Thursday, June 25, 2015

Carnaby Kid behind the scenes

This morning Lori Versaci of Versaci Knits released her adorable Carnaby Kid sweater. It's, the tiny version of her fun adult Carnaby Street design*. A few weeks ago,  I met Lori for cocktails after I taught  at Pins and Needles in Princeton. Between gin drinks--very good gin drinks-- she tucked the sweater into my bag and asked me to shoot it on Zoe.  The drinks were so good, we didn't quite discuss details--but it was obvious to me that we'd made a winning model:design pairing. Really, no bias ;-)  This past Sunday, the shoot finally happened.
Official version, above. Serious style! Thought you might like to see what else went on when I slipped the stripey wonderfulness onto the 3 year old with the freshly trimmed bangs. Sister Lulu had come over for pancakes. For the bazillionth time, she was drafted into helping with reflector/diffuser duties. Sister knows how to throw some shade, on demand.
We'd been shooting for 10 minutes in increasingly sticky weather by the tracks at the end of the street when we heard the toooooooot toooot of the vintage trolley approaching--do you see it in the upper left? Our model got a little excited. She's been wanting to ride the "choochoo".
A split second later, completely unplanned,  barefoot and with camera in tow, we're trolley passengers. We're breezing through the wetlands it crosses, spying egrets,  and nesting osprey with their babies, enroute to the ShorelineTrolley Museum.  My neighborhood adds the local color for tourists  We didn't let them down when we boarded, unfolded reflector flopping with us.

Wicker seats! People used to ride with civility. The wool sweater was a little warm..but so dapper.
The trolley makes a stop at the car barn out in the woods. Visitors see the old subway cars and trolleys under restoration, and learn commuter train history. We skipped that part while our sweater model put on her sparkly sandals and played house in a vintage trolley stop shelter.
Waiting for the whistle to all on board again.
We rode back to our street. It's the turnaround spot for the trolley.  As we headed home,  the trolley went the opposite way. Not that you could tell without a caption.  I just couldn't post this one without adding arrows--so ominous!

Monday, June 01, 2015

hello, literally, from ohio

and, bye bye Columbus.*
Door to the sweet airbnb house I stayed at  in Columbus for TNNA this past weekend.  TNNA is the annual summer trade show for the yarn & knitting industry, this year in Ohio. Rest assured that the knitting world is alive and well...and wow there's some nice yarn coming to a LYS near you.
For example the gorgeous new Swans Island All American sportweight yarn.  Maybe I am biased, I photographed the  new pattern grouping that debuted for the yarn - I (jokingly) call it  MY LINE.  I love seeing images almost life size in the booth, from a freezing cold shoot up in Maine last January. Really excellent patterns and colors- so new they are not even on Ravelry yet. I'll add links as they appear because you will love them.

The wonderful Clara Parkes caught me looking happy with them.
Goofy smile but authentic.

More loveliness from Feederbrook Farm, in northern Maryland. They do gradients. striping skeins that look handspun--and have a yarn & fiber  CSA. Nice folks. Can you tell she is a former science teacher?  They offer some cool classes, too. So many good people in this industry.

It was fun to see friends & clients and of course to be immersed in materials I love to work with-but it wasn't a vacation. We did a small photo shoot, many meetings, some work with co-authors on a book that is moving along at a trot. And there's the long established irony of working at a knitting event that leaves you precious little time to actually knit! I brought along what I think of as my slo-mo Cladonia shawl. One of these days I'll finish it.
I kind of like how it fit into our airbnb's living room seating though. 

* out of nowhere this movie popped into my brain. I bet it would be a hoot to watch.

Friday, May 15, 2015

photo editing workshop on 5/21 + behind the scenes

You have seen Kirsten Kapur's Shawl Book One, haven't you? I'm super proud to be the photographer.  Since I need to also let you know about the upcoming LIVE Interweave webinar I'm doing Thursday May 21st on PHOTO EDITING, I'll use an image from the book to show exactly why Photo Editing is so crucial.
register for the webinar in advance
 The Before is an idea gone bad. Too much blue sky distracting from the model and more importantly, the Cladonia Shawl. Shadows in the wrong places. Dirt (or maybe that's a bird flying by, in the sky). Phone lines, bad cropping, get it. It's not a successful image out of the camera.  The shawl is not the star of the visual story.  But it is, in the After photo.

Photo editing can't make a bad picture good, but it can make a promising picture pretty wonderful. Join me and see how easy it is using a free/inexpensive online software --no PhotoShop needed. Register here. It's about an hour long, and you can listen to it again, recorded, later on.
We shot the whole book in one day, although many days of prep work went into it. That calls for another BTS post, I think, or this one will go on for too long!  Kirsten wanted to shoot in my neighborhood in March. I live in an old beach neighborhood with lots of character. We dress super casually, it's a running joke that you can wander around the neighborhood in paint splattered shirts and mismatched ripped shorts and look amazing, but if you forget to pull yourself together before wandering into town, or go to work or---horrors- travel the 100 miles to New York City--you look raggedy. If not deranged.  My brain apparently couldn't process that I was doing my real job for a client, yet staying the the 'hood. Hence, it turns out this is what I looked like  as the book photo shoot got underway. Thanks to Kirsten for catching the styling, it cracks me up.
and here's me in action. You can tell it was still chilly out by all the crew's layers. Shawls, of course.
 I'll leave you with something nice from the book, the shot we were actually working on.  The Ulmus shawl, modeled by wonderful Katrina. More views in the shawl link.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

smartphone photo workshops in NJ this weekend

JOIN ME in a workshop this weekend- click on the shop name to register

Saturday at Pins & Needles in Princeton NJ   1:30-4:30 pm    almost full

Sunday at Trillium Yarns in Morristown NJ  1-4 pm   just 2 spaces left

If you follow my Instagram feed, you know I use my iPhone camera a lot.
No need to feel guilty if you're using a phonecam instead of a "real" camera. These days our smartphone cameras are  crazy good quality, and almost always handy.
above, my recent  IG feed, all iPhone photos with the exception of the reposted malabrigo yarn photo in the middle left column, , which I shot for Kirsten's book
That's why I'll be teaching hands on smartphone photography workshops this weekend.
both of these were quick phone photo grab shots to show some yarn-y projects on the blog
They are fun classes. Whether you shoot your knits, your travels, your sunnyside up eggs (oh come on who doesn't?), I promise you'll learn new tricks to make your phone cam images soar.  We'll use  free or inexpensive apps to quickly make your good photos great, right in the phone. Small adjustments, little shifts, controlling the cropping  and adding depth of field are my favorites, but we'll run the gamut--and then have a group slideshow at the end.

Click on the shops at the top of the post to grab your seats, space is limited.  This is a workshop a knitter can share with a non-knitting friend. We know that doesn't happen often, ina yarn shop.  Who knows, once there, they might could succumb to wool fumes.
An iPhone photo Befre and After, taken at my peak sheep moment at the Ct Sheep & Wool Fest last weekend.
Before, on the left , courtesy of an 8 year old   and After, on the right. We'll cover adding type on the image, during the workshops.

I'll gladly teach this Smartphone Photo workshop  in your community--at a yarn shop, workplace, retreat, whatever--shoot me an email.

Monday, April 13, 2015

fo (not) friday: a little funny bunny doll

I knit a lot of little under-the-radar things that never make it to this space.  For example, on the recent holiday extravaganza weekend (Passover/Easter/Snow Melting Lovefest) I had the sudden wants to knit a bunny for Zoe.  
In case you lost count, Zoe is 3 now. Can you see why, despite my long history of having no interest in knitting dolls, I was seized by this impulse?  I could have downloaded a pattern for any of these irresistible softies:  Bunny Nuggets from Rebecca Danger, Beau the Bunny from Woolful, Susan B. Anderson's Bunny fact go search bunny on Ravelry and you'll find plenty of wonderful patterns. 
Instead, I made it up as I went along, using yarn that last saw action as baby booties for Zoe. I thought the angora was a nice nod, like a fiber private in-joke.
Say hello  to Funny Bunny, as we call him. I was aiming for something in between the Bunny Nuggets and a more realistic doll. I maybe{cough}{pretty much} missed my mark, but Zoe loves him. Although she told me his eyes are "not right" and requested button replacements. It is, in all truth, amazing what the face stitches do for a doll. Refer to my last knit doll foray, 10 years ago (!) when I coerced my favorite friends into knitting bears for the Mother Bear Project
(and how the heck is that 10 years ago, anyway??)
Anyway, Zoe's comment  gave us a good excuse to dump out the button tin and sort buttons--an activity I seriously love.

It does leave me with some questions, including....why don't I knit little dolls more often? and, what do you all stuff your knit dolls with? I used to have some of that acrylic fluff I use when making Halloween costumes but couldn't find it, and anyway, it seemed so wrong inside the wool. Do you use batting? Washed fleece? I ended up using some old, clean, well darned and still holey wool socks- -a lumpy solution, which added to Funny Bunny's odd  demeanour. 

Psssst- Kirsten Kapur's brand spankin' new book: Ten Best Loved Shawls Book 1 is out! Order it directly .  Or request at your LYS. I did the photos and I am super proud of this collaboration.
 Par-tay at Trillium Yarns in Morristown NJ this weekend. See you there?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

wip Wednesday Aristida shawl

Late February, it was like this: I see snow flying in the umpteenth storm, then the invitation to my cousins' beach wedding in Key Largo on the fridge catches my eye, I go online, I buy tickets. On an impulsive roll, I go back online and buy a dress, and a shawl pattern download because I had 3 weeks time and the dress needed something.   Lori had just posted this photo of her Aristida shawl . I fell hard for the whole thing. Her styling.  Especially, especially, the bobbles and fringe.  I should add that I had already called my sisters to find out what "beach formal attire" meant. We concluded "Good Old Fashioned Hippy Party Clothes". Fringe!
A skein of Manos Fino in Peep Bunny Watered Silk later,  I cast on. As it turned out, my dress arrived about 10 pounds (of mine) too tight, so the coordinating shawl was moot. Whatever! I was heading out of the snow!  Although the shawl was pretty far along,  it was not done in time. Whatever, again! The weather was so beautiful, I didn't need a shawl. We danced like maniacs and dined under the stars in celebration of a beautiful couple. Three and a half days of Key Largo was heavenly.
And I totally enjoyed the knitting. This is such satisfying lace--not fussy, not so hard you need to stare at charts...lovely. With a 490  yard skein I figured I could throw in a full extra repeat, no harm.  I was mistaken. Only five rows to go.
My options: less shawl or more yarn.  NO WAY was I ripping, I have felt lately that all my shawls are just a little too small.  Doing without the bobbles and fringe? Out of the question. My LYS was out of the yarn. I posted a search on Ravelry.
How much do I love the world of knitters? Within a day I had 2 responses, and one, Jarah, offered to send me her skein, for me to use as much as I needed-- I'd guesstimated 100
yards, I mean, who knows? Probably less, right? -- and then send it back across the country to her.  Yes, I know, really! How wonderful and generous is that? Knitters are the best.

But I guess you already know that.
Before the wedding. We cleaned up. I even wore glitter 2" high flip flops. So much fun.

New classes on the schedule, teaching in New Jersey, May 2 & 3rd

Fiber College of Maine class signups just launched, for September - and the new website is a beauty. Join us there!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fo friday: the audrey cardigan

OK, not quite Friday?  Ironically, my blog turned 10 years old right around when I clammed up in February. I was working on an epic, thoughtful, all encompassing post...but, um, yeah. To sum up--- yay, blogging! Meanwhile, I've been up to many things.  Including knitting.
Here's my Audrey cardigan, debuting during lunch with Beverly Army Williams a few weeks ago. We met to plan course proposals for Fiber College *,in Searsport Maine, we'll be co-teaching again come September 9-13th. Class registration launches April 1st.
In answer to questions surely crossing your mind....
    - yes, it was really cold, all the layers you see were not nearly enough, and that's inside  the restaurant. Let's just say it has been an excellent winter and spring for wool lovers around here.

    -  Beverly is wearing her Wingfeathers shawl, in JillMakesStuff Rifton. Rather fab, isn't it?

 I adore my sweater, loving it right from the cast on with Starcroft Nash Light yarn ,  a perfect wooly, soft, bouncy yarn. 
Plus the realization that  I know exactly where the wool grew. Nash Island sheep! I accumulated the skeins a few at a time over the last couple of years- you can see me clutching some halfway down in my blogpost here from the first time I helped with roundup and shearing day on the island.
I made it a little more over sized than it needs to be, but no matter, it's a favorite and brightened my winter wardrobe-. Psychologically, too.

The color blocking was changed from the pattern as written, to suit myself- both my shape and my quantities of various colors. This is what I love about making my own clothes. Changing it up as I wish, or spontaneously. I know there's also the camp that wants to make a sweater to exactly match the sample..but I am almost never happy there.
As you can see, I AM happy here. The pattern is a yarn gobbler...if you think about it, the front is double layered. It's knit top down, in one piece, with faux seams. When I got to the the sleeves,  I'd planned the Lobster (truly great colorway name)  lower arm but didn't have enough of the main body (Cove) color, so improvised the striped section between the two. I'm very happy with it. You'll notice I ran out of Lobster before I came to the knuckles on my left hand too.  I like to think it looks intentional. Humor me!

One of my favorite features is the extra long sleeves with thumb holes-- like built -in fingerless mitts. First time I've made a sweater with them, won't be the last. I couldn't decide on a front closure, or where I'd  place it, so I left it open. If you look at the projects page, which I assure you I did a gazillion-millionty  times, there are many options. Sometimes I just let it fall open, like in the image with Beverly, and sometimes I pin it shut. Or, I guess, hold it, in a weird and awkward way.

And that in the upper right? If you have taken a workshop with me, you know I disparage (OK, outright mock)  cliche poses, especially hands cupped clutching something. It's so overdone, and in any case, whatever is in the hands inevitably becomes the focal point of the photo when it should be about the knits. I especially poke fun at the use of empty mugs. Extra pokes if the model is in some deep woods or natural setting with empty tableware. Beverly, who kindly photographed me, couldn't resist. So, there you have it.
* Fiber College is an  inspirational fiber arts retreat in the most beautiful setting.  Unique vibe, fabulous teachers and a certain something special happens every single year.   I am already looking forward to it!