knitting, Photography

#Beautifying March #Instagram

One of my ‘things to do in 2016’ is to learn more about photography and back in January I signed up to do a ‘Photography for Knitting & Crochet Course’ with Emily Quinton at Makelight. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the course was rescheduled to March and I couldn’t attend as it clashed with the  C&G knitting weekend.

So instead I signed up to take one of the Makelight online courses Beautify your Instagram.

I’ve had an Instagram account for a while but only really used it for taking pictures of the cats or pretty sunsets. But spending time looking through other people’s pictures made me realise that it is actually a great platform to engage with other like-minded knitters and crafters.

The course encourages you to use your iphone or smartphone for taking and editing pictures (this appealed to me very much as my DSLR scares me bit!) And each day for 5 days a video from Emily would drop into my inbox offering lot’s of inspiration and handy tips on how to take beautiful flatlay photographs.

Some of the many topics covered included: using natural light, composition and styling, using hashtags, creating a beautiful gallery and forward planning. There was also a Facebook Group set up for all students on this course so we could discuss the lessons and share ideas.

I couldn’t wait to get started! One of the first things Emily asks you to do is think about what you want to use Instagram for and the audience that you want to attract and engage in. That was easy for me – it’s all about the knitting!

I started by gathering a selection of different backgrounds that I could use in the pictures.

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I already had a selection of 12″ x 12″ scrapbooking papers, a neutral colour cotton table mat, and peeking through top left is a dark grey slate tile which I bought for a couple of pounds at Homebase, which works surprisingly well as a background. Next time I go I’m going to look out for a marble tile too.

Then I put together a prop box of things that could be used in the photographs such as buttons, stitch markers, pretty little boxes, beads, notebooks etc

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It’s been rather fun to look at things with fresh eyes and think how it could work in a photograph – I’ve dusted off many trinkets and keepsakes hidden in the back of a cupboard that I could include in future photo’s 🙂

Here is the first lot of photo’s taken at the start of the course, playing around with content and composition.

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One of the tip’s Emily gives is to make sure you post regular content on Instagram and to that effect I have been posting up 1 photo a day. For me this requires a bit of forward planning as I work during the week so I have to set up my photo’s at the weekends. I am hoping that the more practiced I get the quicker I will become, but at the moment I am spending quite a bit of time thinking about each image – for every one I post there are at least 10 more that didn’t make the cut!

Here are a few that I am really happy with:

Vintage purse

The starting point for this photo was the gorgeous vintage evening bag given to me by my mother-in-law, so I went for a silver theme.

Starting a shawl

This one is of the start of a new project, I noticed that tea features quite a bit in styled Instagram pics so I thought I would give it a go too.

Stitch samples

Knitting and flowers seem to be a winning combination 🙂 (The stitch samples here are the Roman Stripe stitch and the Eiffel Tower Stitch).

And finally….introducing the cat lay!

Cat lay

Er, Mr. Pea!!!

Mr Pea

He does like to ‘help’ with things 🙂

The course has given me so much to think about and I have very much enjoyed the new channel of creativity it has inspired. If you are interested in learning more about the course details can be found on the Makelight Website.

And if you are on Instagram do come and say hello, I am on there as @jemarrowsmithknits

 

The Month That...

March: The month that…

Hello! This year I am writing a monthly post on things that wouldn’t always warrant a full blog post. Inspired by the weekly ‘Sunday Seven’s’ devised by Nat at Threads and Bobbins  the series is a great way to share little moments by posting 7 pictures of your week and letting people know what you have been up to. As much as I enjoy reading other blogger’s Sunday Sevens I’m just not disciplined enough for weekly scheduled blogging so I am doing a monthly round up instead, just of little things that fall outside of my normal knitty posts.

So here it is, March: The month that…

We Dusted off the BBQ

Sunday the 6th March was Mother’s Day here in the UK so we invited our Mum’s over to ours for a BBQ. I know it’s not quite BBQ season yet but we couldn’t resist! Mr. A’s BBQ’s are legendary with our friends and family, he doesn’t go for the traditional sausage and burger fare, instead he makes up delicious kebabs which are cooked over coals on the mangal.

BBQ

Our Mum’s really enjoyed them and we had a lovely day together 🙂

I went on a Spa Day

On the Monday after the knitting weekend in Portsmouth I had a day booked off work to go to a spa for a day of pampering with 2 of my close friends. We went to Sopwell House in St. Albans where I had a facial and a back massage. Oh it was heaven…

We even had a cheeky little glass of prosecco with our lunch 🙂

Spa Day

I Beautified March

I will do a more detailed post on this next week but I took the Beautify Your Instagram  online course run by Emily Quinton at Makelight. I am fairly new to Instagram but it’s fast becoming one of my favourite social media platforms, I love seeing other people’s photo’s and being inspired by their images and projects.

I signed up to this course after seeing Emily’s beautiful flat lay photographs, they are simply stunning. If you are on Instagram do go and have a look at @emilyquinton

Since doing the course I have been taking time every week to work on my own flat lays with the aim of building up a beautiful and inspiration gallery that I hope other knitters and crafters can enjoy.

This is one of my favourite images so far…

Socks

The project is the ‘Helix‘ two at a time toe up socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ is now a ‘Megalo Fraoula’!

If you are a returning reader you may recall my post from last year about how we were adopted by a tiny kitten in Greece – Our ‘Mikro Fraoula’ (Little Strawberry). Well our little strawberry has now grown up into a big strawberry! Last week we received an update from ASAP the animal charity on Alonissos to say that he (yep, he’s definitely a boy cat – we weren’t sure before as he was so tiny) is at a shelter and is doing really well. He has been neutered and is very friendly and is being very well fed.

This is how small he was when we last saw him…he was only as big as my flip flop!

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And this is him now…

Stannis!

Isn’t he a beauty! I can’t wait to go and see him this year…I wonder if he will recognise us?

I wish there was some way we could magic him over here, although I’m not sure Mr. Pea and Micicles would appreciate us adding another cat to the fold.

Cats

I love this picture. Mr. Pea was just chilling and watching me knit when Micicles jumped up on the table.That look says it all – 30 seconds later Mr. Pea was well and truly usurped!

Until next time! x

knitting, Photography

Photography & Knitting

Happy New Year!

As a PA by trade I love a spot of forward planning and the start of the new year is a great chance to do just that. I took the opportunity of the break between Christmas and New Year to work on some unfinished projects and think about things that I would like to accomplish this year.

One thing that I have always wished I could do better is to take better photographs so over Christmas I enrolled on the Craftsy Course ‘Shoot It – A Product Photography Primer’ with Caro Sheridan. It’s a 10 lesson online course that teaches you how to take beautiful shots of your handmade products and garments. At 2 and a half hours it wasn’t a long course but it did offer some useful tips on composition, colour and post processing. A couple of areas I wish there had been a bit more content on were on camera settings and lighting. However, it was great as a starter course and the instructor really knew her stuff. And now I want to learn more!

So next Saturday I am off to London to do a ‘Photography for Knitting and Crochet Course‘ with Emily Quinton from Makelight and Kate from A Playful Day. I can’t begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to it!

I also signed up to the free online taster course with Makelight, every day for 5 days Emily sends an e-mail with hints and tips designed to improve and inspire your photography. I am on day 4 and there has been much to think about, including how to use Instagram better. I have had an Instagram account for a while now but not really paid much attention to it so I spent some time the other day looking at other people’s photo’s and it has really inspired me to get more creative with my pictures.

If you are on Instagram I would love to see you there, I am @jemarrowsmith so do pop by and say hello!

Another thing I want to improve on this year is using Ravelry better to document projects and stash. It’s a chance to delve back into the stash and think a bit more about what I have and what I can make with it. I love that Inspiration Knits recently declared 2016 the ‘Year of Yarn Stash Love‘ and has invited people to join in by sharing photo’s on Instagram of yarn stash and WIP’s with the hashtag #yarnstashlove

So here is my offering for today, my most favourite yarn ever! This gorgeous silk and baby camel blend from Copperfield Yarns and hand dyed by Oliver Twists was purchased at The Knitting & Stitching Show in Alexandra Palace in 2014 and I am still searching for the perfect pattern for it…

Copperfield Yarns Oliver Twist

In knitting news I have finished my Spectra which I started at the brilliant workshop with Stephen West in Dec. It’s blocking at the moment but will post some pictures soon.

I have also nearly finished Peggy Sue, I just need to add the button bands.

Peggy Sue Progress

My next project is going to be a shawl that I am designing as part of the C&G knitting course. I am going to be using the Uncommon Thread Tough Sock yarn in colours (top to bottom) Bois, Tea Smoked and Squirrel Nutkin.

Uncommon Thread Tough Sock

2016 is already looking to be an exciting year with lots of fun things planned including making my first custom made sweater, a knitting weekend and a trip to Iceland! I do hope you will join me along the way 🙂

Until next time, happy knitting! x

Photography

Let There Be Light!

One thing I am trying to improve at the moment is my photography skills. If you are a regular reader you will probably have noticed my Sunday Stitch sample photography varies in quality from week to week. I think some of this is down to the fact that it’s winter and there are few daylight hours at the weekend in which to get some quality photo’s, but mostly it’s down to lack of knowledge on how to work a camera properly!

Last week an e-mail popped into my inbox from Interweave Studios ‘How to Create a DIY Photo Studio: Get Professional Results at Home’ It was details on a Web Seminar with professional photographers, the Shibaguyz,  which explored how to get professional looking photographs of items at home by building basic photography equipment with everyday items. This was perfect for me!

During the 1 hour webinar, the Shibaguz talked about different types of cameras and it was a revelation to me that a phone camera can be just as effective for taking professional photo’s as a really expensive one! They also covered natural light vs artifical light, I had always thought that to get the best results from photographing yarn and knitting, this had to be done in natural daylight but again this is not always the case. The class covered how to make your own light box for taking photo’s of small items, even when it is dark outside!  Other areas covered were how to utilise the space around you to create the best setting for your photographs, and they also touched on diffusing and bouncing light. It was a lot to cover in 1 hour but I came away feeling really inspired and immediately went in search of a big cardboard box to make my own light box….ta da!

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As I photograph my samples from above I cut out 2 large rectangles each side for the lamps and a big hole at the top to take the photo’s through.

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I then covered the side windows with tracing paper and added some decorative paper at the bottom.

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I popped out to get a couple of cheap lamps from Homebase then it was time to put it to the test!

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Here is the result…

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Daylight was fading fast but I took a shot of this same sample using natural daylight to compare the results. What a difference!

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I have a lot to learn about photography but I am so pleased to have discovered this cheap and cheerful top tip. Now where did I put the rest of those samples…..

Blogging101

Shiny New Blogs on my Reader :)

Day 3 of Blogging101 was to get to grips with the Reader topics list and find some new and interesting blogging neighbours to follow. Having branched out of my usual ‘knitting’ or ‘crafting’ tag search I spent a large chunk of yesterday evening reading and following some brilliant blogs that I am really excited about. Here are just a few of them:

Young & Hungry – a great cooking blog with some fantastic recipes! I am not a brilliant cook and it’s something I really want to improve on. The blog tagline is ‘Delicious doesn’t have to be difficult’ – so that’s good news for me!

As a sideline, Mr A. and I went to the Garden Centre at the weekend and being rather late in the day we arrived at the end of a Chilli Festival. Our lateness may have caused us to miss the Mexican Pan-pipers but it turned out ok in the end as they were selling loads of chilli plants for just £2 each – bargain! So we got 3, ‘Ring of Fire’, ‘Scotch Bonnett’ and ‘Joes Long Cayenne’.

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And also some of this…

Chilli Beer

So after finding the Young & Hungry blog I feel super inspired to impress Mr. A with a surprise dinner. First up will be….Chilli Chicken! 🙂

Helen’s Journal – Helen’s photos are simply stunning. The latest post includes some soft image photo’s taken in New York and I love the abstractness (is that a word?) of them; the images appear as if they are made up of little balls of coloured light. I’m not explaining myself very well am I – probably best you go check them out here, you’ll see what I mean!  Some photos on the blog are also accompanied by a poem or a quote. I am looking forward to following Helen’s Journal and seeing some more beautiful pictures taken on her travels.

paris: small capital – Having spent an amazing weekend in Paris earlier in the year this blog totally captured my imagination. The author is Kim who moved to Paris in 2009 and through her blog explores the back streets of Paris and the places lesser known on the tourist trail. It is brilliantly written, very funny and full of interesting stories about Paris. I will be returning to this blog soon with a cup of tea!

White Elephant in the Room – this blog actually made me laugh out loud,  I love this post about wine tasting – brilliant! The author is someone who finds fun in the everyday things and I also love the fact that each post is individually illustrated with a white elephant to tie in with the post, very clever.

Today I have been filling up my reader with lots of  interesting new topics; there will never be another dull moment 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! x

Art

Adventures in London Town

We had a brilliant time in London this weekend. I really wanted to catch the Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern before it ends this week. BUT like a fool I didn’t even think about pre-booking tickets, I just thought we could breeze straight in, but no. We arrived at 3pm only to be told that the next available slot was 7pm!

Luckily our visit to London was 3 fold. We were also going to Covent Garden to surprise my Mum for her birthday and then stopping over with my husbands parents. So we booked the exhibition for 6pm on Sunday and took a leisurely stroll through Southbank over to Covent Garden.

On our journey we saw the Dazzle Ship.

The Dazzle Ship

Dazzle Ship

This is the HMS President (1918) which served during the First World War. The ‘dazzle’ camouflage on this ship was done by Tobias Rehberger and the original purpose of such a design was to confuse enemy U-boat captains.

In Covent Garden we successfully surprised my Mum who was there on a day out with her friend and enjoyed a cheeky glass of Pimms 🙂

On our way back we passed the London Film Museum where my husband stopped dead in his tracks. They are currently exhibiting a large collection of James Bond vehicles. Now marriage is about give and take right? He was willing to come to Matisse with me so surely it was only fair that I returned the cultural favour. And as it turns out it actually it was quite interesting!

Here are a few of the cars that caught my eye. Not because I could admit to recognising them from the film (I know, shame on me) but because they were lovely. Here are the Rolls Royce Phantom III and the Aston Martin DBS from Goldfinger.

Rolls Royce Phanton III Goldfinger

Aston Martin DBS Goldfinger

What I also found fascinating was seeing the storyboards that are created for films. I am not a film buff and I have never really thought about how much work goes into making a film before, but seeing each camerashot sketched out like this really opened my eyes. The scene below was from Skyfall.

Skyfall Storyboard

We eventually arrived at the in-laws late Saturday eveining. It was lovely to see them. After Sunday lunch Mr. A disappeared for a while only to come back downstairs with a couple of ‘finds’. Of the old vintage camera variety.

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We searched online to see if we could find any film for them. Unfortunately, they stopped producing film for the polaroid ‘swinger’ in 1970!! However we have found a film for ‘The Button’ and duly ordered a couple. Stand by for some polaroid fun in a future post!

After saying our goodbyes we headed back into London Town for the much anticipated Matisse Exhibition. We parked our car in the Mansion House area, and as we exited the car park we came out at Baynard House and came across an interesting sculpture of Shakespeare’s 7 Ages of Man by Richard Kindersley. Constructed in a totem pole style it depicts the aging process from the youngest at the bottom to the oldest at the top. What doesn’t really come across in this photo is that the top head, the old man, actually looks quite skull-like from certain angles.

The 7 Ages of Man

From here we walked over the Millennium Bridge. You can’t beat London when the sun is shining.

London

We made it to the Tate Modern bang on 6pm and the exhibition didn’t disappoint.

Matisse Cut Outs

You couldn’t take photo’s in the exhibition but here are 3 of my favourites.

‘Icarus’ – I have always loved this image and I used to have a large print of this hanging in my old flat and what struck me when I saw it was that it was a lot smaller than I had expected. But the impact of seeing the original was still immense.

matisse icarus

Photo from http://www.tate.org.uk/about/press-office/press-releases/henri-matisse-cut-outs

I was fascinated by some of the ‘wall’ pieces. Matisse cut out these shapes and pinned them to the walls of his apartments in Paris and Venice. Called ‘Oceania, the Sky’ it began by Matisse cutting out a swallow shape from a piece of writing paper, and not wanting to tear it up or disregard it he pinned it to his wall to cover up a stain. Over the following weeks more shapes followed, including fish, coral, birds and leaves. According to the guidebook for the exhibition he was inspired by a visit to Tahiti 16 years earlier and quotes ‘There, swimming every day in the lagoon, I took such intense pleasure in contemplating the submarine world’

Oceania, the Sea 1946 matisse

Picture taken from http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/20/henri-matisse-the-cut-outs-tate-modern-review-laura-cumming

I don’t know if it is the colours or the shapes of this piece, but it also makes me think of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Finally, The Creole Dancer. I just love this. The colours, the movement – it just makes me smile. And at the giftshop it was my fridge magnet of choice 🙂

Matisse Creole Dancer 1950

The pieces were complemented by film footage showing how Matisse worked on these cut outs in his later years, instructing his assistants on where to place the shapes. I am so glad we caught this exhibition before it closed.

On our way home we drove through Trafalgar Square. Here are the final few pictures of a great weekend.

The London Eye

The London Eye.

Nelsons Column

Nelsons Column.

I do love London!