Where Have You Been


Well, I didn’t post for the whole month of July. Wish that I had a good excuse for that, but I don’t. True, there are things that I am working on that I can’t show to the world just yet, (and to those of you who know what they are: Hush! Don’t spoil the surprise.) but I still have plenty that I can share with you.

I have been busy with spinning. Kimber had a spin-along on Ravelry to get through your stash. I finished my spinning for that a month after the spin-along was over. Oh well. The fiber is her merino/silk pencil roving in the Black Coffee colorway.

If you’ll notice, one of the skeins looks a little “funkier” than the others. That is the skein I tried to ply before MDSW. But in my haste, I plied the entire thing IN THE WRONG FREAKIN’ DIRECTION! Yeah, that’s not good. So I had to undo that and ply it in the correct direction. Fortunately, that only happened with the one skein. Here is what the big, good skein looks like close-up.

I figure I will weave a scarf with it, in time. I was surprised at how thin I managed to spin it, so I got good yardage. That big skein that I did right is over 600 yards, alone.

At MDSW, I got a couple things from Kimber that I am working. One is a drop spindle.

This occasionally happens to me. I see the pretty woods of all of the drop spindles and think, “Why don’t I drop spindle that often? It is so portable and those spindles are so beautiful.” Well, I will tell you why I don’t drop spindle that often. I am painfully slow at it. The fiber that I am spinning here is Kimber’s merino/silk/yak roving in Jolly Old Elf colorway that I got last Christmas. I am not sure how much longer this project will stay on the spindle. Fortunately, no one is waiting on it, unlike this one.

I recently finished Navajo plying that yarn for Mr. Penney’s scarf, and this knitting that you see is my trying to find the right needle size for knitting the scarf. The fiber is from Spirit Trail Fiberworks fiber club from last year. It is 80% merino and 20% cashmere, so it is plenty soft and is great for a next-to-the-skin garment like this. Hopefully, I will have it finished before winter comes so that he can use it!

Finally, it is getting to be that time again.

I just finished plying this fiber that I got this year at MDSW from Kimber. It is superwash merino and bamboo in her Raspberry to Cream gradient colorway. I separated the colors in the colorway so that I have distinct yarns to weave a shawl with. Now to figure out the weave and color order for the shawl.

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

Goody Two S(ock)s


It has been awhile since I have posted about socks, hasn’t it? Actually, it has been awhile since I have posted, period. In any case, finally I have a post about socks. Not just one pair, but two!

Both pairs are patterns that I have done before, for the most part.

I previously did this pattern using Dragonfly Fibers’ Djinni in the Bad Moon Rising colorway. This time it is the same base yarn, but in the Tortuga colorway.

While doing all of the knit through the backs of stitches and all of the cables takes a bit of time, this sock pattern does something for me that no other sock does: Has a will of its own to stay put on my leg! Other socks seem to work their way down to my ankle after doing such things as crossing and uncrossing my legs, but this socks stay put; and I respect them for that.

Another reason for doing this pattern again is that I plan to write up the pattern. I had planned to have that done already, but plenty of other things have come up that have gotten in the way of that.

And this pattern is an old standard for me. It is one of my go-to patterns when I just want to knit something. It is from Schurch’s SKS book. The heel, though, is from her new book, The Sock Knitter’s Handbook: Expert Advice, Tips, and Tricks.

The heel is the no-wrap short row. While I like the actual results of the heel, I think that there may be an error in the instructions for it in the book. It seems that the count is off when going back to do the second half of the heel. Has anyone else tried the heel and found the same thing, or is it just me? I wound up changing things around to get things to work out the way that I thought that they were supposed to.

Now I have to figure out what sock I want to knit next. Not a bad position to be in!

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

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 textillian.com.

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 textillian.com

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 textillian.com.

In Bloom


It is not often that I see something that someone else has made and want to make it, but when I saw Roseann’s Azalea Center Piece, I knew I wanted to knit the pattern myself. I immediately purchased the book the pattern was in, The First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, as well as The Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

Several years later, I spun this yarn from Kate’s Dragonfly Fibers Sea Monster roving.

It was an incredibly fun spin; and at the time, I thought I was going to use it for weaving. As time went by though, I thought the yarn might be too thick to weave a scarf of the proportions that I would want. It occurred to me that this might be the yarn to knit the Azalea in.

Originally, I thought I was going to three sections of the pattern as a shawl, but after trying out that way, I saw why others on Ravelry only had only knit two sections of the pattern as a shawl. So, rip out and start again.

It was a quick fun knit, though I will not use these bamboo needles again for something like lace again. The joins between the wire and the needle is not smooth, and the yarn did not slide over the join well, causing some of the stitches to “skip” over each other, causing me to be watchful of how the stitches were situated before knitting them.

With the knitting done, I blocked it.

I gave it to my mother for her 80th birthday.

Kate just had an open studio yesterday. It was a fun event, and as you may have guessed, I got more Sea Monster!

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

Reversible Cable Scarf

I didn’t originally plan this to be my next post, but I wanted something upbeat, and this project is that for me.

The yarn is a yarn that I spun from Fiber Optic’s BFL/silk roving dyed in the Espresso-Crimson-Gold gradient. The pattern is based on something that I saw in a kntting magazine back in the 80’s for a baby blanket. In fact, I did a similar design for some scarves that I knit my nieces about 15 years ago.

Here is the “pattern” if you are interested in making your own. Pattern is in quotes because I am just going to give you general guidelines for how to do this rather than specific stitch counts and such so that you can do this with any yarn you wish, and do as many cables and such as you desire.

The reversible cable is done over a 1×1 rib (knit one, purl one). For this scarf, the cable is over 12 stitches. You will probably want the stitch count for each cable to be a multiple of 4, because of when you actually get to doing the cable, a multiple of 4 stitches will keep the cable looking the same on both sides of the work. (A knit/purl pair on each leg of the cable. (1k + 1p) x 2 = 4 sts.)

To do the cable, slip half of the stitches for the cable onto a cable needle (or whatever spare needle you might have on hand. I frequently use a double point that happens to be lying around). Knit one, purl one for the other half of the stitches for the cable. Now, knit one, purl one the stitches that you slipped onto the cable needle. All of the other rows of the cable are just knit one, purl one across.

Now how often do you do the cabling twist row? Generally, if I have a cable that is X stitches across, I will have the cable repeat every X rows. In this case, since the cable is 12 stitches across, I did the cabling twist every 12th row. The first cabling twist happened on the 9th row, as I like to have cables start 2/3rds in. (You might think I miscalculated there, but while I am doing the twist on row 9, the twist appears between rows 8 and 9, so the row 8 is actually the end of the cable. Row 9 is the start of the next cable repeat.)

As for what to put around the cable, I used Irish moss stitch. On the version that I made for my nieces years ago, I used seed stitch. Garter stitch would be another good option. Here, I used 12 stitches on either side of the cable (so the scarf was a total of 36 stitches). Do whatever is pleasing to your eye. In general, I like tend to like have my stitch numbers relate to each other somehow, partly because it makes it easier to remember things, and because I am an engineer that study pattern recognition for my graduate work. TMI, I know.

One final note for the pattern, I slipped the first stitch and purled the last stitch of each row to give me a nice edges. For things like garter stitch and seed stitch, I don’t always do this, however.

And finally, on a personal note, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers in the past week. They are very much appreciated

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



The shawl hasn’t been the only thing that I have been on these last couple months. I have briefly stopped work on the vest to start a sweater from the same book

The pattern is Ansley from the Jane Ellison Queensland Collection. The yarn that I am using is Mas Acero from Brooks Farm that I got this past spring and MDSW. One thing that I did not pick up on with the yarn until now is that the shade changes from one end of the skein to the other. I am not so sure I like that. But I will keep going with it, doing the sleeves next, and if need be, ripping out the back and reknitting it so that the color progression matches the rest of the sweater.

And now that the bobbins are free from the shawl yarn, I can do some more spinning again.

I finally plied up the silk/camel in Titania from Dragonfly Fibers. I just have two more two ounce braids to spin up in the Bad Moon Rising colorway, and all of this silk and camel will be ready to go on the loom.

And as a little treat for both me and a friend, I spun up this.

This is Siren Song UNSPUN! in the Equinox colorway from Fiber Optic. Being a pencil roving, it spun up really fast. It was the first time spinning this particular roving from Kimber, and once fulled, it was extremely soft. I just gave it to a friend of mine last night as a gift. She has just learned to knit lace, so maybe this will find its way into a shawl or something.

Kimber is also having a gradient spin-along on Ravelry. This is the gradient that I am spinning.

It is the olive to slate gradient. I will let you how I am spinning it the next time. Warning, it may seem like crime what I have done with it….

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com.

Race for the Cure 2011 post-show

Race day, which was two weeks ago now, was a brisk but sunny day; and as usual, my stomach was turning before the event. The nervousness starts on the drive to the event, as the last few miles take an eternity to drive because traffic is so backed up. Granted, I have learned my lesson with that, but the traffic back up seems to get worse every year. A blessing and a curse, I guess.

Once the car was parked, I got myself to the starting line. I didn’t get a spot as close to the starting line this year as last year because I really don’t like worming my way through all of those people, jockeying for position. They all just kind of look at you like, “And who do you think you are?” And somehow, the response, “The one that is going to beat you to the finish line!” doesn’t seem appropriate.

Not jockeying for a position closer to the starting line turned out to be a big mistake, because my time (24:31.4) was close to a minute slower than last year. And all of that lost time was in the first mile, trying to get out from behind people who decided that maybe they will just walk instead. While the 1 mile clock said 7:00 when I past it last year, it said 8:15 when I passed it this year. Oh well, live and learn.

The actual race isn’t the primary reason for being there anyway.

Everybody there was racing for someone.

I wrote down who I was racing for.

Thank you all for your sponsorship to help me do this.

Now for the shawl.

It is completely finished and ready to go to the winner of the drawing, Joan Hajek.

It took me a while this year to come up with a project to make. Part of the problem is finding a project with some kind of pink in it that I will actually like doing, because I am not a pink person. Surprise! Then, in July, I got the last shipment from Spirit Trail Fiberworks fiber club. Of course, the thought of this shawl didn’t occur to me until the night that Irene hit us when I saw the notice that Jennifer had post on Ravelry that she had 10 ounces still available of the colorway. While the storm was raging away on us, I was messaging with Jennifer to get the rest of the superwash BFL. Good thing we didn’t lose power until later that night!

After spinning the fiber up, I had to figure out what pattern I was going to use to weave it. Since I was using the same yarn for both the warp and the weft, I wanted a pattern that didn’t instantly scream “PLAID!!!!” After playing around with different drawdowns (weaver-talk for how we figure out a weaving pattern), I settled on the one below.

It is what is called a progressive twill, which basically means a basic twill pattern that gets its starting point shifted over to a different set of treadles with each start of the repetition. I thought the long diagonal would be longer than any color repeats, and thus play down the plaid a bit. (BTW, I have nothing against plaids. It was just not something that I wanted to go for here.)

Overall, I think the idea was kind of successful.

On the loom, the shawl was sett at 15 ends per inch, with a weaving width of 16″. Coming off the loom, the shawl measured 14.5″ X 59″. After fulling, the shawl measures 13.25″ x 54″. None of those measurements include the fringe. I believe a good bit of the draw-in, take-up, and shrinkage is due to using wool singles, which have a great deal of energy to release. A plied yarn in a less elastic fiber probably wouldn’t have shrunk down so much.

Again, thank you all for your help and support. I already have next year’s fiber on order!

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for textillian.com.