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

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

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

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

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

And So It Goes


Well, it has taken me long enough, but I am finally updating my blog about the gradient spin along that Kimber of Fiber Optic had over on Ravelry. There were a lot of beautiful yarns spun up by people, some of whom even knit up the yarn in the time of the spin along. (Talk about over-achievers!)

When Kimber announced the spin-along, I immediately knew which of the gradients I was going to spin up.

Kimber had started offering pre-orders on a gradient every other week, and I believe this is the first one that I got in on. But while having the gradient picked out, I wasn’t sure how I was going to spin it, just what I was going to spin it for: to weave a scarf as a practice for a bigger project later on. Then it occurred to me, I could do something similar to what Deb Menz does in her book, Color in Spinning.

So, I took the fiber and divided it into four strips along the length, so that each strip had the entire gradient. Then, I took each strip and divided that into the four, this time along the colors so that each piece was only part of the gradient. I took those four pieces and pre-drafted them together, resulting in this.

When spun up as a single, the color comes out kind of random in the yarn.

In time, I spun up both braids, and then plied.

I do like the resulting yarn, though if I had to do it again, I would have done the first splitting of the fiber into more pieces (maybe six or eight) for shorter “color bursts”. I am pretty sure that I will be weaving with this yarn, as I have tried knitting with it, and while it looks and feels great, stitch patterns have a hard time fight against such a big mix of shades and tones.

Copyright 2011 by G. P. Donohue for