Introductions

I do not generally support alarm clocks.  Working from home and for yourself means they are seldom necessary.  But this weekend, I made an exception.  I set an alarm.  And not just any alarm, a 6:30 alarm on a Sunday morning.  That’s borderline barbaric.  But, there was knitting to photograph, a vacant lot in which to do it, and the sun waits for no knitter.

So Alethea, The Boy, and I rolled our sleepy selves into the car along with rather a lot of knitting (and the camera, I was quite proud I managed not to forget the camera, that would have complicated things).  We were headed for one of my favorite vacant lots.  Don’t laugh.  If you ever drive around town with me there’s every chance I will, at some point in the drive, press my face against the glass and go “oooooooooh, pretty” as we zip past a bit of derelict something or the other.  I keep a running list of these spots evaluated by likelihood of being hassled by the police, likelihood of being hassled by someone less civic minded than the police, necessity of protective shoes, suitability for photos, and proximity to good restaurants.  For Sunday’s excursion, this one was the clear winner.

weedy The one thing I forgot was my shawl pins.  Luckily, the lot provided one of those (and The Boy made good use of my pocketknife to make it knitting-suitable).  He’s very handy to have around.

trimThis, by the way, is Alethea.  I made a passing introduction back in March when she joined the Chez Violence Home for Wayward Knitting Props, but it seemed time to formalize things.  I think she does a very very nice job of showing off these pieces, don’t you?

briar rose 1 smallI predict you’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the coming months.  You’ll probably see a bit more of the lot too, as we have plans to return shortly to put into place all the things I learned this past weekend (it was only a practice photo shoot, next time is the real deal).

Casualty

Last night found The Boy and I clambering around on the underside of our local abandoned railroad bridge in pursuit of excellence in sock photography (as you do).  This particular spot had lots of advantages.  It’s local, accessible through one of the area parks, and maintained enough to be safe yet decrepit enough to be picturesque.  It’s really all you could hope for, and the shots came out beautifully.

Alas, there was one small problem.

Some of those more picturesque bits?  They were sticky.  Sticky in a way that got all over the bottom of my sock.  Black, sticky, gooey tar (or, more technically, probably creosote) on my lovely pale green wool socks. Quite a lot of it.  Enough that this happened too.

Nifty.  So after a restorative dinner and a beverage or two, we came home, and I went straight to the computer to see how to best remove such marks from fabric.  I set the socks on my desk (goo side up thank you).  A moment later, a snarling, thrashing streak of fur leapt up beside me and began trying to save me from the terror of stained socks.  It was the normally mellow Barry.  The idea of sock stains (or, more likely, the smell of the creosote) had driven him into a kitten frenzy.

I snapped only the quickest of pictures before separating the combatants, (the socks had suffered enough trauma, and I didn’t think Barry would benefit from a creosote snack), but I hope it captures the mood of the moment.  The socks are undergoing treatment, I’ll report back once I know their prognosis.

More Obliging Still

Sometimes you go to the sketchy parts of town to find the right atmosphere, and sometimes you find it closer to home.  Perhaps just around the corner, in the garage of an abandoned house.  You know, the garage with the hole in the roof and the tree growing out the middle of it and the distinct cant to the left.  Not the best thing ever when it comes to, say, property values, but very handy indeed when you need to grab a quick knitting pic after dinner.

That’s Space Cadet Creations’ Astrid yarn in a one of a kind color way.  This is another of the projects that will be in this fall’s mini book.  I’m putting the finishing touches on that project and can’t wait to have it done and off to the printer!

Obliging

I have very obliging friends.  When I texted Laura and said ‘hey, wanna drive around the sketchier parts of town and take knitting pictures?’ she very graciously said ‘sure!’ instead of summoning the authorities like a reasonable person might.  The goal was to get pictures of the stripy malabrigo hats I knit last winter.  I wanted some properly grungy backdrops because these will be part of a little collection (another mini book like Rabble Rousers), and I needed a particular ambiance.

So off we went, to a local place that buys junk cars for parts.  We parked in the abandoned, boarded-up gas station across the street.  It was every bit as classy as you might expect.  It even had the requisite beware of dog and no trespassing signs.  You couldn’t ask for better.  (We stayed on the sidewalk, driveway, and parking lot…’don’t get arrested’ being one of my favorite photo shoot rules.)  A very surreal 20 minutes later, and we had lovely hat pictures.

The Boy and I are off to an equally charming location (just up the street from this one actually) early next week to get some sock pics to complete the set.  It’s unreasonably fun to confuse the non-knitters.  Everyone stares, but no one ever says a thing.

I Play Chicken with the Train

I’m not sure what you were up to at 6:45 this morning.  If you are a sensible reasonable person, you were likely tucked up in bed, sound asleep.  If you are one of those alarmingly industrious types, you might have already been on your way to work.  If you are, by some unlikely chance, someone who writes knitting books and thus needs to take a lot of rather peculiar pictures (or the astonishingly accommodating spouse of such a sort), you might have been perilously perched on the side of a railroad track, racing against the rising sun, snapping sock pictures while dodging real live actual trains.

Stranger things have been known to happen…though not usually to me on a Wednesday morning.

And, just for proof, one quick snap.  It’s not so carefully arranged, as that blurry thing in the background is a real train that was chuffing on down the track, and our primary goal was getting right out of its way.  With luck it does convey the ambiance of the place though.

Don’t worry, we’re both safe.  We were on a long straight section where we could see for ages in each direction (and with a clear patch on either side so we could step well away if needed).  We spent most of our time on a spur off to the side, well out of the way of the tracks in use.  We did get honked at by one of the trains (a first for me), but I’m taking it as a friendly hello, rather than ‘run fools, you are in peril’ sort of honk.

So, what were you up to this morning?

Ah, the Glamor

As mentioned before, we went out on Sunday to scout for photo locations.  We took the pink mitts along with us because it’s much easier to judge how suitable a spot is for taking photos if you actually, say, take photos.  That, and I needed photos of the pink mitts.

Now, the process of taking photos, especially photos of hands, is a tricky one.  Trying to put your hands in some position that looks natural and comfortable and reasonable in the photo usually means contorting your hands, your body, and quite possibly your very soul into the most uncomfortable and unnatural arrangements imaginable.

Let’s have a little example.  We’ll use this photo (ignore the bright spot…that makes it unsuitable for a publication photo, but it will demonstrate the point just fine).

To take this, I’m standing outside the shattered window of an abandoned greenhouse (mind the broken glass), on a steep pile of slippery snow-covered vines, leaning over as far as I can to reach inside (which means I’m sticking my butt out in what can only be a truly alarming fashion), with my head tipped back to keep my hair out of the picture, while trying to hold my hands in a way that both shows the knitting and looks somewhat plausible.  I’ve also taken my coat off (because it clashed with the mitts), but I have my hat and scarf on (because it’s freaking cold).  So it turns out my head tilting is not quite enough to keep my scarf out of the picture.  So rather than take it off like a normal person, I grab the knot in it and fling it backwards.  At this moment, I hear the shutter click, as The Boy has decided to document the moment for posterity.

Oh yeah.  Super stylin’.  So for those of you who ask why I don’t have more pictures of me on the blog?  This.  This is the answer.  Because I look like Cousin It making a variety of questionable lifestyle choices.  Got some pretty pics of the mitts though.  More details about the project they’re destined for later this week!

Permission or Forgiveness?

This Sunday we went on a bit of a scouting excursion.  I’ve been wanting to do this for the better part of a year.  Whenever I drive home from our primary grocery store, I catch sight of an abandoned (and charmingly decrepit) greenhouse.  It looked exactly like the sort of place that would lend itself well to serving as a backdrop for knitting photos.  Turns out yeah, it sort of is.

We’ll start with an establishing shot of the greenhouse itself.  Yes that is a tree resting on the roof.  It’s been there at least a year.

When you get up close, you can see that many of the windows have slipped a bit and you can peer inside.

It’s unreasonably entertaining to twist and crane and see what you can find.

And in a few spots, the windows are entirely gone, so you can lean right in.  The metal gear-y thing fills me with a deep and abiding longing and it took every single bit of of my fortitude and good citizenship not to just outright steal it.

I didn’t even take a single one of the hundred and hundreds and hundreds of beautifully aged, perfectly matched terracotta pots moldering, abandoned, in the corner.

Which turned out to be a good thing, as, after about an hour of wandering and photo taking and leaning in windows and wiggling door handles in the vain yet fervent hope of finding an unlocked door, a security guard came by.  He very nicely told us the management didn’t like people back here and that we would need to leave.  We, of course, obliged.  But not before I got the number of said management company so I can see about coming back with the keys and getting inside.  Because holy wow batman, this place has great potential.  We took some pics of the pink mitts, which I will share later, but for today I was too busy being smitten with the place itself to focus much on the knitting.

Smashing

The photo shoot was this weekend and it went wonderfully well.  I couldn’t have asked for better.  The weather was perfect, the locations were properly picturesque, everyone looked marvelous, and Zoë did amazing things with her camera.  All of the knitting and props made it home safe, no one was injured or arrested, and I think everyone is still on speaking terms with me (so I likely wasn’t too crazy).  It was all around brilliant.

And, for the first time ever, a big book photo shoot did not coincide with an incipient bout of pneumonia.  Can I just say how much more fun it is to do this when not deathly ill?  Really, I firmly recommend this approach. Despite the lack of plague, it still makes for a long couple of days (two day photo shoot is also a genius idea and will be implemented in all future big books).  I had the very best of intentions.  I was going to take my camera with me and get some behind-the-scenes shots.  I was going to tweet about the whole thing.  Instead…I didn’t.  Not even a little.  I didn’t take a single picture.  It was that busy.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was a lovely few days.  And in a few months, when I show you the pictures, you can see for yourself!

Packed

My packing list for tomorrow’s photo shoot includes (in part): heads, hands, feet, needles, pliers.  It really does read like I’m packing up after a small murder spree.  I promise though, there’s not been any carnage…yet.  Everybody keep a good thought tomorrow and Saturday.  With any luck at all, this will all go brilliantly.

Blocked

One morning next month I will wake up, collect a large box of knitting and props, and head off to do the photo shoot for KCC2.  This is both exciting (because holy wow is seeing all the pictures fun) and terrifying (because it’s the point in the process where the greatest number of things have to go right at the same time in order for the day to go well).  I deal with this tension in a variety of ways, some rational (lists, lists, and more lists) and some irrational (like asking everyone I know to keep their fingers crossed for good weather that day).

One of the rational reasonable things I do as I get ready is block everything.  Again.  Just to be sure.  I generally give stuff a light blocking when it comes in from the (noble and esteemed) sample knitters.  That lets me confirm that there aren’t any problems or surprises.  But there’s a period between when the samples arrive and when the photo shoot happens.  During that time, the knitting can lose some of its crispness.  So I spend the week or two before the shoot reblocking everything.  I’ve started that now, or at least I’ve tried to start it.  It’s been raining for days, nothing is drying, and my office smells like a damp sheep.

I’m starting to think this means I should just wait a day or two, but I have awesome new blocking mats and I’m eager to play with them.  Oh, and if any of you are looking for blocking mats, do yourself a favor and check out the ones they sell as generic ‘interlocking foam mats’ rather than the ones sold specifically as blocking mats.  These are the ones I got, and they’re less than half the price per square foot (and yes, that calculation includes shipping) as the ones from somewhere like Knit Picks.  The ones I got are also 2 feet per side, which means I can often block things on just one tile, which makes it easier to set it aside somewhere to dry without feeling like it will fall apart in transport.  Plus there’s the not-inconsiderable amusement of co-opting non-knitting supplies for knitterly purposes.  Now if it would just stop raining, I could get this stuff done.