Tag Archives: knit

12 Textile Posts of Solstice

25 Dec

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.

When you can knit but can’ t count

22 Aug

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!

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.

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.

Boston Globe Features In Stitches Knitting Classes

28 May
Alanna Nelson knitting teacher Weston MA In Stitches

Globe photographers caught this image from classes at In Stitches in Weston.

The Boston Globe featured the small business In Stitches in the Metro West edition on May 24, 2015.

Jean and Tom Holtey maintain an amazing yarn and thread collection at their Weston, MA store, and online. As they cater to MetroWest knitters, crocheters, embroiderers and needlepoint enthusiasts, I’ve been lucky enough to coach knitters there in the last year. What a scintillating group of adventure seeking stitchers they are! This photograph was one of dozens taken, but I bet that weighty camera captured other fabulous views. Knowing that Jean spoke with Cindy Cantrell for 45 minutes, I found the article’s angle so heartening: the companionship and comfort of stitching.

Little did Cindy realize that so many people still knit. In the last 15 years, dozens of media blips proclaimed that “knitting isn’t just for grannies any more.” More than four million members interact on the “social media for fiber lovers” site called Ravelry (which in 2014 reported that 84 of 10,000 US citizens were members).  I was a bit incredulous that there are still so many people behind on their knitting stereotypes.

Time for us to knit in public, my friends! Time to yarn bomb, perform the craft in new settings, to wear amazing finished objects of fabulous fiber content.

Let the stitches continue!

Kleam Kerchief in Rowan Cotton Lustre

25 Mar

When Janet invited us when the Rowan yarn rep stopped by in February, I had no idea I would fall for their new bulky weight ribbon yarn called Cotton Lustre. When Jess first showed the ball of ribbon yarn, we were all a bit “Eh.” When she showed us the knit swatch, we all said “Ah.”

The first bags of Cotton Lustre arrived without the pattern books, so it was time to take matters into my own hands. Thus, with 2 skeins of Lustre, I whipped up any airy kerchief in a lace mesh pattern, which I share here with you!

Kleam Kerchief free pattern

Setting sail with Judy’s Magic Cast ON

20 Mar

One of the unexpected gems from FiberCamp last weekend was Anne’s method to create a knitted tubular cast on. There’s oodles of options, but I’d never seen her version, which uses Judy’s Magic Cast On. Surveying my knitting circles this week, I realized that many have yet to try this versatile cast on technique.

I also hadn’t explored Judy Becker’s book about other ways to use this cast on. So I ordered Becker’s book from 2011, .
Beyond Toes: Knitting Adventures With Judy’s Magic Cast-On (aka JMCO).
Now, of course, I’ve got several projects I would love to try. Stay focused, Alanna, those Master Knitter corrections need to be in the mail before sailing season begins on May 1.

I’d love to see ways any of you use JMCO in your projects. Links in comments, please?

Go ahead, mock my cables

1 Mar

Harry Callahan knew the minute he drank the sugar spiked coffee that things aren’t like usual. As I plan out a toddler Aran sweater, I seem unable to keep things predictable. So I’m incorporating cables and mock cables in my work… just to spice things up. What’s the difference?

mock cable tutorial knit by Alanna Nelson
Direct cables rearrange the order in which you work stitches to create twisted and traveling patterns across a knitted fabric.

Mock cables use increases, decreases and slip stitches to embellish the fabric. Take this swatch, “Stacked Buds” from Erika Knight’s Cables and Arans. The mock cable is created by slipping one stitch, knit one, yarn over, knit one, then passing the slip stitch over. Mock cables tend to create columns of cables. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them used in a way that they would travel across the fabric. However, if you’ve got a pattern, I’d love to see it.

traveling direct cables knit by Alanna Nelson
In addition to Knight’s stitch dictionary, Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns has a great selection of mock cable patterns. Walker has these patterns set aside in one section, whereas Knight scatters them throughout the book.

When designing my sweater for the Master Knitter requirements, I incorporated traveling and column cables, which you see at right.

Having lost many cable needles, improvising with tooth picks and twist ties has happened. With mock cables, there’s no worry about losing needles. I’ve fallen into the habit of physically rearranging the stitches when working direct cables. I do cherish a lovely pewter cable needle ring given to me by a knitting friend, made by Leslie Wind, I believe. It’s the perfect choice for projects with slippery yarns… but I digress.

Go ahead, mock my day (hate it when I’m punny!)

Implications of holiday project hopping.

3 Jan

Normally, my knitting focuses on project not process. While thoroughly enjoy meditative moments knitting, my goal is to create wearable and home decor goods. (The word “goods” reminds me of high school, that ridiculous class whose name I forget that had the test question “_____ buys goods and services.” I answered “Money.” WRONG! The correct answer was “Credit.” I apparently missed the focus of the chapter ).

Anyway, December was quite a productive month for small knitted objects. I knit the second cuddly kitten in memory of our beloved “Gatto di lusso.”

Using Norah Gaughan’s free Berocco pattern Celestine, I created what I thought would be a new star for our holiday tree. This turned out to be a fun knit, but much better suited to topping the fern. Oh, well, try again next year? It makes a fun decoration to bat around the house… great kids’ toy?

Alanna Nelson knits holiday ornaments
I also finished another Lenveloppe, this time with garter stitch on size 8 needles with Berocco Boboli.
And, of course, there was time to take a soft and squishy ball of Cascade Epiphany into the annual Christmas hat.Tim14



In between, I imagined other possible projects to begin. “Why am I such a skittish project starter these days,”  I asked hypothetically at one of the knit classes shortly before Christmas.

“Because you’re avoiding that Master Knitter work,” one of the knitters stated emphatically.

She’s right 🙂

A couple days after Christmas, I did finally open up the box of corrections that arrived in mid August. It’s not fun, but I’m plugging through them. Then again, now that the holiday knit projects are done, isn’t it a good time of year to nest and make home improvements?

7 Scarves I’d love to Knit

23 Nov
As I’ve eaten my words about wearing scarves, I thought it might be interesting to organize a list of knit scarves I would love to wear! My Ravelry queue accumulates plenty of scarf eye candy.  I may plop the pattern into my queue because there’s appropriate yarn in my stash. Other times, the scarf offers an opportunity to practice a technique. On other occasions, the scarf patterns calls out names of people I know!
For winter 2014, here are  7 scarves that may fly off my needles.
Alanna Nelson knits scarves Boston

Sally Melville’s Lenveloppe

Sally Melville’s Lenveloppe charmed the Greater Boston Knitting Guild when she visited last spring. I missed Sally’s presentation, but caught the Lenveloppe bug. I’ve knit one this fall for a gift and hope to cast on another this week. In all of Sally’s wonderful design goodness, you can knit this lovely accessory (OK, so maybe it’s not a scarf) in 5 sizes with 2 stitch patterns and 4 gauges. What a perfect cure to the great yarn in your stash that isn’t quite enough for a sweater, but too much for a simple scarf.

Alanna Nelson knits mens cashmere scarves Boston

Cerus, a linen stitch scarf by Hillary Smith Callis

Almost every man needs a scarf in New England (of course, my hub claims not to need one). There must be a knit worthy man who would enjoy Cerus by Hillary Smith Callis. Linen stitch gives a lovely texture and looks great in variegated or natural color yarns. Something REALLY soft would probably work for the knit worthy guys on my holiday list (oh, my, that may only be 2 this year). Something cashmere or alpaca perhaps? This promises to be excellent knitting for those distracted mindless hours or as a traveling project.

Boston Knitter Alanna Nelson for Twilight theme scarves

Lauren McClain’s Huntress Cowl

When Lauren McClain released the Huntress Cowl last year, I immediately downloaded this dramatic piece, knowing it would entice the Twilight obsessed set. I’ll definitely make some modifications in the construction…. Lauren suggests using duct tape to give the cowl innards body. I’m using wide upholstery piping and not rope, cause  I’m that kind of textilphiliac… it’s in my stash!

Alanna Nelson loves Twist Collective knit patterns in mosaic stitch

Courant by Barbara Benson

An opportunity to play with color and stitch pattern in one piece? Oh, yeah, bring it on! Barbara Benson brings it with Courant, from the fall 2014 Twist Collective. I do not own a great color combo of fingering yarn in my stash, but it gives me the opportunity to shop the latest color ways in Paula from Dirty Water Dyeworks. Then again, I still have a cushion in Paula that’s been on the needles for months (oh, yeah, I forgot about that…)

Alanna Nelson knits variegated sock yarn

Kieran Foley’s Camino Bubbles

I love how this scarf looks and it looks simple to knit. Camino Bubbles by Kieran Foley would look lovely in a solid color, I’m sure. But who can resist this marvelous eye candy of electric color fun?  Alas, there is no variegated yarn that will produce such dramatic effects in my stash. Rainbow doesn’t call my name in a skein or ball? Do I need to buy more yarn? This scarf may stick in the queue a while longer. Remember? Yarn/fabric are like Fritos… there will always be more.

Alanna Nelson knits blue, white Munich scarves

Lokken by Megi Burci

One of my lovely ones gave me a ball of sock weight yarns in blue and white. She thought I diamond motif scarf replicating the Munich flag would be great. I started playing with mitered squares, then I cast on Miss Winkle, frogging that, too. Then I discovered Lokken by Megi Burci. This looks like easy knitting, but the pattern needs to be nearby!

Alanna Nelson knits top down cowls

Hydrocarbon by Agness Kaku

For bulky yarn velocity, Hydrocarbon looks fabulous in photos and real life. I’d love to knit one of these, but there’s currently no bulky yarn in the stash!  Eek.

What am I doing writing about knitting when I need to get knitting?