Ho Ho Ho! Knitting books for me!

Ho Ho Ho! Knitting books for me!

My family often uses my knitting wish list to inspire their shopping, and this year, I was lucky! Not one, but two knitting books to enjoy!

Alanna Nelson knits Bristol Ivy

Bristol Ivy’s “Knitting Outside the Box”

Alanna Nelson knits from Arne Carlos Bird book

My holiday knitting this year was light, and although I”m heads down into Emily Greene’s Divide Pullover , you can bet I’ll be whistling while I knit up and day dream with these wonders!

Books and knitting – two very lovely gifts that keep on giving! 

Creating Sequences in Life and Knits

[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!







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

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?




Strategies to Knit the #DividePullover

Strategies to Knit the #DividePullover

Alanna Nelson knits Emily Greene Divide

Divide by Emily Greene

The minute I saw the cover of Wool People 11, knitting Emily Greene’s Divide became a priority. Flowing lines and modern details offer an interesting knit and a versatile sweater – love it.

While Divide is written as a pullover, the geometric pattern allows easy adaptation into a cardigan, which I definitely need in my winter wardrobe. A quick stash dive yielded skeins of Hikoo Sueno in a wardrobe neutral chartreuse (yes, chartreuse goes with everything in my closet)… Oh yes, this sweater will be mine!

An admirer of Brooklyn Tweed (BT) since the days when he blogged about his knitting in Brooklyn, I know that Jared values clean graphics and has keen attention detail.  I’ve coached many knitters through BT patterns since 2011. The brand’s aesthetic and support of designers is renown.

Hats off to BT for offering a wide size range. Divide instructions range in finished sweaters from 32″ to 55.5″. In this pattern’s layout, the choices made to adapt to the size range complicates its presentation. The instructions reflect a designer’s perspective and not the knitter’s point of view. I hope BT considers pattern presentation strategies to improve the knitter experience.

BT considers Divide an advanced sweater. I found sorting through the pattern the most complicated issue (then again, I’m an advanced knitter). So if you’d like to knit this beauty, here are strategies I used to organize the 39 page pattern:

Pattern organization materials: Digital download of Divide pattern, measuring tape, highlighter marker, highlighter tape, a pocket and prong folder, 3 clear page protectors,  a copy machine that enlarges. Of course, you’ll need yarn and needles in several sizes to swatch plus a ruler to measure gauge.

  1. Purchase a digital copy of the pattern. A printed version is available at a more expensive price. You’ll need to rearrange the pattern to create a good workflow, so I wouldn’t spend the extra cash. This way, you can keep a digital copy of the pattern on your phone and tablet for reference (don’t leave home without it!). When I first acquainted myself to the pattern, the charts were not at all easy to read on a tablet or phone. Once you understand the details and rhythms of the pattern, you may get away from this.
  2. I know, what you really want to do is knit! Ok, ok! Go ahead, get out your yarn and start swatching. Arbor is classified as a double knitting weight (CYC 3) yarn, but the gauge for the half twisted rib is 27 stitches and 30 rows… a tight gauge for a dk weight yarn. Remember, they want a washed and blocked gauge. Do not mess around with this, especially is you are substituting yarn! I found my gauge varied when knit on the same size Addi turbos or ChiaGoo bamboo needles. I also discovered that I didn’t like the stiffness of the fabric when I worked the Sueno yarn at gauge. I wanted more drape in the fabric, and chose to follow the pattern directions for a size smaller.
  3. Read the entire pattern. Whether this means you print out the entire pattern (I’d recommend doing it single sided) or online, read the entire pattern. It’s long enough that a Table of Contents would be useful! Pages 1 – 5 give background and basics to the pattern. Pages 6 – 22 contain the instructions. Pages 23 – 33 are the Charts, followed by the Techniques and Abbreviations.
  4. Personalize the instructions. Highlight or note the instructions for the size you plan to knit. If I were to do it again, I’d take screen snippets of the instructions for my size and copy them into a new document to create a streamlined set of instructions. Instead, I put brackets alongside the portions of the pattern that pertained to the size I knit. Wouldn’t it be nice if BT included instructions by size?
  5. Enlarge the charts.  Make your life easy. This pattern relies heavily on charts, yet a 56 row and 80+ stitch pattern is portrayed in a 3″ x 5″ block.
  6. Assemble your working pattern. Take the pocket and prong folder and place the three page protectors in the center prongs. I laid out the six views:  Page 1) Photo of the pattern.  Page 2 – 3) Two pages of instructions Page 4) Left side charts. Page 5) Right side charts. Page 6) The diagram from page 34. Let me show you how this looked:
    Alanna Nelson knit strategies for Divide Pullover

    Highlighted instructions marked with highlighter tape

    Divide Pullover knit charts

    Left charts on left side of page and right side chart on right

    Divide knit by Alanna Nelson

    Diagram on back page and extra pages in pocket

    Extra pattern pages for the chart were kept in the left pocket. Extra instruction pages were kept in the right pocket. Once I completed a section, I left the page in the page protector.

  7. Compare Schematics to your measurements (page 4). I noticed in the photos that the armhole depth looked narrow. Will this fit you when you’re done? Look at the back raglan depth and determine if that fits your measurements… especially if your row gauge isn’t identical to the recommendation. From other Brooklyn Tweed patterns, I know that the women’s upper arm circumference can be tight on those who are middle age or older, so measure and adapt accordingly. The sweater is bracelet length… is that the length you had in mind or do you want your wrists covered? Take the measuring tape and make sure the size you’re knitting will give you results you’ll love. Adapt the pattern to fit your needs.

A big fan of knitting on the go, I almost always have knitting in my purse, briefcase or car. To move this sweater forward, I cast on the sleeves as my traveling project. The front and back of the Divide pullover aren’t always so portable.

I’ll update with photos later on progress. Meanwhile, there are currently 62 projects as of January 23, 2018 on Ravelry for the Divide Pullover. I found Leslie Eaton’s project page helpful as I perused the entries. If you’re knitting Divide, do you have any thoughts or strategies to share?




12 Textile Posts of Solstice

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

Knitwear repair steps

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.