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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…

Can it really be August?

1 Aug

Once Boston Sailing Center‘s season opens in May, time flies by! If you catch my Instagram feed, water, wind and yarn photos reflect the days.

#summer #boston

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

That doesn’t mean my stitch and glow lifestyle stops. I just don’t take time to blog about it. After all, there’s only so many hours in a day!

There was no sailing for me over the last weekend. All other activities were structured around relocating my studio space from the attic to better digs. There was definitely chaos before catharsis.

Holy cats! Moving my studio out of the attic. #notfortheweak #knittersofinstagram #quiltersofinstagram

A photo posted by Alanna Nelson (@tactiletravels) on

A few other unexpected movements in the house mean I won’t move into my new space until after our summer cruise, which is right after we head up to Montreal for the weekend.

AAAH! No wonder it seems incredible that it’s already August. The last three months have flown by, one great thing after another. Never fear, I decided that blogging is a good way to document all of the fibery goodness that speeds through my life.

Remembering Mothers

8 May

It hit me on Friday, shopping cart piled high with cedar mulch. My grandmothers, while no longer on this earth, accompany me to the garden center each spring. Achingly, tears well up. Grief, joy and thankfulness spill down my cheeks for the gratitude I feel for these women who loved me.

Alanna Nelson art quilt inspirations

Gramma Bee tip toeing through the tulips, 1990

Mom is just a phone call away. My parents plot their springtime planting throughout the winter. Undoubtedly their garden is better prepared than mine at this point in the growing season. They are inspiring and encouraging.

On Mother’s Day, I am thankful for all my mom, my grandmothers and Helen Timm gave to me. Am I giving as much to future generations? I’ll try.

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.

Wearing scarves: I eat my words

13 Oct

As a young professional, I went to a party a color palette party. This “party” made me feel pretty ancient. Where were the festivities, random uninhibited behavior, general raucousness? There must have been something in the punch, as I left having purchased a style advice session.

I learned not to wear navy blue (whoops, everything in my wardrobe needed replacing). Green, turquoise and purple were fab color options for me… huh. The style advisor also advocated scarves.

That was the limit. Scarves? No way! Only Lucille Ball and old ladies wear scarves.

This advice simmered as I romped Italy for a decade. It began to boil as I set down roots in New England. Chomp, chomp, nom, I eat my words. I wear scarves frequently in almost any color except navy blue.

As I researched a post on an Emilio Pucci exhibit, I watched the Spring Summer 2015 runway show, I loved how the models wore scarves as necklaces…

There’s time this winter to cut gorgeous length of silk into necklace lengths! In the meantime, we’ll need to keep our necks warm with gorgeous textiles in knit and woven shapes of all kinds. Thought I’d share this fun video with you.

I’ve eaten my words. Scarves aren’t just for old ladies any more.

Courage and Connection

27 Aug

Driving home last night, TED Radio Hour focused on Brené Brown’s research on courage, vulnerability and living life to its fullness.    As I rip back mistakes in knitting, lead classes where people are stretching their skills in new projects, support businesses who are moving up to the next level, her results and realizations were heartening. Definitely take 12 minutes to listen to the TED Radio Hour mix of Dr Brown’s work. If you’ve got 20 minutes to watch her original TED talk, I’ve embedded it here.

Taking the 4 Saori Weaving Slogans into the Weekend

12 May Alanna Nelson Master Hand Knitter

Mihoko Wakabayashi of Saori Weaving Worcester spoke to the Common Cod Fiber Guild on Friday night. Already intrigued by her Ignite CraftBoston talk in 2013 (catch her talk on the Common Cod’s Youtube channel), my Friday frazzled brain was ready for another dose of freestyle weaving inspiration.

Mihoko learned Saori technique while still in Japan, bringing her skills with her to Worcester in 2000. Founded in the 1970’s by Misao Jo, the Saori Weaving philosophy seeks to establish a worldwide movement to

  weave and learn together in search of our true, hidden selves.

The practice encourages everyone to:

  • Consider the differences between machine and hand made
  • Be bold and adventurous
  • Look out through eyes that shine
  • Inspire one another and everyone in the room.
Saori Weaving Worcester loom at Common Cod Fiber Guild

Mihoko brought the portable Saori Loom for demonstration

I’ve admired weaving and weavers for years, but kept my toes “out of the water.”  When Mihoko opened up the Saori loom, I felt myself tiptoeing closer. Oh, I could have all the fun I want with this loom and it wouldn’t dominate any space in my house.

With my winter focus on the Master Knitter Level 3 portfolio, most of my free time has been dedicated to fitting into tightly defined parameters.  This soul needs opportunities to wander and explore. A Saori weaving day will be in my future, perhaps with other Codders?

I still need to finish the last written details and pattern checking on my Master Knitter portfolio, but it’s very near completion…

I honestly thought that the portfolio would have shipped last week and had signed up for a free Pebeo demonstration at the Fenway Dick Blick store on Saturday. There was a bit of internal discussion… don’t go, focus on the portfolio…go, didn’t you learn anything at the Saori talk last night? You are so ready for a shot of creative playfulness. I’m so glad I did.

Tristina Dietz-Elmes led the group through 2 hours of possibilities using some of the new multi media. She shared a few of the results on her Instagram DietzArt account. As you know, I’ve enjoyed using Pebeo setacolor on silk and cotton since my days in the Castelli Romani. The session opened whole new playful doors.  I had a great time watching Tristina mix, dip and dabble. As one who loves textiles, most of the mixed media products would send me into other creative zones, but that’s ok.  Pebeo’s mixed media line allows acrylics to mix with resin or  reactive paints. And they have new liquid resin panels where you can pour, stir, spread and watch cool things happen.

Wow! What a shot of energy that was for my compartmentalized black and white knitting soul.  It gave me great energy for Sunday’s session with StitchMastery and assorted reference books. Can’t wait to play with the Pebeo Mixed Media line some sunny evening soon.Alanna Nelson Master Hand Knitter


A poem for your ideas and actions

28 Apr

April is National Poetry Month. When I read this poem by W.S. Merwin, I had to share it with my quilting group. A week later, it’s still in mind…. oh, Writer’s Almanac, how do you do that to me? It’s called “The New Song” and it certainly speaks to the potential that textile lovers imagine when they see a new yarn, fabric, motif, style.

If you have 5 minutes, listen to Garrison Keilor’s whole episode, where he talks about literary history each day, sealing the podcast off with a poem. If you’d just like to read the poem, click here.  Then again, this poem is from the 17th Poet Laureate’s new release Moon Before Morning

Time, imagination…. now it’s just a matter of focus and priorities.

One of my favorite books to track priorities is Getting Things Done by David Allen. Evernote helps me empty my brain or fill it with new ideas. When I walked into my studio last week, I realized that I may need to memorize Merwin’s “The New Song.”

Fitting in the Fabric

Happy creating!

Into the craft abyss: Book making

22 Jan Alanna Nelson textile artist

Drip, drip, drip…
A lifelong avid reader, a doodler and occasional journal writer, my book attraction has broadened over the past few years.

Drip… While working at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, I loved the insights and discoveries of Anne Marie Eze, who at the time was a curatorial fellow (she’s become part of the curatorial staff since then).  Mrs. Gardner was a dedicated book connoisseur before she launched into other art forms. Anne Marie brings the cultural background of many books to life as she explores the collection.

Drip… Pam Parmel mentioned the embroidered caskets collection at the Museum of Fine Arts during her talk at the Common Cod Fiber Guild in 2012. As a member of the Textile and Costume Society, I had the chance to observe more of these incredible works, learning that many book binding techniques were used to assemble the pieces.

Drip… Stacie Dolan published Book Art Studio Handbook and I started thinking about all of the opportunities to mix my love of textiles with book binding.

Drip… An email from the Folk Art Museum leads me to a very cool way kit, which I just have to share on Twitter.


: V Cool gift idea: Book binding kit (I know you need a new craft idea) from @FolkArtMuseum 1:15pm, Dec 13 from HootSuite

FolkArtMuseumFolkArtMuseum: @Tactile_Travel Our staff loves that kit. What sort of book do you think you’d make? 3:09pm, Dec 13 from Web
Long pause. I don’t know.  I just want to try the putting together.  No idea about the content.
Alanna Nelson textile artist

Peg and Awl lead you through the book binding process with their Anselm kit.

My darling hub gave me the kit for Christmas. As I attempt to stay focused on completing the master knitter portfolio, I can’t dip in just yet (however, I keep a stack of books on the topic near my bedside table!).

Today’s Writer’s Almanac (January 22, 2014) gave me direction on the book inspiration.  It is enough by Anne Alexander Bingham. Add this to my collection of cherished poems.

Time to develop my book. I wonder how that paper will handle being stitched….

On blog aggregators and ice cream

27 Sep Textilfiliac loves Gorgeous Gelato

Work keeps me on the computer/phone so much that I don’t want to spend free time poking around the computer. My phone, my Fire and my life are filled with apps to put everything at my fingertips when I’m away from my desk.  This opens up more time for ice cream!  I  look for great flavors in my content apps and my mouth!

Once a humble devotee to my Google Reader feed, the BIG G brusquely tossed me out of that quiet space when that service disappeared in late June, 2013. Fortunately, Feedly made migration from Reader painless. I could still get my blog feeds in a tidy manner.

Just like the ice cream counter, there are flavors of content aggregators for everyone. Over the summer, I developed a penchant for Pocket. Of course, I’ve loved the layout of Flipboard. But today, my daughter asked if I hung out on Bloglovin.  For those of you out there already cavorting on this network, you can now this follow this blog with Bloglovin.  The great thing about Bloglovin is that is mixes content with social interaction. (It begs to link to your Facebook profile, but you can easily decline.)

Textilfiliac loves Gorgeous Gelato

I love Portland’s working waterfront.

Thus, I have more time to enjoy ice cream flavors. Two standouts I’ve enjoyed in September? Maple gelato (ok, gelato’s not ice cream, it’s better than ice cream) from Gorgeous Gelato in Portland, Maine, which is definitely worth the trip.  We discovered this gem on Fore Street shortly after they opened in 2010.  We now detour each time we drive near Portland. Hub and I enjoyed a weekend in Portland earlier this month, enjoying gelato each and every day.

If I can’t drive 2 hours for ice cream, I’ll just as happily choose Meletharb’s baklava ice cream.  Divine, crispy and creamy.

See?  There’s no reason we can’t enjoy each flavor of everything!