Thursday, May 21, 2020

3 things: Talking About Knitting

1) Martinique Shawl in Liana from Berroco Yarn.
This from a photo shoot last September, when we soldiered through dozens of spring yarn designs in autumn, and tried to give a summery feel. At the time, with fall winds whipping, I wasn't sure we hit the mark fully. 
Months later I go online and see the release, and I fool even myself!  Summmmerrrrrrr. I am so ready for summer beach life, even 6 feet away from my friends. We did a trial last weekend and it worked .
 This yarn is a water-color-y linen in  dk weight, this is exactly how I'd want to use it.
Also, I adore the model, Frances.

2) I've left this MDK Field Guide coin project as my Zoom knitting. That's a category I never thought I'd need!  I don't do a tremendous amount of Zooms, thankfully, maybe 1-4 a week.  And when I do, this is  my happy-inducing companion.  I look forward to the end of quarantine-based Zoom calls but I do not look forward to ending this addictive tubular may be really really long by next winter. That's all I'm saying. 

 3) That ShannaJean Cowlette is fini!   In the home stretch I surprised myself with two realizations. First, I was not tired of making bobbles*. Not even in the very long bobbled bindoff.  Something about the stabbiness of creating them matches my mood during Covid stay-at-home in a lovely stitch-to-moment ratio. Enough said on that topic, eh? 
The second realization? It's so not my style! I don't know when/where/if  I'll wear this.**  Somewhere along the last third of it, still enjoying the process, I had the cold clear light of day realization that it isn't me, at all. I love the colors and the yarn.  I have no regrets about the making.  Maybe for teaching at a knitting event?  I'll let you know....

* bobbles: I knit backward to make them, if I had to turn the work around, that'd be the dealbreaker.
** Above, I tried styling it in the only way I can imagine wearing it, with  a denim or chambray top. I didn't notice that I flipped the edging in every shot. I am never too professional to make rookie mistakes!

Saturday, May 02, 2020

3 things on My So-Called-Mind

The surreal beauty down the street this month  boggles my mind. How is nature drumming up crazy storms with brilliant light and rainbows at the same time as the misery of a pandemic deadly virus ?

Thing # 1 my so called mind itself:  I don't know about you but this whole quarantine situation has me so scattered, I can't get to everything I intend to in a given  day  hour  minute .... I’m halfway through one effort and COMPLETELY lose focus before I finish it. I was going to give you some examples but....can’t remember which I was thinking of....
 Let's talk knitting.

 Thing 2  After 6 weeks of weird comfort in bobbles and mohair, I'm ready to return to my true love, garment knitting.  First up will be Lavallette by Mary Lou Egan.
She's so friggin' clever, that Mary Lou. This looks like lace on top but it's that 80's throwback, condo knitting.  I'm going to make mine in a yarn  that's a Mary Lou fave, Holstgarn Coast. It's 50/50 wool cotton, very economical and  so many colors. 
I chose Fig, thinking I was stepping away from my usual palette. Then it arrived and I took a look at my sweatered arm, shown above, in Malabrigo Rios Pearl Ten-- and at the Fig right out of the envelope from The Yarnery. Ha! Not so different! Tomorrow I swatch it, my reward for making it till May.

Thing 3) Using a new app My lovely client Berroco asked me to do a guest blog of photo tips for shooting your knits on an Iphone/Smartphone. I am always seeking distractions from my distraction! It was a great chance to play with the Jumprope app, so I made this little piece.

It's  5 minutes long. I learned a lot making it. Let’s just say it took a lot of takes to come up with passable narration. I am a long way from comfortable in front of the camera. The sequencing and editing is fun. It may not be the last instructional I make this year. Let me know what you think of the paper cup trick!

* if that's hard to watch small, you can click on a little icon in it that looks like a window as it plays and it'll open larger in another window---or you can go see it on IGTV, linked from my instagram account*

Friday, March 27, 2020

4 on Friday: recent discoveries

1)  Right now, right here, bobbles are my jam. The twitchy maneuvers and focus are perfectly suiting these twitchy times. Everything about this project is Not My Usual Thing. I think a lot of us can say that describes our lives now. 

The yarns are a treat:  Fig Lace from Once Upon a Corgi , I don't know the colorway name. She's a local to me CT dyer and soooo talented- go look at that link. The deeper intense solid is from Neighborhood Fiber Co., another of my faves. I rarely knit with skinny singles or skinny mohair and silk  yarns so the whole thing is a break from reality.  Even the project bag I'm using is out of character- a cheerful  indulgence purchase from MinnieMoonSewing. --it's made from a feed sack with canvas apple green lining and is so well made... (and reminds me indulgence is not necessarily wrong). 

The pattern is the ShannaJean Cowlette. .  Here I am trying on the sample of it at  TNNA last June when visiting the delightful BFFs designer Shannon Squire and yarn dyer Knittted Wit (LoraJean) in their booth.  Not my usual style or colors but I loved it . The design totally captures their playful spirit. And easier to keep around your neck than a light and floaty shawl.
My blues are a little subtler than the sample colorways. So, as much as wearing bobbles can be subtle, I'm good.

Maybe I should note I am only in my second section of bobbles. When I sent Shannon a message saying how much I was enjoying the bobbles she replied, not very cryptically, wait till you'get to the longer rounds and you're on your 10,000th bobble ....she didn't add BWA_HAH_HAH but I sorta felt it.

2) I can give some love and handwash one handknit a day since I'm not going anywhere. By the end of April my wardrobe will be so clean and fluffy! 
This is my Dangling Conversation, fresh and clean.   I mean, I have a home office. Normally  I'm not near it quite so 24/7 .  The whole secret to home offices is to work in them, not mess up your productivity trying to do personal chores at the same time as working. This is a hard learned truth here for decades.  Since I'm not running out for any other activities, nor doing any  new photo shoots, all work-at-home rules are out the window.  Also--I'm homeschooling of interruptions and a lot less productivity.

3) The one thing we can't live without in our kitchen is a can opener! Guess whose broke? With a huge pot of chili on the stove, 30 minutes before dinner at our full house, the can opener flat out quit just before I got the Ro-Tel into the pot.  After A LOT of swearing and unsuccessful attempts with alt  tools, I called a neighbor and did a socially distanced borrow. We are super well stocked with food here but that broken can opener brought us to a grinding halt.

4) The Fitness Marshall. A great find if you like to dance and don't mind making a fool of yourself pretending to be a pop music video dancer.  He breaks down the moves (kind of like Zumba) . If you walk by at the right time each day (or...maybe it's the wrong time) you might glimpse me and an 8 year old dancing along,  with my phone propped on the kayak rack on the side of the house,  laughing  at ourselves. This week we nailed Poker Face by Lady Gaga.  I hope you're finding some fun way to move-- or to laugh at yourself--because it really helps.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Several on Saturday*: things bts from a collection photoshoot

Sometimes I scout and prep for a photoshoot and then the magic I really really hope for  happens: a triangle of sunlight at the right moment while photographing this angular sweater design. It's Lantana from Shellie Anderson's SP20 Collection from Shibui Knits. Just released!

Full lookbook,  which I'm so happy with and full of fabulous designs,  here .

Shellie commissioned me to shoot her collection about a year ago. Collections need to be photographed with backgrounds that tie all the imagery together, and connect with the designs yet aren't too monotonous. Or too distracting!  Shellie suggested a modern, graphic, architectural, slightly nautical setting.  So, on a chilly day last April, I did some poking around  the new boathouse on New Haven harbor. I'd noticed some nice light on it during quick drivebys.
No nice light the day we scouted!  Lots of potential. My junior associate here is kicking and crunching broken clams that seagulls drop on the cement pier so they can eat the innards.
I returned closer to the August shoot date, with my assistant, to see what the light was like late in the day, and if  there'd be lots of activity.  It was overcast so we still had no clue how shadows would fall but we could hope! Those are the stairs from the top photo, shown here with a different lens.

The shoot day was hazy sticky but not too hot. We have a lot of that weather close to the water in August,  with slices of sunlight coming through at times. We were shooting in the last hours of daylight, so first task  was seeing where the sun might fall if it did peep out. And of course figuring out which pieces to shoot by which backgrounds. The photos above are Yliana, my assistant, in test spots.  Can you tell she does this so much that she is 100% unphased by a lens pointing at her? 

Having so many horizontal and vertical lines in the background has the potential to make me crazy. Here, I love it with the sophisticated simplicity of Shellie's designs.
This top, Acacia, above,  is halfway between a T and a poncho. LOVE!
Mission accomplished! Until we saw ourselves in the group selfie we hadn't realized all three of us dressed in the exact same shades as the  colors in the collection.Sooooo stylish, we are. (NOT!)


*I am, really trying to do Three on Thursday reliably but this week had a lot of curveballs-- i am sure you had the same!  My friend Beverly claimed the Four on Friday option this week--but I still couldn't get it  together. So here we are with Several on Saturday. Isn't 90% of life about showing up??
Also BTS= Behind the Scenes :-)

Friday, March 06, 2020

3 recos for March projects

So here we are in March. It's s really not spring...but we're really tired of winter. And winter clothes, and winter projects and winter-looking gray trees.  Not to mention the news and  public health challenges. So what's a knitter gonna do? Put down that project that's become a slog and live a little. Cast on.  What to knit, you ask? I've got three good ideas for what we want--no NEED- in our March knits!  (all photos by me, in case you wonder)

 1) We want a fabulous new sweater. A March sweater project has to be quick, for the satisfaction of wearing it this season. And it must be stylish yet comfy like fabulous pajamas, because after months of wearing sturdy pullovers, we need some swish.   I nominate Keeler, made in this Ultra Chunky Wool.   

I have wanted to knit one since we did this photo shoot last fall.
The pocket and deep split curved hem remind me of a dearly departed vintage handknit of my great grandmother's, that I wore through college and into my 20's, till it was in tatters. I've dreamed of replacing it and have never seen a simlar pattern, This one comes close.

2)We want something lightweight-chic  to wrap around our neck now AND to wear over our shoulders with a sundress in May.    So  Hazelbrook in Quinoa does the trick. (sidenote: aaagh! look at the color options from that yarn link--it's a mostly cotton thick and thin pebbly yarn that's worsted weight) 
I knit a Clapotis in a linen-y blend a mere 15 years ago (really?), and it has gotten more outings in more seasons than almost anything else I've knit. Hazelbrook could  to do the same. Plus--that stitch?! So pretty.

3)We want new hats, fast hats!   Because it'll cheer us up right away. I wouldn't  necessarily go for the grey yarn shown but that chunky yarn and style are straight from the Let's Make the Best of March playbook  Added  bonus, it's a free pattern from Berroco newlsetter.   It's Yawl, in Catena, which is bulky and soft and luxurious feeling but most importantly, the bulky . 
 NOTE:  These are all Berroco yarn patterns, and it just happens two are deisgned by Amy Christoffers. I am a huge fan of her style. I photograph these knits months ahead of release, and often fall for some of the 80 or so patterns that flash before my eyes as we move rom one yarn line to another, and various locations, over 4-5 days.  It's fun to see them release and fall in love with them again.

This is secretly a Three on Thursday post (I know, day late) and you can find more of them linked to Carole's post every week as in that link. Also  Beverly Army Williams and Cal Patch are in on this too. Drop over and give them a gander!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

3 things about needing color!

I don't know about you but even with the frigheningly mild winter we've been having here on the Connecticut shoreline, I am craving color and light.  Three thoughts on this.

1) Images that looked too bright and colorful last summer look fabulous this week! I was pulling some images for a presentation and revisited this Nash Island sheep.  This image that I'd rejected as not quite right when I shot it suddenly is my new favorite sheep photo (for the moment.). 

 2) Colorful projects are irresistible.  On a whim I knit a hat to include in a gift box for some tiny cousins. I fell in love with this Urth yarn when I popped into Knit New Haven. I wanted something bright and cheery and soft and self striping.With no color decisions needed.
Except as I started knitting,  it was screaming Christmas Elf to me. It's just a little hat and all the stripes were shades of red/green. So I ended up cutting out a large chunk of the yarn until the colors shifted to something that said Cheerful Kid in Spring.  This yarn is pretty fabulous, btw-- and the company plants a tree for every skein sold, which you gotta love.
This is the colorway of the yarn thought I thought I bought, as sort of modeled in the shop sample by my favorite stripe-enabler 8 year old. I may have grabbed the wrong colorway.  Or the hand dyeing went greener in my skein. It's all good!

And there is more than enough yarn for a definitely-not-christmas hat for Zoe . The pattern is On the C Train, it's one-one rib.  As a thrower it's usually an annoying  stitch for me to sustain. I've been knitting two handed on those coins all winter and realized I could whip through the ribbed hat if I held the yarn in my left hand and knit it combination style.  So it's been a fun little distraction and I'm on the combination ribbing team from here on in. 

 If the one-one ribbing looks good to you too here's another one , the Basic Chic Ribbed Beanie which I would have knit, had I recalled that I'd bought the pattern and had it waiting for me in my Library!  Advantage it's already graded for different size heads, while the pattern I knit had to be sized down. Not brain surgery but...sometimes it's nice to know someone else did the figuring for you, y'know?

 3) A fabulous shawl to work in whatever colors bring you some late winter joy is Marblehead.  I shot this for Berroco in the fall and fell for it. At the time I was thinking muted greys  -- it's a great design to play with color and still have something light and flowy thanks to the stitch. The yarn is UltraWool Fine , which is really lovely yarn  and will not break the bank. Now of course I want it in color, color, color.

Closer look at the stitch and our model's smile. Do you like seeing this model? She's Betsy,  a real person, who works as a yarn rep, a flight attendant....and coaches a cross-country track team. And sh'es a grandma!   I adored working with her. If you like seeing women with silver hair and some laugh lines modeling,  drop an email to Berroco and let them know you approve of seeing models such as Betsy. It surprised me to learn that  yarn companies and magazines and book publishers often hear blazingly nasty and mean comments about models , but rarely receive positive feedback. And, they take it to heart! 
Ok, done with my PSA.

What kind of color are you looking at this week ? And what form is it taking?

Saturday, February 22, 2020

3 things I'm done with

1) The Jane Jacobs Shawl. I started knitting this design by Kirsten Kapur not too long after it appeared in the book  I Knit New York .  When I photographed the book I was so taken with this design. Kirsten took a technique I always thought of as fusty - mosaic knitting- and made it totally modern  cool. I completed knitting it a few months ago but put it aside  to gift my sister Lulu on her special birthday this week. Out it came to have ends woven in, blocked and delivered.
Happily she loved it (it really is so her). I caught her as she was leaving town so we'll have to do a modeled shot someday.  The yarn is Backyard Fiberworks . The winters shades in it just kill me. Not that you'll be examining it that closely, but on the offchance that you do, I'll confess I went a little rogue on it. I ran out of some colors and changed the section proportions. I will be back to do more riffs on this pattern, I am sure!

2) The United Technologies Corp. Engineer Week Project-- remember that sad tale of the sexist dude  (need to scroll down to item 3 in that linked post to read it) last month who tried to mess with my photo shoot? I'm really happy with how it all turned out, and I especially love this group shot. If you click on the  UTC link above and look at the slide show of individual portraits you'll spy some in front of the propeller that we moved without an all male muscle team.

3) Ok mini rant here, I am done with hearing the word curate , or curated, used about every single dang thing.  It's such a precious way of saying you put some items together. Curating a meal? Nope.  Curating an art collection--well, OK.  One needs special knowledge, and discernment.  My annoyance softened--just slightly--when I looked up the dictionary definition to make sure I wasn't off base.  I read an interesting piece about how the word curate gained a new meaning in the last decade or so, as digital information became part of everyday life. So, the word curate was used as an opposite to aggregate. To aggregate information is to just suck it all into one place, while to curate it indicated information was selectively gathered into one location. 

What word drives you nuts from overuse or misuse or preciousness?  I have quite a few  but I'll tamp the rest down for now and spare you. Although this list has curate and a few others I'd hit as well.

Ok that's all from me, posting as Ms Cranky McCrankpants this week! I know it's not Thursday but I had to get these three things out !

Thursday, February 13, 2020

3 things I'm thinking on

1- THE COINS Oh, the coins. My knitting brain has been taken over. I adore knitting sweaters in winter yet I'm compelled to keep coining ever  onward.
Putting this scarf aside for a sweater might mean the coins rest unfinished till next winter... and I don’t want that!! I am falling short of my stripe-a-day plan but I figure I can block it to a longer length so I need less stripes in total, or so I have convinced myself.

2 - VALEDICTIONS  You know, your signoff at the end of an email. I'm focusing on the lameness of my options, specifically for  a work related email. Although I'm friendly with many of my clients, XO seems a little too... I dunno. Like I might dot my i with a happy face.
"Sincerely sounds cold, "Best" is vague (though I use it a lot). “Cheers!” is my standard but perhaps overly chipper. I brought this topic  up with two writers I photographed recently for author shots. They admitted they are similarly befuddled, so at least there's that comfort.  One told me she defaults to "Thanks"  ... and the other goes for “warmly”. It reminded me of a photographer I used to exchange notes with who signed off with " Camels and cocktails".  I always pictured him in a 1950's safari field jacket in an expat bar in  North Africa.  When I shared this with one of the writers, she signed her next  email “ Lattes and llamas"  Which isn't so bad. What do you use????
I just finished listening to this and was surprised by how moved I was. I am not a super fan so I wasn't expecting how it touched me.   I mean, I grew up with his music, and some of his songs take me straight back to significant moments and many feel so personal. To hear him recount his life to age 21, when his album Sweet Baby James released, with the self-actualized hindsight he brings to it....I'm not sure how to sum it up. His story is pretty amazing,  just give it an ear.  Best 1.5 hours of listening I've spent in a long time. 

Thursday, February 06, 2020

3 things I’m liking

Ok,that I’m  loving.
1-The new Berroco Yarn booklets arrived! I photographed them in September, and enough time  has passed that they look fantastic and fresh and of course I love seeing how the creative team chose to use what we shot together  on the photoshoot. I am so proud of these! The online versions of the books look good but the printed booklets are gorgeous. .
And there are some pretty fabulous new patterns and yarns. I’m going to single three out next week I think !
(Um, wait.... can you single three? )

2) a Blogger mobile app that seems to work? I’m trying it out right now! It has been a challenging week schedule-wise here,  so I’m thrilled that I might have found a way to make a quick post from my phone. I’ve tried  do mobile posts in the past and found it...clunky and awful.

   3)  Adult Ed Microsoft Excel! Go ahead and laugh but I am authentically excited to finally learn alllll about how this application works and tricks to making my spreadsheets behave themselves. I love a good spreadsheet but my self-taught Excel skills were making me crazy! In just the first class earlier tonight, I already solved a problem that had been plaguing me for years.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

3 things on my thumbs up list

1. New sweater, done!
The Little Sock Arms Sweater is done and went to school shortly after this image was grabbed early this morning. Everyone, meaning Zoe and me, is very happy with it.
What? Were you expecting a professional looking photo shoot of the FO  from me? I laugh!  30 seconds with the phone before a quick run to the bus stop. Cobblers children all the way here!

Love this pattern and loved knitting it in Julia Vesper's Knitterly Things yarns. Super soft and great
colors. I knit it a little big on purpose to try to get two winters out of it. I mean, fingering weight sweaters do not grow on trees, right?  The pattern is also available as Sock Arms in adult sizes and, even more temptingly, in worsted weight. I love how the designer uses a picked up from the shoulder short row construction on the sleeves so you get stripes alllll the way down. 

2. More colors !

This scarf tube from the Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guide 13 Kaffe Fassett-palooza continues to get me through this season --along with nightly watching of The Spy.   Sometimes I get caught up inthe espionage and forget to keep knitting. 

No overarching plan for the colors- I am using up leftovers and scraps in Starcroft Fog. I accidentally hit the gray tone button filter in my phone and was amused to see that having strong contrast is not all that important to the success of the stripes--I like these color values. Sometimes it just works.   

I don't have enough knitting time to satisfy my addiction to this exercise- I am thinking  45 stripes of 1.5" will do it, I am on the number twelve.  If I do a stripe a night I'll have a new scarf in the beginning of March.  When we usually get slammed with a couple of snowstorms and ice so maybe that's my plan.

3. International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is this Saturday Feb 1
 Three rules. Eat ice cream for breakfast. Before noon. On the first Saturday in February.
More info here.

I've been traveling for work for the last two years on this holiday but in 2020 we're setting out the ice cream topping buffet and honoring the day with friends the way we should be--I covered it some earlier years on this blog--like here and here

Don't say I didn't give you an advanced warning this year ==go  grab a pint.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

3 things I've found this week

1) More wristrulers.  I've been the wristruler's biggest fan since spying one a few years ago. I may also be the wristruler's biggest loser (heh). They disappear! I go through periods when things, not just bracelets, vanish at an alarming rate. It's usually a sign I'm on overload. Or the planets are askew. But then I go through periods when lost items start reappearing in unexpected places. I accept this as the ebb and flow of my life (and belongings).*

I thought I was down to just one simple brown one. Then, last weekend at Vogue Knitting Live**, I was thrilled to see a denim blue wristruler, handstained by Catherine Clark for her Brooklyn General Store. It looks indigo and improved my wrist jewelry game by 100%.

On Monday while prepping for a photo shoot that required going through a lot of equipment storage bags, my orange wrist ruler reappeared! I was sure this souvenir from Portland OR was gone for good.  The photo above is  from when I bought it at  Twisted ,where I found the full monty of wristrulers on display. Metallics too-just not in this shot. 

2.  The  yarn I'd been seeking  to go with the variegated Once Upon a Corgi ***skein you see uptop.  I had a single yarn goal VKL: find a handdyed, semi solid coordinating skein . The stunning blue is Neighborhood Fiber Company . Magaly of Heart and Spirit in Atlanta was at the booth and led me to the right choice. If she's your LYS in Georgia you are one lucky peach. I plan to make a fun cowl  that has both bobbles in solid and garter stitch fuzzy variegated yarn, something different to amuse me this winter.

3. My feminist outrage . Ok, it was never lost but I rarely need to express it on a job these days. Tuesday, setting up for a corporate photoshoot, my crew and I needed to move a large airplane propeller mounted on wheels.****  I had free rein to set up the space. I also carry excellent business insurance should a mishap occur.  Let's also go with the premise that  I am competent as a location photographer and wouldn't choose to move something that I thought we couldn't handle. 
We realized we needed just one extra set of hands to steer it.  We being myself and my two assistants. They are both strong younger women.  Carla is a former Army sargent who has done things much tougher than rolling a propeller on wheels across a flat cement floor.  We summoned the man in charge of the building, who looked at us and said "well I need help to roll this."  
I replied " Yup! There  are three of us here, let's go". 
He looked back at us and said--"no, I won't move this with you, go get a couple of guys "

 The three of us stared at him in silence for a beat or two. Both assistants needed to take in what they were hearing. I heard it loud and clear. There's absolutely NO WAY I was going to interrupt the film crew dudes setting up in another space to ask for unnecessary help -- and there was also no way I was going to shrug and walk away.  I very very badly wanted to simper " Oh my! Are our vaginas getting in the way of rolling this???" .
 But this is an important gig to me-- I kept my mouth shut. 
Behind the scenes photoshoot  view (not with propeller)-photo by Carla McElroy
I left and explained the problem to the man representing the department I was working for.  He was with the all male film crew.  THEY WERE AS APPALLED AS I WAS!   My client joined us and we ladies all moved the propeller. And cracked jokes on it all day. That is a sea change from when I started working as a photographer so...all good. Allies!
* I still use and recommend  knot tying to find a lost item (tie a knot in something you are wearing, is how I was taught)  and I borrow St Anthony from my friends' faith when needed.

** VKL was packed!  Thrilled to report the knitters economy seem to be holding strong. Real wool and farm sourced yarns showed up big--and while lots of gorgeous hand dying was there, in all hues, I saw less super contrasty magenta and citron with black speckles than in the past couple of years. The sweater I saw in droves was Felix, followed by Love Note and then Ranunculus. 

***Once Upon a Corgi is my LHD (local hand dyer) and a lovely person. Check her out if you haven't come across her yarn at a show or shop.

****This wasn't a handknit or yarn photo shoot. You may have already guessed that ;-).