Friday, 22 July 2011

My 'further reading' is on its way!

I went to Franklin Habit's wonderful class at Knit Nation called 'Photographing your fibre' and it was a great workshop.

I finally learnt the basics of photography - that's where all those seemingly tricky settings on your photo camera come in!  And surprise, surprise: they don't seem all that tricky, or certainly not difficult at all, when someone explains them to you in connection with the results you're hoping to achieve. Hah!

Like taking pretty pics for my Ravelry projects page.  Or even this here blog thingy.  Probably more the blog than the Ravelry page but my new found knowledge will, I feel entitled to hope, contribute to both!

Franklin recommended the National Geographic Guide to Photography, by: the Editors thereof.  So I had a mooch around the various online sites that get most of my book buying custom these days, and that's when things got a touch confusing.

It turns out that National Geographic has not just published one book on photography, but there's a whole series of them!


Now I was quite sure that I wanted the sort of beginners book that would explain the basics just like Franklin's class did so well. I wanted to go over all those settings again, and I was also very intrigued by Franklin mentioning that the guide goes into what to do with the digital snapshots on the computer with something like Photoshop. Fabulous!

So guides for photo film cameras as well as black and white photography were immediately out.  I also have no need (just yet, but give me time!) to get the one about landscape photography (I don't think my knitted projects have anything particularly panoramic to them...) nor the action shot photography that I almost dumped in my shopping basket before I realised that there's more than one (right at the very beginning before aforesaid confusion set in).

I almost got the one where the customer reviews describe their delight in having various Nat Geo photographers describe their tips, when I wondered if they'd ever taken pictures of knitting and came to the conclusion that, sadly, they probably hadn't.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel quite certain in that little bit of crystal ball divining...

I briefly considered the 'People and Portraits' version (seeing as models come under people, and portraits might have to do with things being close up) but was put off by the fact that there are named authors and not 'the editors' that Franklin mentioned.  I could at least make the attempt to get the one he described!  No matter how difficult and time-consuming this endeavour was turning out!  No: perseverance, girl, that's what you need, I told myself...

So after a fairly lengthy process of eliminating all those that I felt weren't the most ideal first buy, I was still left with two books that I couldn't make my mind up between!

Here are their covers:


They are both called the National Geographic Field Guide to Photography, - the first one has the subtitle: Digital (I reckon that's a good one if I wish to sidestep all those tips that might apply to the old-fashioned photo film cameras and associated techniques) and the second one says: Secrets to Taking Great Pictures.

Well, I'm sorry! But I was sold on the second one!
I have no idea if this is a good one to get, but come on! The promise of learning secrets - I mean that's what gossip is based on, isn't it?  The allure of finding out something that not everybody knows, basically the definition of a secret. Though at least one customer review said that though they appreciated what they learnt, they were still left confused about just what those secrets were meant to be...

So you've already guessed the outcome: of course I got both. Duh. (This is me we're talking about: Ms Overenthusiastic!)

But only (that's my justification) because I went for the used option and got both of them on the cheap.  I'm sure the words in them are just the same as in a new book and should this copy ever fall apart I'll be able to re-buy the one that I preferred.  I don't mean to boast but including postage I got both for under a tenner (in Great British Pounds, or Sterling, that is) - none too shabby!

I'm very pleased with my shopping spree and I am even more delighted to be advised that both books were despatched already as well.

I shall keep you updated on what they are like and if I like them.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wasn't it lovely

Knit Nation 2011 was lovely!  I thoroughly enjoyed the market place and bought way too much yarn (definitely not a surprise, I knew I would and everyone who knows me knew I would as well.)

And Franklin Habit's class 'Photographing Your Fibre' was brilliant!

I tend to cycle through my hobbies.  Knitting has been the thing for the last two and half year when it was other things before.  Photography is one of them.

So I've been wanting to get better at taking photos for quite a while.  The Knit Nation class sounded great: combining two of my interests in a class given by someone who's blog I read and like a lot.  Brilliant combination!

It was fantastic.  I finally know what a f-stop is and what it does!  Hurrah!  It's about depth of field!
So if you've got your lovely model wearing a fantastic jumper you knit and want to showcase then an interesting backdrop is not a bad idea.  If however said background is so very busy that it crowds out the model let alone the great jumper, then that ain't such a great thing...

So if you set your f-stop setting to a measure that will reduce the dept of field so that the background is no longer in sharp focus but gets blurred out a little, then that's much better!

I learnt so much - about the types and sources of light.  I found out that trying to take photographs on a sunny, cloudless day is not the best way to go about it, and that a bit of cloud cover is much better because it diffuses that direct sunlight a bit.  Or you can have your model in a deep porch with the sun to one side.

Another very good thing to remember: keep the sun over your shoulder (if you're the photographer, ahem) to make sure that the sunlight lights up your model's face instead of framing a perfect silhouette if the sun is behind your model.

I really liked the fact that Franklin made the technical information about the settings on a photo camera so accessible and letting me connect them in my head with what I am trying to achieve.  The whole photography subject just doesn't seem quite so complicated any more!

Isn't that fab?

Now the only 'problem' is that I need a new camera... Not just want but need. My old one has been getting increasingly dodgy and I now know that it only boasts some preset settings (macro, portrait, mid distance and landscape, I think) and doesn't allow any further choice. Not something I can practice my newly won skills with!

I saw someone else's camera that allows you to display the settings you used to take a picture.  Now that sounds like an eminently sensible function to have!  I didn't know of this, I was already considering whether I needed to write up little cards with setting notes to include in the photo - while I'm practising. This is much better!

Yes, I do believe that I -need- a new camera...

Photos of the yarns I got are to follow.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Knit Nation starts today!

I'm off to Knit Nation tonight!  I can't wait!

The list of vendors reads terrifically wonderful: utterly, utterly tempting!

Just take a look:

Anova Books
Artisan Yarns
Atomic Knitting
Blacker Designs & Yarns
Brownberry Yarns
GMC Publishing
Great British Yarns
Habu Textiles
Jeanette Sloan
John Arbon Textiles
Juno Fibre Arts
Knitting Magazine
Krafty Koala
Loop Knitting
Old Maiden Aunt
Purl Alpaca Designs
Renaissance Dyeing
Skein Queen
StitchMastery Knitting Software
Susan Crawford Vintage
Sweet Clement
Tall Yarns'n'Tales
Toft Alpaca Shop
The Bothered Owl
The Little Knitting Company
The Natural Dye Studio
The Yarn Yard
Tilly Flop Designs
Twisted Angle
Well Manor Farm
Woolly Wormhead
Yarn Box

I am particularly looking forward to Sweet Clement yarns - Pippa's tweets have wetted my appetite for her amazing new colours!  I just cannot wait to see them.

I am also keen to check out The Little Knitting Company's stall - I cannot quite remember if it was lkco's online site where I saw linen yarns, whoever has any will have me hog their stall!

Quite some time in the past I heard of Sparkleduck yarns.  At the time I concluded that I would never be able to buy any of these because I couldn't imagine myself going to a wool event where they would be available (too far away, didn't find out in time, no money, etc etc).  Well!  How times have changed.
So very curious to see what these are like!

I also heard of several people sharing one stall which includes the two lovely ladies from the Bothered Owl - I'm rather keen to buy some of their crochet stitch markers!  They are extremely useful because you can hook them into your knitting or crochet and easily take them back out too without any danger of them coming off when you least want that to happen.  I think their designs are wonderfully quirky!

I will make a point of stopping by Skein Queen and Artisan Yarns too.  I have seen their yarns at other events and they are lovely.

And for the first time prior to this event I had the opportunity to hear about the sheer hard work that went into preparing for Knit Nation by those vendors who I think tweeted their progress updates in an exhausted bid to preserve their sanity!  I am seriously impressed by how much yarn they had to get ready, how much winding and labelling goes into all this - even down to keeping their fingers crossed that the sun would shine so the precious newly dyed yarns would dry okay!

The tales of back pain and incapacity, sore throats and colds abounded.  I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed in hoping that everyone recovers well enough by the time tonight's Market Place Preview starts!

I really must stop by those tweeters who I could identify!  One of them must be Easy Knits, I heard of Jeanette Sloan, Tilly Flop Designs, NicsKnots and Old Maiden Aunt.  Oh and Ysolda too of course!  Her photobooth sounds like a really good laugh.

Now, how soon can I get myself there and how quickly can it be 5 o'clock? Pretty please?


My own Twitter handle is: GiselleKnits.  Nice and descriptive.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Slippery slopes - it's a snow white jumper!

I finished a few more projects (yay to me!) - I'll need to write them up gradually.  I must have put more time into knitting and finishing things than writing about them.  Not the worst way round of doing things!

So here's the white jumper in Gedifra Amara.

Pattern:   Seamless jumper by Elizabeth Zimmermann
From:       Knitting Without Tears

I have a feeling that this yarn is being discontinued.  I bought one ball at John Lewis and then found the yarn pretty cheap on a website. They had nine so I snagged them all up.  I had started what was going to be a little scarflet (in a feather and fan pattern) which was going to be my 'leave at work and take with me to knitting group when I forget my normal knitting' project.  I must think of another one to bring in and leave under my desk (Note to self: bring it, don't just sing it).

Then I found that I needed ball No 10 as well.  I wasn't totally sold on the scarf idea in any case so I ripped that one down without much in the way of regret.

The pattern is wonderful, I really, really enjoyed knitting this!  I'm sure you're aware that I've got a soft spot for Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns and this one is just as idiosyncratically described and wonderful to knit as the others I've tried.  I just love it.

This version of the seamless sweater has the saddle shoulder detail.  I love the way the decrease line curves towards the body for an inch or so, then runs upwards for a good bit before it comes across to the neckline near the shoulders. It's a great shape, very flattering!

A friend is making the Hybrid sweater and I was 'helping' with it.  I'm sure that all the information I've thrown at her is more likely to put her off!  I must say that I enjoyed knitting this one so much that I'd like to try the Hybrid sweater next.

The yarn is very slippery, it literally flows onto the needles and runs back off them!  The yarn was pretty easy to unwind from the rolls of cardboard: you just had to hold it up and let a bit of it spill off!

It is made from a cotton core wound around with nylon thread.  The colourways in white and black are great: same colour for the cotton as for the nylon.  I feel that other colours just aren't as successful: the shade of the cotton is a lot more muted and dull than the nylon colour.  I think it gives the resulting fabric quite an old-fashioned look, I'm just not keen.  I first became aware of this yarn when I spotted the bright turquoise shade and went up to investigate.  On a closer look I chose the white instead!  Still, I'm not sure, but they may be discontinuing that.  At least John Lewis had it in their sale, 'to clear'.  It might be a summer yarn that's being rotated with whatever winter yarns Gedifra wants to get into stores.


I'm slightly annoyed that the decrease line at the shoulders is not perfectly straight: there is a kink at the point where you change to knitting the shoulder bits backward and forwards.  Minor niggle though.  I quite like my idea for the neckline: I did a K1 P1 ribbing and I think I used a thinner needle a bit further in - did the ribbing for long enough so I can turn it in, - but I also added some more stocking stitch and increased a few stitches around to make sure that I could sew the inside down in a suitable spot.  It worked alright!  I can still pull the jumper over my head - which has got to be the most decisive criteria for wethehr a jumper is suitable for wearing!

I really enjoyed this knit.