Friday, September 26, 2014

FO Friday: Camp Kitschy Knits, the movie

The final version of the Camp Kitschy Knits promo movie is done. Sweaters, sweaters, fabulously handknit, campy sweaters. Happy weekend!
Camp Kitschy Knits

You can knit these babies yourself from vintage Mary Maxim patterns but, seriously,  there's no loss of honor in buying one. They're super soft, bulky wool  handknits from Camp Kitschy Knits  and her fair trade knitters. That last link is the etsy store, it has hats and xmas stockings too. The link on top goes to her website--which I favor, because of the great big photos from our glamping photo shoot last November.

I'd loooove to be showing you a finished knit of my own. But, um, not quite yet. What have you finished lately?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes: the unplanned for

So, about that regular blogging.  I now have an editorial calendar for this blog. You'd think it wouldn't make a difference but it feels very...committed.  You should try it.   I'm rolling it out soon, including a  regular BTS (Behind the Scenes) feature, mostly fiber or fabric related photo shoots. Why not start today?
This morning  a sweater kit  I shot for Zen Yarn Garden  went live. It's fun when these pop up, always a surprise treat. Have you seen their yarn? Pretty fabulous. This is Serenity   a superwash merino/cashmere blend (thought you'd ask). It feels divine, and looks even diviner, if that is a word.
I'd be lying if I said this shoot was easy. We had trouble aligning schedules. Then, it rained. One of the few rainy days all summer. Nasty, gray, stormy- not pretty, misty, delightful rain.  I had permission to shoot at the Madison Beach Hotel and hated to waste it, so off we trotted. The sun came out, yay-- but  it started setting, like, immediately. And I wasn't loving the background options--the waterfront was dotted with romantic sunset watchers, wandering into my image. The nerve!
Then I noticed a bicycle  left along a dune fence, the rider probably wandered onto the porch bar for a drink. It matched the sweater! I love when when that happens. A little extra sumpin' sumpin'. 
It is Rosh Hashana , the Jewish New Year,  tonight. I'll take this moment wish you - whether you celebrate or not--a sweet year filled with happy accidents.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

spinzilla blog tour: photo tips here

Welcome Spinzilla blog tourists! I'm here with a little pep talk and some tips for photographing yarn for the Spinzilla Photo Contest.
 Kirsten Kapur  assembled this lovely basket of yarn.
Spinzilla is a global event where teams and individuals challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn during Spinning and Weaving Week October 6 - 12.  Team registration closes in six days. They still need 300 team spinners to reach full team status of 1,400 spinners! Click here to register today.
You have SIX DAYS to get on board and join in the monster week of spinning, to support the Needle Arts Mentoring Program.
At the end of the week spinners will submit their yardage along with a photo of their yarn to get credit for their yardage.  The photo is to document what you have spun, but Spinzilla has also announced a photo contest where you could win up to $100 in fiber.

I'm going to reference the photo above, with surefire tips to make your photos fabulous. You are photographing handspun yarn, a lovely subject, so you are already ahead of the game, right?  There are mountains of info about improving photography online*, these are just some quick and easy things you can try,  regardless of what kind of camera you own, and where you live.

1) Turn off that flash. Never. Never. Never use a direct flash on yarn. There is always a better way. If nothing else, in a low light situation, steady your camera on a tripod or  on a table , and hold your breath while you release that shutter. Make many exposures. You'll get some that are sharp. I promise.Pixels are free**, so keep trying.

2) Find some nice open shade-like the north side of a building, or on a covered patio or  an overcast day, or create some shade yourself using a white piece of cloth or umbrella or tent or even a white board to block the direct light. (Colored materials will cast the color onto your yarn. Don't want to do that!)
getting close also works for travel photos, like this porch in Maine
3) Get close! I know you are proud of your yarn and want to show it from ten paces away, but getting close will make us want to touch it.  Try shooting it from a few feet away and then keep shooting , getting closer and closer and closer (no worries, pixels are free, there's no such thing as wasting the shots).

4) Use some geometry to please us. We humans like circles--a complete circular shape is lovely as a graphic element in a photo. It is why looking down on that basket of yarn is making me happy. Try putting your yarn in a basket, or on a shallow plate (try to find one that's not shiny, reflections aren't an asset), or a tray, in a around with using shapes to frame your yarn.
Not as Good as the top photo: dead center, handle not on diagonal, direct light on scrarf distracts
 5) Another compositional tip: try composing using assymmetry instead of plunking your yarn dead-center bulleye in the frame. There's the popular  Rule of Thirds you hear thrown around in online photo forums (it helps, try it), and I like to use diagonals to lead the eye around the image. Again, shoot your yarn how you might normally, and then keep moving around the subject, tilting you camera--those pixels are free, after all--and see if you don't come up with a nice dynamic photo.
Circles also effective at Kai Ranch and an angora kid.

Good luck! Get signed up and spin spin spin.
* I'd be  slacking off if I didn't mention my  Photography webinar for knitters/fiber artists, on the Interweave website (on sale right now, too)
 **No matter where I teach my mantra is Pixels are Free. Seriously, why skimp on the exposures when you are right there?

Monday, September 15, 2014

fiber college: amen!

Loved all the blogreading suggestions and feedback. Thanks!
how they mend the screens at Fiber College
While I haven't settled what will be my new blog routine I do know this: if there's something you want to blog about, don't wait too long. It  evaporates like so much steam from the dyepot.

Which means I'd better tell you about Fiber College 2014. It is always quirkily wonderful-- maybe it's the stunning location on Penobscot Bay, at a campground with award winning gardens, making for a magical setting. Many classes take place under tents, or outdoors, so there's a festival feel, and a groovy vibe, as Beverly said in her post today.
added: and she blogged about quilting there, too
This year the special artists were Gees Bend Quilters, just the kind of mind bending cultural exchange you'd think.  I wandered into their sewing tent classroom when I wasn't teaching, to get a taste. How do you convey a form of quilting that's heritage, cultural tradition, intuition, oral history and faith in a higher power ? Not by making diagrams, setting down rules or talking about the principles of design. The Gees Bend Quilters are deeply religious and believe the spirit creates the art. Who can argue? Each class started with some serious praying and singing, like Prayer Meeting style, inviting Jesus to enter the quilters' hearts and minds and hands as they created, stitching by hand and by machine.
You'll want to google around to see more from people who quilted for real with the ladies. 
edited to add: here's Jan Cooper's wonderful Fiber College report. .Pretty amazing. I'll share with more of what I was teaching & making soon. If you posted about Fiber College, please leave a link in the comments !  And I'll  leave you with this:
 Fiber College blog here.
Tomorrow: I am on the Spinzilla Blog Tour. C'mon by.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

recommitted (and it feels so gooood): blogging

Fresh back from the revivifying and always inspiring Fiber College of Maine , where I taught Savvy Storytelling: Writing & Photography for blogs with Beverly Army Williams of PoMoGo Lightly
front lawn view of Penobscot Bay
Fiber College:  a weaving underway
It was 4 days of sharing a house with funny, artistic, smart women, the kind of room mates you can only wish for. I took away lots of things, but mostly I realized I wouldn't be in that place if not for blogging, and spiralling connections.   
I'm joining Beverly, and Kirsten Kapur, and Mary Lou Egan and Cal Patch  and others, in returning to my blog with regularity. Not to mention rebuilding my blogreading habits.  Who do you read these days? Leave a suggestion in my comments!

Kirsten also asked this question and listed many of my longtime faves, she's s receiving great suggestions in her comments.

I've been gravitating to those who post regularly, and includes lots of photos:  LoriTimesFive, Fringe Association, Getting Stitched on the Farm, ZenNeedleKnitorius, and the longtime reliable Carole Knits

FYI: All of the photos today were  made with my almost dead older cracked iPhone. Yes I know I am a professional photographer with a kickass camera and plenty of knowhow.  Busman's holiday!  It is creating some interesting colorshifts and odd blur, which I sorta kinda am correcting and sorta kinda am keeping. 

If these photos look familiar, you may be on of my Instagram feed.  It is so easy to post there,  I do so daily.  Although tempting,  rarely a shot looking down on a plate of food.  Been there! Seen that! I'm galezucker on Instagram, you can see what I mean. 

Looking forward to your  blogreading suggestions and to being back here with some regularity.

Monday, September 01, 2014

random inspiration roundup...with footnotes

oh, hi there! Here I am preparing the blog writing & photography workshop I'll be co-teaching with Beverly Army Williams next week at Fiber College, Savvy Storytelling * and it's hard to ignore the [lacky of] content here this summer. One of the things we'll be blabbing about is the importance of consistency. ** um,...yeah.
You know what's  hardest about long lapses? Trying to figure out where to start. I'm just going to skim along through some moments of inspiration this summer. Photo heavy post follows.
In June I returned to Nash Island to help out with the sheep shearing and roundup. It deserves and will get its own post about the activities and people and sheep--but I had the honor of going out to the island the day before with Jani and Ellen, to camp and  just be there. I can't even put it into words, it was so beautiful and elemental. I have very little stillness in my life. So this? ahhhhh.
I spent a while just wandering around, the colors and textures slay me. We aren't even yet talking about the sheep, which you surprisingly barely see on this tiny hilly island,. Until roundup, that is.  My new banner, on top, was a rare girl who showed herself on the highest island ridge.
 More inspiration in June: the bathroom chalked graffiti at A Gathering of Stitches . This was my summer of stitching, which will also get its own post. But obviously, the writing was....on the wall. . Can you spy my subtle contribution?
In July I spent a few days with two wonderful women, Susanne of Lucky Spool Media  aka CraftyEditor and the talented Liz Quan,  shooting a book on bedroom quilts, at a converted barn home in the Hudson Valley.
If you're guessing that it made me want to quilt, you'd be wrong. But, it did make me think a lot about printed textiles, room styling, the beauty of a well-dressed bed *** Susanne is ahhh-maaaazing, she transformed rooms with a steamy iron, an artillery of Command hooks, and jaw-dropping ease. I also thought about how gorgeous a wall of old blue bottles or Queen Anne's lace can be.
My knitting cosmically coordinated with the bedroom I was assigned to stay in at the barn house. After finishing my ode-to-Maine green shawl, I'm continuing this thing of having my knits imbued with meaning****. The golden yarn is Rumplestilskin, from Lost City Knits, paired with a hand dyed grey from the seconds room at Swans Island Yarn--both souvenir purchases from summer 2013. My friend and collaborator Kirsten Kapur helped me pair them a year ago. Shooting a book for her earlier in spring made me realize how I needed to knit her Cladonia, so that is underway here.******
Can I leave out my favorite girl in one of my favorite places? Nope. I squeezed in three trips to the beach in Delaware, two with her. The family's place we've been gathering at since 1985 is for sale******, and every visit reminds us of time passing, and summers past.  No matter how gruesome the ride there is, that moment when you walk across the dune in front of the house to the crashing never ceases to be breathtaking.
What inspired you this summer? 
and now for the footnotes
* there are still seats left in the class, which happen this Friday September 5th from 9-5 in Searsport Maine.  Braggy moment: I am telling you, we've got a kickass class planned. If you can't make it and happen to be organizing an event--we are thinking of taking this on the road. Give us a shout!

** I am going to commit to blogging a couple of times a week, starting in midSeptember. If you are a crafter or small business person or social blogger, there is so much good about a consistent blog presence--not just for your soul and social life, but for the  growth you'll see in your following. For mine, one day  a week it'll be a photo heavy post about making/doing /life. The other will be something helpful. Or so I am thinking. Stay tuned! And, want to join me? We can link to each other.

***The quilting book will be out at the end of the year, and it'll be about bedroom styling with gorgeous quilt patterns, and ideas of choosing fabrics to match your personal style, the author is the talented April Rosenthal 

**** Up next a colorwork sweater, with Nash Island yarn from Starcroft, and Lori Versaci's Modern Tunic.  After shooting childrens' designs with her this summer I am a total fan of all her patterns for women too.

***** I know most Cladonias are striped. I'm opting for mostly grey stockinette section, a wide band of gold, then some stripes, then the lace...just  because. Go look at all the lovely Cladonias!

******If you happen to be looking for a fabulous place directly on the ocean in Dewey Beach Delaware, let me know, I'll point you to the realtor.