Friday, July 21, 2017

bts: Minnesota 52

In early May, I bopped off to Minnesota for a wonderfully whimsical book project: Minnesota 52: 16 Knits Inspired by the Road.
Megan Williams & Cori Eichelberger, aka KnitCahoots, were self-publishing their first book project . They'd reached the "whoaa...this is really happening and we need a photographer stat...and whateverelsehappens on a photo shoot, too". Fortunately we share a friend and top notch tech editor, Ellen Silva, of The Twinset Podcast, who made the connection.
We had to stop and scout this location: a sheep quilt painted on the side of a barn in Zumbrota MN.
Cori & Megan's theme is their  friendship and the knit-related adventures they've  had traveling between their homes, 100 miles apart, along Minnesota Highway 52. They wanted playful, small town locations that matched up with the spirit of their story, and their colorful designs.

So there we were, cruising along Mn 52 seeking locations. That's Cori and Megan on the right,  pre-enacting the cover image we shot 24 hours later-with much smoother light, you'll notice--on the left.  Here's how it looks on the book:

 I knew they both love color--especially Cori--and I knew they had a joie de vivre ---joie de knit? that had to be communicated but without going overboard into the "gee aren't we kooky" kind of pictures that try too hard. It had to feel real.
A rare instance where the overused cupped hands mitten shot actually works! Minnesota stone FTW.
We shot in  some small towns, a park, and a farm. 

Because you can't do rural Minnesota and not have a farm. (I urge you to play that for the sound effects)

And the, on the day of the shoot, the magic started happening right away.  We told our models--all part time models and full time scientists-- the shoot would be playful. Jo showed up just after dawn in the Pine Island Cheese Co parking lot with...her unicycle! She's wearing the Snow Thank You Sweater, which is high on my Want to Knit list . Don't you love the shoulder construction and lace, with the striped sleeves? It's designed by Megan Williams.

Nancy, the lovely woman who let us invade her farm, offered us various props....including a gosling. And a rabbit. 
FYI: Minnesota girls are not afraid of gosling poop dripping down the wardrobe, and a big armful of bunny is a welcome addition. That's Jen in the Nice-capades Sweater
We had a blast. Everyone pitched in...the authors hauled scrims, Ellen the tech editor became my photo asst, the models smiled and posed and looked beautiful  in wool all day despite some spring heat, and helped on set when they weren't posing.
It was one of those days when all the pieces came together and made the shoot match the spirit of the book. It's full of colorful, clever and very wearable designs----I tell you, Minnesota knitters are a whole 'nother scene of knitter, and these two are all in. I learned about SQ's  (sweater quantities of yarn) and VKN's (Virtual Knit Nights) where groups of knitters log in online, via  google hang out , enjoying  weekly knitting nights with each person in their own home spread far and wide. The Knit Cahootsters introduced me to a whole slew of indie dyers I didn't know about, and led me to a fabulous shoe store Luya Shoes, in the most unlikely location of Zumbrota MN.  I learned that Subway makes chopped salads as well as sandwiches, Walleye Pike is still delicious when freshly cooked, and Minnesota Nice is as true as ever.

Loved working with these ladies! I'm sure we made quite a scene--a photo crew shooting models and wielding 6 foot reflectors isn't seen everyday in rural Minnesota.   Anyway..... that's getting off topic. You can see all the patterns on Ravelry. I'll be casting on at least one, as soon as I get my queue in order!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

ahoy! Thimble Islands Knitting Cruise 2017 sign up NOW

JULY 27th 2017 THURSDAY 6-8 pm
The not-so-annual Thimble Island Knitting Cruise sets sail again
SOLD OUT *, pm me to get on waitlist.
board from Stony Creek Branford CT docks 5:45pm

photos from an earlier year
read about it here, and here, and I'm sure elsewhere--this will be our 4th cruise since 2012.

We sail on the Volsunga, info about it here. Cast on and cast off?

*  we sail rain or shine--the boat is covered by an awning & has lighting
*  yes! of course you can bring a non-knitting friend!
*   eating & drinking heartily approved, there's a large table aboard
*  we always sell out so don't lollygag about getting your tickets
singing of sea chanteys totally optional as you make plans 
*  no need to thank me for the mighty ear worm from link above ;-)
"A night on the town wouldn't do us any harm! "

Friday, June 23, 2017

the short beach shawl: drop dead easy knits

There is a designer in the City
Whose daughter is smart, tall and pretty.
Sofie modeled our shawl,
hopped on rocks, did not fall.
(Wish I had a last line that was witty).*

Back at you with a Drop Dead Easy Knits pattern highlight.This time, it's the Short Beach Shawl, by Kirsten Kapur.

It's another gem in the No Sheep at the Shore chapter.  All  are projects to knit while at the beach--or to wear in pleasant weather, wherever you're feeling some easy breezy style.

How much do I love this design?Let me count the ways: 
First, it's a bottom up triangle with increases happening only on the outer edges.  If you've ever fallen off-course on a triangular shawl with mirrored sides and center spine increases, you will know why this simpler construction automatically makes it go to the head of the not-so-hard class.

The design is bands of garter stitch, and bands of an easy repeating lace daisy. (That's what I call it, anyway. It is a flower like motif.)


I know it is silly to love a shawl pattern because it is fringed but I do.....I do. 
I  finished knitting this deep blue one a couple of months ago. I just fringed it and wow it makes the piece come alive. The fringe adds heft, and size, and flow. (and, almost a skein of yarn...I am a generous fringer).**
Lastly. We named the patterns in this chapter after beaches. Short Beach is my real-life neighborhood and favorite place to hang out---so--what's not to love?

This blue one is my second Short Beach Shawl,I have yarn poised for a third. The sample in the book, and in most of these photos, is the fantastic Dragonfly Fibers Dance Rustic Silk, a perfect match. (Seriously, look at their colors..... aaaaah!).

My blue one is a discontinued Mirasol yarn- a wool, silk and bamboo blend. Any fingering weight will do, but I like a little silk for the luster and drape.  I saw some swatches Kirsten made with the shawl in which  she striped it by alternating colors for the garter stitch and lace sections. It would be very cool in a gradient set, too.

More Drop Dead Easy Knits spotlights can be found here, we're presenting them every 2 weeks.
Parley Cardigan 
Abide Shawl
Searsport Market Bag
Glama Wrap
Polliwog Baby Sweater

* I'm trying to introposts in this series in limerick when it is my turn. Let's see how it goes....

** Perfect illustration re: cobblers' children. Although I had the shawl along with me for three very busy days of a non-knitwear/non-fashion-y photoshoot, I didn't have an chance to shoot it .  Or event think about it, for that matter. 
So, you see the quickie FO shot in a hotel room in Concord MA. I definitely need to upgrade that FO photo !

Thursday, June 15, 2017

i'm interviewed! on Kristy Glass Knits

Are you a
Kristy Glass fan?  I am thrilled that she invited me for an interview--she's such a joy to watch and a gifted interviewer. Check it out!

Warning: it's almost an hour long.  But we move right along from topic to topic - and she models some Drop Dead Easy Knits pieces in the most gorgeous way. 

Afterwards, settle in and watch some of her other interviews. I am telling you, she needs a regular show on HGTV. Someone get on that!

I have been here and there--but mostly there- for the past 6 weeks.
Back soon with links and tales and some fun behind-the-scenes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

searsport market bag: it's beachknitting time!

There once was a girl on a beach
She liked her knitting within reach
On the sand or a boat
She desired a tote
Mary Lou designed it, as sweet as a peach...*
Here in the US it is the official start of beach knitting season, the best season of all. That is not just my opinion. 
It is the truth. :-)
 Some knitters think of knitting as a winter/cold weather sport. Not me. I am happiest taking a good long swim, then plopping into my beach chair and knitting by the water. 

 I've always thought of  the  Searsport Market Bag in our book as a Kick Off the Summer knit:  first you make the stretchy bag, then you spend the rest of the summer carrying your Important Things (towel, knitting, swim goggles, beverage) to the beach in it. It's a pretty relaxing knit, which is good for this time of year.

It is quite roomy when the simple stitch pattern stretches, which is a desirable trait, although not everyone wants to rock the super slouchy look. If you prefer a more stable shape , here's a simple tutorial of ways to line a knit bag.  I particularly like the suggestion of attaching a lining with buttons.
This instructional has photos of every step to sew in a lining.

While brainstorming for our book's No Sheep at the Shore chapter, we wanted only patterns you'd knit out of non-wool, non-fuzzy yarn.  Our other requirement was the designs  should be pieces you'd use or wear while at the beach. That's how Mary Lou Egan came up with the pattern. She named it after the Maine coast town where us three authors were staying while we were developing the ideas for the book. And same place, a year later, gave it a final edit. We always called it The Beach Bag until it was dubbed the Searsport.

During the  photo shoot for the book, I shot our model Josephine carrying  it while wearing a sundress.  When I look at it, I want a Seasrport Market Bag to use as a summer everyday purse, for my non- beach life. Maybe in the lightest off white shade of Berroco Indigo, and line it with flowery summer fabric.

*When Mary Lou Egan, Kirsten Kapur and I decided to try to take turns blogging about the patterns, this year, in our collaborative book Drop Dead Easy Knits, we jokingly (or so they thought) considered doing so in limerick. I'm going to give it a try.

Monday, April 24, 2017

recent work & upcoming TNNA workshops

Not sure I ever shared this adequately: last summer I photographed the book for Berroco Portfolio 3, pretty much a dream shoot for me. I just realized you can page through the complete lookbook online. 

(sorry! I can't seem to get this to embed. Please check it out though)
Of course, the version with the patterns is for purchase, these are all cotton and so so good. The Portfolio series are books by talented creative director Amy Christoffers' selecting indie designers to create pieces for a special collection. (We just shot Portfolio 4 last month. It  is wool, and spectacular, too.)

Finding the right location for a full book photo shoot is important. You'd think it'd be a breeze, but I spend hours (and hours)  poring over choices, what settings, backgrounds, facilities, costs, textures, accommodations are present before we choose. You could shoot the same collection on a city street and have a whole different feel, possibly wrong.  Or just blah.a

While we were deciding, I was lucky to be visiting with a sister and her friend in Vermont, who said she wanted me to meet her friends, in the final stages of renovating a notoriously dilapidated and crazily painted Victorian farmhouse in town. She didn't know I needed a location, she just thought I'd be interested.  I fell in love the minute I saw it, and was thrilled that they welcomed us to do our shoot there, and become some of the first guests ever at the stunning Amare Guest House in Chester VT.

The photo shoot took place on a ridiculously steamy hot day- utterly uncharacteristic for a Vermont summer- but it is hard to recall that, when I look at the photos now. The model, Ilima, is amazing.The rest of us were...glistening. And possibly more than a little whiffy.  But smiling!
TNNA is in Columbus Ohio in early June! 
I'm thrilled to be co-teaching three workshops with writer & crafter Beverly Army Williams, aka PoMoGoLightly again this year. Our workshops all fall under the rubric of marketing, communications & social media for yarn shop owners, indie designers and yarn companies, and really, any small business that has only two hands but wears many hats.  The schedule and course descriptions are all here.
Ours are planned  to be fun, useful and participatory, so you can use new skills & ideas for your business immediately.
•Smarten Up Your Facebook Page -Thursday
Social Media on the Fly - Thursday
Hands-on Workshop for Mobile Photography and Writing-Friday
and solo, I am offering
iPhone/Smartphone-ography for Your Business- early Saturday, before the marketplace opens
 from a recent shoot for June Cashmere

If you sign up, feel free to message me in advance with anything in particular you'd like us to include. We love to tailor our workshops to the students.

Friday, April 21, 2017

granny squares with doc mason's edge

Four days and a long round trip drive to Chicago later.  It turns out that I only needed to bring this one project along, it held my attention and was a perfect companion.
Over the first seven hours of the trip, when I wasn't driving, I made the last five squares, to bring my total to 42. ThenI ripped out the first three squares and made them more interesting. Followed by having a stern talk with myself to prevent ripping out and re-doing any more.  Somewhere around Ohio, with just one painfully expensive speeding ticket in the glove compartment, and just as we finished the last chapter of S-Town *(recommend!), I grabbed the Doc Mason's yarn and started crocheting the outer edges, through to Indiana and then Illinois.
I seriously love this yarn. It's totally working to bring the squares together tonally. Some are relatively muted, like these two, some have, let's say, more punch than I really would like.
Yarn with that farm-y sheepy glow. Don't you want to huff the lanolin fumes? I'm dreaming a whole sweater of it now. I was lucky to get the last of the 2016 Doc Mason's but keep an eye out, Ellen is poised for  another trip to the mill, you can see the clip ready to roll from the link. 
My favorite sight from the trip was these three together again, if only for a few hours. Two of us drove out to Chicago, two flew. The four of us not in the Navy drove back together. Quality togetherness.

* We were completely absorbed by the S-Town podcast, to the point that Dave doesn't even remember seeing most of Pennsylvania, which  let me tell you, is a long long section of the trip. I found it the best kind of reporting and storytelling, and so brilliantly edited. We failed to latch on to any other podcast after it---but did discover that there's a Pandora station called Road Trippin' that was good for three hours of punchy-tired  singalong to mostly early 70's hits and got us home by 2am on Sunday.