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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…

Iris Apfel documentary

2 Aug

Really, I just wanted 20 minutes of light television to keep me company while I knit before heading to bed. Instead, I found the Iris Apfel documentary

It reminded me of the joy and inspiration when I saw the exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum a while back. Enjoy what you wear!
Catch the documentary on WGBH again on Wednesday night.

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.

4 Books to Conjure a Knit and Crochet Spring

8 Mar

Alanna Nelson Knit spring flowersWhen the view from my desk is greyscale, a splash of spring blossoms is just what I need.

This occurs every March since I’ve lived in New England. A few years ago, I took a hangar and shaped it into a green grid that could support a growing bouquet of knit and crochet blossoms. My goal was to create new flowers every year. At this point, it’s a somewhat desperate but well intentioned beginning. With all of my other knitting projects, new blossoms won’t appear  this year. But I think I’ll put the wreath up anyway. I’m ready for a shot of yellow.
Knitted blossoms New England spring wreath.

Interested in making your own knit or crochet blossoms? Here’s four resources I enjoy:
Hawaiian Lei in Crochet by Roberta Wong. Who couldn’t use a bit of Hawaiian paradise in New England after the winter we’ve had?

Nicky Epstein Knitted Flowers. If you have any of Nicky’s book, you’ll probably find a knitted flower pattern. This books keeps them all in one place!

Noni Bellows Noni Flowers: 40 Exquisite Knitted Flowers is the perfect book if you have tidbits of leftover wool. I bought this book two years ago as I love her knitted and embellished handbag patterns. Alas, I have yet to do anything other than fondly page this gorgeously styled pattern book.

Leslie Stanford’s 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet features slightly more crochet patterns than knit, but that’s not a big deterrent to me!

If you create any spring blossoms with me, show me your photos on Ravelry. I love virtual bouquets!

Made to Last

12 Apr

Alanna Nelson designs knits in Boston
I remember when my Grandma finished this needlepoint bag. Perhaps I even remember the day when she and my mom bought the kit… or is it just a dream… after all, this was the 1970’s.

Last November, this bag was still in use, holding the knitting project Grandma kept in her closet. With her vision so dim, I’m not sure how she ever managed to knit that novelty yarn, all pink and fluffy. I worked a couple of rows and corrected a couple of slipped stitches to make knitting easier for her.

Grandma had downsized numerous times in the last 20 years. In the end, this was one of the things she still kept. So when I saw in the pile for potential charity donation after her death last month, I knew it belonged to me now.

Hand made memories, made to last.

Hanging at Original Sewing Expo SAQA booth

9 Apr

It’s another one of those ridiculous weekends when there’s not enough time for all the great exhibits going on in New England. So spoiled to bask in the plethora of textile wonder, my weekend will actually start on Thursday, April 10 at the Original Sewing Expo in Worcester. Find me at the Studio Art Quilt Associates booth at the beginning of the day.

Of course, it’s time for the Machine Quilters Expo… an event I’ve never actually been to, but I can count on Laurena and other Rising Star Quilters to fill me in.

If you haven’t yet seen the New England Quilt Museum’s  exhibit of the 2012 Nihon Japan winning quilts… run!  The show closes this weekend.  I was so pleased to see my friend Teresa Gai‘s quilt there.

As I test my hat pattern and proof my Master Knitter Portfolio, my thoughts turn back to quilting. Walking at Breakheart Reservation last weekend, I loved the black and white lines contrasting with the blue sky and the winding path. Possibilities…..

Alanna Nelson SAQA Art Quilts at Original Sewing Expo

Irene and the Embroidery

10 Apr

Last week, while helping at Sit N Knit, Irene asked me about an embroidery project that she was about to attack.  Someone had a small (four inches square) embroidery piece.  They wanted Irene to add a name to the existing embroidery and then have it framed as a gift.  What did I think about this?  Did I have any books that discussed this?

Hmmm… I wasn’t sure what type of embroidery it was, but I do know that it wasn’t cross stitch.  I guessed that it was probably crewel embroidery, so out came a childhood favorite: Erica Wilson’s The Craft of Crewel Embroidery.  A small embroidered name in a stem or split stitch would probably work.

But how to approach this project?

  1. First, I wouldn’t embroider the name onto the original piece.  It’s already small; how would you keep your tension? You’d need to attach additional fabric to the original in order to fit in a frame.  So why not just appliqué the original embroidery to a nice cotton or linen canvas after embroidering the name on the new fabric?  It protects  the original work from excess handling and stress.  No vintage or antique textile likes stress!
  2. Next:  what style of lettering?  There are many ways to do this, but I suggest 2 different possibilities: a nice, hand written pencil marking with beautiful script or choosing a font from your word processing program.  Choose the size and font that appeals to you and print out a page with the exact writing.  Take your embroidery canvas and press a piece of freezer paper to the wrong side.  Then, tape the paper with the writing onto a window.  Place your canvas on top of the paper and tape it as well (blue painter’s tape works well here).  Trace the letters with a sharp HB or a number 2 pencil.  If you have a light box, that works wonders, but not every home has one of those!
  3. Take your canvas off the window and you are ready to embroider!
Good luck Irene!  Here I come with the book to lend you…. can’t wait to see how this works for you.