I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)


Been quiet around here, hasn’t it? Well, I have been trying to keep from publishing until I got these off of the loom.

And they finally are off the loom.


There is still a few things left to do before I am completely done with them. But they have gone through the initial cycles of washing and drying for fulling. Now, I just have to cut them apart and sew in the hems. After that, one more time through the washer and dryer.

I think the part that made this project such drudgery was the ironing. One night at knitting, I was talking to Sheila about the rugs and did a quick calculation in my head. While it wasn’t 500 miles, I did do over 300 yards of ironing for just these two rugs. Sheila’s reply when I told here the amount? “You probably shouldn’t have done that calculation.”

On Saturday, I finished up the ironing for the rugs and that night, Mr. Penney and I went to Border’s after dinner. At Border’s, I happened upon Betsy, the president of the local weaving guild. When I told her about the rugs and the ironing that I finished up that day, she was astonished that I did all of that ironing. “I usually just twist my strips so that enough of the right side of the fabric shows.”

Now, ya tell me.

That will have to be something I will have to try the next time. If there is a next time….

Next up, everything else that I have been working on.

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



So, what was I doing New Year’s Eve?

Well, during the day I was cutting strips with my rag cutter. I dug it out so that I could cut up the eight yards of fabric that I am using as the weft to weave the rugs that were being put on the big loom at the end of the last post. Those rugs are my parents’ Christmas present. (My family is used to getting I.O.U.’s for gifts.)

The rag cutter basically works like a pasta maker. You turn the crank to feed the fabric through against the guide to get a consistent width strip cut by the rotary blade that is sandwiched between two rubber discs that press again a large metal cylinder, that is actually connected to the crank. The blurry picture below gives you an idea of what it looks like in action.

This took an amazingly long time. It was close to three hours to do the eight yards of quilting cotton in 1 1/4″ strips. I tried folding the fabric to cut more than one strip at a time, but that actually took longer because of having to keep the fabric together so that all of the layers would press up against the guide. This is probably one of the reasons why I don’t make rag rugs that often. The last time that I used the rag cutter was when I made these rugs about ten years ago.

The cutter was also making an awful grinding noise during a portion of the turn of the crank. It was a concerning noise to me, and an irritating one for Bogey and Mr. Penney.

This tool is probably meant more for rug hookers that rag rug weavers. The rag cutter has the option of placing several blades together, and rug hookers generally use thinner strips (about 1/4″ wide as opposed to 1 1/4″ wide) of thicker fabrics (woolens rather than quilting cottons). I bought the cutter back when I thought I needed every weaving tool ever created. I am long over that period now.

In any case, all of the fabric is cut up.

And weaving has commenced.


I am unsure about how I feel about these rugs at the moment. I am kind of wishing I picked a darker fabric as the weft, but that may just be the fluorescent lighting in the basement. I have seven yards of warp on the loom, and I only have to get two 40″ long rugs off of it, so I should be able to try other fabrics without re-warping the loom if I think I can do better. Weave on!

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

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

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 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



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 textillian.com

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 textillian.com

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 textillian.com

So Good to Be Bad


Well, as you might have suspected, I did go to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival the other week. It was a hot one, too. I can’t remember it being that warm (up to 90 degrees) at the festival. Fortunately, this year, Columbia Sip and Knit had a hospitality “suite” just outside the entrance to the festival. So a big thanks to them for that. They helped out a lot of people with their lemonade and cupcakes.

As with every year, there was plenty to walk away with, and I certainly did my share. First stop was the Barefoot Spinner.

I just find her fiber so easy to spin and a quick way to generate some great yarn.

Then, I happened upon the Fold.

Actually, I happened upon them twice, once on Saturday and once on Sunday. On Saturday, I got the STR Lightweight in Cattywampus and BFL from Fiber Optic in Sapphire and Everglade. On Sunday, I picked up more BFL from Fiber Optic in Mulberry and Tuscany. I can not wait to spin these up. The colors are so rich and saturated. And when making my purchase on Sunday, I got to meet Kimber of Fiber Optic.

From the Fold, onto Cloverhill.

From Cloverhill, I picked up more of Dragonfly Fibers’ Naiad in Black Pearl and Spring in Washington. And I happened to see Kate, who I first met at the Homespun Yarn Party.

Next stop, Spirit Trail.

On the left is a merino/angora/cashmere blend in Celadonian Pines, and on the right is a baby camel/silk blend in River Bed. Luxury! Of course, seeing this now, I am kind of wishing I bought two of each braid. Hmmmm.

And on Sunday, I hit Miss Babs.

Working our way from left to right, there is Oregon Cellar and Jingle Jingle in the 3 ply, an unnamed brown in the wool/bamboo/nylon blend, and Denim and Bronze Plum in the 2 ply. I was kind of amazed by the organization of her booth. The racks were so that I was almost afraid to disturb the order of the yarn on them. Almost.

Now, looking back over this, I am thinking that I wasn’t so bad this year. But then I remember that I also purchased a six pound light gray Romney fleece from Triple ‘R’ Farm that I dropped off at Zeilinger’s to be processed. That should be arriving in July for more spinning goodness. I am hoping to spin the fleece up to weave a blanket, though I am undecided whether I will try to work with that fleece alone or combine it with some of the other fleeces that I have of a difference color. Decisions, decisions.

Now, why did I go back on Sunday? So I could pick up this.

Woohoo for me! More about this next.

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