Tag Archive | photography

Knitting in the Heartland, Part 2

I have not been a student for many years. Like, a lot. More than…ten. Maybe more than 15. So when I signed up for Franklin Habit’s Photographing Your Fiber class at Knitting in the Heartland, I was excited but also a little nervous. And with it being photography, something I’ve played around with but never officially studied, I was afraid I’d come across as the newbie I am. I didn’t know what to expect as I packed up my camera, manual, and sample projects. Would I be expected to take photos for his review?? And if so, would they suck?

Well, it turns out that all my worries were for naught. The class was wonderful, Franklin was delightful, and I learned SO MUCH. I even learned that I already knew stuff about photography–important concepts about lighting and composition. It’s more the technical side of it where I need the help, and that’s where this class helped the most. It was lecture-style, not enough time for hands-on work, but I kept the camera in front of me so that I could scroll through the menu and find all the settings as he explained them, and pulled out the manual during the short break to find out more. I was so excited to learn about the White Balance setting and aperture and shutter speeds and how all those things actually affect the photos! Part two of the 3-hour class touched on less technical things like props, tools, and models. He talked a lot about getting creative with what you’ve got on hand rather than buying expensive tools, since that takes money you could be spending on yarn. My favorite bit was the light box demonstration. I totally need to build my own now.

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Really, it was the perfect beginning photography course for me. It taught me just enough to start playing with my camera more, to experiment with all the different settings and just have fun with it. And then later on down the road, when I feel comfortable with those things, I can look into a next level course. I enjoyed it, and him, so much that when the class was over, I dashed to the vendor fair and grabbed a copy of his book, “It Itches”, so that I could have him sign it for me, which he did graciously.

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And then I accidentally stopped at another booth that was selling wrist rulers, because the black one I have is the tiniest bit too small and also it’s hard to read the black. Therefore I really needed the 17″ gray version. At least I didn’t buy more yarn!

 

Anatomy of a Photo

Having finished my shawl and all the Royals-themed orders, I started a new project last night. This morning I set out to take a photo, and I thought I’d share my process.

This is my stack of scrapbook paper backgrounds. Note: this is only a very small sampling of my paper stash, the ones I pulled out as good options. I have A LOT more. I’m glad I’m finally putting it to use again, and actually, going through it all makes me want to start scrapbooking again. Anyway, paper. Plus a cookie sheet so I can set up the photo on it, and move it around easily to find the best light.IMG_5923

Here’s my stash of trinkets and treasures. The tray was handmade by my husband and it pleases me to have it out and use it more often. This is just a start; I’m sure I’ll be adding to this over time.IMG_5924

Then I put them all together and use my phone to come up with photos like these. It’s tricky to find the right background for the project, the way different colors play together. And then finding the best light? Let’s just say I’m a work in progress.

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Which one is your favorite? What’s your best photography tip?

Oh, what’s the project? A Bit of Lace Hemp Triangle, special request from the mother! It’s a paid pattern but totally worth it.

Weekend Adventure, With Yarn

We took a baby road trip this weekend. We’re gearing up to start painting our house this summer and found some used scaffolding on Craigslist. The listings nearby kept getting snatched up quickly, so we drove about three hours to the southwest part of Missouri, near Springfield. It was gorgeous, green and hilly and lush. I do love it down there. Our destination was pretty rural, and I was delighted to find they had a nice menagerie for me to play with while the guys messed with the scaffolding. They had four dogs, three cats (that I saw; he said there were around 18), a bunch of chickens, a horse, and five goats. Molly, a “smaller” Great Pyrenees, was my favorite. She was so sweet and mellow, and I ended up sitting on the ground cuddling with her for much of the time. IMG_5851I really wish I could have taken her home with me, and they would have let me too! They said they got her to be a guard dog but she ended up being the runt of the litter. But for some reason my hubby thinks two dogs is enough. I know, what’s wrong with him, right? I did get him to agree that once he retires, if we move out to the country with a bit of land, I could have more puppies. Hooray! I might actually like that. I mean, I’m not very social and don’t like many people. I spend most of my time in silence and love it. I love the wide expanse of open land. Would I like it long-term? Not sure. I’d definitely have to be relatively close to civilization. So yeah, we have that to ponder for the next several years. Think about it: more puppies! Yay!

Okay, enough about puppies. How about kitties? We stopped at a few antique malls and one of them had this little beauty. She was a miniature version of a cat I used to have.IMG_5859Bonus: the hubby agreed that IF we moved to a country-ish location, I could have outdoor cats! (He claims to be “allergic”. Whatever.)

Of course I also found a yarn store while we were out and about, though we had to drive a bit out of our way to get there. It’s in Rogersville, MO, near Springfield, and it’s called One City Market. It’s in a cute little house and I walked in and there was a small room full of gorgeous worsted and bulky wools, like Lorna’s Laces and Vice Yarns and Baah! and Malabrigo and so much more. It connected to another room which had the wool fingering/DK weights, also yummy colors and brands, including some small indie dyers. I picked out two skeins, only two skeins, trying to be very very good and went to the counter…then I spotted another room. Oh, yes, she said, that’s the cotton blends, and some closeout yarns. Oh well. Crap. I descended into the rabbit hole of her closeouts. I mean, good grief, it was crazy good. Brands like Rowan and Cascade, and wool and cotton and more and more. It was all packaged together in ziplock bags, some with multiple skeins of one yarn, some with multiple skeins of the same yarn in different colors. And the prices? 65% off retail! So much for being good!

What did I bring home? Well, let me show you some pictures! And I’ll preface it by saying I’ve been playing with a new technique called the flatlay. I got the idea from Jem Arrowsmith Knits, who has been taking an Instagram photography course with Makelight and producing truly gorgeous photos. I’d love to do the course at some point but right now the budget says I can just play with a few of the ideas. I have TONS of scrapbooking paper for interesting backgrounds, and like Jem, I had a marvelous time collecting trinkets to jazz up my photos. Unfortunately, when I actually had time to take photos, it was so stinking dark from a severe thunderstorm that I had no natural light. So these are very rough beginning-stage photos.

I started with some Dream in Color Classy in Cashmere in color Charged Cherry, and it’s the hottest hot pink you ever saw. And soft, so soft and squishy. IMG_5871I got some Manos del Uruguay Alegria, a merino blend in a vivid neon rainbow. Yes, it’s fingering, but it will make a stunning Hitchhiker. IMG_5889It really is much brighter than it looks here. I kept this photo because I like the pieces together, but I’d love to re-take it in natural light.

Now for my clearance finds. I got six skeins of Cascade Sierra, a bouncy blend of cotton and merino, three pink and three orange. I can’t wait to knit the two colors together; I just haven’t decided whether they want to be a shawl or a lightweight scarf. IMG_5893

Pink is my color right now, apparently, because I also got a bag of SMC Select Juliette, six skeins in a dark raspberry hue. It’s 100% cotton and labeled bulky but looks more like Aran weight. IMG_5894

My favorite deal was a bag of 9 balls of Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran. It’s mostly merino with a bit of microfiber and 10% cashmere. Soft? You betcha! And it’s a gorgeous red that will be fantastic for holiday knitting. I got all of it, 855 yards, for $28! WHEE! I mean, that could be a really sweater vest…if I had the patience to knit a sweater. (Spoiler: I don’t.) IMG_5895

I could have bought so much more but managed to stop the damage at that, and even that was more than I should have bought. Still, I’m delighted with my finds and can’t wait to cast on with all of it. And speaking of actually knitting, I did some of that too, and I bound off the Citron shawl last night! IMG_5888I was all “Meh” about it until it came off the needles, and then I realized how lovely it actually is! I love the ruffled edge, even if it is shorter than it’s supposed to be because I ran out of yarn. Again, the color isn’t true but I had to share it. Once I get the ends woven in and a day that’s not so gray, I’ll post a better photo.

Whew, this was a big post, wasn’t it? That’s what happens when I save it all up instead of doling it out in small daily doses. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around!

Lady Violetta Hitchhiker

My Hitchhiker #3 is complete, much sooner than I anticipated, and I love it more than anticipated too! Thanks to Sarah from Knitty Nerdy and Natural for inspiring the name, Lady Violetta. IMG_4981IMG_4982IMG_5008IMG_4985IMG_4988I imagine most of you are already familiar with Martina Behm’s pattern, but here’s a link to it anyway just in case. I already can’t wait to make another one. I used Cascade Yarns Heritage 150 Multis of this one, 492 yards of sport weight in this gorgeous green/purple. I made it to 34 teeth this time, a nice length that should be wonderfully versatile when I wear it.

Sorry for the photo-heavy post, but I just couldn’t stop taking pictures. Well, I could, once the cops pulled someone over right in front of my house. Then it got awkward and I went inside. It’s all fun and games until the cops show up. Sigh. Here’s one more to close it out.IMG_4989Happy Friday, friends!

Photo Editing of Yarn Stuff

Yesterday was spent without yarn in my hands and strangely, it felt okay. That’s not to say I avoided yarn completely. Instead, I worked on photos for my Bonny Knits business. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but wasn’t sure what apps or programs would be best. Photoshop is the obvious one, but it’s too expensive for my needs.

Thanks to a fellow fiber friend, I discovered PicMonkey and started playing around with the free Basic version. It has a good variety of effects, overlays, themes and fonts for free, which is great. The biggest flaw is how slowly it runs on my computer, and I’m not sure how much to blame on the site and how much on my laptop. When there’s nothing else open on my computer, I can use it without too much frustration. Here are a couple of early attempts. yodaHeartbeatLoveHatSadly, this one has a wee typo (should be ‘shop’, not ‘shops’) and I couldn’t go back and edit once I saved. It would have to be re-done completely. I don’t know if that’s something that’s different in the paid services, but it would be nice to keep the images in a library and edit them easily.

Then I tried Foto Editor Lite, another free app, this time on my phone. There were some different filters that I liked a lot, ones that seemed to alter the background without changing the focus of the photo too much. The text was easy to add and alter, but the app crashed a few times while I was editing text, and I’d lose everything I’d done. Still, I liked it well enough for a quick edit of photos on my phone that I could then easily post on Twitter or Instagram. IMG_4889

Then I moved to the iPad and played with LiPix, another free app. It’s easy to use with a ton of variety in frames and shapes. You can alter the colors yourself to get just the right shade. It has just as many filters as Instagram, if not more. Adding text was simple, with great options for color and font. There were stickers you could add, which were fun, probably not something I’d use for this kind of thing but great for personal photos. I think this might have been my favorite of the three. It was easier for me to work on the iPad than the phone, it didn’t crash once, it had a ton of variety for free, and the photos were easy to save and share. IMG_0348IMG_0349There you have it, if you’ve been looking for ways to spice up your photos but like me, didn’t know where to start. I’m looking forward to all the fun images I can create!

The Day of No Knitting

I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday. I know, isn’t that crazy?! I wasn’t sick, I was home all day, and yet I never picked up a needle. BUT. That does not mean I didn’t play with yarn. I spent the day organizing my inventory of finished objects and getting ready for upcoming shows. Everything is priced, tagged and bagged. I pulled out the heavy winter items, since they won’t be big sellers for a while. I updated my Facebook Items for Sale photo album. And best of all, I worked on my Etsy shop.

A while back, I blogged about my frustrations with Etsy and got a LOT of great feedback. One seller graciously offered to look at my shop and give me some pointers. Thank you so much, Leonor, your suggestions were detailed and on point! I also took the time to look through her shop, Felt Buddies, for some ideas. She’s got some amazing needle felted sculptures.

Anyway, one of her suggestions was to improve the quality of my photos. My photos were better than when I first started on Etsy, but I knew they would be even better if I used natural light with a real person, which is exactly what Leonor told me. Yesterday, I finally did. My daughter already looked nice because of a morning music competition, so I told her to put on a neutral top and come outside with me. Her hair was up, so we focused on cowls and scarves, and I love the pictures I got!IMG_4077IMG_4097IMG_4122IMG_4155She had the most fun sitting on the hood of the truck, even if it was a bit too much sunshine. It was a great exercise for me too, to see how much better the photos look when they’re not in direct sun. We had fun playing with poses and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to get her out there with all my hats! Thank goodness we’re on Spring break–we’ll have time this week.

I also took my teddy bears out for some fresh air. I figure maybe they want to be in someone’s Easter basket this year.IMG_1407IMG_4193So my Etsy shop is updated now, and I’m pleased with it. It’s still a work in progress but I like where it’s headed. Today I’m going to take my new baby hats outside for some photos and get them listed on Etsy too. And I’m always open to hear how you make Etsy successful for you!