Photography

A topic that sometimes comes up on blogs, in magazines, and on podcasts is knitting and crochet photography. There are opinions about how we should photograph our needlework. Here’s a list of some of those that I hear the most frequently:

“You worked hard on your project! Show it off the best way possible!”

“Take pictures of your projects with lots of natural light available.”

“Use a real camera, for God’s sake! Smartphone cameras won’t give you the quality photograph you need.”

“Take a photography class. X person offers an online class at Y web site for $Z.”

“I’m a photographer. You can hire me to take the pics of your projects!”

Social media and digital photography certainly have changed the way knitters and crocheters share their craftiness with each other. Not only can they take a picture of something. They can share the picture with the world as a testament to their hard work, skillfulness, and love for their favorite craft. Of course, sharing pictures with the world invites people to comment on them, criticize them, and fuss over them. I suppose it’s reasonable to assume that, if you worked hard on something, why not make every effort possible to take a really good picture of it? Natural light is indeed a must. It allows for color accuracy and keeps a photo from looking dull or overexposed. Digital cameras sometimes take better pictures than smartphones, although now I think there are plenty of smartphone cameras that are good enough. I think it’s sort of smarmy to advertise your own or someone else’s “knitting photography class” or photography services by criticizing — albeit in a general way — knitters and crocheters who take “bad photos” of their work. I certainly understand that people have to get the word out about things so that there are paying customers for them, but I’d prefer a more direct marketing approach, leaving out the “so many people take bad pictures of their crafting” part. That’s the difference between smarmy and reasonable advertising. Smarm really puts me off. So: no, nope nope nope nope I’m not going to take a class on knitting and crochet photography. If I feel like it, some day maybe I’ll just take a real photography class.

This blog certainly has some seriously bad pictures, especially from two years ago when I started writing about knitting and crochet. Some of the bad pictures were taken with a decent digital camera. Others were done with an iPhone and some others were probably made with an iPad camera. I think I’ve got better at photographing my knitting, but sometimes the conditions under which I’ve taken photos have not cooperated with me. I can definitely say that I’m not an expert photographer but I’ve learned a lot. Basically, I’ve learned this: A) If the sun is shining and you have about an hour to find a nice spot outside to take pictures of your handiwork, you can take a visually appealing photo with accurate colors on maybe the sixth snapshot. B) If it’s winter, it’s cloudy and gray and you take the photo outside it’ll be… meh. C) If you try to photograph something indoors your results will vary from truly gloomy to “oh well, at least it’s a pic.” D) You cannot recover the time you spend on photographing your work. D is key for me.

Having looked at photos of other peoples’ knitting on the Internet, I can definitely say that “bad” photography does not bother me at all and I’ve never felt inspired to criticize or chastise anyone’s photos. This is different for me from, say, a pattern or a book of patterns. Something that’s been published or shows a person how to make a craft item really truly needs to have a professional-looking photo with it. Even better, it could have more than one photo. This is because the viewers need to see what it should look like, how it fits, how the colors go together, etc. Amateur photography isn’t serving the same purpose. Certainly, other crafters could want the amateur photos to serve their needs. In other words, the viewer could want to gain visual knowledge about a particular item if a different yarn or color way is used. Is this the photographer’s intent, though? I do not think that in all cases a knitter or crocheter who snaps a picture of a project is thinking about being illustrative or helpful to other crafters who might be seeking images of finished objects following a particular pattern. I suspect that a lot of people are just using their photo to say “hey! look what I made! This is why I love this pattern! Woot! I’m done!”

I really wish people would get on the middle ground about the photography topic. Of course, people want to sell their courses on “How to take good pictures of your knitting” so I suppose those people won’t give up because they want to make some money with this concept. But really, if you’re not entering your picture in a knitting or crochet contest or publishing a pattern there is no need to get all worked up about our amateur photos. That’s why they’re amateur. They’re not supposed to be perfect. I certainly don’t mean that we shouldn’t try to get a good photo. I really think we all need to at least make some sort of effort to take good photos of our crafting. I just believe that sometimes it’s not possible because of time, the weather, and a million other factors beyond our control. A slightly “off” photo is probably more interesting than none at all, right?

I’m curious to know what others’ thoughts on the subject are.

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And… back to knitting!

Remember that week I said I hadn’t knitted anything? That’s history.

That weekend I did exactly what I predicted I’d do: get back into knitting. I casted on a sock:

Photo Apr 19-2

The yarn is Rowan Fine Art hand painted sock yarn in the Kingfisher color way. I’m just following my usual vanilla sock pattern that never seems to leave my brain.

Any sock knitters out there who have never tried Rowan Fine Art should buy a skein and give it a go. It’s one of my favorite yarns to knit socks with. It’s not only fun to work with because of the colors. The final product is very durable, warm, and not too thick to fit into any pair of shoes.

Knitting slump!

This week, I’m in a knitting slump, which means I’m not knitting anything at all. My sweater is, for now, abandoned, waiting for me in its bag. I haven’t casted anything on or even thought about knitting.

It’s just one of those weeks. I’m working a lot and not sleeping.

I’m pretty certain I’ll get back to my knitting really soon. This weekend will more than likely inspire me to get back to it.

The most important thing about knitting slumps, at least for me, is that it’s important not to force the issue, especially if it’s a hobby and not a career. I’m pretty sure lots of designers force themselves to knit when they don’t feel inspired much.

Fancy shmancy

During Holy Week (in Spain “Semana Santa”) I didn’t leave the house much.  I did, however, run into a parade. Actually, it was passing by the entrance to my building as I was going out to buy bread. I have no idea what church they were coming from, but they were all dressed up in red:

In fact, we could say that the people in the parade were dressed up and fancy. Which leads me to what I’m actually going to write about.

I did some fancy crochet rather than work on my sweater during my mini vacation. I was inspired to do this because the weekend before I had bought some vintage crochet magazines at a book fair in Valladolid. The magazines made me feel nostalgic about when my mother taught me how to crochet. My first childhood projects were crocheted doilies, of course! During the week I made two doilies, one rather large and the other medium-sized. The first one I made was Agnes Russell’s “Pineapple Pinwheel.”

As you might notice from the picture of my finished project, above, the name of the pattern doesn’t disappoint. It’s a big pinwheel surrounded by little pineapples.

The other doily I made is from a pattern I found in one of the vintage magazines I bought. The pattern is called “California” and it comes from the magazine Ganchillo Selección number 42 (1982) which advertises itself as a “recopilación de Punto Rama” which simply means that the publisher selected some nifty patterns from the magazine Punto Rama for this edition. Anyway, I can’t link to the pattern on Ravelry because it’s just not indexed there. Here’s my finished “California:”

I have no idea why this doily is named “California.” It doesn’t remind me of California at all. It was a well-written pattern with a handy chart, though.

Anyway, I got all fancy and made doilies. Even better, I had lots of fun and reveled in my childhood memories of learning to crochet and making doilies.

What the heck do we do with doilies?

Frankly, in the year 2015, not much. In Victorian times and in the twentieth century (including in my mom’s house) they were used for serving food and to protect furniture and upholstery. An interesting history of the doily — peppered with dry humor — explains to us that, in the Victorian age, men used Macassar oil in their hair. So, doilies acted as a buffer between gentlemen’s greasy heads and the upholstery. Junkbox Treasures also offers an interesting history of the doily with some references to old magazines and newspapers.

Just doing a Google search of the words “doily uses” will bring up all kinds of lists and ideas about what to do with doilies. This here is a list from Brit+co. To make it even easier for you to find creative ways to use doilies, try this Pinterest board. Really, the sky’s the limit. People use them as stencils for painting bags and boxes, arrange them in shadow boxes, and even turn them into lampshades.

Of course, a doily would be a great item to include in some sort of gift box, like the kinds that are traded at knitting and crochet clubs.

What am I going to do with mine? I’m not sure. If I ever have people over for dinner maybe I’ll use one to decorate the table. Until then, I’ll just let them sit in a box to wait for me to make up my mind.