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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


SaveAlanna Nelson knits on the MBTA
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.

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


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.


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!

Nika Feldman: Traveling with needle

18 Aug

While I may forget a comb or pajamas, it is rare that I hit the road without knitting or reading. On a recent overnight sail, I found myself in one of Gloucester’s book stores, looking for a quick read.

Leisurely deck reading of American Craft Nika Feldman

All magazines on deck!

Unwilling to commit myself to an entire book, I picked up the most recent American Craft magazine.  Nika Feldman, the subject of the August/September feature, is a woman after my own heart.  This woman travels, relates, communicates with a needle, thread and scissors. I always travel with knitting needles and yarn, eschewing quilting as less portable. How could that change?

Mulling over ways to bring quilting into my travels, I realize that a sketchbook and pencil fell of my travel packing list. Ten years ago, these tools lived in my purse. The arrival of the iPhone pushed it out of my bag. It was too easy to snap a photo, and my purse was lighter, smaller. Sketching should re enter my daily habits and most definitely return to my travel packing list.  Shouldn’t everyone draw?

At one time, drawing was a skill crucial to education. Travel journals consisted of words, sketches, watercolors. Of course, at this point, I always turn to Isabella Stuart Gardner’s travel journals. As she neared the end of her life, Isabella burned her letters, but chose to keep her travel journals. How do you remember your travels? Selfies? T shirts? Art? Magnets? Post cards or other ephemera? Matchbooks, coasters or cocktail napkins?

Would drawing change your relationship with the place? Clearly, traveling with a needle, scissors and thread completely frames Feldman’s work. She has the benefit of time on her side… no quick sailing trips to Gloucester… but your travel experience would definitely change if you drew or stitched.

So much for deckside knitting comtemplation.

Mirai Crescent Shawl: through the lace

10 Aug

A long car trip offered ample time to work through the lace chart on the #7 Crescent Shawl. It wasn’t a great project for chitter chattering with family, but I managed survive without needles in my hands.

This scarf lets you practice a Central Double Decrease (they call it S2KP, which still means: slip two stitches together knit wise, k1, pass the 2 st over).

Alanna Nelson knits Mirai Crescent Shawl

Wish I’d cast on with a longer needle….

The lace pattern is not difficult to follow, but frankly the yarn takes center stage.  I think I’ll need only one skein of yarn so…

What about working a feather and fan pattern instead of the lace? You get holes, you get to focus on yarn and the scalloped edge reflects the crescent shape?

I just may try that!

Stay tuned

Mirai Crescent Shawl KAL: Cast on!

5 Aug

Over at In Stitches, Jean showed me a Noro blend of cotton, silk and viscose called Mirai. Hmm, a non scratchy Noro yarn? I must try it.

Turns out, there’s a Knit a Long (KAL) on the horizon. #7 Crescent Shawl from the latest Noro Magazine is a free pattern if you purchase Mirai yarn. Heck, I’m on a road trip this weekend. Why not cast on another project?

Alanna Nelson knits Noro Mirai Crescent Shawl

Noro Magazine #8

I bought two skeins of Mirai, even though many Ravelry projects managed to finish with just one. What the heck, I may make it twice.

Taking time to acquaint myself with the pattern before I jump in the car (what an idea, right?), the instructions state cast on 232 st and immediately dive into the 10 st repeat 18 row lace pattern. Well, here are a couple of questions:

  • Which cast on should I use? Normally, a long tail cast on but with so many stitches, would a knit on cast on work?
  • No set up row? Really? Normally, I like a row of plain knitting before jumping into the pattern, especially for a scarf made of stretchy cotton and silk.

Here are a few unblocked swatches I made in worsted weight wool.

Alanna Nelson knits swatches for Mirai Crescent Shawl

The results are clear: A long tail cast on and purl one row before beginning the lace pattern.

The bag is by the door and ready to go. I didn’t forget stitch markers…. I figure I’ll need 23 of them until I get a hang of the pattern.

Anyone else doing the Crescent Shawl KAL? If you buy the Mirai yarn, you can get the pattern for free, without having to purchase the magazine. However, there are other interesting mosaic stitch and lace patterns that catch my eye… this magazine’s pages will show some wear and tear!

I’m off!


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.

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.

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!