Quilt Photo Declaration

9 May

Writing a Studio Art Quilt Associates member profile  about myself sent me scampering for quilt images. Turning to the CDs, flash drives and cloud storage nooks where my art quilt photos lurk, I found some nice memories.

Alanna Nelson art landscape quilts of Italy

Detail from “The Road to School,” 1999.

Alanna Nelson Italian landscape quilts

Detail “Road to School,” 1999

It took forever to sew these pinky nail sized leaves onto the Road to School. At that point, I would machine quilt for the bed, but art quilts were always hand quilted. Now I use a longarm or hand quilt, depending on the statement and effect desired.

Hand dyed wool, cotton art quilt Bright Sky by Alanna Nelson

Bright Sky II, 2013

I couldn’t easily find CDs of some professionally photographed quilts. Ack. There are quilts that I never photographed, some of which I’ll probably never see again.

Italian Landscapes in Art Quilts by Alanna Nelson

Gioia’s Rainbows, 2003

This little journey down quilt memory lane shows how pursuing the Master Hand Knitter program has reduced my quilting since 2013. That will soon be out of my life so I can focus on quilting more.

I hereby declare:

to photograph all completed quilts from this day forth, establishing a data storage policy which shall make future retrieval of digital images more efficient.

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Remembering Mothers

8 May

It hit me on Friday, shopping cart piled high with cedar mulch. My grandmothers, while no longer on this earth, accompany me to the garden center each spring. Achingly, tears well up. Grief, joy and thankfulness spill down my cheeks for the gratitude I feel for these women who loved me.

Alanna Nelson art quilt inspirations

Gramma Bee tip toeing through the tulips, 1990

Mom is just a phone call away. My parents plot their springtime planting throughout the winter. Undoubtedly their garden is better prepared than mine at this point in the growing season. They are inspiring and encouraging.

On Mother’s Day, I am thankful for all my mom, my grandmothers and Helen Timm gave to me. Am I giving as much to future generations? I’ll try.

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Nuno felt art quilts swirling into action

1 May

I promised to update you on the nuno felting results. This quilter just adores the water color, layered effect that nuno felt gives to my tops.

Equipped with roving in greys, natural off whites and blues, I actually completed one quilt with nuno felting yardage in April.  Attempting to represent moving water while still honoring the wooly origins of my materials, I placed needle felted “rocks” underneath a portion of the quilt top and then needle felted it to a suiting weight wool border.

Feline fiberista approved.

Nuno felt art quilts by Alanna Nelson With several nuno felt pieces in hand, I headed over to Laurena’s Longarm Quilting and experimented with different battings and threads. Hand quilting is imperative for certain portions of the quilt… it “moved” in just the right way.

Here’s a detail of Rapids….
Alanna Nelson art quilter Rapids 2016

And now back to the next episode of watery themed quilts. Time to dye some wool.

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5 Modern Stripe Knit Scarves

30 Apr

Is it just me, or does the knitting world gravitate toward stripes these days? Stripes give you options to use up stash remnants, but there are plenty of ways to stripe your knits without heading down the nautical or circus themes. The modern knit scarf has plenty of contemporary options, as I admire in these five knit patterns.

Alanna Nelson suggests Stephen West Modern Stripe Knit Scarf

Stephen West’s Striped Esjan

Stephen West’s Esjan originally was published in 2011. Last year, he released a striped version, which gives knitters a fun opportunity to mix textures (shimmery yarns, anyone?.

Alanna Nelson suggests modern knit scarves

Suvi Simola’s Filmstrip

Suvi Simola’s Filmstrip uses short rows to create stripes in her triangular shawl.

Alanna Nelson knits modern striped scarves

Metronome by Julia Farwell-Clay

Want to knit a larger striped scarf? Julia Farwell-Clay’s Metronome uses intarsia to accomplish a contemporary striped style. Both of these scarves would look great in those gradient packs that you forgot you bought….

Alanna Nelson Knit Scarf Project Recommendation

Edison by Lynn Di Cristina

Edison by Lynn Di Cristina has the advantage of no short rows, no make 1 (I answer questions about this every week). I haven’t knit it yet, but it looks like an enjoyable evening knitting project…. rhythmic, gratifying and similar to Color Affection by Veera Valimaki.

Iceberg Folly

Iceberg Folly 7/2014 is a free form knit

Free form knitting inspired by landscape Iceberg Folly is striped, beautiful and guided by one knitter’s experience. How modern is that? Having just checked out Lea Redmond’s Knitting the Sky, I think this finished object is a wonderful expression of just how modern and personal stripes can be.

Will you be knitting striped scarves this summer? With gradient packs in the stash and Josh Bennet’s Hell’s Kitchen on the needles, it looks like stripes are in my queue. Oh, and don’t forget my Zick Zack, which popped out of hibernation last weekend.

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A Winter Felting Wonderland

5 Apr


I love to wet or nuno felt outdoors on a hot summer day. It’s a great alternative to sailing if there’s no wind.  April 1, 2016, would have been a good day to felt even if it wasn’t hot. Spring flowers dotted my garden and the temps indoors and out were identical. Wet felting in my swimsuit was unlikely, but the weather was great. My felting appointment was on April 3.  That same hillside looked like this…
At least my faithful feline fiberista was ready to participate, as long as the felting session was indoors.

Studio Assistant

What a delight to open the merino roving that just arrived from New England Felting supply.

Faithful feline assistant approved. She jumped onto the base layer, watching the colors surround her. Covering a chunk of kitchen counter, the layers of wool put up with a lot of tapping, kneading and tossing. At this point, feline fiberista headed to the couch. Soap suds covered the kitchen cupboards.
Feline Felter

I’ll let you see what it becomes later this month…


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Fibercamp Compendium 2016

20 Mar

Were you at FiberCamp 2016? I had a great time again.

FiberCamp 2016 at MIT Cambridge MA

This year, I didn’t lead a single session. I didn’t even peruse the session pages until Thursday. Jumping into a pool of friends and tantalizing topics with abandon, I soaked myself in whatever seemed good at that moment. So refreshing!

Dirty Water Dyeworks raffled at FiberCamp 2016

(Above) The gradient bundle from Dirty Water Dyeworks was a hot ticket! (Below) Two fabulous knit skirts inspired by the good mojo at Yarns in the Farms

Attending sessions on photographing textiles , new techniques in double knitting, and wet felting (with the women launching FABRIC), I missed other good topics. Equally notable, I met new people, got to know others better and caught up with past attendees and Guild members.

Much time was spent in the vendor room… ok, get rid of the passive voice. I shopped til I dropped! This was a conscious decision:

  • I wanted to support the small businesses who support Fibercamp;
  • I wanted to break in a newly issued credit card 🙂

Picking up lovely yarns from Toil and Trouble, A Riot of Color, a gradient bundle from Dirty Water Dyeworks and recycled silk blend from Boston Wool Works.

Alanna Nelson loves knit stash procured at FiberCamp!Alanna Nelson explores Circular Weaving Looms from janda Multimedia

I finally treated myself to a cheery project bag from Beantown bags and a pompom maker. I immediately ordered an circular weaving kit from Janda Multimedia , which is made right in Norwood using a 3D printer!

In a new twist this year, the first 100 FiberCamp attendees received a hand stamped project swag bag stuffed with all kinds of goodies! I should have really taken a photo of it, so darling, but frankly I popped it open like a kid on Christmas morning.

FiberCamp is different each year, reliably,  it’s better than I think it will be. What a great way to spend a March weekend… even if the weather outdoors was unseasonably fabulous.

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When a knitter ultimately leaves her stash

18 Mar

On March 1,  I planned to blog all about Downton Abby and fashion and the parallels in 2016. Fresh from a fabulous holiday in the Grand Canyon with a day spent shopping, exploring and pool side lounging in Las Vegas, I was ready to move on to the next adventure.

Great tassel decoration at the Wynn Las Vegas

Fabulous tassels found all over the Wynn Resort

Was I ready to hear that two of my knitting clients from Sit and Knit died the day before? No.

Through reason and experience, I understand that death is integral to life. Therefore, grief is just as integral for those left behind. Does it make it less painful? No.

I cherish the memories,  challenges and successes these women brought to class. Thank you for being part of my Wednesdays, Dottie and Nancy.

As the Sit and Knit community searches for ways to honor and remember these women, it leads me to a related topic….Our families are often at odds with what to do with the stash left behind.

If you have a hobby or collection, take time to give general instructions about how you’d like your stash to be distributed. It wouldn’t hurt to have it written down, designating perhaps a stash executor. Don’t forget to update it on occasion. My stash has changed significantly in the last 10 years. Time to follow my own advice, right?

More on that later, but for the past couple weeks, grieving has been part of my return from vacation.

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Cowabunga II

17 Feb

Despite subzero temperatures last weekend, we stayed quite warm under Cowabunga II: Feline Party Wave.ccII_full

Do you remember that surfing cat fabric I picked up last year at City Quilter? Bought to create Kowabunga Karina? Well, I took apart the second baby quilt top and starting piecing, playing and procrastinating, pushing my blue hand dye fabric collection to the brink and completed an 80″ x 90″ top (actually, I had to go buy additional border fabric… nothing appropriate left in stash). There was a stash of wool batting. How lovely, light and cozy this quilt feels.


The Statler did most of the quilting, as I mentioned in my January round up. I trimmed out sections where I quilted in these haikus:

Stoked for dawn patrol; A glorious green room glide; feline party wave.

Gnarly offshore winds; Pop up and grab the back door; Just carve it, kitty

Inspired by the 60 degree angle of the surfing cat fabric, improvisational equilateral triangles fill most of the quilt top  (I realize now that my hub was holding the quilt upside down). Never mind, the quilt is done and on my bed. It’s the first quilt I’ve made for our bed in many years of quilting. After all, most of my quilts are destined for the wall these days. And before that, the beds that needed quilts were doubles and twins.

With the scraps, haikus and momentum still left, there will be a Cowabunga III.

Remind me NEVER to think it’s a great idea to sew a back together on the bias. Throughout this process, I realize that I have lots of enthusiasm and ideas. Part of my process is whittling down this fire hose of loose thoughts and prioritize. What is really worth the time, energy and materials for the impact? I spent a lot of time putting the back together. Fabric was chopped up quite unnecessarily for little final contribution to the quilt.

Quilting is going in the back seat again… as I mentioned, the MHK3 comments came back quickly and there is a tam on my horizon.

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Knitting for my Fitbit Flex

6 Feb

The Fitbit Flex entered my life in August, 2014 as I trained for a half marathon. Sweet hub thought it would help me track mileage when we traveled. It was perfect for that! During the first 6 months, I wore the tracker while exercising, but when a college room mate became a fitbit “friend,” the tracker and its silicone band became part of my daily routine.

Knitting alternate bracelets to hide the tracker sounded appealing. My penchant for items both beautiful and useful definitely was tested with the Flex. Silicone stripes on my wrist are fine for active sports, but every day? I’ve mixed them in with other bracelets, hid it under sleeves, and finally cast on my own knit bracelet from remnants of my Thorn.


So glad that #beadgallery is an easy lunch hour walk. New @fitbit bracelet in the horizon! #lunchhourfun

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

Accepting my obsession with getting an adequate number of active minutes is not a bad thing! I’ve frequently gone for walks after dinner to make sure I hit my 10,000 steps. It’s kept me hopping up from the computer and standing or walking while knitting. Active is good… so the Fitbit will be both beautiful and useful when I get done knitting the bracelet.

#wip #knittersofinstagram #fitbitflex bracelet made with @Claudiahandpaint silk lace weight yarn

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

This week, I heard an interview with Christina d’Avigno of Ringly on the radio. Ringly makes rings that keep you in touch with your phone, allowing you to keep it nearby (within bluetooth range) but not glued to you… as perhaps my hub might prefer. I would definitely consider a Ringly type bracelet…. although I’m not interested in the Apple Watch, mainly because their design isn’t my style.

It got me thinking about knitting and tech… is there a possibility that a whole new range of knitting patterns could ensue that blends wearable knitting projects that blend with tech?

I will resist #bangoutasweater, I will.

31 Jan

Corrections to my Master Knitter Level 3 are back.

Wow! I had no idea it would be so quick.

Let’s not talk about that right now.

Carefree rambling from one project to the next is a pleasure. Leading the Knit a Long at Sit and Knit for the Aidez sweater, knitting for a baby, continuing the mittengeddon, and not to mention adventures in wet felting and quilting has made a jovial January.

A dear knitting buddy forwarded the Mason Dixon #bangoutasweater knit a long. The brigade of knitters kicks off tomorrow, knitting Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Stopover.

Alanna Nelson resists knitting Mary Jane Muckleston Stoipover

Stopover by Mary Jane Muckleston (photo by Kathy Cadigan)

So sweet! Such a quick knit!

But I just banged out a super bulky cowl. That will have to do.

I shall live vicariously through others’ Instagram feeds. I will resist!

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