Friday, January 27, 2017

The Art of Phone Photos

I haven't done a Friday Photo post in a while, so I thought I would go over some of my process. This was an impromptu photo shoot. When I was making tea in my new teapot, I wanted to get a photo of it, but didn't want to take too much time to set up.

I don't like taking the big camera out too much, and my iPhone camera takes a halfway decent photo, plus many of the various camera apps with their filters will do in a pinch. The best camera is the one that you have on you.

The following photo took about 3 minutes to take, process, and upload, which is about the same amount of time it took my tea to steep enough to drink. So, it might seem like a lot of steps, it really isn't.

As readers of this blog might be familiar, my dining room table usually has a protective board on it or cats. Neither of which are appropriate backdrops for my image, despite the cats being super cat regardless.

For the background, I grabbed a piece of scrap fabric nearby so as to give it a bit more ambiance. Unfortunately, the fabric was all wrinkled and I didn't want to pull out the ironing board. I hoped that maybe some post processing would minimize the wrinkling in the background.

I opened up the blinds on the left side  (you can see more light shining on the left side), which would give me a bit of natural side lighting.

Original Photo

I was going to post this on Instagram so I knew that it'd have to be cropped accordingly. I shot the photo in a regular frame, capturing the elements I wanted --- the spout, the bottom of the board, the cover of the tea, the tea leaves, and part of the teapot handle. 

I didn't want to use the "SQUARE" option because I wanted to control what was shown. I took this photo, then rotated it slightly so that the square board was level and cropped.

Important Elements

The cropping took a lot of the distracting wrinkles out. The tea leaves were a bit too dark, so I increased the exposure. I also increased the contrast , black point, and saturation by a little bit to make the red pop and the handle a bit darker.

Cropped photo

At that point, I took the photo into Prisma, and used one of their base filters. I wanted it to give the impression of a drawing, but I did lower the opacity of the filter to about 15%.

After the Prisma filter @ 15% opacity

I took that photo into Instagram and used  another one of their filters at a lower opacity. Then I increased the contrast and saturation to give a better distinction between the reds & golds. I also used a radial tilt shift and a vignette to downplay the wrinkles a bit more.

The wrinkles still bothered me QUITE a bit, but it would have meant that I needed to find another non-wrinkled piece of fabric or iron the one I had, but that would had meant more work plus at that point my tea was ready to drink.

I suppose I might take this photo again in the future and set it up properly, but for what I had, it worked well enough.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pussy Cat, Pussy Hat, I love You.

As part of the podcast, we encourage folks to do a bit of #craftivism by helping their local charities with things they make -- Afghans for Afghans, Knitters for Peace, 20,000 Tukes -- as well as supporting worth charities.

This time around, we're supporting Women and getting our voices heard to support Women's Rights, which include, but isn't limited to our reproductive rights, equal pay, equal treatment. So, I've been knitting a few hats using the KitKat Hat pattern.

Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza, Funny papers

Yarn: Cascade 220 - Pink and Heathered Purple

Sammy is not amused. "This doesn't look like a cat!
Yarn: Katmandu Chunky

I've got one more left to be knit using the colorway, NASTY WOMAN, by White Birch Fiber arts. I'm pretty sure I'll have it completed before this Saturday.

And just because I'm a geek....

Designed by Hayley Gilmore
Can be found at:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Target Archery Beanie

I haven't posted much about my archery but rest assured that I'm still flinging arrows at various targets.

Over the summer and fall, I was outside target and field archery. It was a blast. This is a typical target face, and each ring represents a score.

White = 1, 2 points. Black = 3, 4 pts. Blue =5&6 pts. Yellow = 7,8 pts. Yellow = 9, 10 points. 
The inner most yellow is also an X or a Bullseye.
(Bigger 120 cm targets are used when you're at least 60 yards away)

Now that winter is here, I've moved to indoor archery, and surprisingly, it's pretty darn cold in those indoor ranges because they are usually large drafty warehouses with very little insulation. So I decided to make myself some archery related gear, including this archery beanie.

When I'm outdoors, I typically wear a hat with a brim to act as shade from the sun. Indoors, I don't have to worry about the sun, but just keeping my head warm.

It looks like a target face, except for the arrows.....

I made some minor modifications to the pattern. The pattern used a lot of white (the 1&2 rings), but I am not particularly fond of white clothing, so I just opted to use a lot more black (the 3&4 rings)

This project was a great stash-buster because I had all of the colors in my stash from previous projects. All of the yarns that I used are Cascade 220!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hawaiian Waters Cardigan -- First FO of 2017!

Before we left for vacation, I started working on a new cardigan, Watercourse by Carina Spencer. 
I had the opportunity to try on this cardigan while at Stitches two years ago, and I fell in love with the sample. I knew I had to knit it.

However, it was fraught with mistakes of my own making and I ended up tinking back multiple times and frogging back at least once. But, it did become my very first finished object for 2017!!

For this sweater, I used Malabrigo yarn for the very first time. I had this yarn in my stash from an impulse buy my credit, the yarn was on sale. And luckily, I had just enough for this project. I have to say, this yarn is just simply amazing to use for knitting. It has a superb hand and feel. I can see why so many knitters love this yarn.

I had a hard time getting gauge (pre-block), so I used several different sized needles. It bloomed a lot after washing, and I definitely got gauge with a US 6.

My Knit Companion app makes keeping track easy. It was only coincidence that the yarn I selected was the same color as the pattern.
I knit on this cardigan throughout our Hawaiian vacation. The blue was nearly the same color as many of the beaches we visited.

The pattern itself is well written. There are a few mistakes in the ribbing pattern, especially as it transitions from one part of the pattern to another, but if you're very careful, you can tell where it goes off and catch it quickly -- unless you're like me and aren't paying attention, and therefore have to tink back a couple of rows to fix the issue.

Or in one case, I had to rip back about 10 inches, because I put the waist decreases in the completely wrong place. I almost threw the entire project in the time-out bin. However, the only saving grace was that
  1. I wanted this sweater.
  2. Malabrigo yarn is amazing and is such a joy to knit.
After much teeth gnashing, I eventually I got to the point where I was finished with the body. I was very happy

The instructions for knitting the sleeve cap is rather clever and one that reminds me of a set-in sleeve for sewing. I was worried that I wouldn't have enough yarn to do both the sleeves and a deep enough hood, so I started with the sleeves first.

In the end, it turned out that I had more than enough yarn so I have enough for any repairs, if needed. I knew that the finished sweater would grow slightly once I washed and blocked it, and it did!

It grew slightly in length and width, but I prefer it that way.

And the hood grew slightly too, which I wanted. Many Ravelers had lamented that the hood was a bit too shallow per the original instructions so I had made it longer and deeper while knitting.

I'm so very glad that I finished this cardigan!  It's going to prove rather stylish and versatile in the office, especially with our wonky A/C and heat issues.

I love the color. It'll always remind me of our vacation.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Sweater Inspirations

This is an older project that I finished back in July but have only finished writing up recently over the holidays.

About a year ago, I saw a sweater in a shop that I absolutely loved, but all of the sizing was a it too large (and much too expensive) for me. However, I thought, I'm a knitter! I can make something like this or at least an interpretation, thereof.

The elements that I really liked are the colorwork sleeves and the shawl/cowl neck. With these elements in mind, I looked for appropriate yarn & colors at Stitches 2016 (even before I knew what pattern to use). I bought enough yardage to complete whatever pattern (sans cables) that I could find.

Luckily, I made a huge swatch of this yarn -- i.e. a hat -- and discovered a problem with the yarn, which was not-quite-set red. It was heartbreaking, but at least I found out about the problem before I knit the entire sweater.

After solving the yarn issue, I looked around Ravelry for a base pattern that I could use. Eventually, I decided on the pattern On the Beach by Isabelle Kraemer.

I like v-neck sweaters that are somewhat fitted -- not quite the cowl neck and boxy look of the original, but mine would be an interpretation. I also decided to make a matching cowl, because I wanted to the option to remove it when I got warm. After all, I live in California and the weather never gets as cold as it does back East.

After some planning and sketches, I eventually came out with this sweater.  I initially had problems with shoulder increase of the sweater, but that was mostly due to my lack of understanding. I had to re-do the shoulders three times before I got the hang of the construction.

I also made a matching cowl using the Big Herringbone Cowl by Purl Soho. The pattern was exremely simple, and I double stitched the line color work going up the side (also to hide a funky beginning of the round changes).

Overall, it's a loveliy sweater, and I've gotten a few good uses out of it.