Liz Corke Knit Design
Do you ever feel like there’s too much going on for you to settle down to just one thing? I definately have that feeling this week! I’ve had ideas for five different shawls, which is driving me a little mad, as well as a tentative idea for a sixth. I’m also trying to get on with all my pre-release jobs for Shattered Stars which will be out next week. I’m finding it pretty hard to settle down and just work on one thing!
I want to try and get my ideas all firmly on paper and have a swatch done for each. Once I’ve done that I can focus on working on one shawl at a time, and know that my ideas aren’t going to vanish off somewhere and I’ll never come up with the same thing again. Four of these shawls are going to be part of an e-book along, maybe, with the tentative sixth. I really like the idea and the theme that sparked it, but just now I only have part of most of the shawls worked out.
Shawl № One I’m pretty happy with and I’ve almost finished the swatch so I’m happy with that. № Two I know what I’m going to use for the border and the main body but I haven’t worked out how they’re going to fit together or any stitch counts. № Three I know the border, but I haven’t figured out a body pattern to go with it, or even what shape it’s going to be, although I have a couple of ideas. № Four is just a spark of my imagination so far. I haven’t found anything in my stitch books that does quite what I want, so I may have to chart something from scratch. The tentative Sixth is even less solid than № Four so it may not come into being at all. The fifth shawl has the opposite problem to the others – I have too many idea for each part of it! I’m probably going to have to swatch a lot for this one and see what pairs up nicely.
I also want to say thanks to Caroline and Stitched Together for their indy dyer suggestions last week. The Yarn Yard and Countess Ablaze were already on my list although I’d never bought from them, but the other two were new to me! I’ve added the Laughing Yaffle and Babylonglegs Ravelry groups to my yarn tab so I don’t forget them. Thank you!
I have to say that I think *touch wood* spring might be here! Although I made the decision to wear my spring jacket at last this morning so I’m prepared for snow this afternoon. I hope the weather’s improving where you are too!
When we’re knitting we have three big choices to make. Choice of needles is generally the most expensive and most permanent of these. The next two are choices we make over and over again. The choice of pattern and the choice of yarn. I think both of these are really personal choices so I want to talk about why I choose the yarns I do for my designs.
One of the biggest choices for me is who to buy from. I really love to buy my yarn from indy and hand dyers. I also choose to buy from British dyers most of the time, partly because I like to support British people and partly because it’s much easier not to worry about long postage times and customs fees! I want to support people who are trying to make a living doing something they love, especially since I’d love to do the same eventually!
The other thing I love about buying from indy dyers is the fantastic range of colours that they create. Practically any colour you can imagine can be found somewhere out there. I love the slight variation and depth the colours have too. Semi-solids are a lot more interesting to my mind than solid colours too.
The dyers I shop from most often are Old Maiden Aunt who is the most local to me. She has a fantastic range of colour ways, fibre blends and yarn weights and as a fantastic plus she always puts a mini pack of lovehearts in the parcel! Posh Yarns have a really exciting set up. The week’s yarn goes online on a Friday and you can browse and see what you’d like. On Sunday the yarn goes on sale – it’s best to be there and waiting at the right time to make sure you don’t miss out! I think all of their colourways are one offs, but I’ve got some gorgeous yarns from them. Fybrespates is the third I buy from a lot. They have a massive range of yarns and colours and they are all gorgeous. They’re the largest hand dyer I buy from – a small company rather than an indy dyer. Eden Cottage Yarns is the most recent one I’ve found, but I really love her yarns and I’ve used them for the last two of my designs.
If you have any favourite dyers, let me know! I love finding new dyers and I’d love to expand my stash too. My shawl yarn stash is looking a little thin. I’ve scattered some yarn photos through this post. The group of four are for my next shawls. There’s a theme and possibly an e-book there – see if you can guess what it is!
Last June I showed you my homemade lightbox. Unfortunately it got some pretty rough use and eventually started to fall apart. We patched it up as best we could but eventually I decided that enough was enough and got a new one. I also got a couple of new very bright lamps since mine were quite awkward to set up and always cast a blueish tint on everything. I really love my new set up, although I need a bigger table to set up on!
The light box is 80cm on each side, although it has a tendancy to squash down a bit. There is a panel for the front that can go on too, with a slit to take photos through. At some point when I was taking these photos I realised that my husband had unplugged one of the lamps without telling me and the one that was on was so bright I hadn’t noticed!
Since this was a new toy I tested it out on a couple of things. I think before I take more photos with it, I need to iron the creases out of the backing sheet. It came with four different colour sheets – red, blue, black and white, although I expect only the white one will get much use. I’m pretty sure this one was taken with just one lamp on, but I could be wrong.
The really cool thing about this light box is the way it folds down into a tiny case which makes storing it so much easier than my old one that floated around the house getting moved whenever it was in the way.
Since this is primarily for my knitting (and blogging) I figured I should test it out on something knitted. I really love how the colour came out. It’s really accurate. It’s also really easy to balance the colours when I come to editing. Everything is so much faster!
I’m working on a few other things right now. Shattered Stars is in testing. I have a new sideways shawl charted and I’ve hopefully worked out all the kinks now so knitting can go full steam ahead. I’ve ordered a load of new stitch dictionaries that have been giving me loads of ideas – two have arrived so far, three more are coming from America and Canada. When they’ve all arrived I’ll show them to you and talk about them a bit. One other thing I’m working on right now is swatches for shawl shaping. I’ve got two and a half done so far, and I’ll be sharing them with you and talking about how the shaping works, hopefully, next week.
I love designing but self publishing has a lot of challenges. My biggest challenge is photography. I really don’t like having my photo taken but I have to be my own model. My husband is pretty good about being pressed into service as a photographer, but trying to model and communicate to him what I want the photos to look like is tricky. As a result, my first photo shoot for Anthousai wasn’t the best. The large shawl went really well, but the small version had perfect photos except that the shawl was folded up or the shawl sat perfectly but was slightly out of focus, or everything else was fine, but the bottom of the shawl was cut off.
The first thing we did to fix this problem was buy a tripod. I love my tripod! It’s fantastic both inside and out. I use it with my light box a lot and it really helps me to get sharper images on my close ups. It also really helps when we’re doing photos outside. We can set up the tripod, and that’s it! Super easy. Now we’re using the tripod we can use the rapid photo taking feature on the camera, so each pose gets five or six photos and means if I had a stupid expression on my face in one photo, I’ll probably have another that looks good!
Shattered Stars has just gone into testing, and since we were doing a shoot for that, we used the oppertunity to reshoot Anthousai. I really love how the photos came out and the whole shoot went really smoothly in comparison. I do wish it would warm up though – having to take my jacket off in the freezing weather we’ve been having doesn’t make for a very comfortable model, but I managed not to shiver too much! I also got a new light box because my old one fell apart – I’ll show it to you next week.
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