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Archived posts from December 2006 to December 2008 are missing their photos. Key posts will be updated as soon as I have time!

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Appreciating the light

The last few weeks have seen me running around on trains and coaches with my camera. It's been rather fun to try out locations old and new, if a little exhausting. It's also been quite the challenge to be a photographer for someone else, with knitted garments and a stylist and an agenda that isn't mine - all things I could use some practice with.

I can't share any of the photos I've taken for others because they're all still under wraps, but you can be sure I'll be shouting about it when they're published! I can though share the photos I took of my Hats when time permitted.

The first shoot was a last minute arrangement with my step aunt and cousin. I've had photoshoots at CoalHouse Fort before, but that was back when I didn't really now how to deal with light or how to use my camera, really.



My cousin Lucy has modelled before for me (Rennie) and I was happy she agreed to put herself through it again! Here she's modelling Ridgeway.



My step aunt, Valentine, has also modelled before (Propello), and not just for me! She was far more comfortable infront of the camera, and between us, we shot through a heck of a lot of Hats. Here she's wearing my bargain of a velvet coat, nabbed for £3 in a charity shop, and modelling Concentricity.

I'm still wading through the mountain of editing for all of these, and quite a few Hats will get updated in the coming weeks.

After CoalHouse Fort, I headed north to the next location - Armley Mills. I've taught here before, during Yorkshire Wool Week with BRE and it's a brilliant place. Except before I didn't get a full sense of the place, and wandering around with my camera bought a fresh perspective. I'm keen to get back again, as the weather wasn't on side, and there's lots more I'd like to capture.

Although the weather didn't oblige, we still achieved a fair bit. This shot probably sums up everything for me, because I am still so very chuffed with it.



This one has been edited and the pattern updated, and anyone who has purchased Castiel previously will have access to the new version via their download email or Ravelry libraries.

It still looks just as amazing cropped and dropped into the new layout.



I'm holding onto to this little achievements, they're all good things. I've been plagued with panic attacks again, nightly sometimes, and I'm feeling so incredibly frustrated with myself for not being able to do what I know I'm capable of with my designs or the reformatting or the website building. And, well, feeling frustrated with myself for being weighed down by the depression and all the life hiccups that keep coming our way. It's become very difficult to think straight and problem solve again, and in turn I'm grateful for the different perspective that these photos offer. I can still do something!

I've zero deadlines now, besides the Mystery Hat-a-Long, only targets I set myself. And the lifting of that pressure is quite a relief. I'm floating through now, editing photos and reformatting patterns, and whilst it's not achieving what I want to achieve in terms of designs and construction, it is helping me see all the little things that are going right. 

I kinda came to the conclusion that on the whole, I'm not too bad at this photography malarkey ;)


Countdown to the 2014 MKAL


This year's MKAL starts on saturday - are you in?

And this year is a little different... I've listed the MKAL in the Rav In-Store Sales system, so that your local yarn shop can get involved too! I know of quite a few shops who have listed up and have supplies from local dyers coming in especially for this - it's amazing to think that so many folks will be joining in and spreading the fun!

I'm in my usual last few days of panic before it all kicks off - this is absolutely my busiest and maddest time of year, and I do like to be prepared. It also means that I may get behind with my inbox (again) so if you're part of the MKAL, please do remember to post queries on the Ravelry forum rather than emailing or PMing directly :)

3 days to go!


A quick blocking tip


These coated splatter guards cost me €1.20 from the local cheap import shop. And they're perfect beret blockers.

I'd not thought of using splatter guards before as they're not something we use in our kitchen (way to much hassle to wash up, if you ask me) but when I saw the new silicone one that my Step Mum had bought recently, I saw their potential.

The silicone ones with a side handle would need the handle taken off with a hack saw, filed and then sealed again to stop the water getting in. The silicone ones though are at least a tenner each, and with all that work, I opted for these cheap coated ones with a centre handle at a fraction of the price! The other benefit of the silicone ones is grip - these coated ones won't help the wet Hat stay on quite as well. But that's OK if you leave it alone whilst it's drying.

They let the air through and allow the Hat to dry without turning, and are perfectly flat - no more plate shaped berets! And the 29cm diameter one is spot on for a standard beret. Bingo!

ps/ yup, that's the beret from my previous post blocking!


Turning Marina on it's side


This skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted had strong words with me when I visited the Sheep Shop earlier in the year, so strongly in fact that it found it's way home with me. It was a beauty in the skein, but once home, every time I looked at it I didn't have the foggiest what I was going to do with it. I do like a bit of texture and detail in my designs and variegated colours drown them out... why oh why, I said to myself, do I keep falling for their charms?

And then, for whatever reason, I was struck with the urge to turn Marina on it's side and explore knitting vertically with the same stitch pattern. Turning stitch patterns through 90 degrees often produces interesting results, and I doubt it's something I'll ever tire of.

Within no time at all, this beautiful yet troublesome skein was balled and on my needles. And the Hat has worked effortlessly all the way through... my tired brain didn't even flinch with the crown shaping maths. Funny how some designs are meant to be, eh?

I wasn't sure whether I should publish it as a design, but now I think it must. And then I got thinking that maybe I could put together a collection of Hat designs specifically for these troublesome yet beautiful variegated yarns...


On the value of thoughts


I'm reading this at the moment, and it's uncanny. Before I'd even finished the first chapter I felt understood.

When I was doing my teaching post grad, voice coaching classes were on offer and I was the only person in our year who didn't need them. I have a strong voice, I can be loud. And I can be outgoing with the right company (and especially when alcohol is involved). But I've always considered those things my armour.

I used to try and tell people when I was younger that I was shy. The laughter from certain people in response to this still hangs in my head. And whilst I know now that shy was the wrong word, there's still a resentment about this expectation to perform; a resentment about being misunderstood and about being led to believe that who I really am wasn't enough; that I had to be something else. There's also a bucket load of other messy stuff thrown in there, and my depression (which started when I was a child) has an awful lot to do with this, but I can't but wonder how more confident and assured I'd feel now had I been the sort who spent less time in their head.

On the work front it's helped me put my finger on what it is about the concept of personal branding that makes me recoil so much. And about why I loathe the whole competitive angle, because creativity isn't a competition, it's a personal journey, and it shouldn't be about how far you can push yourself or how loudly you can shout. And as much as this book has answered an awful lot of questions, it's opened up as many more.

The one thing though that I want to hold onto from this book is the reassurance that who I am and what I'm driven to do is the right thing. There was a great article published earlier in the year by Bill Drummond, his 10 Commandments of Art, and one quote resonates pretty deeply: "Don't stand on the outside looking in; stand on the outside looking further out". Holding onto this thought has been tricky of late; I'm stuck in this worry cycle, feeling weighed down by responsibility, and was starting to think that I'd have to tattoo this quote right across my forehead for the message to sink in. 

The Banksy Official account on Twitter tweeted this image last night, and it kinda brought everything round full circle for me. There really isn't enough value placed on thoughts and ideas, on education or independent thinking. Or on intellectual property or anything intangible.

Our brains are the most valuable things we have.