Thursday, September 17, 2015

book review & giveaway: Knitless by Laura McFadden

So, I was going to tell you how I'm not so much of a big stash person.....
I made the photo above-not the cover-and the photography in the book is NOT by me- but nice and colorful!
Then I decided to  set up this shot and basically, all I did was grab a couple of bags that were within reach of my desk. Not, like, the only bags of yarn in my office.  I realized a lot of yarn has accumulated.....let's just say, I do indeed have a stash.
  Laura McFadden's crafty book Knitless: 50 N0-Knit , Stash-Busting Yarn Projects  is full of ideas for us. Some  projects are quickies, some take time and concentration.  She is an experienced crafter in many media, so she brings in paper arts, jewelry, embroidery, coil and coin rugs, macrame--and more that mix it up. Nary a knit or crochet pattern in here. Perfect opportunity to stretch your craft muscles a little while using up yarn that is lying fallow. 
photos courtesy of Running Press, from Knitless
Some projects offer a technique or idea that you can roll with, like the yarn covered bicycle, or a yarn-bombed chair that has pre-knit/crocheted recycled components. Love, love, love. (Warms my CraftActivism heart).  Some give you ideas to use yarn gobbling elements, like pompoms--I'm thinking the PomPom Covered Slippers would make a great gift, and fun in the process, as well.

Other projects are more "Make and Take"--detailed instructions to make a specific item, complete with templates for re-creating the piece, exactly.  This kind of crafting isn't my jam, but it has huge appeal for those who want to try a new craft successfully,  and when you want a project you can claim as done by the end of the day.   Coming off of making a book with 28 projects in it, all knitting, I tip my hat to the author for putting together fifty projects with clear instructions and photos. 
No Knit Quick Scarf photo courtesy of Running Press, Knitless
This is a book I'll keep on the shelf for a day when I feel like messing around and making something but I'm not sure what.  The No-Knit Quick Scarf  (above) is so simple it's crazy- I have seen a cheapo version in a store and loved it. I can imagine it with a leftover single skein of something delicious like Malabrigo Rasta
String Art Lamp photo courtesy of Running Press, Knitless
What else might I be creating from in here? The 70-'s retro string art lamp brings back memories of trying this with my mom--I didn't have much patience at the time, mine was a disaster.  I'm so tempted to try again now in my more, um, mature  version of my craftng self.

GIVEAWAY !  Want a copy of Knitless: 50 No-Knit, Stash Busting Yarn Projects by Laura McFadden? Leave a comment below, by midnight September 20, 2015.  
Since I am still using the frustrating yet free Blogger platform, you'll need to include or spell out your email (as in MeATcraftqueenDOTcom) or else Blogger will make you impossible to reach.


This book was sent to me by Running Press, the publisher. The above review  (unless you just skipped to the giveaway and if so--shame on you) is my unbiased opinion. If I didn't like it, you wouldn't be reading about it.

The blog tour for the book continues , here's the run down:

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

summer 2015 making report

I was making many things this summer. Except for, obviously, blogposts.
Sweet rowboat that carried us ashore on Nash Island at the start of summer. Waaaay overdue blogpost about that weekend.

A great deal of my making this summer surrounded a very special book project. It's a beautiful knitting book, from Clarkson Potter, but it won't be out for a year (tap.tap.tap. i'mma gonna wear a hole in the table drumming my fingers in anticipation).
 Here's a photo from the wrap of the book shoot, at the end of some very long steamy photo days. We cleverly ended on the beach...and we also unconsciously dressed as if we planned it. Cute group, right? You're probably recognizing my co-authors Kirsten Kapur  and Mary Lou Egan and the rest of the crew and models who all worked their tushes off.
Aaaannnd a super dorky BTS moment. There are wonderful shots of us working but all show too much, I can't spill the beans on the knits. Very  frustrating!  I have been proud of every book I've worked on but this one is going to be so freakin' good and you will want to knit everything in it. I already am.... That's all I am saying on it for now.

A quick report on the general activities, making and more:
- knitting-- yup yup. Finished two hats, a shawl, a cowl or two- that right there is a couple of blogposts of material, right? and now I'm  on a sweater--in my mind I've lined up my next 4 projects. I don't have enough knitting time lately but I am so in the mood. There's a new Fringe Hat a-long, and yarn from last autumn...and and and and...
The aforementioned yarn, from Rhinebeck last year. With Bobo's paws, just because.

-stitching- major fail. No progress on the Alabama Chanin projects, and despite swearing I'd crack out the ol' Singer, and make at least one Sonya Philip tunic, and some cute little frocks for Zoe, who couldn't be more appreciative and excited to have me make things for her...nope. The weather has been way too good for weeks, I can't bear to be inside. Plus, see making a book, above.

- books -most recently A Constellation of Vital Phenomenona by Anthony Marra , one of the best I've read...period. Fiction, brilliant, moving. Go get it.

- swimming- every day at the beach, still. Fingers crossed to make it into October this year. 

- reconnecting with old friends- yup. In June,with dear but farflung college friends , then in July,  my high school reunion-- a really down to earth and fun one, where the kids I hung with in 3rd and 4th grade and I all wondered why we lost touch in high school and  became our old selves again. It was eye and heart opening.  Highly recommend making the leap.

- traveling-- not so much! which let me hang around the 'hood and enjoy all the beach days, get to pick all the fruits as they come into season and cook and picnic and host visitors  and attend summery events like weekly outdoor music . I'm off ot Maine next week though, and looking forward to teaching Making Digital Photo Collages at  Fiber College.*

- shooting more knits and yarn and people -- yup. It's my job but I never get tired of it. Wait'll you see some of the new designs I've shot lately, and some amazingly talented new clients.

- blogging--well, as I said at the top, definitely failing. I 'm on Instagram a lot, and it's just too easy to neglect blogging...time to get back in the habit.

- teaching-- the Photo Editing webinar from Interweave is at last available reliably from the link. I teach it live too, in person, whenever you want me to...just give a shout.  And, I'm going to be at Fibre Space in November. yay!

So what have you been making? What's next on your list?

*still room in my class. C'mon up and join me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

upcoming: say cheese!

In June, stones on Nash Island.
I may need to re-post this from time to-time, it's  a visualization of my mantra this summer: One stone at a time. Although Anne Lamott says it better.

Here it is mid-summer. Though there's mucho to blab about, instead I'm linking some upcoming classes/events/workshops.

Fiber College in Searsport Maine, September 9-13. The only thing that makes the end of summer bearable is looking forward to this creative gathering on beautiful Penobscot Bay. As in past years, I am collaborating with Beverly Army Williams to teach two new classes that combine photography and writing for your creative business (and creative life...not limited to those with businesses).  We are doing  Making Your Social Media Twinkle (yes..twinkle) on Friday, and Selling your Products Online, on Saturday. I am also teaching Photo Editing class, Sunday morning, which will leave you able to optimize and all around make your photos fanatastic-and no Photo Shop needed.  Class descriptions and registration info here.  Fiber College is an unusual, artful, affordable and always inspiring. Maine is stunning in September, by the way. Join us. 

- Say Cheese: A Foodie & Photo Workshop Day--  new & different and truly delicious, this one. I am teaming up with longtime friend and food professional Arline Conigliaro in Lawrenceville NJ to offer two sessions of this artisanal cheese-making, nibbling, wood fired personal pizza crafting and phone photography day...details here. 
 If you know any food bloggers or folks who  like to photograph beautiful food before eating it- and post the results online--pass this on!
Two sessions_ Sunday August 9 and Monday August 10 . Bring friends! 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

3rd Thimble Isles Knitting Cruise July 21- ahoy!

Sailing by with a quick post, sorry this is of interest only to those within striking distance of Connecticut
there are no bad views from the Volsunga, our vessel
Ok mateys- Get your ticket now for the 2015 Thimble Islands Knitting Cruise, July 21st, Tuesday 6-8 pm leaving from the Stony Creek Dock in Branford CT.    Cruising, knitting and snacking included for $25. by Paypal*.  Handy dandy button at end of this post.  We've got 12 seats left, grab a project and bring a friend.
knitting friend Beth who (sob) left us for the pacific nw, on the 1st cruise in 2012

montage from last year's cruise
I know it's hubris but I'll say it anyway:  It's definitely the most seaworthy daytrip in the knitting world. Plus: fun and relaxing and great company.
Pretty sure we have pioneered knitting, yarn winding and drop spindling on the Volsunga.

Use the button to buy your ticket  via Paypal*, I'll send you a confirming email.
A few deets
• we cruise rain or shine, the Volsunga has an awning covering it, and lights.
• space is limited and we usually sell out.
• BYOB, we'll have fabulous snacks and seltzer/lemonade. I recommend gin and tonic, it goes well with salt air and peeping at the island homes,  but that's just me ;-)
• parking can be tricky in the village of Stony Creek so try to carpool and definitely aim to arrive early so you can walk down to the dock by 5:45
If you don't use Paypal and want to send me a check or some other payment method, shoot me an email at

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.