Archive for July, 2010

Guest Post: Knittage Simply Knit by Giles Babbidge

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start updating the look of IngridNation, the brand. A couple of the things that I needed were a new banner for my Folksy shop and images for new Moo Cards. My chap, Giles Babbidge is a photographer. After discussing the look that I was after, he took the photographs and helped me to put the designs together. In this post, he tells how we achieved it all.

When Inny needed some snazzy new shots of her knitted wares recently, for use on her blog and online shop, we used the absolute bare-basics approach of ‘one camera, one lens, one light’. The location/studio arrangement was also just about as simple as you can get – a living room coffee table table.

What you see in the picture here is the lighting set-up… A single SB-800 with Pocket Wizard (for wireless connection to the camera); attached to the front is a diffuser panel (for nice, soft, even light). A Magic Arm was used to support the rig just off to camera right, positionable back and forth, left to right, as required.

The camera, incidentally, was hand-held.

You’ll notice daylight striking the ‘set’ from the front – this was taken out of the equation not by closing the curtains, but my letting the flash be the sole light source (and adjusting settings accordingly). Flash light is perfect for close-up detail work, as it is very clean and crisp.

As many of you know, I don’t believe in relying on post-production in order to ‘save’ poor technique – clearly, it makes far more sense to get things looking the way you want them at the time of capture. Case in point – the image you see up top is essentially unaltered.

The most Photoshop work that was applied here was to the image which ended up as Inny’s banner – a simple case of choosing the crop and superimposing her logo, to end up with this:

Photo shoots are expensive, time consuming, stressful affairs, right? Nope. This little lot took all of about 10 minutes from setting up to taking everything apart, including time to arrange the object (a Spring Greens scarf, no less!), discuss framing options and, of course, sip a nice cuppa.

All images copyright, Giles Babbidge Photography.

This post was first published on the GBP Blog.



Myrtle Green © Kirks Studios, Cowes, IOW

This is the lady who got me onto my lifelong making kick. I was first taught to knit, sew and craft by my Nan, Myrtle Francis when I was about 5 years old, in the early 1980s. She seemed to be constantly knitting when I was young – she would make jumpers and cardigans for me with intarsia Mr Men, Smurfs or Care Bears on them, then later ones with Postman Pat for my sister. My Mum also knitted but with less enthusiasm (and probably with less time available). I remember her making a mohair cardigan for herself which my Dad washed soon after it was completed, shrinking it irretreivably.

She was a prolific knitter and sewer all her life and could easily adapt patterns to fit anyone. She also crocheted and I think kept all this going to ease the pain in her hands from arthritis: the more she used her hands, the longer her joints would keep going.

It was so exciting to go on holiday to her house on the Isle of Wight. I would be collected from the mainland by my Grandad (always known to me as Georgie), and we would take the bus down to get the passenger ferry across to the Island. It was a slow, slow journey on the ferry at that time. Taking almost a hour, there was enough time to have a leisurely lunch and to get out on the top deck to see how close we were to Ryde.

Isle of Wight Ferry by Just_Tom. Used under Creative Commons license.

After another ride on the bus to Newport, we were finally there. My Nan had the most wonder understairs cupboard which doubled as a food larder for pickles and jams, and craft supply area, with a good stash of wool and hundreds of patterns from the 1930s on. I was in my element in that cupboard and would sit and play for hours with my friend Amber from across the road.

I was a real bookworm when I was younger (actually, who am I kidding. I’m still a real bookworm. Nothing changes.) One school holiday, after I had read all of the children’s books in the house, and all of Amber’s ones too. My grandparents were fed up with me complaining of being bored, so my Nan taught me to knit on short metal green needles. It was an epiphany and the beginning of an itch that I still have to scratch every single day. I had all the usual problems with dropped stitches and adding about 25 more stitches as my garter stitch scarf grew and grew. It ended up a nicely triangled bright orange thing, but my teddy bear, Robert didn’t seem to mind.

So that’s how I got started. I’m still inspired by my Nan: in photographs, in her knitting patterns and her 1930s sewing book and even when I’m making something and think to myself ‘what would Nan do with this bit I’m stuck on?’

Tell me then, who taught you to make things? What were they like? Do they still inspire you today? Tell me about them in the comments: I’d love to have a conversation about this.

Learning a Lesson

A couple of days ago I was rooting through my freezer for something to defrost for yesterday’s lunch. I fancied some soup and after looking for a little while found what I was sure was a little container full of yummy miso soup with mushrooms and sweetcorn.

So, yesterday, at lunchtime I was all set to eat said soup (with the addition of some fresh beansprouts – yum). Well. Except what I thought was the lovely miso soup was actually some kind of vegetable and unrecognisable meat stew combo. Really not what I was expecting.

I bet you’re wondering why I’m telling you this, aren’t you?

Well, I did somewhat the same thing with a UFO a little while ago. ‘Yes’, I thought, having stashed away this particular cardigan for a year because I found more new and exciting things to knit, ‘this cardi is just the thing and I have lots of the yarn left, so let’s get on with it.’

That bit there, the ‘I have lots of the yarn left’ part… well, I had lots of yarn left that looked like the same yarn. In the semi-darkness. While I was watching TV and not paying a huge amount of attention.

You can’t see it so well from this picture, but the bottom half and part of the arms are a rather different shade of red. Not just a different dyelot, but an entirely different colourway. To add insult to injury, I realised that I’d knitted another cardigan for my Mum in the yarn left from this one, instead of the newer, differently-shaded yarn that I had bought especially for it. The upshot of it was that my red cardigan was frogged.

This is the point where you say, ‘…but Ingrid, you seem like a quite well organised person. Don’t you keep a little notebook with all the details of each project, or do the same on Ravelry?’ Er, well I do now! Quite obviously I didn’t before, but the Red Cardigan of Doom has taught me a lesson. It is one that I’ll be extending to my cooking life as well now.

Without sounding like a public information advert, if this is a problem that you have yourself, Ravelry has great options on their project pages to add in the yarn and needles you are using and even the shade and dyelot. Brenda Dayne also gave some great advice on how she keeps record cards for each project she makes a while back on Cast On (I’m really sorry that I can’t find the actual episode).

Another extra, but really useful thing that you could do alongside keeping ‘real life’ notes in a book or card system is to keep some of the yarn that you used for mending. Even better (and to follow a wartime tradition) you could make the buttons for your garment by knitting them and stuffing them with the yarn, so there is always some available and it will have been washed to the same extent.*

So, after the fiasco of the miso soup and the frogging of the Red Cardigan of Doom, the moral of the story is: keep proper records of your stuff, people: you won’t regret it!

(cross published from the knitonthenet blog)

*Thanks to Jane Waller and Susan Crawford for that great advice!

PS I ended up having a marmite sandwich and a banana, if you were wondering.

Badges of Honour?

Last week I found a little, crackly plastic bag full to the brim with Brownie and Girl Guide badges. It was just under the box I was looking for which contained some sewing cottons. Although I knew that I still had the badges that I’d earned in the pack and patrol from the 1980s, I was delighted to find that the little bag also contained those from my Mum’s time in the Brownies in the late 1950s.

The only thing is, that I really don’t remember what they were all for. I don’t even know definitively which were mine and which were my Mum’s (although I’m fairly sure that the woggle is my Dad’s from Scouts). I really feel rather ashamed of this. I know that I put a lot of hard work into earning each of my little fabric badges of honour; that they meant so much to me at the time.

Part of me wants to make up new names for them: to give them new life and meaning from my childhood and my mother’s. How about the Spidergirl Badge for Climbing Trees, or the Bear Grylls Badge for Crossing Ravines on a Rope Bridge? Although perhaps Bear Grylls wouldn’t go in for the safety ropes, actually.

Both myself and my Mum were in the Brownies at the time of a big anniversary: she in 1960 at the 50th Jubilee, and myself in 1985 at the 65th. The badges we recieved to commemorate this are very much of their times, I think. I remember going on a coach with my Brownie pack to the local Girl Guide camping ground on a hot Saturday that summer. There were many, many other Brownie packs and Guide units there: more than I ever thought possible.  It seemed so grown up at the time, toasting marshmallows on sticks at a campfire with the big girls.

Mum says that for the 50th anniversary they held a special service at her local church and she was one of the girls selected to carry a flag in the parade through the town to celebrate. I wish I had a photo of her to show you in her Brownie uniform, but it seems that she doesn’t have any. She didn’t allow me to get away so lightly though!

I have put the badges away again, in the little crackly bag which seems so much their home. I wonder if they will be added to by my future children, and whether in time they will remember what all of their badges were for? Things that seem so important at the time, important enough to keep for now 50 years fade into the background of memory with a sense of nostalgia. But I will be keeping them. I believe it is important to pass these things on, even if it is somewhat with a case of Chinese Whispers as to their original meaning. Isn’t that all part of family history and storytelling?

Who wants to be an Intern?

So, are you or is anybody you know looking to do an internship over the summer? Arbour House (who publish and lots of fab vintage craft books like A Stitch in Time) are looking for interns. There’s one in web design and one on the publishing side of things. Work will be done remotely, so you don’t even have to be in the area.  Have a read of the press release below and if you’re interested, get in touch with me at Ingrid(at)arbourhousepublishing(dot)com.

Arbour House Publishing is offering two unpaid internships to work independently on fixed term projects this summer. Each 6 week placement will start after 25th July, and end by 26th September (details to be confirmed).

Location is not important because attendance on site is not required. Virtual interviews will take place by phone or skype on the week beginning 19th July.

We are looking for enthusiastic entrants into the web design and publishing sectors and are committed to helping them develop valuable skills for their chosen career.

Web Design Intern

Project: Building and populating two/three websites to a specified brief. Existing website construction skills are required and a knowledge of Drupal would be a particular advantage.

Publishing Intern

Project: Book Design. To include production of sample book covers, text editing and manipulation, image correction and replacement, and index creation. Graphic design skills are required for this project.

Requirements for both of the internships are:

Ongoing undergraduate education.
Unlimited computer/broadband access with relevant software.
Availability throughout six week period.
Minimum 15 hours per week.

Please note, these are unpaid positions. Full credit will be given for work undertaken and references provided on completion of projects.

In the first instance, please send a CV and cover letter to assistant editor Ingrid Murnane at ingrid(at)arbourhousepublishing(dot)com by 15th July 2010.