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



Woohoo! Look what arrived on Wednesday!

The fleece that I bought from Triple R Farms at MSWF arrived. Ain’t it purdy!

As you might have suspected, I have already started spinning it.

Being that it was over a six pound Romney fleece (though it may be less six now after processing), I have plenty to do.

Without making myself a wreck over it, I am going to try to see how fast I can spin the whole thing. The two bobbins of yarn that you saw in the photos above took about five hours for me to spin. The weight of the yarn on those bobbins is about twelve ounces; so assuming that I have six pounds of roving, at this rate it will take me under forty hours to spin the whole thing as a single. I am not going to hold my breath on that though.

As I mentioned before, I am spinning this with intentions of weaving it into a blanket. Whether this will be a plied yarn, or if there will be any dyeing going on, or if I will be spinning up another fleece from my stash to go along with it is undecided. I am going to see how this fleece goes first and play the rest by ear.

Now, back to spinning.

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



Another blog entry, another completed project!

I finished my slip stitch rib socks in Djinni in the Reluctant Dragon colorway this past weekend. They immediately were washed and on Wednesday were worn all day.

The yarn is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Having worn the socks, I can tell you that they are comfortable and WARM! Fortunately, I tend to work in cold environments, dealing with computers all day, so that really isn’t a problem for me. They should be especially good for this winter.

I have also finished up the singles of the BFL in the Everglades colorway.

For some reason, in my strange mind, I think of this as being done, though it really isn’t, as I do plan on making a two-ply of it, then then winding a warp with it. Though I must admit, changing a braid to a single ply is a significant milestone. Milestones are sometimes the only thing that keep me going on a project, though that wasn’t the case here.

With all of these completions, you know new projects are not far behind, and thus:

I am knitting up the elongated chevron sock again, this time in the Black Pearl colorway of Naiad that I got from Cloverhill at MSWF. I wrote up the pattern a little while ago, and this is my test knit for the pattern. So far, so good. (I say as I keep my fingers and toes crossed.)

And this is the last completed handspun that I posted, already being knit up. Imagine that! This is just a simple feather and fan pattern for a scarf. While I like the resulting knit, I am finding it a bit boring to work on, and I am not sure why. It might be because I know it is just going to be the same four rows for most of the way, without any kind of indication partway through to say that I am X% of the way done. It is not like I have a heel to turn, or armholes to cast off for, or anything like that. The best that I have to go by is how much yarn I have left. That will have to do, I guess. I do like my milestones.

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

Roll With It


Writing this post makes me feel like I am on a roll. I am not. It was just that it was so long since I have written about something other than the blanket or stash enhancement that I have had time to actually do some knitting and some spinning. Let’s start with the spinning.

This is the silk/merino blend that I got from Neighborhood Fiber at the Homespun Yarn Party. It took what feels like forever to do the plying for this. I think this is mainly due to the fact that I did not bring the Louet that I use for plying upstairs, and instead did the plying down in the basement. Not the most conducive of environments. But I did persevere. I am thinking of knitting some lace with this, though I have not settled on a pattern yet, as there are only 350 yards here, so some of my initial thoughts are out the window.

And here is some of the Fiber Optic that I picked up at the festival. They are both BFL. The Sapphire is waiting to be plied, while I am more than halfway through spinning up the Everglade into singles. I am very happy with it, so far. Once finished, I hope to use the one as weft and the other as warp to weave a scarf. Fingers crossed.

And I finished another pair of socks! This is the Dubious Oriole colorway in Naiad Sock from Dragonfly Fibers. This was my easy knitting, as it is just the plain old 2×2 rib. Not that the next sock is difficult.

This is Djinni from Dragonfly Fibers in Reluctant Dragon colorway. Both this and the Naiad you just saw are ones that I got at the Homespun Yarn Party. The stitch pattern for this sock is the slip stitch rib from one of the Schurch sock books. Like I said, not difficult.

And this little thing?

Is one of of Opal’s Off the Hook stitch markers. You can see them better over at her store. BTW, she has moved her blog, in case you are keeping track.

And since I am giving shout-outs, here is a shout to my friend Nancy, who started up her blog towards the end of last year. Pop by and say hello, or she might go medieval on your …. Just kidding, Nancy!

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

So Good to Be Bad


Well, as you might have suspected, I did go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival the other week. It was a hot one, too. I can’t remember it being that warm (up to 90 degrees) at the festival. Fortunately, this year, Columbia Sip and Knit had a hospitality “suite” just outside the entrance to the festival. So a big thanks to them for that. They helped out a lot of people with their lemonade and cupcakes.

As with every year, there was plenty to walk away with, and I certainly did my share. First stop was the Barefoot Spinner.

I just find her fiber so easy to spin and a quick way to generate some great yarn.

Then, I happened upon the Fold.

Actually, I happened upon them twice, once on Saturday and once on Sunday. On Saturday, I got the STR Lightweight in Cattywampus and BFL from Fiber Optic in Sapphire and Everglade. On Sunday, I picked up more BFL from Fiber Optic in Mulberry and Tuscany. I can not wait to spin these up. The colors are so rich and saturated. And when making my purchase on Sunday, I got to meet Kimber of Fiber Optic.

From the Fold, onto Cloverhill.

From Cloverhill, I picked up more of Dragonfly Fibers’ Naiad in Black Pearl and Spring in Washington. And I happened to see Kate, who I first met at the Homespun Yarn Party.

Next stop, Spirit Trail.

On the left is a merino/angora/cashmere blend in Celadonian Pines, and on the right is a baby camel/silk blend in River Bed. Luxury! Of course, seeing this now, I am kind of wishing I bought two of each braid. Hmmmm.

And on Sunday, I hit Miss Babs.

Working our way from left to right, there is Oregon Cellar and Jingle Jingle in the 3 ply, an unnamed brown in the wool/bamboo/nylon blend, and Denim and Bronze Plum in the 2 ply. I was kind of amazed by the organization of her booth. The racks were so that I was almost afraid to disturb the order of the yarn on them. Almost.

Now, looking back over this, I am thinking that I wasn’t so bad this year. But then I remember that I also purchased a six pound light gray Romney fleece from Triple ‘R’ Farm that I dropped off at Zeilinger’s to be processed. That should be arriving in July for more spinning goodness. I am hoping to spin the fleece up to weave a blanket, though I am undecided whether I will try to work with that fleece alone or combine it with some of the other fleeces that I have of a difference color. Decisions, decisions.

Now, why did I go back on Sunday? So I could pick up this.

Woohoo for me! More about this next.

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

Bad Boy


Well, you know I couldn’t stay good for long. The completion of two socks meant the commencement of two others. The first is in Dragonfly Fiber‘s Djinni Sock.

The colorway is Reluctant Dragon that I purchased at the Homespun Yarn Party. The stitch pattern is one that I have done before, the slip stitch rib from SKS. I started out the sock using a rib and moss pattern from one of the Knitting Treasuries, but it was just not working out as I had hoped. There was surprising little elasticity to the stitch pattern. Elasticity is not a problem with the slip stitch rib. In fact, I have had to change over to using the magic loop rather than my beloved 12″ circulars because the draw in of the pattern makes the 12″ kind of a pain.

You may notice that Reluctant Dragon is kind of dark, so for lighter knitting, I started another Naiad sock.

This colorway is Oriole – Dubious, which I also got that the Homespun Yarn Party. I am not quite sure what Dubious means, perhaps a test run of a colorway or something, but I really like how this is kintting up, and love the base yarn.

Oh, and I have started spinning up the fiber I got from Neighborhood Fiber at HYP.

It spins up pretty easily, with me being half way through the braid now. Being part silk though, it does stick to my sweaty hands. A little baby powder helps with that problem, though.

And finally, there is this to explain:

But I will do that a little later. Right now, someone is looking to be petted.

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

Be Good Johnny


I have been a good boy lately. (I am strictly talking about being a good knitting boy here. I know it doesn’t seem like I have been much of a good boy if you are judging by the frequency that I update this blog and comment on other blogs. After staring at computers all day for work, coming home to look at a computer again has gone down on my priority list. Now staring at fiber and yarn! In any case, back to my original train of thought.) I finished the Kokomo socks at the end of last month.

Since they are not made for me, I can’t show them on the hoof. Hopefully, they will fit the recipient. The following do fit the recipient, though.

Yes, the Naiad socks in Winter Twilight came off the needles last night. And, as I said, they do fit the recipient…


And with these two pairs done, I haven’t put a new pair of socks on the needles yet. (Not that I don’t have socks from over a year ago still on the needles, but we need not get into that. I am trying to convince you what a good boy I am. No need to shame me.) I have gotten out some fiber, though.

Doing a little pre-drafting in preparation for some spinning. We shall see how it turns out.

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

Blue (Da Ba Dee)


Here’s a pic of my current knitting and spinning projects.

Can you guess what my favorite color is?

For the Ice Ice Baby sock, I am nearing the finish line.

I am on the leg of the second sock, so hopefully I will finish it up in the next week.

Kokomo is making slower progress.

But it is progress, nonetheless.

And finally, my first new sock of 2010. (Yes, I have held out this long!)

The yarn is Naiad from Dragonfly Fibers in the Winter Twilight colorway. The yarn is superwash merino/bamboo/nylon. I really like it. Nice and smooth, and a bit heathery in color.

I am waiting until I finish the toe before deciding on a stitch pattern for the sock, that way I will have a better idea of where the colors will fall. I do know that it is going to be “just” a knit/purl pattern, something that will keep my interest without requiring lots and lots of attention.


I finished spinning the pound of Romney and mohair roving that I got at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival a couple of years ago. I did about twelve ounces of the singles while I was off for President’s Day, and did all of the plying from center-pull balls this weekend. I am pretty happy with how it came out. While I normally don’t wash the handspun I use for weaving, this has a fair amount of oil still in it, so I may just wash it all before I use it to weave with, to save any of it from getting on the loom. When the weaving will take place, who knows?

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