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

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



Ok, that seems like a really odd title for a post about baby blankets, but I will get to that in a bit.

Turns out that my niece Maureen, Colleen‘s twin sister, is also expecting and is due pretty darn soon. And not only is she expecting, but she is expecting twins! Yes, double your pleasure, double your fun. So I decided to weave her some baby blankets using Sheila’s sock yarn. One of the advantages to weaving is that I can warp the loom once to weave two (or more) if I choose the right pattern.

Here are the resulting blankets.

The colorway for the warp is Watercolor and the colorway for the weft is Yellow Submarine. The weave patterns come from the book A Weaver’s Book of 8 Shaft Patterns. These two patterns are called plaited twills.

Now one problem with choosing these weaving patterns is that they require twelve treadles to weave them according to the pattern as written. My loom only has ten treadles. That is where the skeletons come in. More precisely, a skeleton tie-up.

A skeleton tie-up is a way to reduce the number of treadles needed to weave a pattern by requiring the weaver to use more than one treadle for a single pass of the weft yarn. There can be a lot of trial and error in figuring out how to reduce the number of treadles needed, but luckily, in this age of computers and Internet, there is Tim’s Rudimentary Treadle Reducer that can figure it out for you! This is the route that I went.

So I started out with this tie-up from the book, with the d’s underneath showing the treadling for the tie-up:

By plugging in 10 for the number of treadles to reduce to, I got this:

Then I thought, maybe I could go even lower, so I tried 8. What I got was nothing, as it couldn’t go down that far. I decided not to be so greedy, and tried 9. This is what I got back:

I decided to go with this one because for each shot of weft, I had to use two treadles, as opposed to the 10 treadle tie-up that sometimes used one treadle, and other times used two. Having each throw of the shuttle require two treadles to be depressed would be more consistent and easier to remember. It all worked out, as you can see.

Probably the strangest part of all of this is the amount of time it took to do the fringe. It took almost as much time to twist all of that fringe, even with my trusty Mary Kate and Ashley twisty braider, as it did to weave the blankets. It is all in the details.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for

It’s Time


So this summer, I spun up some superwash merino/bamboo roving that I purchased from Kimber of Fiber Optic Yarns at this year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

And earlier this month, I teased you with the start of what it was to become.

Well, it is done. And it could be yours. Mr. Penney was gracious enough to model it for photos.

How can it be yours? For every $5 in sponsorship of me in the Race for the Cure, you get a ticket in the raffle for this shawl. The race is October 21, and the drawing for the shawl will be October 28 at 8PM Eastern time.

But the shawl isn’t the only thing up for grabs. A one-hour massage from New Horizons Massage will also be raffled off. How great is that!

This year’s race is very special to me. Thank you in advance for your support.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for

Pretty in Pink


Well, my niece, Colleen, is expecting a little girl (really soon!)

I don’t think anyone ever doubted that I would make her something. Because, well, really, must I explain?

The pattern for this matinee jacket is from a Hayfield pattern book from years ago. I am pretty sure that the pattern book is not available new anymore. The yarn is Kate’s Dragonfly Fibers Dragon Sock in the Conch Shell colorway. It knit up pretty quickly.

Of course, when I order something that is pink (or any light color), people that I normally purchase fiber from know that something is up. Go ahead, look back at my projects. I’ll wait.

See, I normally pick darker colors. So, yeah, when you see me making something in a color like pink you know it’s not something I am making for myself.

Yes, it’s about that time.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for

I Can See Clearly Now


As you know, back at the end of March, beginning of April, I took the Color Interaction for Handweavers workshop by Su Butler. I have to say, for me, it is the best workshop that I have ever taken. Or could have taken.

I have always felt that my use of color was the weakest part of my weaving, and the problem was that I didn’t know what to do to make it any better. I read through countless books on color theory with no luck. It was all, “Yeah, I know what the color wheel is and what the complementary colors are and the like, but how is that helping me?” Well, in this class, I was forced to sit down and work through exercises and think of color in terms of value rather than hue. (You will have to read up on color theory to see what I am talking about. Or take Su’s class!)

I think one of the big things that made everything start to come together for me is that I was using yarn for most of the exercises. In further reading that I have been doing since the workshop (Betty Edwards’ Color), I have learned that using the medium that I work in, yarn and fiber, rather than color chips and the like, may have been what pushed me over the edge in figuring out what’s what with color.

Now, why do I bring all of this up to talk about the scarf? Well, I was about to start winding the warp for the scarf when taking the workshop, with these two yarns that I spun a couple years ago from Fiber Optic’s faux batiks.

With the workshop, we got a red piece of plexiglass that we used to determine the values of colors. When I used it to get the values of these yarns, I found out that they were virtually the same value! This was going to be a problem, as the weave structure that I was planning on using would mean that the two colors were going to blend together into a single combination that was not what I was going for. Since I wanted to use these yarns to make the scarf and didn’t have time to spin a new yarn, I had to change the weave structure to something that would not have the colors blend as much. So, this is the weave structure that I changed to.

One thing about this weave structure is that it is also used for collapsed weave, and with fulling of the scarf, that is exactly what happened. I was doing a good bit of pulling with the scarf still wet, otherwise the scarf would have been only about two inches wide, rather than just over six inches. And once dry, I did a fair bit of steaming of the scarf to flatten it out a bit more. All of this resulted in what you see below.

As much as I like the “front” side,

I like the other side better, because it shows off the change in value of the green yarn.

Soon, I will start a project that uses all that I learned in that workshop, but just with what I was able to do with this scarf, I am extremely happy with what I got from the workshop.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for

This Christmas


Well, another Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (or as Mr. Penney likes to refer to it, “My Christmas”) has come and gone. I helped with the set up of the skein and garment competition again this year. It seems to be taking them longer and longer to get the judging done, which means setting up the show is starting later and later.

Mr. Penney went with me the first day. What was only supposed to be two hour turned out to be four hours, but Mr. Penney was a trooper and even carried my bag! I did get to see a lot of people that day, including Roseann!

Here is the first day’s loot.

Not too bad, huh? Well, I did go back Sunday to see the vendors that were just too busy on Saturday to even make it into their booths and also to get my entry from the skein and garment competition. Well, restraint kind of went out the door.

Yeah, I am kind of stocked for a while (like I wasn’t before).

BTW, my entry in the skein and garment competition got a first place. My class was handspun and handwoven blankets, afghans, shawls, and scarves. I didn’t get a good picture of it in the competition, but here it is resting comfortably in my chair.

Next time, I will got into how I made it and how the color interaction class that I took with Su Butler affected it.

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for

Beautiful Monster


There are times when I make things just to see what will result. This was one of those times. I started by using the Sea Monster from Dragonfly Fibers that I spun a while ago.

The last few weaving projects that I have done with handspun singles, I have woven as twills to avoid tracking. This time, I wanted the tracking, so I went with plain weave for the weave structure. I used the higher contrast yarn (purple and yellow-gold Indian Corn) for the warp and the yarn with less contrast (green and blue Oberon) as the weft, because I think it is more pleasing to see stripes along the length of a scarf, rather than the width. I used a dummy warp (basically, scrap thread to extend the warp length) to try and weave as much of the handspun warp as possible.

Sett at 12 e.p.i., the weaving went pretty well, though I did have problems at the end. The problem? I didn’t trim away the extra yarn after tying the handspun onto the dummy warp, and the extra yarn got all tangled up in the warp once the warp had advanced to where the knots were exposed. After untangling the warp after each weft shot a few times, I decided that I was done weaving and cut the scarf off the loom.

After twisting the fringe and fulling, I hung it up to dry. And I was disappointed. Feeling it as I was hanging it up, it felt like I had just woven cardboard.

Fortunately, the scarf dried fast; and once dry, it felt so much softer. That was a relief.

One of the things that I wanted to find out was how much of the warp yarn I would have left over when starting out with four ounces of warp and four ounces of weft so that, possibly, I would know for future projects how to divide up my spinning fiber when I am about to spin for a project so that I will have as little left over as possible. I wound up with one and half ounces of the weft yarn left over after weaving this scarf, though I am not sure how much I can rely on that number because to the tangling problems with the dummy warp.

One thing that I wasn’t counting on was seeing how the color interaction worked. With parts of the weft being green, and other parts being blue, the effect with the purple and yellow was interesting.

With the green weft, the weft and the warp are kind of distinct, while for the blue…

the weft yarn kind of plays with the purple and emphasizes the blue in the purple. This weekend I will be taking a workshop with Su Butler called “Color Interaction for Handweavers.” I am looking forward to it!

Copyright 2012 by G. P. Donohue for