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

Save

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

#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.

 

When you can knit but can’ t count

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

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

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!

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!