Tuesday, December 12, 2017

giveaway BT Loft for mitts (and more)

My co-author and brilliant knitter Mary Lou Egan blogged about the Turoa Mitts pattern by our other co-author, Kirsten Kapur, and threw in a giveaway of a skein of Brooklyn Tweed Loft. It's one of many substitute yarns you could use to make these little beauties. As a gift. Or a a little holiday self-care for your hands. 

In classic Mary Lou style, in the same blogpost as the giveaway, she drops a killer knitting tip: how to judge the comparative weight of two yarns.  Let's say you've got, ohhh I dunno...a zillion leftover skeins of yarn you might use for these mitts but you are just not sure what weight they are. Or how they'd go if you want to knit them together to make a Sidekick Hat?  Or you think the yarn company must have been drunk when they called a yarn worsted as  it's skinnier than most fingering weight ?  You will want her trick.  

More giving --seeing as it is the first night of Chanukah tonight (no, I am not prepared, whydoyouask??), I'm going to gift you with more excellent tips and advice: go give a listen to Abby Glassenberg's annual community tips podcast from her While She Naps podcast.  Now, I know you are thinking "but she sews stuffed dolls, and I do not, I am a knitter/maker/DIY person" but here's the thing..the tips span many crafts and well beyond. Many good recommendations for books, podcasts, tools....and some quilting stuff that I don't understand, but you might!

Lastly: Our book Drop Dead Easy Knits is  full of excellent patterns, stylish but sot-too-taxing to knit AND I just noticed  it's super reasonably priced on Amazon this week. Geeez. For the cost of two single patterns elsewhere,  you get all these. (Ravelry link to see all 29 patterns).  Buy it , throw in a gift certificate to your LYS (or, use it as an excuse to visit your LYS to pick out some yarn in person) and BOOM excellent gift for a knitter in your life. 
Or...you know. Self-care.;-)


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

upcoming classes & events

A peek...from  a photo shoot for this cowl pattern, to be released soon from the talented Elizabeth Elliott Knits. It's a good thing the cowl has such strong graphics or the eyes would take over the whole photo. Made ya look!

Are you attending TNNA in Las Vegas in January ? Thinking of it ? Do it!  I am looking forward to teaching three classes there. Join me!  

The class sizes will be smaller than the June summer show. We can really get into helping YOU and make sure you leave with new skills and a customized plan.  Plus--what a hoot? ! We'll be in Las Vegas?! Actually the whole show is going to be more personal, in a mart format. It's a great chance to connect with others in the industry. I love the hustlebustle of the summer show but it can be hard to do more than a quick chat that week.  Building relationships takes at least a MaiTai by the pool, right? (JOKING!)  I am not even sure what is in a MaiTai.( I'll have tequila,  thankyouverymuch). I do think it'll be a great opportunity to meet yarn industry folks worth knowing.

I am teaching
Become Insta-Savvy: Instagram as Community Builder 
with co-teacher Beverly Army-Williams. We'll help you get on board or smarten the way you use my fave social media platform. It's a very powerful and fun way to stay in touch and connected to your customers, or meet new ones. Words, pictures, planning, nuts and bolts...we cover it all.  I am amazed how much real business gets done on Instagram. You can find me on Instagram almost daily. Follow and say hi!

Beverly and I are also co-teaching Simplify The Newsletter .  We know small business owners and creatives have trouble finding time to put together a newsletter, so it gets sent irregularly.  Or haphazardly. We'll take a second look at how to apprioach the newsletter,  help you streamline the way you create content, make it fun, and make a plan that will work for you, specifically. Start 2018 with consistent and eagerly awaited newsletters to your email list!
Lastly,  I'll be teaching my beloved I-Phoneography class*. It's a fun, hands-on chance to discover how easy it is to make smartphone camera photos fabulous. The reason I enjoy teaching it so much is everyone leaves happy. I see them posting great images right away, after class.  I share tips, and tricks that are easily put to use, as well as demo a free creative app that helps you make strong, professional looking images that pop out on social media. Or anywhere, really.   The beautiful Backyard Fiberworks yarnballs above? A quickie smartphone photo just as it was getting dark out. 

 If you are in Connecticut, Beverly and I are also teaching at a very cool new place, The StoryTellers Cottage in Simsbury CT.   We're teaching a three part class (sign up for as much as you want/need to learn) on blog writng and photography, and also a Creating Haiku Postcards Valentines Day workshop. You can find these plus a lot of other fun opportunities, on their calendar.

Do you do needlepoint? Is there a needlepoint FB page you like or forum?  Where do needlepoint folks hang out online? if you know, do tell!

* BTW? I teach this class inside th yarn industry and outside it, as well. If it would be useful to your organization, company, sales staff, civic group, institution, whatever....give me a shout , I am happy to come teach an in-service. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

post 10: 3 things I'm doing again

After a long hiatus, a return to
 1) Yoga .....November is my least favorite twelfth of the year. It's always hard but by the first day Nov 2017 I was stressed and agitated over various goings on. And the darkness didn't help. Thanks to some wise words (perhaps not even intentionally delivered), I returned to yoga on an unlimited pass for the month. I went 10 times. Not bad considering I was gone for a few days, twice.  What a joy. I feel  great. And I made it through the month without imploding. I may be addicted!
 Stone Fences Cowl by by Elizabeth Elliott Knits --

2) Listening to classical music_ I usually listen to books on Audible, or podcasts,  on  long drives and while editing photos, and  while knitting late at night. This month's book group selection, Lincoln in the Bardo made me sad and jumpy (yes I know it's amazing--just wrong for my mood) 
I was thinking of what would take me away-- and thought of how much time I spent in my teenage years listening to classical music, as a devoted but definitely UNtalented viola player. I was, in fact, an out-of-tune viola player, yet I stuck with it passionately till college.  Sitting in the middle of the string section surrounded by music was a happy place. Turns out blasting a Mozart station on Pandora is a good mood lifter in my office and around the house.
(The wonderful design, above, is a favorite recent release from a photo shoot last summer. I didn't have a classical music photo--but I could say this design is a symphony of beautiful yarns cleverly worked together......but then I'd have to issue a schmaltzy prose warning, too....)

3 Sewing clothing --- I've been meaning to crank up the old Singer FashionMate machine for too many years. I grew up sewing and loved making clothes for myself, then costumes for my kiddos when they were little...and then I got out of the habit, completely. A weekend in New Hampshire with my dearest maker friends, formerly my housemates when we all taught at a retreat annually, got me seaming. Our generous hostess and crack indie EVERYTHING designer (seriously--Ellen Mason makes sewing patterns, knitting, crochet, and her own yarn, too) set us up with an unreleased pattern that I love. And then patiently coached me.
Is that the BEST sizing ever? She melded a larger bottom with a medium top, just like nature did for me ;-)  . I may be triangular but I am also very appreciative. 
This pinafore jumper/ apron dress will be out in 2018. I want to sew a jillion of them. 

Ok, you'll notice a return to blogging regularly, let alone DAILY,  is NOT amongst the three. I'll keep trying.....

For more 3 Things on Thursday, look over at the bottom of Carole's blog.

Monday, November 27, 2017

post 9: talking yarn still lifes (and talking and talking...)

One of several balls I wound off my Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire yarnbaby, sitting in for a lighting and prop test. I really like this off-the-cuff image. I also really like this yarn and what I am knitting with it--but that is another blogpost. 

I've had occasion to think about still life photos lately. I mean, I make still life photos for the blog and instagram, and in my commercial work as called for. I usually stack things and create three dimensional setups.
 Some happy handspun I was gifted last spring, with out of focus little pompom props. Love this yarn, too.

 I hadn't ever stopped to formalize my thoughts and preferences on shooting still lifes. Photographing people is what I'm most often hired for and lucky for me, many are people wearing knits or holding yarny things.  But in teaching and interviews, I'm often speaking on  how to make better still life photos. If you'd like to hear what I have to say on the subject, Leanne of Stitchcraft Marketing podcast had me as her guest, and the episode just released.

Listen to the StitchCraft Marketing  Business of Craft Podcast episode 20 and show notes here.*

I found myself with a lot to say, particularly on the subject of flat lay photos.

Spoiler, on the topic of flat lays: They are a great way to compose still life, especially for social media. Plus it is a style that is accessible and a style that works well if using a smartphone for photos. And, fun to shoot.   BUT...they are all starting to look alike!  If you don't believe me, go on Pinterest, search How to Make Good Flat Lay photos, and see how they all look the same despite coming from multiple sources.   So little incentive to click on any of them!

My advice is, from there, click on something like  " 50 Best Props for Making Flat Lay Photos".  Read the list of suggestions and then DON"T use any of those items!  That puts you on the way to making something that will get noticed.

I'm shooting yarn still lifes of some gorgeous yarn for a client on Friday, and looking forward to pushing us a little. Probably not too many will be flat lays. The chair, up top, passed the audition, but we'll  light it a little more dramatically. I raided an artist friend's studio for partially painted background canvas......and I'll go poke around Ikea's kitchen stuff, that's a place I find inexpensive things to throw in a composition and hopefully not too many holiday shoppers yet.  And in a couple of months--I'll show it as a Behind the Scenes here. 

*  In real life I promise I am not gasping for air between sentences.  My new earphone microphone kinda makes it sound that way at times in the podcast. Or, just mayyybe I'm being oversensitive!  yikes it is hard to listen to yourself, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

post 8: my best thanksgiving

I posted this in 2006, and I'm sharing it again. with some edits and additions, 11 years later.

My best Thanksgiving dinner ever was 27 years ago. Far from home, far from the Land of Pochohantas and the Pilgrims. I was in South America. These were the guests of honor :
(when I first posted this  I added the 16 yo age, he is 27 now)
The cuties were in the process of being adopted from an orphanage, by families from the US. Dave and I had received an official adoption decree in court the day before, after a very long process, for the tiny guy on the far left. The US Embassy was closed to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.  We needed to wait till Friday to get our baby's green card, to take him home.
We found other families in similar limbo to share the day. The meal itself was forgettable, save for the can of jellied cranberry that a woman from Kansas had oddly brought with her. What is forever memorable is how thankful we were to have our son, and be a family, and how we marveled at the dips and turns life takes to place you in such wonderful moments.

Being an adoptive parent makes me forever conscious of what family means. Years later I worked on a book about what happen to kids who age out of foster care. The one thing the subjects all said, whether their lives were going well or a struggle, was they wished they had a mom or dad. Not for the big things but for the small. Someone to show up at your sports games, or know you won a prize, or to call on a bad day when your car breaks down and fail a test or have a problem with a co-worker. One man in his twenties, a huge strapping entrepreneur and former college football player got tears in his eyes telling me that no one, zero, zippo, was there to see him graduate from college.

ETA:  When that baby in the photo and his younger brother, adopted 3 years later from the same orphanage, became teenagers, they brought home an assortment of friends. Some were quite likable, some were tough nuts to crack. Some had problems at home that'd make your toes curl, not that we'd know details until years later, when they finally felt OK to tell.  Some spent weekends here, some seemed to just be here a lot.  Mostly, and especially when they were younger, they just wanted to sit at the table and eat a meal together, have me yell at them to go to bed or rinse dishes and do homework and stay away from partying and give them a ride, or run their idea for a school essay by me.  Believe me, I was not always gracious about all this, it just happened. In fact, it happened before I even knew it was happening.  I'm not a "cool" parent but I listen and give opinions. 

So what can anyone do? Most of us can't make grand gestures but here are some small acts
- Be a mentor, or  volunteer at a community center, even just once in a while
- Calling the local high school and offer to have a kid shadow you in your job for a day. 
- Talk to a kid who looks rough around the edges.  A little goes a long way.

And --back to the knitting! While we are on the subject of kids without support systems and/or families
Consider a quick knit for the Red Scarf project . They are collecting handmade red/red-ish scarves  throughout December.  The students who get a hand knit scarf in a care package this February don't have families to send them something that says"I'm thinking of you". But they'll know that someone was, thanks to the efforts of Foster Care to Success , who also have an easy-to-donate-to emergency fund and textbook fund, from that link.
 I've worked with this organization for a decade+, and I will vouch for the good folks there.

Sorry for turning into Ms Preachy McPreachPants today-- I only do it once in a very long while.  I'm about to turn my attention to FOOD  and dive in to the Thanksgiving prep/ whirlwind housecleaning. Make a mess, clean a mess, make a mess. 

I'm doing pretty poorly with the daily blogging this month but hopefully I can squeeze in  Three on Thursday, tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

post 7: yoke colors

Old yokes! Vintage yokes! I dug out two sweaters I knit for Dave and me when we were twenty-something. A while ago. They have seen a lot of wear and serious staining.  Mine was partially felted in the 90's--it seemed like a good idea at the time. Lopi patterns although I knit in mostly Brown Sheep Lambs Pride. That was the wool most available near where we lived at the time, in rural eastern Connecticut. (No internet ordering !? Seems weird now.)
The bodies are stained and ill-fitting --but I kind of want to save the yokes. Any suggestions? 
Well, that's easier on the eyes for tender knitters, right? Choosing new yokes! I spent the weekend with dear and talented maker friends.  Jani Estell, the  dyer and yarn maker and owner of Starcroft Yarns brought her whole palette so we could choose colors for a pattern we are all testing for Kirsten Kapur , who was also there. It's the sweater she's wearing in that link, and we all have a personal connection to it--but that is her story to tell. . The center natural is a ball of the fabulous Doc Masons Wool by Ellen Mason, who was our dreamy hostess. Plus had the patience and chops to coach us through sewing one of her wonderful designs. This table has a Lazy Susan top, so it was a game of roulette color picking.
I highly recommend this method if you are amongst the indecisive.
Not like there are any bad combinations.......

Friday, November 17, 2017

post 6: 3 things rectangular wraps

Shawl wrap, stole... whatever. There's something about a rectangular length that is 1) elegant  2) also a bit like wearing your security blanket. 3) Added bonus, no shaping while knitting. 

First up, Box of Rain  from Apple Tree Knits. When I wrote about her new collection and shooting it last post,  I had too much too include. So it gets it's own lead today!
Oh, the details!  It's a beautiful center out stockinette rectangle, with lace edging.  It's the kind of thing you can wrap up in and instantly feel amazing. It'd make a fab new mom gift, to wrap herself or the baby in .

And if that much fingering weight knitting is not your jam, consider this
Laight by Kirsten Kapur--in her Shawl Book One and on Ravelry as a single pattern, in aran weight yarn.

And I can't leave out Glama from Drop Dead Easy Knits. You'd think I'd be immune to its charms, what with carting of this sizable sample around the country to trunk shows--however last week Kirsten showed me a stunning red one, also in Malabrigo Rasta, and I fell for it all over again. Bulky yarn but the drop stitches make it drape so beautifully. 

Ok that's my Three Things for this Thursday posted a few hours later than intended.  More to look at, from  links on Carole's blog