This weekend is the photoshoot for Curls 2.  This is ridiculously exciting, as I think all this gray is going to be amazingly fun to take photos of.  I’ve been doing that thing where I scurry around making sure I have everything I need for days now.  Of course I need all the curls themselves.

curls photo shootI store them on a dress form to keep them from getting wrinkled after they are blocked.  These are on Alethea’s companion, Verity.  You’ve not been properly introduced yet, but I’m sure we’ll fix that at some point.  Both ladies are coming with us for photos.

But in addition to the curls and dress forms, I also need to be sure to bring shawl pins, the camera (and all of its various accessories), a step stool, the knitwear care kit (crochet hook, darning needle, tiny scissors, safety pins, gleener), and of course snacks (because I go from peckish to cranky to despondent amazingly fast when not properly fed).  I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but that’s the bulk of it.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take advantage of this perfect weather (mid 6os and overcast…in December, pretty much everything you could ask for) and take lots and lots of photos.

In Which Props are Assembled

As far as I can can tell, the key to photo shoots (quite possibly to books in general) is lists.  Lists of knitting. Lists of photo ideas. Lists of props.  The list of props for this one looks something like this.

DSC_0744That’s an old trunk, a blanket, a pair of pajama pants, handkerchiefs, fancy hangers, a tea cup, a champagne coupe, a bottle of champagne, a pair of boots, a stack of old books, yarn, and a basket.  And yes, yes I need them all.  There is a plan for each and every one of them, and I think they’re going to be fantastic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go double check all my lists.  Again.  Just to be safe.  The photo shoot is tomorrow (and it’s supposed to be rainy…if one of you could fix that I’d appreciate it), and I am going to be pretty much useless today.


So we had two outstanding mysteries.  First, the Emily Bergan and her delightful suitcase.  Second, Aloysius and his intriguing body art.  And now, thanks to the powers of the internet and its amazing ability to collect knowledge from all over the place and put me in touch with awesome people who know things, we have answers.

The first comes from my dad.  He looked up our friend Emily and found the following:

Emily Bergan (ticket number P.C. 22573 aboard the “Queen Mary” – Cunard White Star Ltd, which matches the tag on the suitcase) had a cabin (e.g., not steerage) on the voyage that departed Southampton on 4 Feb 1949 and arrived in New York on 9 Feb 1949.    She is shown as a British passenger.  Her last address in the UK was 83 Oswald St., Accrington, Lancaster.  Her “country of future permanent residence” is shown as U.S.A.  Occupation is shown as housewife — age 55 with no accompanying children.  No middle initial shown, but other records indicate this is Emily L. Bergan.

I thought that she could have been one of the 100,000 British war brides who came to the US after WWII (there are only 6 males listed on this page of the passenger list — compared to 20 women with 5 children, all under the age of 5), but later that year (July 1949), Emily Lavinia Bergan was issued a crossing identity card at Niagara Falls, NY.  Her address was shown as 1416 Rio Ave, Cleveland, OH.  She was born 19 Oct 1893 in Wigan, England, and came to the U.S. in February 1949 aboard the Queen Mary.  At this point, she is already shown as being widowed.  She is described as 5’1″ tall, weighing 130 pounds, fair complexion, with gray hair and gray eyes.

Naturalization records show Emily Lavinia Bergan, born in the UK, became a naturalized citizen on 25 Feb 1955 (at age 61) in Cleveland, OH.  That record shows her date of birth as 19 Oct 1893 (so probably the same individual).

That same year, Emily L. Bergan was shown as living at 1666 Woodview Blvd, Parma, OH.  She was shown as being the widow of Harry Bergan.  (He may have been a U.S. serviceman who died during WWII, but I cannot find anything that shows that to be the case.)

In 1958, 1959 & 1960, Emily L. Bergan was shown at the same address.  In 1958, she was shown as being a nurse.

There is a record for Emily Bergan (same age as the person shown coming on the Queen Mary in 1949) who died in May 1979 in Parma Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio at the age of 85.

So that looks to be Emily sorted then! You can even see pictures of her first house if you’re so inclined.

And, as for Aloysius, it looks like we may know a bit more about his former life.  Chris wrote to me and said:

Your new knitting prop, Aloysius?  He’s a block used for wig making.  The lace would have been pinned on along the intended hairline to do the ventilating – and he was definitely a male block, unless a beard for Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress was required.

Here’s how wigmaking is done:

Here’s a wigblock being utilized:

All of which is absolutely fascinating.  I hope he adapts well to his new life as a knitwear model.  I think it sounds like a lovely second career!

New Arrival

I have a big head.  I’ll pause for a moment for you to insert the obligatory joke here.

This big head thing makes it a bit challenging to block my hats.  Esmeralda helps, but she has some…protuberances that my head doesn’t currently have.  Luckily, the Chez Violence Home for Wayward Knitting Props is an accommodating place, and we’ve always got room for a new resident.  May I present Aloysius?

DSC_0083His head is pretty much exactly the same size as mine.  And, like most of the characters pressed into service as knitting props, he seems to have had an interesting life.  He’s covered in wee pin holes that indicate that he was not loved merely for his pretty face.

DSC_0089Someone very exacting did something very interesting there…I’m just not quite sure what.

I’ll be using him a bit more gently (no pins, just the odd bit of damp wool).  His first task will be to block a lovely purple hat (the one I finished last year and have been shamelessly remiss in getting a photo of…look for the pattern next month).  I think he’s up to the task.


The Chez Violence Home for Wayward Knitting Props is adding a wing.  Or maybe it’s just a room?  However we’re justifying it, I am now the proud owner of a Nifty Old Trunk.

trunkStrange as it sounds, I actually need it as a photo prop for Book the Next (yes, yes I really do…it’s totally a legitimate and justifiable business purchase and in no way a shameless indulgence).

Some time, when I have a bit of free time, I really must see what I can find out about our friend E. L. Bergan.  The tag says he or she sailed from South Hampton to New York on the Queen Marry on 4-2-49 (my guess is that is February fourth, but it could be April second).  This feels like it should be enough to start investigating.  But on the off chance anyone reading has an E. L. Bergan as a relative and wants to end the suspense now, do let me know!


I confessed that a shocking amount of last week was spent at the dining room table – pins in hand, the smell of wet wool filling the air – while I blocked and blocked and blocked some more.  The natural result of this process is a lovely pile of freshly blocked woolies.  But, if your house is anything like mine, it doesn’t present a huge number of large, flat, cat-free spaces in which to store great swaths of knitting.  At the same time, I very much did not want to fold these bits up until they were safely photographed.  So I pressed Miss Blossom into service.

Shawls wrapped around a dress form for storageI just wrapped her in layer after layer of knitting and stabbed a tiny straight needle in to hold it all in place.  It worked surprisingly well.  She’s quite stoic, never complaining about temperature swings, and the knitting is staying nicely uncrumpled while I wait for this weekend’s photo extravaganza.  I knew she’d come in handy.


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).


Shall we conjugate the verb snow?  How about weep?

Regardless of what mid-April snows do for one’s state of mind (or one’s sinuses), they do at least provide encouragement for knitting.  The first mitt of the re-knit version of Adumbrate is done.

blue fingerless mitt frontI’m awfully fond of them.  The thumb is unreasonably tidy.

blue fingerless mitt backAlas this picture doesn’t quite show it off in its full glory (Millicent won’t bend her thumb in to show it off, but she has a long history of being a troublemaker).  I’ll do my best to find a more cooperative model for the proper photos.

Display Some Adaptability

I’m unusually well equipped when it comes to blocking tools for knitting.  I’ve got the traditional mats and pins.  I’ve got a wide array of hat forms.  I’ve got sock blockers.  I’ve got mannequin feet.  I’ve got mitt blockers.  I’ve even got hand forms.  Yet despite this unquestionably impressive array of props, I still find myself having to improvise from time to time.

I’m off to take pics of these mitts later this afternoon.  I made them to fit me (I’m greedy like that), but the lovely friend I’ve tricked bribed sweet talked into modeling them for the pics has smaller wrists than I do.  When blocked on proper hand forms (as shown in the link above), the mitts fit me perfectly.  But I wanted them a tiny bit narrower for her.  I don’t have hand forms that small, so I made something up.

That’s shampoo bottles (two stacks of two), taped together, with the mitt slid down around them.  This is not the first time I’ve put these shampoo bottles to work this way…they’re surprisingly useful.  Wish us luck (and some nice overcast skies) this afternoon!

Miss Blossom

I’m back from TNNA and suffering from that odd mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration that comes from long hours spent in the company of others who do this funny thing I do.  I both want to take a very long nap, and want to start in on all the new projects that came to mind while I was there.  I think what I’ll likely do instead is the super exciting stuff like laundry and grocery shopping.

I’ll try to share bits and pieces of what happened while I was there over the next few weeks.  But for now, I have to share one of my more unexpected finds.  It’s pretty normal to come back from TNNA with the odd skein of yarn.  I try to be very careful and not take yarn that I don’t have an immediate project for, though every now and then a skein slips past my defenses.  But the things that follow one home from TNNA are generally of a yarn or yarn-related nature.  They are not usually things like this.

But, during booth tear down, it became clear that this dress form was in dire need of a good home.  And as I’ve already filled out all the necessary paperwork to become a Home for Wayward Knitting Props, it seemed natural for her to follow me home.  Points to anyone who gets the name.  And yes, my office does look funny to other people, but I’m coming to terms with that.