We Need a Little Christmas


Miss me? I have been busy, and the blog keeps sliding down the priority list. As an update, I am still working on the ribbed cable sock in Bad Moon Rising colorway of Dragonfly Djinni.

I moved over to doing these in Magic Loop, as the small 12″ circular needle becomes difficult to work cables in once I get to the leg of the sock.

Since we were having guests over for dinner earlier in the week, I had to do some cleaning up, and the easiest way for me to clean up roving that is “lying around” is to spin it! Yes, for me, spinning yarn counts as cleaning. Doesn’t it for everyone?

In any case, this is what I spun up.

Both bobbins contain four ounces of Dragonfly’s Sea Monster roving, which is 50% silk, 30% merino wool, and 20% Seacell (which is made from seaweed, thus Sea Monster.) The colorway in my had is Oberon and the one still on the wheel is Indian Corn. I picked them both up at the trunk show Kate had at Cloverhill back in November. The fiber spun up super fast. It was the easiest time I have had spinning something with silk in it. I am planning on using the singles together to weave a scarf, but that weaving is going to have to wait a while.

I have to admit, I wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit this year. To try and kick start that spirit, I started these:

This is a slip stitch pattern that I heavily modified to fit the stitch count of the sock. The yarn is Sheila’s Wullenstudio sock yarn in Green Tamborine and Witchy Woman. I was wondering whether the red was going to be too strong for the green, but now that I actually have things underway, I can relax because I think they are working out together just fine. And I can happily say that I am in the Christmas spirit.

Good thing, because I have a lot of work to do.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!

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

Return of the Mac(k)


Last time, I told you that I needed to get a new drive band for my wheel that I do my plying on, as the one that was on there was stretched out. Lucky me, I happened to have had one lying around, so I able to make the replacement and get back to plying and not have to wait for one to be shipped to me. Hurray!

Now, I have Bluefaced Leicester in blue and green ready to use.

As well as eight ounces of merino/angora/cashmere.

The bottom bobbin that you see above is the start of my plying and contains no knots. The one strand broke for some reason, and that is when I started the middle bobbin. When I ran out of yarn on one of the bobbins that held the singles, I wound the remainder of the singles on the other bobbin into a center pull ball and plied the strand against itself for the top bobbin pictured. It sounds like a lot, but it only took a couple hours. I have no idea of the yardage that I have there, but it should certainly be enough for a scarf.

Know what else is done? The Hark the Heraldic socks!

I am wearing these socks as I write this, and I can tell you right now that these socks are going to get a lot of use. The fit, the color, and the pattern are all working.

I am thinking of writing the pattern up. Yes, I like them that much that I might just write them up unprovoked!

With that pair of socks done, I started another pair of socks, this time from someone else’s pattern. From Think Outside the Sox, I chose the pattern Hexagons.

You may notice that the hexagon that I knitted is not closed up in the center. Why? Because, while it didn’t take me long at all to knit up that little bit, most of that time was spent doing the cast on, rather than knitting. It dawned on me that most of my time for making this sock was going to be spent casting on, rather than doing knit stitches. This spelt doom for this sock. While I don’t really hate casting on, I can’t say that I want to spend a good portion of my time doing it (or weaving all of the ends that will result.) So the hex is gone. Oh well, it all can’t be roses and sunshine.

Instead of Hexagons, I am thinking of doing the Drip Candles pattern from the same book. I think the gradient of colors will work out well in this pattern. and I can weave in the ends as I knit. Still thinking though. Always thinking.

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



There are a lot of reason why I am into my fiber crafts, but one of them is that they provide me a means to, at least for a short while, take my mind off of my problems and think about something else. While I am knitting, spinning, weaving, or sewing, I get to escape what I can’t seem to get to leave the forefront of my mind any other way; so even if I am working on a project that I am find kind of laborious, I will still be grateful for the relief it gives me from having to think about other, more pressing things for a bit.

On that note, the dreaded socks are done.

Knitting socks two-at-a-time just isn’t for me. I can see where this method would be helpful to those that have problems reading their knitting and not wanting to take any notes, or those that suffer from “Second Sock Syndrome”; but I don’t have either of those problems, so what I gained from this method was some frustration. Different strokes.

The yarn itself, Miss Babs Bamboo Baby, was pretty nice. It did seem a little splitty to me, but I am not sure if that was just because of the yarn or had something to do with the fact that I was using my very pointy Addi Lace Turbo needles.

On the spinning front, I have reached some milestones!

I finished spinning the singles of Spirit Trail Fiberworks’ merino/angora/cashmere blend. That is eight ounces that you are looking at there. I am trying to decide if I will just ply the bobbins against each other, or do my usual plying from center-pull ball for each bobbin individually. I am leaning towards the former, just because of how fine the singles are.

And plying is happening with past singles that I have spun.

The BFL in Everglade that I got from Fiber Optic at Maryland Sheep and Wool is done, and I am working on plying the BFL in Sapphire.

I am having issues with my wheel here. The drive band is stretched loose so that there is not always traction. Big problem. Looks like I am in the market for a new drive band.

Back to knitting,

when one sock ends, another begins. This is the start of a ribbed cable sock in Dragonfly Fibers Djinni. The colorway is Bad Moon Rising. The most difficult part of this sock is keeping track of which row I am on so that I know when to do the cables. Otherwise, it is pretty simple.

Kate of Dragonfly is having a trunk show at Cloverhill this Sunday, so you know that will spell trouble for me….

Not that there aren’t already other things planned for me for this weekend.

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

Slipping Away


Work is continuing on the socks that will be my demise.

I did finish the heels. (Actually, I am a good bit further along than that, but this was the last time I took a photo.) I did short row heels for this pair of socks, as it tends to be my default heel. When knitting two socks at a time, short row heels are not necessarily the best pick. Part of the idea behind doing socks this way is to do one round on the one sock, and then immediately do the same thing on the other. By doing short row heels, I had to do the entire heel of the one sock before I could start the heel of the next sock. Trying to do the heels one row on each sock “simultaneously” would have meant slipping a whole lot of stitches that would have been a lot of wasted motion, in my opinion.

Doing the short row heels here was all kind of awkward for me, especially when it came time to pick up wraps around the slipped stitches at the turns. Having that other sock hanging on the needles just felt like it was in the way just by having its weight on the needles.

Of course, having a tangled mess

after knitting the second heel does not help my opinion of the matter. This is due to knitting from the inside and the outside of the center pull ball that I keep in my “Yarn-Tainer”, which I lovingly refer to as my “Yarn-Condom.” (I call it this as it keeps those that want to handle and admire what I have got from actually touching the goods and getting their germs all over it.) When drawing the yarn from the outside of the ball to knit the second heel, that yarn would catch onto the yarn being drawn from the center of the ball, and bring it along for the ride, thus the big blob of yarn. This is why I always see Dorothy turning her ball of yarn over and back like she is playing timed chess against herself when knitting socks two at a time. Having my yarn in the yarn condom makes this difficult, though.

I need to finish this thing up, as it is a gift and it is keeping me from other things.


Yeah, I am not lacking for projects, am I?

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

Carolina in My Mind


Since I that I have been talking about for the past month involved the shawl or the race, you may think that is all that I had going on for the past month. But my hands have been busy with other things. One of those is finally blocking the scarf that I knit.

Here is a close up of the scarf.

I finally got blocking wires, but after getting the scarf out of the water, I determined that it was going to be too much of a pain to try to thread the wires through the scarf so that I could pin it in place. Luckily, all I had to do was lay the scarf flat and “nudge” the scarf into the shape I wanted it to be. No pins. No wires. Pretty easy.

I liked the way the scarf came out. The merino/silk was easy to spin, and it worked up well in this stitch pattern. The scarf went into the mail Wednesday night, and may have already made it to its recipient.

With that off of the needles, you know there is going to be something else going on them.

This is a sock that I am knitting in Wullenstudio‘s sock yarn in the colorway “Carolina in My Mind.” I loved the color as soon as I saw it, and have been wanting to use this stitch pattern, called Heraldic pattern. I am very happy with the two together.

That doesn’t always mean I am happy with two together. The following may be the death of me.

I decided to try my hand at making socks two at a time on one circular needle. I am doing this because I wasn’t sure how well the yardage for this yarn, Miss Bab’s Bamboo Baby, would work for a pair of socks; and doing the socks together like this would mean that there would be no guess work on how long to make the socks.

Well, any efficiencies that I had in knitting socks are gone here. Having to drop the yarn and pick the other yarn up so often is kind of a pain, and I am used to measuring my progress in knitting in a particular way that is not compatible with this. I know some people do there socks this way all of the time, but it is definitely not for me. At least it can’t be said that I never tried it.

Knitting isn’t the only thing going on. There is spinning, too!

This is the Merino/Angora/Cashmere (60/20/20) that I picked up from Spirit Trail at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. What you see there on the bobbin is four ounces. While I was spinning that much up, I decided I needed another braid to spin up to go with it so that I could have enough to weave a scarf. As luck would have it, Spirit Trail had a sale, and I was able to get another four ounces, part of you which you see around the bobbin. The coils that you see on the right hand side of the picture have already been pre-drafted and are ready to spin, while the ones on the left hand side haven’t been pre-drafted yet. While it is an enjoyable spin, I am not speedy at it. That bobbin took me over eight hours to do. And people wonder why I don’t make a living at doing this….

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

You’re Only Human (Second Wind)


Sunday was the day. It was a great day for the race, weather-wise. It was sunny with a little nip in the air so that I wouldn’t be a sweaty mess. (I am told that I am the only person Mr. Penney knows that can sweat in the shower.) My goal for the day was to just get around the same time was last year, which was about 25 minutes. I have been having problems with my foot lately, so haven’t been training as much as I had in past years prior to racing, thus setting that expectation bar low.

When I arrived at Race for the Cure, I immediately started walking the mile to the starting line. One of the things that I learned from my previous years at the race is to get there early so that I can get a spot near the starting line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that those arriving after me are just going to fall in behind me. If you have been to a concert at a venue where everyone stands, it is similar to that because while you think you have a good spot, other people arrive later and decide that there is a spot for them right in front of you. It is strange how all this jockeying for position happens at the start of the race.

Once the gun goes off, the whole mob starts to slowly move forward past the starting line until the people at the very front move forward enough such that those behind them can make a full stride. After the first turn in the course, I have pretty much finished passing most of the people that I was going to pass (which are generally high school kids that were just playing around.) I got to the one mile marker and saw that I was only 7 minutes into the run. Huh? That is too fast. I am going to not have anything left for the finish. Dang it!

I am guessing where they start having water on the course is the halfway point, because this is where I am a pretty much running by myself. The front pack had pulled away from me, and those behind me hadn’t yet caught up. It was like a 15 foot buffer in front and back. I have never had this happen to me before. It was a very weird sensation.

Time at the two mile marker says 15 minutes. I am fading. I am breathing heavy. My shoulders are bothering me because of a deteriorating disc in my neck. People are passing me. Wow, I just had a little girl pass me! The good thing is that the guy on the side of the course is telling us that it is all downhill from here. How I want him to be telling the truth.

“Just keep going,” I tell myself. “It can’t be that much longer.”

Then, the next time I look up, I see the finish line with the clock saying 23:30. This is my second wind and I sprint to the finish (as much as I can at that point.) My chip time was 23:37.1, a whole lot better than I thought I was going to do. Woohoo!

After the race, it was still emotional to see everyone out for the cause.

I visited a few of the sponsor’s booths and headed home, feeling just a bit proud of myself.

Thanks to those of you that have sponsored me. The raffle for the shawl is this Sunday.

If you have mailed in your donation but have not received a confirmation from me yet regarding how many entries in the raffle you have, please contact me. I want to make sure everyone is counted.

Thanks again.

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

I’m on Fire


I have just been finishing up projects left and right. Woohoo! (Ok, this is bound to happen sometime when you start a whole bunch of projects at the same time when you really shouldn’t; but let’s not focus on that part right now.)

First completion are the Elongated Chevron socks in Black Pearl Naiad.

These were a b-day present for Mr. Penney. Knitting this pair helped me go through the write up for the pattern and find the mistakes. (I really should start keeping notes while doing these things rather than relying on my memory. My memory ain’t what it used to be.) I should have the pattern available soon.

And remember when I said I had about three more bobbins left of fleece left to spin?

Well, I over-estimated. I had just one more jam-packed bobbin to spin of the wool. Of course, my not wanting to start another bobbin for the little bit of fleece that I had left meant that I was winding the yarn onto the bobbin by hand towards the end, as the yarn was rubbing up against the flyer of the wheel. Not the most efficient means of spinning.

Now that all of the spinning is done, I have decisions to make about what pattern I am going to weave all of that yarn into and what colors I want in that pattern. I purchased the dyes in colors that I think will work, and have some experimenting to do on some bits and pieces of gray test yarn that I spun up to get an idea of how the dyes will look on something other that white. I just need to see these things in person, sometimes.

And the scarf from the handspun?

It is actually more of a muffler. All it needs is a blocking, which is something that I try to avoid for things that are gifts, as the recipient may be in for a shock on the first washing of it. Fortunately, I don’t think this will be something that will require washing that often. Unfortunately, I do not own a set of blocking wires, as I usually just wash things and lay them flat as opposed to pinning things out. (I rarely do lace, as you may have noticed.) Sounds like I have some shopping to do.

Copyright 2010 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



So, what I had to the loom? I began with purchasing four skeins of Djinni from Dragonfly Fibers in the Spring in Washington colorway. Don’t bother looking around for it. It was a colorway only available this spring. Whether it will be available again next spring, you will have to ask Kate.

I used two of the skeins to wind the warp, reserving the other two skeins for the weft. Since I had decided on making a shawl using a Swedish lace pattern, I went with a bit of a looser sett than I would for regular plain weave. Plain weave would had be at 12 epi for this yarn. For this shawl, I went with 10 epi. The warp was three yards long and was 22 inches wide in the reed.

This wound up being relatively pain free to warp the loom with, possibly because I sleyed the reed, wound the warp onto my sectional back beam, then threaded the heddles from the front, which is not the normal order in which I do things. I am finding that this works better for me with the sectional back beam that I have on the big loom.

Once the loom was dressed, I was ready to weave.

Unfortunately, the shuttles are cut out of the picture above, otherwise you would see that I am using two shuttles to weave this. Why? Because each shuttle is gettings its yarn from its own skein. I did this to try to reduce any patterning that dyeing would produce. This is a similar idea to alternating rows of knitting between two skeins of patterned yarn.

The weaving went fairly quick. If it hadn’t been for a lot of other things going on during the month of July, I would have gotten it done then, but instead it came off the loom…

and got its fringe done and then wet finished at the beginning of August.

I will show you the tool I use to do the twisted fringe in another post. You will point and laugh at it.

Now who did I make it for?

Well for the winner of the raffle of those that support me in the Race for the Cure. For every $5 you sponsor me, you get an entry in the raffle. The winner gets the shawl. The drawing will be October 10th at 8PM Eastern, so all donations must be made by then to be eligible for the raffle. As on previous raffles, family is not eligible (though I have something special for family.)

Thank you for your support.

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