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



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

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

The Twist


So, to whom do I owe my speedy ability to do a blanket twist fringe on my weaving?

Why the Olsen twins, of course! This trusty little twisty braider is the tool I use for doing fringe on scarves and shawls. Here is how it works.

On this model, there are two prongs with hooks that you can access by pushing up on the bottom of the prong. There are models that have three prongs, but it was hard enough finding this one, so I am not going in search of a three-prong-er.

Place a bout of warp threads that are to form the fringe in each hook.

Try to keep where the hooks are securing the bouts even so that the bouts get twisted the same amount.

Now to do the twisting.

There is a button on the side of the braider. Moving the button up towards the “1” marking causes the prongs to twist clockwise.

This twisting is the important part to be consistent on. There are two ways to judge your consistency between twists that you do along the width of your weaving:

  • By feel. The more twist that you put into the yarn, the harder it will feel. While it does take a little practice, it is easier that it sounds.
  • By angle of twist. Angle of twist is the same as it is in spinning yarn, the angle that is formed by the yarn. You should be able to do this by eye, with no need to get out the protractor.

Why don’t we use counting the number of twists as they go into the yarn? Because 1) the hooks may be grabbing the yarn at a different distance from the weaving as you do each piece of fringe so the same number of twists among different lengths of yarn will produce different looking fringe, and 2) those prongs go around so fast, you will have a tough time counting.

Now, it is time to twists the bouts around each other by moving the button towards the “2” marking.

This moves the prongs around as a set counter-clockwise. Don’t get to concerned about your consistency on this part this, as the bouts will naturally twist on each other to achieve a balanced fringe.

Now, just tie a knot to secure the twist while wet finishing.

After wet finishing, I re-tie the knots so that the fringe is the same length across the width of the weaving, then trim the fringe near the knots.

And here is the shawl again. If you would like to win this shawl, or just support Komen of Maryland, just sponsor me in Race for the Cure. For every $5 you sponsor me for, you get an entry in the raffle for the shawl. The race is October 3, and the raffle will be October 10 at 5 PM Eastern.

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

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

Cover Me


So, about the baby blanket. As I mentioned earlier, I had a few gifts to make for people that were having babies, and this is the last of the gifts in that series. It is for my niece, who is expecting her first child, my sister’s first grandchild, and my parents’ first great grandchild. Something special was needed, and once I found out that she is supposed to have a little boy, I could start picking out a project and colors.

I went to the Homespun Yarn Party hoping to find something that would appeal to me for a baby project. I wound up heading over to Sheila‘s booth and ordering her superwash worsted weight merino. Having all of her colors there in front of me was extremely helpful, and I ordered two skeins each of “Horse with No Name”, “Scarborough Fair”, and “Blue Bijou”. With all of the confidence that I have in putting colors together, my question to Sheila was, “Do these colors look okay together?” Guess what her answer was….

Emily at Sip and Knit asked me if I was going to weave with the yarn. My answer then was no, as my big loom was still in the process of being dressed for the rug that I started three years ago, so my initial intention was to knit a baby blanket with the yarn.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I had given enough time to the rug trying to get on the loom and I should give another project a chance on the loom.

So the rug yarn with the reed came off the loom, and I started to wind the warp for a baby blanket. I decided on a 2×2 twill plaid sett at 8 ends per inch. The warp would be 36 inches in the reed with each color stripe in the plaid being 4 inches.

All was going pretty quickly, until I got to the last weft stripe. That is when I realized that I was too skimpy in calculating loom waste when figuring out how long to make the warp. It wound up that I still had three inches to weave, but not enough room to weave those three inches in. I actually had to weave those last few inches because the symmetry of the blanket would be totally thrown off if I had just to decided to leave it as is.

To solve the problem, I got some left over yarn of similar weight and started winding a dummy warp to tie onto the blanket warp and weight in the back. I threaded two nuts (the kind that goes on bolts) onto a dummy warp thread, and tied the dummy warp thread onto two blanket warp ends. This gave a pretty good, though not perfect, even tension along the blanket warp.

It was not enough weight, though, to create the same kind of tension on the warp that I used for weaving the bulk of the blanket. Since I have a sectional warp beam on my floor loom, I took the two inch sections of dummy warp, with nuts attached, and tensioned the back by making a half-hitch with these threads onto the pegs used to divide the sections. From here I was finally able to weave again. And this pick is of the dummy warp threads after the blanket was cut off the loom.

Like I said it gave a good, but not perfect, tension across the blanket so that I could weave the final three inches. Since the tension was not perfect, I had to use a tapestry beater that I happened to have when putting in the last of the weft.

With Maryland Sheep and Wool coming up, and this blanket being all wool, I figured I would enter it. With only a few days to go before I had to have my entry in, I just did an overhand knot to tie off the fringe, ran it through the washer on handwash cycle, hung to dry, and trimmed the fringe for this.

I entered it in the Mamie Francis category for baby blankets. When I arrived at the festival on Saturday, I was greeted with congratulations from the knitting group that was making camp at the hospitality suite. They told me that I got a first and a second for my baby blanket, which confused the hell out of me since I only entered the one baby blanket. As it turned out, the first was for the baby blankets in the Mamie Francis category, and the second was for all of the blankets that were woven from commercial yarn.

I must say, I am pretty proud. And the first place prize for me was a $100 gift certificate for Harrisville. I still have to figure out what I am going to get with the certificate.

After getting the blanket back on Sunday evening, I went to work of re-doing the fringe. Since this is something that is going to be going through the wash (spit happens!), a blanket twist fringe will wear better, especially on a superwash yarn. (Being superwash, the wool doesn’t have its little hooks anymore, so it will want to separate in the wash rather than stick to its closest buddy.) After the change to the fringe, it got another wash and another trim to look like this.

And here is a close up of the fringe.

The blanket is now in the hands of my niece, as I gave it to her on Mother’s Day. She was very surprised and grateful.

Copyright 2010 by G. P. Donohue for