Treasured Memories: A Love Letter Swap

Ah the joy of a handwritten letter, a stamp, some special stationary and connecting with someone far away.... bliss!

While thinking about this month's theme of Treasured Memories, I thought a lot about the many years I spent in my from childhood to early twenties writing letters. If I wanted to connect with someone, truly meaningfully, I wrote. I spent years swapping letters with a few pen pals in particular. All that seems to have ended with a digital age where I reach out via facebook, instant message or email these days. 

(Well, that and the fact that one of the pen friends grew into the dreamiest marine and declared his undying love. I was in my early twenties and ill prepared for such confessions by someone so outrageously beautiful. Muttering something about 'friendship' I sensed our letter writing days might have taken on a tad too much romance...)

I disgress

handwritten letter

I shall be hosting a handwritten letter swap to celebrate the joy of giving and receiving mail in the post and I'd love it if you joined in. Sign ups can be found in the Ravelry group but if you're not a member of Ravelry, please do email me and I can send you the sign up gateway (ah tech always finds a way back in!)

Sign ups will close on the 12th February 2015 and you will receive a friend to write to on the 14th- how romantic!

You can write about anything you like but here are some of the suggestions we've had so far:

- Write about your knitting story

- Write about a latest creative project

- Write about the area you live

- Write about what your average day looks like

- Share a special memory 

- What else inspires you? (not just your knitting!)

 

I hope you join us and if you are a letter writing fan, be sure to check out 'A Month of Letters'. This is a challenge that runs across February to mail a letter everyday. I adore this idea and has inspired me to buy some stamps later and get mailing with the Playful Tot to teach her the joy of giving and receiving mail!

 

#aninspired2015

MEalong aka the along that changed names

Sometimes you have this growing feeling that things are about to change. This time it was the knitalong. First there was a post about using more than one skein as long as they were partials. Then yardage. Then stripes. Then stripes that definitely called for 2 skeins. By this point I was wondering if I'd been mean saying 'just one little skein'. Then I was watching The Knitgirllls podcast and Leslie and Laura pointed out that selfish knitting sounds unpleasant. Like knitting for yourself is a bad thing. It's not! 

So I listened, I pondered and I CHANGED THE KNITALONG. Yes, 5 days in and I'm changing stuff already. These things happen. Roll with them I say. 

The Selfish Single Skein along is now the MEalong and here's more information just to clarify:

It's time to get indulgent.....

  • You can squeak in just a little single skeinner in all that gift knitting, ah go on!
  • Use this KAL as a much needed calm inviting place from all the crazy that can be the holiday build up
  • SSSalong (that I can’t say anyway) just became #MEalong
  • Anything between 200 yards and 800 yards counts
  • Cast on was 21st November so no wips please!
  • Entries by Christmas Eve 
  • There will be prizes- whoop!
Jane  by Jane Richmond is my pattern choice

Jane by Jane Richmond is my pattern choice

Got it? Good. Now come tell me what you're knitting. I still haven't caked my yarn. Whoops!

Guest Post: 5 Tips for Great Blog Photography (of Your Knitting!)

I have spent a lot of time creating content for blogs, websites and Social Media pages and one thing I have really learnt is that great images speak far louder than most words. Whether you write a personal blog or help maintain a professional blog, how you achieve great images on your blog is pretty important to engage your audience. Getting the best shot you can of your knitting is something many of us crafters can relate to and I wanted to share some ideas. I decided to ask the very talented and knowledgeable Jennifer from the Down Cellar Studio podcast as I've enjoyed her photography segment for years. Jennifer is going to walk you through how to get the best possible images you can for your blog with minimal equipment.

Thanks Jen! (all images click through to Jeni's project pages)

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After you've spent hours (or maybe even weeks or months) knitting on a project, it's always nice to take a great photo to capture the moment. Maybe you want to share it on Instagram, add it to your Ravelry Projects Page for posterity, send it in an email to a friend or loved one, or just keep it for yourself as a memory of this beautiful handcrafted item. But photographing knits isn't always simple. I'm often asked how to best go about getting a good photo without having a degree in photography or a really fancy camera. Fortunately I think there are lots of great options that don't require anything more than your phone.

 

So grab your smartphone or whatever camera you have handy, follow along with these 5 tips and I think you'll have a photo you can be really proud of!

1. Use Natural Light whenever possible: aim for early morning hours or an hour or two before sunset for more even, less harsh light.

  • Why? Photographing knits in mid­day sun will cause harsh shadows that can be distracting or even obscure the detail you're trying to highlight.
  • Options: Obviously there is a lot of natural light outside but try to look for even light not dappled shade. You can also capture the natural light that finds it's way inside. Position your knit with a window to the left or right to avoid strange shadows.
Photographing Knits (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Photographing Knits (c) Jennifer Lassonde

2. Choose a background that isn't distracting.

  • Why? You want to draw focus to your knit so look for a background that doesn't take away from your subject.
  • Options: You could use something plain (a white wall, a plainly colored floor or couch cushion). But your background doesn't have to be completely plain. For example, I took this photo outside in my backyard. The green grass goes nicely with the color and adds a little texture too.
Using Interesting Backgrounds (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Using Interesting Backgrounds (c) Jennifer Lassonde

3. Avoid shadows. 

  • Why? Shadows can obscure parts of your knit, taking away the beautiful detail you're trying to capture.
  • Options: always try taking photos from various angles. Position yourself and the camera from above, below, and straight on to see what works best. I often find that holding my phone or camera out to the side can help avoid my body casting a shadow on an item. Don't be afraid to play around with it (it won't take long I promise)

4. Play around with posing & positioning.

  • Why? Some hand knits will lend themselves to be laid out flat while others really need to be hung up (or better yet worn) in order to show what the item is and how it is intended to look. Sometimes it takes a little practice to figure out what works best.
  • Options:
  • Lay flat: for this sweater, I laid out a black blanket on our deck late in the day to avoid shadows. It took a few minutes to make sure I could capture the whole sweater without my own shadow being cast upon it, but soon enough I had a photo with minimal shadows that shows all of the details, shape and design of this beautiful sweater.
Close up photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Close up photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Hang to display: for items that don't look as they should when laid flat, a coat hanger can be a great option. This works especially well for sweaters and shawls. If you have a hard time finding enough natural light with a neutral background inside, take your hanger outdoors. Look around your yard and you likely start seeing all sorts of possibilities for hanging­ on a fence, on a light or light post outside your house, on tree branch, on a railing. Here are some examples I've found in my neck of the woods.

Outdoor Photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Outdoor Photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Outdoor Photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Outdoor Photography (c) Jennifer Lassonde

5. Be sure to capture your knit from various angles. If your knit has different details on the back and the front, you'll want to capture both sides. If there is a lot of detail in one portion, I'd recommend getting a close up shot of that detail and then also a full shot of the knitted piece to better show the context.

  • These are photos of my Lush Cardigan, photographed by my partner, Dan. With a little guidance he captured both the front and back of the sweater and took a stance slightly above me when capturing the back to show how the lace detail really wraps around my shoulders. I love the effect this creates.
Photographing Knitwear (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Photographing Knitwear (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Trying different angles also works well for capturing socks. I personally think socks looks best on feet so whenever possible I try to photograph them while wearing them. Admittedly you may need to be just a little bit flexible to do this but if you are the result is worth it. First I put my legs straight out with my feet flexed. I set up two pieces of foam core board­­ one underneath and one at a 90 degree angle (leaning up against my deck railing). Then it's as easy as pointing the camera straight out and voila!

Close up Shots (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Close up Shots (c) Jennifer Lassonde

But for these socks I also wanted to show off the contrasting heels. By putting my feet together and shooting down, it was easy to show them from another perspective.

Photographing Details (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Photographing Details (c) Jennifer Lassonde

Just one more thing to keep in mind­­ take a lot of photos. You’ve got nothing to lose with digital media­­ if the photo comes out terrible you can delete it. I recommend taking a lot of photos from different angles potentially with different backgrounds. Then pull them all up on the computer before you decide which to keep and which to delete.

I hope these helpful hints work well for you the next time you're snapping photos of your latest finished object!

 

 

Jennifer Lassonde is a blogger, knitter, knitwear designer and host of the Down Cellar Studio Podcast. Jen blogs about knitting, photography and her other creative pursuits on her website where you can also find details about her designs. Find Jen on Ravelry as BostonJen, on Instagram & Twitter as @BostonJen1.

Winter Sweater and May Day Sun

As always, I have spectacular timing. Just as we're gearing up for barbecues and Pimms, I finish and block my chunky weight winter sweater!

Hickory by Cecily Glowik Macdonald

Hickory by Cecily Glowik Macdonald

The pattern is Hickory by one of my favourite sweater designers, Cecily Glowik Macdonald The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky which is now discontinued and I have to say while it's hardwearing, I'm not over the moon about the self imploding/ knotty balls they were wound into- nightmare! I harvested this chunky weight from my first ever sweater. The pattern was called Nati and you basically knit a giant cross with a hole in the middle to put your neck through and stitched up the sides. I thought this was ideal till I actually wore it and realised that it was too short in length and the sleeves were totally impractical.  

Nati by Lucy Hulett

Nati by Lucy Hulett

I realised this only got worn round the house on snow days. Not exactly getting an outing was it? So I pondered the best solution. It either had to be a chunky weight jacket with long sleeves I wore as a coat or a sleeveless number for cold days over tees and under coats. With not enough yardage for the first, I selected Hickory and got to swatching. 

sweater 2.jpg

The biggest challenge for me with this sweater was actually the reverse stockinette the original pattern calls for. That was the first modification I made as my tension when I purl and ability to tolerate that much purl just made that a no go. I got gauge and dropped a boundary line of purls along the lace sections to make them pop a little more. I tried it on as I went and opted for a snugger fit as I wanted this under coats rather than a little boxier as shown in the pattern pages. 

I can see me getting much more use out of this now. I even had some leftovers to make a chunky weight hat but I might be a little fed up with knitting brown and the weather is getting warmer which mean I'm contemplating shawls again. I do think I could get into chunky sweater knits though, particularly with a simple lace to break it up, add interest but still be nice and speedy!

You can see more details here on my Ravelry page. 

 

What have you finished lately?

Traipsing Vines Wrap/ Shawl

A little while ago a pattern appeared in my Ravelry library with a lovely note. I was in one of my frantic rushes to meet a deadline and I believe there was some teething too so I forgot to share it. Luckily, I had said 'please remind me if I forget....' So here is the post I should have shared a little while ago. 

(c) Three Irish Girls

The pattern is the Traipsing Vines Wrap/ Shawl by Arlin Chondro-Halim of the Lost Geek podcast. It's = a really beautiful design that I instantly liked but even more so when I read the kind notes attached the gift pattern. 

100% of sales of this pattern during the month of January and February 2014 will go to relief efforts of Manado flash floodJakarta flood, and Mt. Sinabung eruption. Funds will be directed to local Red Cross and local evacuation sites. 

It's a beautiful pattern for a great cause. It's also brilliant because it solves the problem I always have of wraps etc. slipping off. 

Hidden half-length sleeves keep the wrap in place without distracting from the overall look. From the front, the shawl can look like a long cardigan if you let it down, or it can look like a regular shawl if you wrap it around your arms. Isn't that clever?

Please do go and take a look and download a copy. I'm currently pondering what DK yarn I might purchase at Unravel to work it up in.... And what fancy occasion I should showcase it at. 

Thanks for the pattern Arlin and I wish you luck wit your fundraising efforts!