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

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

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

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



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



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

Live and Learn


Well, I finally got it off the loom before it reach a year.

I basically had to bulldoze through this project because I wanted to use the loom for other things, but the yarn was too expensive for me to just cut off and call it a day. Here are my lessons learned from the project.

  • This yarn (Handmaiden Sea Silk) needs to be sett a lot closer than 12 epi to weave something other than plain weave. I had planned and threaded a ribbed pattern, but did the sett at 12 epi because I like to have my scarves at least 6 inches wide and needed that low of a sett to get the width I wanted from just one skein of the yarn. As it turns out, 12 epi is pretty loose even for plain weave for this yarn which caused other problems that I will get to later.
  • Even though I had plain weave as a back up plan, having to go to the back up plan really took the wind out of my sails for this project. It turns out the “ribbed for my pleasure” was a big thing for me.
  • Because of the loose sett, I wound up with problems with the weft yarn shifting when advancing the warp and setting the tension again. I was able to fix some areas after I got it off the loom, but it eventually because “What the hell.” and I just put it in the washer for fulling, hoping that the motion in the washer would nudge the problem areas back into place. That did not happen. Las weekend I purchased some duck cloth to make an apron for my baby wolf loom that should help with some of this problem. I hope!
  • This yarn, being intended as a knitting yarn, is a bit too soft for me to use as a warp. It suffered from abrasion, though never to the point where I was afraid of a warp end breaking on me. I just have some fuzz balls to pick off the scarf, due to the abrasion from movement in the reed and the heddles.
  • I decided to use my ski shuttle for the weft, and wound as much of the weft skein onto it as I could, in hopes that I would be able to weave the whole scarf without having to joins. Towards that goal, I was successful. This scarf is woven with one continuous strand of weft. The bad part is that using the ski shuttle for this project became a pain, causing me to have to make bigger arm movements with each weft shot than I would have had to do with my boat shuttles or my end-delivery shuttles. Joins aren’t all that bad after all.
  • When I originally bought this yarn for the scarf, I was planning on using the weft yarn as the warp and the warp yarn as the weft. I am glad that I changed my mind. The metallic looking yarn has greater contrast which I think works better in the warp than the weft yarn (which is actually three colors of blue, purple, and brown, but are so close in value that the yarn reads as a solid from a distance, which could never be said for the metallic.)
  • It is better to be lucky than good. When winding the warp on the warping mill, I noticed how the colors were falling in line, so rather than sleying the reed starting at one end and working toward the other end, I started in the middle of the reed for the first thread, and then alternated sides with each successive warp thread. This kept the colors together and gave the effect of a painted warp without actually having to do any warp painting. Win!
  • Doing the blanket twist fringe in very small groups was worth it for this yarn. Two warp ends were twisted together, and then allowed to “untwist” on another two warp ends that were similarly twisted. With as light weight of a weave this turned out to be, a light weight fringe was needed as well.

Looks dashing with a ratty old t-shirt, no?

Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for



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

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

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