog entry over a month ago, this was not the ending I thought this story was going to have. But I am very glad it does end this way, by beginning something new. We still miss Bogey, but we like to think that he was somehow involved in getting Comet to us.

Next up, one more reason why you haven’t heard from me in awhile.

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



So, last Wednesday, I was at the Maryland State Fair, judging the spinning and weaving competition for the third and final year (at least for now.) They will have new judges next year, so if you haven’t liked the way that I or my cohort have judged the contest, you can relax, as next year, you will have someone else looking at your work. (I say that, but no one has ever come back to me with any complaints about the judging.)

No one tried to cheat this year (nor last,) though there is still a problem with people reading the directions on how entries are to be prepared and presented. I guess when people see a lot of lists on the page, they just don’t feel like reading everything.

As for my general advice about entering fairs, it remains the same. I do recommend that if you are going to enter your spinning into competition, that you learn how to form a proper skein with proper ties. Some of the skeins were tied such that examining the entire skein was difficult due to the two “death grips” at either end. Also, take the time to remove the tags from previous fairs that you entered your work in. (Actually, if you are entering the same work in multiple contests, take the time to go over the piece between each contest, as the means of display from the previous fair may distort parts of it where it was tagged or hung.)

As for not judging next year, the reason is to get some fresh eyes in there. This is what most fairs do (or should do.) If you judge the same contest enough times, you get to recognize people’s work, and that can form a bias. Newer entrants tend to be all over the map with entries as they are just learning all of the wonders of a craft, while people start to specialize as they gain experience and find the areas of the craft that they really like. With the experience also comes (hopefully) better results, so the better items in a category (say table linens) tend to come for a certain group of weavers that the judge will eventually come to recognize particular weavers due to their choice of structure, color, fiber, etc.

In all, it has been a great experience. I get to fondle lots of fiber for a day, and it doesn’t cost me anything to do it. Sounds pretty good.

Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com



Well, Mel ask for a close up, so here it is.

Yep, the tattoos are long gone. They only lasted about two days, and then they started to wear off, so we washed them the rest of the way off. You see, they were only airbrush tattoos. Sorry to disappoint.

We got the tattoos on vacation down Rehoboth Beach, DE. On our first night down there, we were walking Rehoboth Avenue, and saw the tattoo designs outside of a place that does teeth whitening and spray tans. (Wait, it gets better.)  As we were looking at the designs, our twelve year old saleslady comes out to greet us and inform us that the airbrush tattoos are buy 2, get 1 free. How could we refuse? (So, Roseann, you are correct, there was a Chinese character on Mr. Penney’s upper arm. That one was performed by our young saleslady. That was our free tattoo.) The tattoos were rather realistic while they were on, as we went to the Double L (a leather bar) and people were surprised to hear that the tattoos were not permanent.

As for how long they lasted, they started to wear off after two days. Not wanting to look smudged, we washed them off after that.

I was actually kind of surprised by how mine looked. While I like how tattoos look on some people, I figured it just wasn’t something that wouldn’t look right on me, like I was trying to be something that I am not. But the armband that I chose, that couldn’t go around my whole bicep (Welcome to the gun show!), reminded me if ikat, and didn’t look totally out of place on me, like I feared. Maybe one day I will get a tattoo, but I do have the concern that Lisa expressed, which is how it will look 30 years from now. Everything might not be so taut and lovely as it is now.

As for fibery things, all that is moving along at a good pace. Here are a couple pics of the spinning as of a few weeks ago.

All of my available bobbins were full for this picture. I have had to wind the yarn off the bobbins to free them up for more spinning, of which I have done two more bobbins. I figure I have about three more bobbins worth of spinning to go with this fleece. I am thinking of dyeing the yarn different colors for warp and weft, so if anyone has recommendations for dyeing handspun singles such that they do not become an unruly mess, I am all ears.

The socks are nearing completion.

And Roseann was correct again, these are for Mr. Penney. His birthday was while we were on vacation, and these are to keep his feet comfy. They were also a chance for me to test knit the write up of this pattern, which was a good thing, because the instructions for the heel were a mess.

The scarf is coming along as well.

It is still kind of boring as far as knitting projects go, but the change in colors helps.

And there is one more thing,

That I will get into later.

Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Let’s Talk About Sex

I mean socks! Yes, socks! Let’s talk about socks. Definitely socks! Reference

For the past few years, I have been mainly doing socks. While I did a few pairs of socks in my early knitting “career”, it wasn’t until I got Sensational Knitted Socks that I really got into knitting socks, and specifically toe-up socks. When anyone asks me for a reference book on socks, SKS is the book I recommend without reservation. It just opened my eyes to see all those numbers together and see the pattern of how it all worked out.

Now, why toe-up? I believe that I have talked about this before, but for the sake of having this all in one place, I put it here too: It is better for me to short change the leg in length than it is for me to short change the foot in length because of the fear of running out of yarn. I have a big foot, at least as far as sock yarn manufacturers are concern, and the sock yarn that I like can be kind of pricey. Buying two skeins of a pricey yarn just to make one pair of socks is a lot even for a spendthrift like me. (Ok, I am really not a spendthrift, but I do like nice yarn. MMMMMM, yarn!) Doing toe-up means that I will have a pair of socks that fit without fear of buying a second skein or ripping out and re-knitting.

So here is what I generally do for socks: First, I have a magic number for my sock yarn – knitting needle pairing. This magic number is the number of stitches used around most of the leg and most of the foot if knitting stockinette or rib. As an example, some sock yarns, I use 64 stitches on 2.5 mm knitting needles as my magic number. For some thinner and/or softer sock yarns, I use 72 stitches on 2.25 mm knitting needles as my magic number. The development of this number comes through testing and personal preference. For socks, I like a firmer stitch than I would for a sweater.

Please note, these numbers are not carved in stone. If I need to add or subtract a stitch to get a stitch pattern to workout correctly, I will do it. Knitting is not an exact science, and a stitch here or there is probably not going to make the difference in whether a sock will fit or not. If you’ll notice, both of my magic numbers are divisible by 8. This makes a lot of calculations that I do for toes and heels easier. I will get into those calculations in other posts. Being divisible by 8 (and the latter one being divisible by 9), also makes putting together stitch patterns for socks easier. Math is a wonderful thing!

While I have tried a number of different toes (that certainly sounds like an odd phrase) for socks, I keep going back to the one that I found in SKS, where a small rectangle is knit and stitches are picked up around the rectangle as the base for the increases for the toe. I find that this toe gives a nice curve to the tip (no “ears” that some people talk about with the figure 8 cast-on), a good length for the toes (whirlpool toe seems to be a bit too short for my foot), and it works well with hand-dyed yarns (no noticeable change in color sequence that can be seen on a short-row toe.)

Once I am done the toe, I am now up to my magic number; and I work the rest of the foot, with the top of the foot being in pattern, while the sole is in stockinette. But this leads to a big question, when do I stop knitting the foot, and start knitting the heel? This depends on two things: foot length and type of heel being knit.

Foot length is pretty self-explanatory. When knitting socks for myself, I just use the length of my forearm as a reference for the length of my foot, since they just happen to be the same. Oh, the wonders of the body! If I am making socks for someone else, I use the charts in SKS that convert shoe size to various foot measurements, including foot length. There are conversions available on the web as well, just do a Google search on “shoe sizes in inches”.

The type of heel that I am going to use for the sock matters in when I stop knitting the foot and start knitting the heel because different heel designs are of different lengths. (Foot length minus heel length equals when I start work the heel.) I generally choose among three heels: short row heel, heel flap gusset, and, most recently, the results of my heel experiment. In all three cases, I use something that I have already knit to determine this length: the toe.

For the short row heel, the heel is pretty much the same size and shape as the toe, so I just use the length of the toe as the length of my heel.

One thing that you will notice in this photo and the next couple is that this is all approximation. I really don’t like to break out the ruler or tape measure when knitting, which is why I use the toe for my measurements. It is a matter of convenience. In all cases the length of the toe is going to be a little longer than the heel measurement. Again, since knitting is not an exact science, this is ok. When faced with the choice of going a couple rows short on foot length as opposed to going a couple rows long, I always choose short, because the knitting will stretch to make up for the difference in length. For me, having my knitting stretch a little (which makes it wear a little faster) is a better option than having my knitting bunch up under foot (which will cause blisters and other general discomfort.) That said, my socks last me for years. My oldest pair of socks finally wore out after 15 years of use.

For the heel flap heel, I don’t use the entire toe length, but just the measurement of the increases for the toe doubled.

Why only the increase portion? Because I do a slip stitch pattern (eye of partridge) for the heel flap, which shortens the length a bit.

Finally, for the heel experiment, it is the length of the toe doubled.

I will go into more detail about the construction of the heel for the heel experiment in another post.

By the way, which heel I choose to knit is more about whim than anything else. Sometimes I feel like a nut; sometime I don’t. That is not to say that one heel doesn’t have certain design advantages over another, just that it really doesn’t play much of a factor in my choice.

At this point, all of my decisions are made. I knit the heel and start the leg, back to the magic number I was at just before the heel.

Now, why write all this up? Well, hopefully this will demystify toe-up socks for someone out there. I have heard a few people say “I can’t do toe-up socks.” Maybe this will start them on the path of being able to knit toe-up socks. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments. (BTW, I am currently having router issues such that I am not able to send email out. If you sent me an email, I am not ignoring you. I am just having technical difficulties.)

Copyright 2009 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Apparently Nothin’


There has been a lot going on around here, but not a lot to show for it. A little over a week ago, I finished writing up the pattern for Sheila’s sock club so that everyone’s favorite test knitter could start knitting it. I still have some hints and tricks that I want to put in it, but the pattern itself is done, barring any corrections. I have received the winter edition of yarn from Sheila. And? SQUEEEE! But again, I can’t show you that yet.

I finished spinning up the single last night of the first course of Hungry for Handspun‘s Fiber Feast. I would show you, but it really doesn’t look much different than the last time I showed you. I am figuring on chain plying. What I will do with it, after that, I am not sure.

Finally, I am running again in the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure, in Hunt Valley, MD, on October 18. Unfortunately, this year I am not able to offer any prizes, but I did start the ball rolling by selling off some of my stash on eBay. The last buyer paid me this past week, so all of that is done and out the door. I will write up a lessons learned on that later.

If you would like to support me in the race, just go to this link.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for your support.

Copyright 2009 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Gone, Gone, Gone


Just so you don’t go thinking our trip to P-town was just a maddening re-creation of Plane, Trains, & Automobiles, subbing Busses for Trains, here are the photos from the whale watching tour we went on.

Here are some recommendations we can make if you go to P-town:

Areas like entertainment are more subjective, I think, so I will just say that the dance clubs were good, and we really enjoyed the shows by Jennie McNulty and Miss Richfield 1981.

When we got home, there was lots of mail waiting for us. In that mail, was a package for me! From Opal!

She was sweet enough to send me the following:

  • Oatmeal BFL from Hungry for Handspun in the Earth Day colorway
  • Kuaui coffee from Kuaui Coffee Roasters
  • Kona coffee macadamia cookies from Kuaui Kookie (now gone)
  • Macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies from Hawaiian Island Crisp (now gone)
  • Maui Caramacs from Hawaiian Host (now gone)

Thank you, Opal!

Coming soon! Knitting, spinning, and weaving! Oh my!

Copyright 2009 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com

Up, Up and Away


Looky at what I got from Tulabug (aka Stacey.)

This is all part of the Sizzling Summer Swap at Sheila Rovelstad Designs group on Ravelry.

In the package are:

  1. Tortilla chips
  2. Storage containers (already put to use to put stash up and away in the closet)
  3. Recipe book from the last cookie swap that she held
  4. Margarita mix
  5. Sheila’s latest color in sock yarn: Tangled Up in Blue
  6. Natural stone wine charms
  7. Margarita salt
  8. Salsa
  9. Cocktail rimmer for the salt
  10. Unbreakable margarita glasses
  11. Lorna’s Lace sock yarn in the Liberty colorway
  12. Sheila’s stitch markers
  13. And Starbuck’s caramel sauce

I should also mention that I believe I got sticky bun and caramel frozen coffee beverage from her at a knitting meet-up a few weeks ago.

Thank you, Stacey! It is all great. I can’t wait to dive in!

Copyright 2009 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com



About a month or so ago, I took a gander at our dishtowels, and thought that we could use some new ones around here. The towels are starting to show some wear after being used and going through the laundry about every week or so for about ten years. Besides, since moving into this house about three years ago, I really haven’t woven anything for it. Continue reading

The Waiting Game


Last time, it was my father. This time, it is my mother. Most of the past week has been spent waiting for and/or worrying about my mother. She had some pretty serious back surgery this week. This surgery will hopefully give her back some of her mobility and independence. There are a whole lot of issues at work here, but I won’t go into them here because, well, OY!

My mother did come through the surgery ok, thankfully. Now it is a matter of her walking around and doing physical therapy. She is back home now, under the watchful eye of the rest of my family. Being the one that moved away means I can’t participate as much in watching out for them as I would like.

While waiting with my family on Wednesday while she was in surgery. I worked on this:

You knew there had to be another sock coming along if I finished up two pairs in rapid succession. The yarn is from Dragonfly Fibers and the colorway is Starry Night. I am doing the basketweave pattern again. While working on these, one of the women waiting for the outcome of a different surgery came up and asked, “Excuse me, but what are you making?”

“I’m knitting a sock.”

“Do you make all of your socks?”

“Not all of them, but a good number of them. I made these,” raising my pants leg to show the Tannenbaums.

“Look at this, Jack. Isn’t that something?”

It was smile-inducing for me, especially with how someone reacted to my knitting during my last time at that hospital’s waiting room. The lady went on to say that she doesn’t know many men who knit, those that do really like it. I could do nothing but agree with her.

BTW, there is another pair of socks on the needles, but I can’t show you them. Why? Because they are the prototype for the Winter pattern for Sheila’s sock club. You are just going to have to wait on them.

Copyright 2009 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com