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Seduced by Softwaves Magnum

24 Jan

One of the InStitches knitters brought Laura Irwin’s Softwaves Magnum to class last week.

Alanna Nelson pattern alterations for Softwaves magnum

Laura Irwin Softwaves Magnum

Simple knitting, large needles, super bulky yarn… what more could you ask for? This was a great mindless knitting project that would result in an interesting addition to my winter wardrobe. And a fun addition to the present shelf, too!

This week, her scarf was knit and it was time to sew it together. While the instructions are clear, it was the Flickr photo stream that finally made the second step of the construction clear.

I am smitten. Having already searched my stash for super bulky yarn and come up empty, I began to consider what makes this cowl work. Of course it’s the weight of the yarn, but equally important is a single ply for the structure. Sticky yarn would be difficult to drop…. unless you didn’t do the drop stitch.

What if I cast on 100 st, worked garter for 3 rows, wrapped one row double then dropped it in the next? Bind off, then sew together?
Oh, I’m ready to buy some super bulky yarn and find out.

Restocking the present shelf

17 Jan

Do you have a present shelf? The spot in the closet dedicated to last minute hostess gifts, birthday presents and things you just can’t justify giving yourself so you buy it to give to others? At my house, the present shelf materialized while living in Italy. During visits to America, I would stock up on English language books and goodies for the girls to give at birthday parties. We’ve grown out of that tradition, but the present shelf continues. Contents range from EVOO available at Giardini di Sole, textiles gathered during travels and of course, hand knitted items.

Hand knitted items on the present shelf headed out to support Jules’ Struck Girl Scout Gold Star Project in October, so the shelf is quite bare. Knit scarves are an ideal present shelf item. With so many knitters obsessed with scarves and shawls and with me hanging out and nurturing knitters eight hours a week, it’s difficult not to catch scarfitis. Mindless scarves, technique building scarves, spring scarves, winter scarves, scarves to layer… you get the picture.

So how will I restock the present shelf?

Alanna Nelson Boston Knits Nancy Marchant design Icicle

Icicle by Nancy Marchant

Icicle by Nancy Marchant gives me a chance to begin playing with her two color brioche knitting book and creating a hopefully gender neutral scarf. I picked up some great yarn at Circle of Stitches after visiting the PEM Native Fashion Now exhibit. I chose a deep plum to combine with gold, but have yet to cast on.

Knitting Fresh Brioche: Creating Two Color Twists and Turns uses different vocabulary and could definitely fill my winter with opportunities to swatch. Having received this book for Christmas, I’ll begin with one color swatches, enjoying the process and eventually end up with

BTW, the thought provoking, tactile tempting exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum features great curation and interesting textiles.  Highlighting how heritage and global mish mash struggle in a world with boundaries, borders and limitations left me contemplating perspectives of native designers. Hmm… are there any audio books on native american cultural expression in the 21st Century so I could listen as I knit?


Alanna Nelson Boston knits Bristol Ivy designs

Sallah by Bristol Ivy

A survey of my stash yields plenty of options for sock weight yarn scarves. Sallah by Bristol Ivy could be the right choice for many of these skeins.  One of the Sit and Knit knitters has this on the needles, so I’ve been living it vicariously through her for the past couple of months. No casting on yet… I’ve still got a zick zack scarf on my needles, so in the mindless category, I’m probably set for a while.


Fabulous wind: we’re keeping up with the tug! @bostonsailingcenter #knitstagram #ravelry #zickzackscarf

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

The present shelf doesn’t need to be restocked overnight.

How begin 2016? With whichever craft I please!

14 Jan

Blocks of quilting, knitting, mending, drawing and dreaming frame the early days of 2016.

Alanna Nelson knit Boston

One Sunday afternoon to do list.

Soon I’ll finish the second quilt in the Cowabunga Cat series. This one kind of got away from me. Originally, the second surfing cat quilt would also be a baby blanket. After the first, I felt like the fabric needed more room to breathe. So I unsewed the top and placed the large isosceles triangles in a larger setting…. try queen size. The top is still pretty busy…. but I can definitely see waves of surfing cats moving through the tube.

Although I said I’d never use a Statler Stitcher on my quilts after Karina Kowabunga, Laurena’s Longarm Quilting now has several of the Anita Shackleford Modern packages available for the computer guided quilting machine. “Modern Paisley” seemed the perfect choice for this surfing cat quilt.

Alanna Nelson Statler Stitcher quilting Modern Paisley

Anita Shackleford Modern Paisley Digital Quilting Design

Trimming out portions of the pattern, changing height and other diddly choices means I’ll spend more than 8 hours quilting the 81″ x 90″ top. Over the autumn, I wrote several little haikus about surfing cats, two of which I’m quilting into the top. I’ve got some leftover fabric and a few more haikus… a third quilt in the offing? While these projects weren’t even on my horizon in January 2015, it’s been a fun little hike.

Already the pull of the 2016 quilt diversion dots my day dreams: Quilt du Jour by Marni Buck and Jill Guffy.

Quilts 2016 by Alanna Nelson

Quilts du Jour by Marny Buck & Jill Guffy

Plucked from the library just before Christmas (along with Margaret Radcliffe’s completely approachable and useful Knowledgeable Knitter), the simple blocks have lots of opportunities to play. We could use a few more large quilts at home. I’ve signed up for studio blocks as a subscriber at Laurena’s through the summer. With only two large WIPS destined for machine quilting, I do need to look at stash and play with possibilities.

Ah, how pleasant it is to just jump into whichever craft calls me today! Random craft choice won’t last much more: we’re leading a Knit a Long for the Aidez cardigan at Sit and Knit. Who knows what 2016 will bring?

Back to Regular Curiousity

28 Dec

“Is there anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous,” the postal clerk asked before she smoothed the postage sticker onto my Large Priority Mail box.

Alanna Nelson Master Knitter Boston portfolio

A few knitting references surround my box of the Master Knitter Level 3 portfolio, ready to post!

“Um, no.”

The corrections to my Master Knitter Level 3 portfolio are headed to my committee chair, ready for weeks of scrutiny. This accomplishment yielded not nearly the relief I expected. Two things I’ve learned in this process:

  1. I am capable of making copious careless mistakes.
  2. There are some pretty wonderful knitting resources out there.

Finally it’s time to do things other than peruse knitting books (did you catch Margaret Radcliffe’s The Knowledgeable Knitter)?  What a lovely addition to the genre! It’s time to return phone calls, bake, garden, make anything I feel like and read!

Oh, there will now be time to blog, too.  So once I wade through the stuff that I’ve ignored for most of the last two months, I’m sure the anticipation, elation and jubilation will rise. Shouldn’t there be a pusheen emoji for this?

That package didn’t have anything fragile, liquid, perishable or potentially hazardous, but it did contain the fruits of many hours of work and timorous hopes of few corrections when the reviewers send the box back to me in a couple of months.

Wish me luck!

Oh baby, let me knit for you.

25 Oct

While I can easily resist adorable babies, resisting cute baby knitting patterns is much more challenging. Alas, my babies are much too old for quick knit sweaters and accessories. However, there are knit worthy parents on whom I would love to shower sweet baby knits.

This week, I stumbled across two patterns that were quickly added to my Ravelry baby and toddler bundle: an Icelandic cardi by Hélène Magnússon called Gilipeysa and Baby Duck Booties by Meagan Anderson.

Alanna Nelson knit Gilipeysa

Hélène Magnússon’s Gilipeysa

Alanna Nelson knits duck booties

Meagan Anderson’s adorable duck booties

Are you on Ravelry? If so, are we friends? I’m Ciaobella and you can see the rest of the favorites in my Babies & Toddlers bundle.

Vicissitudes of Master Knitter corrections.

20 Oct

As the sailing season ends….

Fabulous wind: we’re keeping up with the tug! @bostonsailingcenter #knitstagram #ravelry #zickzackscarf

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

I return to Master Knitter corrections.

Alanna Nelson TKGA Master Knitter corrections

Miki hat top view

Next up: the revised fair isle hat. My first pattern had errors, for sure. The reviewers did not feel that my pattern reflected traditional fair isle motifs and was too snug of a fit.

Alanna Nelson fair isle knit hat Boston

Miki fair isle watch cap

This time, I’m citing peeries from Michael Pearson’s Traditional Knitting and making the hat in 2 sizes (for those of us who prefer a snug fit while shoveling).

All was well with the Mikidue pattern until I ran out of orange yarn with merely 6 stitches left in the peerie. Ack.

Of course, this particular shade of Cascade 200 Superwash is discontinued. Where would we be without the internet? The up side is that I can work one last tiny peerie of orange for the crown.

Alanna Nelson Master Knitter Boston

The orange yarn will hopefully arrive this week. Perhaps these corrections may be posted before Thanksgiving? I’d better get knitting!

Millions of knit mittens

8 Oct

Ok, maybe not millions but certainly dozens of knit mittens. Hyperbole may be my middle name…..

My upcoming mittenggeddon began bubbling in the spring. Lost gloves, worn out mittens and well worn hand warmers meant knitting for hands should be on the horizon. While air conditioners buzzed in August, thanks to Ravelry’s library search, I discovered patterns I already owned and didn’t even remember! Do you keep track of your patterns in Ravelry? This nice video gives you the low down on how useful it is.

But back to warm hands during New England winters… Using the search option in my Ravelry library, more than three dozen patterns for hands were available. Personally, my wussy hands need some type of cold weather protection any time the weather gets below 60 F (15C).  As such, I need at least 4 different kinds of hand coverings to get to spring again.

Alanna Nelson knits from London Loop patterns in Boston

Cedar Shake mitts by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper

Last fall, I brought home the Cedar Shakes pattern after visiting London’s lovely Loop . With one hand warmer finished,  I figured this was the first project to finish. However, this knitting project loved Shanti Retreat so much, it rummaged up the karma to stay behind (or was I silly enough to leave it under the bed?).  So do I cast on another pair from stash or do I make another pair of Eric’s Glovelets?

Alanna Nelson knit handwarmer Eric Glovelet

One of many pairs of Eric’s Glovelets I’ve made

I first saw Jodi Colella whipping up a pair of Eric’s Glovelets in perhaps 2008. Normally,  I make mine without the palm finishing, which makes them reversible and quicker to knit. I love its little mock cable.

The Peppermint Lounge Mittens have an interesting construction and are knit on straight needles. While white mittens have no space in my life, I think these would be a great early or late winter mitten to whip out of worsted weight remnants.

Knit mittens by Alanna Nelson Boston

Adrian Bizilia Peppermint Lounge Mittens

A nice pair of gloves looks polished when the occasion requires. I enjoyed knitting Ysolda Teague’s Vintage Buttons Gloves. However, I needed to make the fingers much more fitted than her pattern outlined. This time, let me try Ruth Garcia-Alcantud’s Deux Violettes gloves.

Alanna Nelson chooses gloves to knit for Boston winters

Deux Violettes Gloves by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud

Once winter gets fierce, warmer mittens are required. I’ve completely worn through my pair of Kerri Shanks’ Cozy Lined Mittens. Last time, I lined the mittens with alpaca, which was simply divine. I shouldn’t complain if mittens wear out after years of use. Just knit another one, right?

For shoveling or winter walks, my hub asked for a thick pair of mittens, so I think I’ll buy Aria Reynold’s Roving Lined Mittens. There’s a yummy alpaca yak yarn that just showed up at In Stitches, and this will give me the perfect opportunity to go beyond my stash for mittens.

But thrumming will appear in my winter, I’m sure, so I’m off to download Lynette Meek’s East Coast Mittens, which has a nice thrumming explanation. The mitten pattern also includes a gusset, which is important for a long wearing fit, imho.

Of course, what I really want to knit: a muff. As a tiny tot, my sister and I shared am muff (or did we argue about who would wear it?). Most likely made of bunny hair, it was soft and beautiful. I’d like a soft and beautiful muff, maybe of alpaca yarn. But first, get those hands ready for cold weather!

And the mittengeddon begins! Anyone want to join me in the gathering of mittens?

My mods on Plymouth #2865 Girl Tunic

18 Aug

Bags of Plymouth Dreambaby DK Paintpot arrived last month at Janet’s. In my usual Wednesday afternoon procrastination, I offered to knit up a shop sample of the Plymouth Girl’s Tunic with this machine washable blend.

Alanna Nelson knit modification Plymouth pattern

Cute kid! Plymouth #2865 Girl’s tunic

The yarn was pleasant to knit, but one look at the pattern, I knew things had to change. Why on earth would I want to knit this and sew it together? This is a perfect candidate for knitting in the round! And a picot hem but a ribbed neckline and armholes? Of course, picot edging all round!

Alanna Nelson knit baby clothes Boston

No baby here, so teddy was my model!

It didn’t take long to knit, but it took weeks for me to finally post the modifications. If you pick up the pattern at Sit and Knit, you’ll get a print out if you’d like to follow what I did. Or else, just download these Plymouth Girl Tunic modifications for your own personal use. You’ll need to purchase the pattern, and perhaps these mods will be obvious to you as well, but I thought I’d share!

Alanna Nelson knitwear designer Textilfilia

Picot edging is worked for a no sew hem!

Alanna Nelson knits picot edging on Plymouth Girl Tuni

Picot bind off worked at armhole and neck edge.

My weeks of Double Knitting

18 Jul

The double knitting swatch was one that needed to be reknit for my Master Knitter Level 3 portfolio. Over the last two weeks, a chunk of time was spent reviewing and expanding my references, thinking about how I actually construct the stitch. The half combination knitting, continental approach is almost described in Alasdair’s Extreme Double Knitting , which is my turn to reference. I also learn loads from Lucy Neatby’s fab resources. The reviewers also wanted me to explain how I twist the yarns at the beginning of the row.

Here’s a view of how I hold my yarn, working the knit stitch twisted and the purl stitch untwisted.dkfoto

As of today, I’m happy with the swatch. Will I be in a few months? Stay tuned.

Tips for Knitting Wild Animals

21 Jun Alanna Nelson knitting in Melrose MA

My 3D knit mojo rolled along over the winter. Most recently, I turned back to Knitted Wild Animals, by Sarah Keen.

Alanna Nelson knitting in Melrose MA

The giraffe, panda and elephant in their new home

Sarah’s patterns are easy to knit but need a chunk of time to assemble. These three animals used almost an entire bag of polyfill (I chose not to stuff them with wool, as the panda was really quite big and I wondered if the wool might get a bit felted over time).

The last time I knit patterns from this book, there were mental notes about what I might do differently next time. Did I remember them? Of course not.. but this time I’m writing it down.

Alanna Nelson knits wild animals in Boston

Knitted Wild Animals by Sarah Keen

  • Leave 8″ long tails at the cast on and bind off edges to seam your pieces together.
  • If you have difficulty identifying the cast on and bind off edges, tie a bow on the cast on tail to help you remember which is which.
  • Tie sets of arms, legs, horns… everything that’s knit in twos and keep them together until the seaming begins
  • Consider knitting pieces in the round on double pointed needles (the shorter, the better). The legs, arms and horns could have been knit in the round for the giraffe, elephant and panda. The body sections for the panda and elephant could be, too.  Just put markers in between the 2 pieces so your increase and decrease points are easy to identify.

So, there! Now, have you knit patterns from this book? I’d love to hear your tips about what worked for you.