Monday, December 08, 2014

FO monster monday

Finished just in time for the cold weather:  Monster Cowl . Started last winter, tucked away when I hadn't finished by spring. I love this chevron stitch, it's gently hypnotic to knit. I was chugging on merrily, when I noticed the pattern suggested stopping to kitchener it at 45", warning of blocking growth. ooops! I was closing in on 50". No worries. I love the size.
Excuse the, ummm, styling, or lack thereof. It was an impromptu photoshoot. Want some details? 
pattern: Monster Cowl by Julia Allen.
yarn: Shepherds Wool from Stone Hedge Fiber Mill in Michigan
needles: US 9
finished size: after blocking, about 54" in length around, and 7.5" wide
notes: so obviously, one edge is going to be nice and neat and the other, the side where you change colors,  is going to have the yarn carried up along it.  I'll fess up to sometimes forgetting to properly wrap the working yarn around the one lying fallow for that row. 
(oh man. I just fell down this grammar rabbit hole and I am still not sure if I used the past tense of lie correctly or if maybe it should have been laying). 
Where was I? 
Oh yeah, my less-than-neat edge. Before blocking, it was messy enough to considering covering with icord all around,  or maybe a row of crochet. Afterwards, it settled in A-OK. Don't you love well behaved yarn?
This was so satisfying to knit that I may cast on for one as a gift for someone I like who admired it repeatedly in that kind of way. I've already cast on for a coordinating hat. Those skeins are generous at 250 yards each.  Not the Monster Hat- that would be too matchy for me --but using the rest of the yarn held double for a bulky hat.
What are you knitting this fine frosty morning? 
(and if it's not frosty where you are? well......)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

not so random

stones on Nash Island in Maine , with Trig, a hat pattern by Mary Lou Egan
This started as a Random Stuff post, blabbing about work, what I've been making and knitting and I'm traveling this weekend and what I'm teaching, and what I'll knit on the train and bus, and oh, you know, the weather and how I want to knit all the hats. And CRAFT FRIDAY .....
But it's never really random, just like there aren't really coincidences. Enough time or enough thought always reveals the connection.
Example: I've been putting together presentations. I was listening to a webinar about vision-based portfolios. Love the concept. I trained and worked as a photojournalist. Man oh man do I adore a narrative, so I tend to default to one as I present images.  It is so hard to edit my own work.  I tried letting my brain go loose-y goose-y and guess what? Seemingly random images went together.
This pairing is dyed fiber at a farm in 2006, and on the right, my own Decibella Cowl pattern. 
I'll probably demo making these photo pairings, and how to embellish them further,  and of course,  collages with many more images and graphics, even circular images, when I teach the Making Collages with PicMonkey  Interweave webinar on Monday, 11/24/14  at 1pm eastern live. Join me, please?  Or get it recorded to listen to on-demand. I am telling you, the above show restraint, you can go CRAZY with the tools on that free software.  I think we'll start all buttoned down and simple like this,  and then just continue on and on with loads of options.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

iphone photo love

I am amazed how much I use my phonecam, when I am not officially on a job. It's so freeing.  If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don't , why not? oh comeon.  I'm galezucker) you'd maybe have seen these two images this week.  With a couple of phone apps, I can make photoediting/processing changes that, not so long ago, took hours of photoshop.  I am not exaggerating here.
Also not so long ago, a knitter jokingly said "You know, you should  teach a  phonecam Photo for Knitters class because I am too lazy to use my real camera" and we all laughed.  At the time, the cameras weren't so good, the controls weren't there. But now? Absolutely.  Is it the same as shooting with a DSLR ? Nope. But can you make images you'll love,  that capture your life and your craft and your world? And can enliven your FB and fill your Ravelry projects page ? Oh yes.

Which is why I am thrilled to be teach SmartPhone Masterpieces at The YarnSpot in Wheaton/ Silver Spring Maryland next weekend.  Saturday morning, November 22, 10:30-1:30. I am also thrilled that Sivia Harding is teaching there too next weekend, so I get to meet her. Join us! It's going to be fun. I guarantee you'll learn some new tricks.
Isn't the world a grand and colorful place? You probably won't be surprised to learn my standard reply to the question "what's the best camera? "  is : the one you have on you.

Friday, November 07, 2014

FOUND on Friday: a perfect plan AND a fine idea

(Actually they are both fine ideas and perfect plans.)

A PERFECT PLAN  Behold my purchases from Rhinebeck,  as reported. Up by Bobo's paws,  Paintbox Gradients set from Fiber Optic.  When I taught at SSK the summer before last, I had the perq of shopping the marketplace early. A perq so wasted on me. There I stood, stumped by the beautiful gradients at Fiber Optics. What would I knit? What colors did I want? Bright and cheerful ? Subtle and earthy? Darn that talented dyer Kimber for her artfulness! The chocolate brown to light aqua transition totally spoke to me - but I guess it was mumbling. Took me till a couple of weeks ago, when I learned she was vending at Rhinebeck, to hear it clearly.  I only had to decide on yarn base.  Kashmir yarn with its 10% cashmere was it.
To offset my squirminess of owning a special yarn without a special plan, I sought a skein of natural to go with it, something with a halo. I had no pattern but a twinkle of a shawl idea.  Icelandics are feeling near to my heart this season, I've been working with Lars Rains on his  Modern Lopi collection.  When I bumped into Lars Himself at the Frelsi Farm Icelandics booth, I knew I had my 2nd yarn:  a  skein of fingering weight singles, in natural Bark.
Yesterday Kirsten Kapur released her Abingdon shawl pattern. The missing piece fell in place. A perfect plan for my  pairing. I can hardly wait to cast on.*

A FINE IDEA: I'll start blabbing about this now!  Beverly Army Williams is leading the charge for  CRAFT FRIDAY: a CraftActivist handmade alternative to the consumer-crass-ugly-day-after-Thanksgiving-glop that overlays the holiday weekend. First step: read her post and join the Pinterest Craft Friday page .  Second step: post about it yourself.  Spread the word. Plan a party. Third step: make a list of what you want to make that day.
More to come.

* the first commenter below will be my 5000th comment on this blog. 5000!  That seems so...I don't know, worthy of recognition! I love that you come by to read this, and taking the time to comment is icing on the cake. Very wonderful icing. I means seriously, you have no idea how great it is to hear from you. I'm going to gift the first commenter a copy of Kirsten's Abingdon shawl pattern, so you can knit one, too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

BTS: Versaci Knits Kids Photo Shoot

Welcome to another Behind the Scenes. This time,  with Lori Versaci of Versaci Knits.  I am a huge fan of Lori's designs for grownups- I mean, Modern Tunic? Pour Moi? .When she said she wanted me to shoot a collection of kids' sweaters for a book,  I knew the little knits would be spot on, too.
Photo above , captioned later by the mom as "Please, put on the sweater, please. I will buy you a pony tonight if you just. put. on.the. sweater." 

 The photo shoot was in Princeton NJ. I always set up a joint secret Pinterest mood board as we plan, to get the photo juices rolling and define the look. Sometimes you can't articulate what you want--but you know it when you see it. Pinterest is genius for this.
Lori's Pins revealed a love for classic but updated kids' imagery- just like her designs. We chose a historic stone building for the background, kept everything understated and neutral except the knits themselves (oh those saturated Madeline Tosh colors!) and gathered classic kids'toys, and accessories made form natural materials-  leather and straw.
The weather served up a sticky, drizzly day with rumbling clouds and threatening thunderstorm, and our  little 3 year old model wasn't feeling great-- up until the last minute we kind of wondered if the whole shebang was going to be a bust--but then, Boom, it came together. Luckily the building had a wide protected  porch, and the skies opened up (biggger BOOM) in torrents just as we completed the photo shoot. 

VersaciKnits is doing  series of trunk shows and appearances, if you want to catch her. I'm planning to see her at my LYS Knit New Haven next week (yay!). She's teaching a short rows tutorial, which I hope will staunch that feeling I always have on short rows, that I am quite possibly doing them wrong. Or, there's a Better Way.
Lest you think all my photos turn out well--here's an alternative set-up that shows why the background choice matters!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Postcards from Rhinebeck 2014

A thing one can count on in life:the NY Sheep & Wool Festival  is always a good time.
 Babydoll Southdown Sheep. Want. I'll tell my neighbors they are Shoodles.

 It's all about the people, and the making community. So many talented, creative, fun friends in one place! Clockwise from upper left: Jill DraperCal Patch, Ariana McLean- my festival partner in crime,  Laura Nelkin, Sam from A Gathering of Stitches (and Mr AGOS, Don), Sonya Philip and that's Amy Lou's head.
Two of my darling housemates* Misa Erder & Kim Andersen, proving that yoga and roller derby, respectively, make for good posture while knitting. And fabulous smiles. The rest? No captions needed.
There was shopping**. Hanging with Kirsten Kapur/Through the Loops was delightful, as always. Good company and I love her eye. That's her new basket filled with purchases. Right? I bought from my fave soap /body lotion vendor, and Ariana, who matches me in the Indecisive Shopper Club, chose a handmade wool coat***.
The festival requires visiting faves: Nanne Kennedy at her SeaColors booth, the apple cider donuts hut (that is at the very closing minute, no lines) and THAT tree.
Lest you think it was all peaceful and bucolic: an overview looking towards the foodstands/ABCD buildings, and the scrum of friends in big, noisy, largely unphotographed meetup: Beverly Army Williams, Kay Gardiner and Sarah Sprung.
Parting shot. From Kiki Luscious, an IG friend I got to meet in person!

Just a few notes:
While prepping to teach the Photo Editing for Knitters webinar yesterday, I got waaay into making collages in the software I demo'ed.  So much so that Interweave has asked me to teach a photo collage webinar next month. I used it to do this post. Not bad, eh?
* I stayed at the big eccentric house again, shared with a dozen or so wonderful folks--and it was joyous. Lots of hanging out and knitting in the kitchen, laughter, and a banging potluck.
** I bought yarn! I was decisive! I'll share in another post.
***the coat was made by a vendor with the name Ursula in it. Regretfully I can't recall the proper title.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Rhinebeck coming back around

My biggest WIP - or maybe my grandest plan WIP- is my Rhinebeck Style Project. Maybe you remember it? Maybe you are one of the 323 +/- people who so kindly posed in their fabulous fibery finest in it?  I'd hoped to whip this WIP into a book by now. Not yet.  I still adore..A.D.O.R.E. this project though.

I'll share the video again to get us all in the mood for the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, happening this weekend in Rhinebeck NY.  See you there?

And in other WIP news, my Audrey sweater is bolero sized. With a super busy and social long weekend,  I knew by Sunday there was no way no how  it'd be a sweater in time for Rhinebeck. Which is predicted to be balmy, anyway.   Let's cheer for the procrastinating knitters! Catch me in a shawlette or maybe, early in the morning, in my Shellseeker.  (and as an aside, maybe someone will get a decent photo of me wearing it. I mean, really, those are awful at that link).

Finally in this Wednesday's WIP roundup-:  I'm  putting the final  touches on a Photo Editing  for Knitters webinar that'll debut live, next week, from Interweave. It's taught using a free online software,no PhotoShop necessary at all. I am having so much fun putting it together.  We'll go from basic editing--cropping, straightening, adjusting color and contrast and opening up shadows, that kind of thing to really touching up a photo to change the emphasis on what it's about, to retouching people, to adding text and graphics and making a collage.

 Sign up here to watch it live on Oct 22, 2014  at 1 pm eastern, you get access to download the recorded version if you watch it live. Or you can order it recorded. It is going to be packed with demos, tips and ideas, so I suspect the "watch a bit, pause, try something on your computer, watch a little more" factor is going to be very useful.

PS. The mittens shown in the promotional photo are Lodestar, by Amy Christoffers, from Green Mountain Spinnery. In case you were wondering!