Creating Sequences in Life and Knits

12 Sep

[Knit 2, purl 1] to last three stitches… so goes a current sequence on a new Thorn by Bristol Ivy, which I started while sailing last week. Having knit this in 2014, I know that attention is needed with each new section of this easy yet detail specific scarf.

Alanna Nelson knits Bristol Ivy Thorn scarf

My second Thorn in the same Claudia Handpaints laceweight colorway.

Sequences appear to be a trend this September.  As I declared in my last post , the 8th and 9th were days of sequence knitting. Thanks to the Common Cod, Cecilia Campochiaro set a group of knitters off on a day of sequence exploration. Cecilia is an attentive and flexible speaker and teacher who shared her discoveries and a glorious stack of knit samples from her first book.

Cecilia Campochiaro knits in Boston

The Common Cod Class morning results of sequence knitting samples.

On Friday, Cecilia presented the essence of sequence knitting and her path that led to the book’s creation. Like any innovative researcher, she sought to solve the problem of “what can I knit that is interesting but appropriate for traveling?”

“Holy cats,” I thought to myself. My search for traveling knits never goes much further than Ravelry’s pattern search!

If you’ve not had a chance to explore Sequence Knitting, do take the time. The knitting itself is a bit like Soduku. As you settle into different patterns, the resulting fabric that slips off your needles. 8

Many of us experienced “Aha” moments during the class. I enjoyed playing with the different ways to write out serpentine pattern sequences… it was just like junior high math! Cecilia’s class also brought up the cold hard fact that I own a sweater’s worth of indie dyed superwash dk yarn which I don’t want to use…. any takers?

As she works on her second book, Cecilia used the face time with knitters to ask questions about format, layout and undoubtedly, she observed what made students swoon or a moment of pause.  Those who love knitting for touch and fabric should dive into her first book now. I would heartily recommend spending the day knitting with Cecilia, which definitely jump starts your comprehension and inspiration.

As I reset professional sequences in my life, many of Cecilia’s observations touched home. How fortuitous to concentrate on a series of knitting riffs as I develop the pattern for the next section of my work.

Bristol Ivy speaks at the Common Cod on November 10, with classes also planned… my goodness, I’m in sequence with the Guild speakers so far this year!

 

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Got my spot! Cecilia Campochiaro in Boston September 8 – 9

16 Aug
Sequence Knitting Common Cod Fiber Guild Boston September 2017

Cecilia Campochiaro’s book “Sequence Knitting”

I do believe it was Clara Parkes who introduced me to Cecilia Campochiaro’s book, Sequence Knitting.

The 397 page exploration of knit an purl has been on my wish list for two years – I’m sure the price deters my family from buying me another knitting book. Well, it’s time for wishes to come true.

The Common Cod Fiber Guild is hosting a talk and class with Cecilia on September 8 and 9, 2017  (oh, no, I didn’t have ANYTHING to do with that….). Yours truly will be at both events.

And, I bought myself the book, to continue to play with the joys of knit and purl.  There is much to enjoy and do during these glorious summer days, but I can’t wait to spend a Saturday indoors and explore.

Will I see you at Sequence Knitting in September?

 

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New chairs for the New Year?

28 Dec

Once upon a time, there were two chairs that looked something like this:

Alanna Nelson sews slip covers

With slipcovers old enough for a drivers’ license, it was time to give these chairs a slip of respect. Fortunately, a trip to New York’s Garment District yielded a fine remnant at a fabulous price. It’s time for that fabric to become new slip covers.

So far, I’ve repaired one chair body and made a muslin cover, which gave me a chance to test my pattern. Whew! That was already a chunk of time. Now it’s just repair this chair, make a second cover and sew the two slip covers.

Just….

Will there be at least one new chair for the New Year? I’m off to my studio.

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Turtle Grass II heads out

27 Dec Alanna Nelson Turtle Grass II SAQA Trunk Show Quilt

When the Studio Art Quilt Associates announced their 2017 Member Trunk Show, I had a pretty good idea of what I might send. After all, the portrait orientation letter sized quilt could easily grow from a nuno felting day inspired by the greens and blues of warm weather swimming toward shore.

The big question: How to bind this tiny quilt? I love the flowing color that comes with nuno felted pieces. A traditional fabric binding can be so stiff and angular. A facing would have worked, but I should have considered that before I cut my final size. What to do?

Somehow, the answer came to me as I babbled at our NOBO SAQA break out group… a felted binding! This time, I tried needle felting. Maintaining uneven edges, I needle felted the binding to the finished quilt top and sewed it to the quilt back. It took much longer than expected.

Alanna Nelson Turtle Grass II SAQA Trunk Show Quilt

Turtle Grass II

Now it’s time to send this piece out for its traveling adventures. Fair winds, oh little quilt.

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The Story of A Quilt

26 Dec

From a stack of library books, a quilt was inspired. The Celery Stick block from Marnie Buck and Jilly Guffy’s Quilt du Jour was supposed to quickly yield a nice big quilt top to build my machine quilting skills. Oh, well. Quilt and quick aren’t really two words that go together.

The Celery Stick block is easy to piece and scale up or down. Shopping my stash, deep night blues and yellows formed the color palette. Oh, yes, an Italian hilltop town at night could totally be an option. Many great memories of day trips to this northern Lazio town were reason to start strip cutting.

But what to quilt? After all, the whole purpose of this quilt is: 1) to play and enjoy the quilting process 2) to create a warm queen size bed cover 3) to be challenged. Then it occurred to me. I could quilt in the guild symbols of 18th Century Orvieto to build my skills.

Alanna Nelson Oriveto Quilt Inspiration Arte e Mestieri

Arte e Mestieri di Orvieto

The Guilds of Orvieto depict the reliance on textiles in 18th Century Orvieto’s economy. I remember the afternoon spent chatting with a gentleman who made terra cotta representations of these Guild mascots. I bought one as a gift. I wish I’d purchased more. So here is my quilt that is inspired by Oriveto which hung at the 2016 Rising Star Quilt Show

Vintner was one of the easier quilt shapes to dress.

Detail of the quilt top.

The Oriveto City Seal

Alanna Nelson Orvieto Quilt at Rising Star Quilters 2016 show

Orvieto as it hung at the RSQ show

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So think of me if you’re ever on vacation and you find you cannot sleep forever. I’m under this wonderful quilt with twinkling lights and wonderful wool batting.

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12 Textile Posts of Solstice

25 Dec

A long absence from the blogosphere, for sure… Did you think the election did me in? No, I’ve seen this type of change in Italy and Tunisia, so that’s not the explanation. Transitions sum up the last six weeks, a dozen blog posts lurking in my head the entire time. So I’m finishing 2016 and kicking off 2017 with highlights of my creative days, minutes and dreams. Here we go!

First Textile Blog of Solstice, a travel story. My destination? Seattle. My knitting project? Scarf Ornament.

Some background? Once upon a time, I lived on the Puget Sound. It was my childhood dream come true. While Rome, Milan and Boston held my home address for the last couple decades, my heart still feels at rest in Seattle.  Spending the week before Thanksgiving in Western Washington brought all of those home feelings front and center.

Alanna Nelson finds inspiration in Seattle

While Seattle changes, certain landmarks stay the same.

What to knit? A peruse of my stash found a lovely burgundy Shuibui Staccato and a golden skein of Anzula Milky Way. The colors were lovely, a perfect combo for Scarf Ornament. The perfect color combination, yes. The perfect fiber combination, no. As I wound the very fine, single ply Milky Way on the plane, I knew another yarn needed to replace that golden wonder.

What a perfect excuse for a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island to the lovely Churchmouse Yarns. After perusing the entire store, I returned to the Staccato and chose a yellowy green. Purple and green is not everyone’s color choice, but I have grown quite fond of the results.

Alanna Nelson knits on Washington State Ferries

I couldn’t wait to cast on in the new yarns.

In addition to friends and family, the Seattle Art Museum’s Yves St Laurent exhibit  proved to be a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. Before I knew it, my Seattle sejour was over, but the scarf ornament continued.

Yes, the knitting continues. With home renovation projects, work and holiday festivities, my only knitting time has been on the MBTA. Scarf ornament is not a project for public transit, imho. I’m about 5 repeats into the scarf and only now am I memorizing the essence of the pattern. Working 20 stitches, picking up the pattern and repeating is a slow process on public transit.

Alanna Nelson knits Scarf Ornament by Svetlana Gordon

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Soon, I will retire this project to my bedside. But it’s the time of year when I should turn back to my Master Knitter corrections. That story’s for another day in my twelve textile posts of solstice.

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Knitwear repair steps

8 Nov Alanna Nelson Knit Repair Boston

My reputation as a knitwear repair whiz brings sweaters, afghans, baby blankets into Melrose’s yarn shop. Always frugal, my heart always prefers repair to replace, but this recent sweater was a challenge. If it weren’t for Scrapiana’s posts on Twitter and Instagram about #TheBigMend, I might have suggested ways to up cycle this designer light as air hooded cardigan.

Alanna Nelson Knit Repair Boston

Fine cashmere with nasty rip

With such a large hole, matching the navy cashmere fine yarn was a huge endeavor.

  • The first choice is use the mending yarn that came with the sweater. Of course, you can never find that when you need it.
  • Second, could I shorten or remove hems to harvest yarn for the repair? Not without many trickle down issues.
  • Could we source a similar yarn? The client tried without success and finally, the fine folks at In Stitches suggested that I try embroidery wool. The navy looked quite close, so ahead I went.

Then of course, the real work began:

  1. Write the lace pattern to match the existing decrease and increase methods.
  2. Determine the gauge and appropriate needles to obtain the gauge.
  3. Identify the actual section to reknit.
  4. For this project, I picked up the bottom row of stitches in the replacement section, joining the rows to the sweater as I worked. Then I grafted the last row of replacement stitches to the cardigan.
  5. Weave in any ends of the original sweater
  6. Check the garment for other wear and tear.
Alanna Nelson knit repair results Boston

#VisibleMend

In this instance, the mend is visible. That navy embroidery wool looks quite bright next to the original garment (no, it really isn’t a black sweater). It’s mended, whew. It’s not invisible, wah. Can’t perfection always be an option? No, Alanna, not always! A life lesson lurks somewhere in this knitwear repair.

 

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September Salute

1 Oct

Alanna Nelson knits lace in Tabarka, Tunisia

September, where did you go? Summer left and I miss it so.

Bare skin, sunshine, warm sailing days slip into sweaters and shawlettes to combat the grey.

Boston Harbor sunset sail September, 2016

The first grey weekend in eons gives me the opportunity to nest in my new studio space, plow ahead on indoor quilting projects and begin blogging again.

Most New Englanders love fall and jump into formation as soon as the first apple drops in late August. Me, I wait for the equinox, with full knowledge that by Thanksgiving, the best of fall leads to that quiet hibernation called winter. Sigh.

Ok, no use worrying about tomorrow today…

To sew or not to sew

31 Aug

How many times over the last 15 years have I vowed not to make my own clothes?

Alanna enjoys window shopping in Northern Italy
While living in Italy, interesting clothing options popped from every shop window. Why do I need to sew with so many fabulous options nearby?

While focusing on art quilts, accepting reluctantly that there are only 24 hours in a day. Why would I neglect my fiber art?

Then reality hits: Italian fashions are often too short for my limbs, too expensive for my budget.

I find fabulous fashion fabrics that I definitely want in my life! So much for my vow not to sew my clothing. Temptation and opportunity lure me back into paper patterns and fitting sessions. So the zig zag continues. I enjoy sewing my own clothes.

Last winter, I vowed to update my wardrobe with clothing purchases. Shuffling through Boston’s dressing rooms yielded more skinny jeans (yawn!) that stuck to my calves when I stood up. The color palettes suited winter or summer complexions, but not this contrasting persimmon autumn. Really? Can’t I find interesting clothing that fits my lifestyle? What to do?

Summer arrived and favorite duds came out of boxes to save the situation(many of them made by me!). My vow to update my wardrobe pops into my mind as the fall/winter fashions hit the news stands and shop windows. In October, I will buy some new clothes.

During the studio move, all of my wonderful fashion fabric passed through my hands. Scrumptious.

Oh, yes, I will sew this fall.

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When you can knit but can’ t count

22 Aug

Carefully considering the appropriate cast on for the 7 Crescent Shawl by Lisa Barnes, I quickly put 232 stitches on a 24″ size 7 needle the night before our Montreal road trip. By the end of the weekend, the lace portion was complete.

“What long rows,” I thought.

Alanna Nelson knits shawl in New England

Never mind, the rest of the Crescent Shawl was stockinette st short rows… perfect for our sailing vacation which began two days later. I plugged away, enjoying the mindless knitting while watching waves, wind and lightning. Eventually it occurred to me that this shawl was asymmetrical.

Crescent Shawl knit while sailing

The #7 Crescent Shawl with a long tail

 

I’d cast on 332 stitches, not 232! All scrunched up on the short needle, I couldn’t really tell.

Do I finish, I wondered? What if I worked 12 st past the join on the long side, so I would finish up at the same time on both ends? What the heck, it may be just fine. It’s still mindless knitting.

Well, it’s really not. Once finished, no way did I want it to do on my present shelf. Really, the lace pattern is a bit disjointed. Actually, there’s so much going on in the yarn that I really couldn’t see the pattern anyway. But the Noro Mirai yarn is quite soft. I like the yarn, I like the idea of a crescent shawl, but something with lacey, easy to knit holes, something soft and buttery, with light layers would be a better mix for this cotton/silk/viscose yarn.

Rather than rip out and knit again, I think I’m going to write my own crescent shawl pattern. Stay tuned!

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