Karie Bookish Dot Net

Category Archives: Photography

No Pressure, Karie, No Pressure.

June 2015 157Another photo shoot beckons. I am a perfectionist and I haven’t been happy with the photos we’ve managed to get so far. The first shoot was basically us trying out a couple of locations. Obviously the first location we tried turned out to be my favourite – isn’t it always so? – but we had only shot a couple of photos. I wanted more.

So, yesterday we headed out for another shoot. I was tired and I think it showed in the images.

I used to joke about modelling being a real job, but now I know it’s actually hard work. Usually our shoots lasts between fifteen to forty-five minutes: you have to account for the light, get a variety of shots, get pattern details, and find that magic connection between yourself and the camera. So, going into a shoot with a tired body and a tired brain wasn’t the best thing.

But this is your first real glimpse of Mahy, isn’t it?

I absolutely love this shawl and I think this is one of the reasons why I’ve been so hard on the photos. I want to capture just how special this feels to me. I want the photos to convey just how amazing it felt to knit the shawl and how fantastic it feels to wear it.

No pressure, Karie.

Southwards Bound – pt 2

So. London to Cambridge and back to London. I had considered adding Brighton to the itinerary, but I am very glad I decided against it. The weather was hot and clammy – and it sucked all the energy right of me. Instead of doing the thousand things on my list, I opted to visit The National Gallery which I hadn’t visited for nearly twenty years. I knew it would be cool, relatively free of crowds and very restorative to my sanity

But first a gratuitous photo of The Thing which is currently blocking.

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A grey woolly blob pre-blocking transformation. I like the early evening light.

The National Gallery in London had played a big part in my days of living in London two decades ago. I spent much of my free time wandering through the galleries and several paintings had become old friends by the time I left. It was a great joy to see these paintings again – a certain Titian, Fra Filippo Lippi’s The Annuciation (it had not lost any of its power and mystery) and Paul Cezanne’s Les Grandes Baigneuses (Cezanne’s painting took on extra meaning for me this time as I’m now so familiar with J.D. Fergusson’s Les Eus). But I kept coming back to a simple portrait by Albrecht Dürer.

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Detail from The Painter’s Father by Dürer. This portrait is over 500 years old and it is still so achingly alive.

But my favourite discovery at NG was the mosaic floor in the Main Vestibule. I spent a lot of time looking at it (much to the bemusement of other visitors).

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Detail from The Awakening of the Muses (1928-1933) by Boris Anrep. That man bears an uncanny resemblance to TS Eliot.

After the National Gallery, I headed next door to the National Portrait Gallery. I tend to visit NPG whenever I am in London – it is the perfect size for an impromptu visit and yet I see something new every time. This time I was struck by a painting of Aleister Crowley – the yellow colour vibrated and clashed beautifully against the red robe. I’ll need to see it again.

And then I headed out to Hackney to teach at the very delightful Wild & Woolly yarn shop. I always say that yarn shops reflect their owners – Wild & Woolly is owned by Anna who I liked on sight. We sat down with a pot of tea and proceeded to have a fantastic in-depth talk about knitting as lifestyle, knitting as art form, and knitting as pleasure. And the shop reflects Anna’s warm personality, sense of humour and eye for detail.

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I was teaching a class on my Byatt shawl – and it was a blast. we talked colour choices, techniques and how to knit lace at the pub. The students were all lively and funny. A very brief hello from Larissa and I wish I could have stayed longer – always a good sign – but I had to dash into the dark of night as I was staying with my good friend Ben who lives quite a trek from Hackney.

And so I spent my very last hours of my time in London talking gender identity, privilege and Men Who Knit with Ben. We’ve known each other for years and I don’t see him often enough. I don’t see many friends often enough, actually, as they are all spread out across the world (that’s a complaint for another day).

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Exotic travel: Birmingham

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Somewhere north of Preston.

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Almost sure I travelled across that viaduct on my journey to Settle just two weeks ago.

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Oh Scotland. Home.

I have been travelling a lot the past month or so. As a confirmed introvert (and homebody) I can feel I need some time to recover from adventuring. I do try to soak up as many impressions and ideas as I can while I am travelling – but then I need time to sort through them all. The good news is I have finished quite a few things and I’ll be able to share a new design with you very shortly. Yes, it’s the grey blob shown above and no, it is no longer a blob but a Very Beautiful Thing.

A big thank you to everybody I met on my travels south – the people who came to my classes; Anna and Sarah who both jumped at the chance to host my workshops; Joanne and Ben who let me stay at their places; and all the lovely strangers who talked to me because I was knitting. I salute you.

A Yorkshire Retreat

I don’t think many hen nights turn into a knitting retreat, but it’s the logical solution when every participant is a knitter. One of my best friends is getting married later this year and we all met up in Yorkshire for a weekend of knitting and relaxation. I had been to Yorkshire before for work, but I had never had a chance to spend time in a stunning landscape filled with textile heritage.

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We took the train from Carlisle to Settle – to our great surprise (and delight) the train journey turned out to be spectacular. It runs past the Pennines and through the Yorkshire Dales.

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Every station was a Victorian delight with ornate architecture and beautiful details. I can only recommend taking the train journey – it is absolutely stunning and I feel fortunate to have experienced it.

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May 2015 227And there are sheep everywhere. I was particularly interested in seeing the varieties of sheep in the fields we passed. The Swaledale sheep is the official ‘face’ of the Yorkshire dales and I spotted a few on my train journey. I am not Deb Robson, so I could not identify all the little dots scampering around the fells but it was still great seeing so many varieties.

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We had rented a house a few miles outside Settle. It was pretty much my dream house: Georgian proportions, a country kitchen (though I found cooking on an AGA fairly intimidating), a small conservatory with built-in book shelves and open fires in each of the living rooms. Did I mention the views?

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This was the view from my bedroom (where I sat in the window seat as I took this picture). It looked like merino sheep in the cow-parsley/buttercup field. They fled as soon as I tried getting closer for a better view. Roses in the front garden and a beautiful back garden with views across the dale.

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It was a bit too cold for me to sit outside and knit, but I was tempted! Once inside, the house offered many temptations..

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.. but I stuck to my knitting mostly. I currently have three projects on the go – one that requires a lot of maths, one that requires a lot of concentration and, er, one that’s 1 ply lace. I mainly worked on the latter as it seemed more straightforward given the high level of hilarity.

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I did not move from my comfy chair most of the weekend, though I discovered just how bad I am at playing pool. The adjacent house had a ruby spaniel that loved cuddles, so time was spent doing that too. And copious amounts of tea, tea and tea. Cake was had from the interestingly-named local pub/bakery.

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It was a lovely weekend. We took the train back to Carlisle yesterday.

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And then a rail-replacement bus back to Glasgow (when I fell asleep – all that fresh country air!). I’m having the day off today as I’m oddly exhausted after my relaxing weekend away. While it was fun waltzing around a 19th country house for a few days, it’s rather lovely to be home in my humble abode again. I’m down to London next week – when I pass Carlisle on my way down, I’ll think fondly of this trip.

Yarn Shop Day, Knitting Retreats & Thank Yous

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I’m supposed to be enjoying a long bank holiday weekend, so this blog post will be short and sweet. All photos by Mr D. who has lately begun taking more abstract photos and I’m enjoying looking at the world through his eyes.

First, thank you to everybody who made the trek to the Fluph yarn shop in Dundee this past Saturday for Yarn Shop Day. I lost track of quite how many people dropped by but I loved saying hello to all (including the dogs that people so thoughtfully brought along). I also loved seeing all the knitwear on display – from a stunning Aidez cardigan to the most exquisite cobweb Shetland “wedding ring” shawl.

(Fluph-owner and all-round lovely person Leona also managed to squeeze an unorthodox interview out of me. It includes a question on Eurovision!)

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Later this month I am heading to Yorkshire for another knitting retreat (I’m combining it with seeing far-flung friends). However, I’ve had yet another jury citation – this is the third since November – so my retreat plans may be cut short. I love spending time in Yorkshire, I very rarely get to see these friends and the retreat location includes a short stroll to a delightful yarn shop, so fingers crossed everything works out. I know many of you wonder about knitting retreats – while you obviously have the option of arranging one for yourself, there are a few lovely ‘open’ retreats. Helen Lockhart of Ripples Crafts has been running a regular knitting retreat on Tanera Mor, an beautiful island off the Scottish North-West coast, and I know she is planning more retreats in the Scottish Highlands. You could also opt to spend time in the beautiful Welsh countryside together with Brenda Dayne (of Cast On podcast fame) and Felicity Ford at the Gwlana retreat. I am sure there are other retreats scattered around the British isles – do share your info in the comments section if you know of any!

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Finally, thank you for all your kind words about the passing of my art teacher. It was a hard post to write.

Adventures on Arran

To my great delight and surprise, my partner whisked me away on a trip to the Isle of Arran this weekend. The Isle of Arran is about two hours away from Glasgow by train and ferry, but I had never been.

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I twigged I had arrived among kindred spirits when we noticed small sheep statues along the coast.

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The easiest way to get around Arran is by bus – we asked to get dropped off at Sannox about 8 miles north of the ferry terminal. Sannox stems from the Viking place name “Sand Vik” (Sandy Bay) – always a pleasure to see places my Viking ancestors have been!

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We headed towards Glen Sannox – the walkers’ guide labelled this “an easy ramble with stunning scenery”. The first part of the path was easy (and we stopped to eat brambles – Arran clearly has a micro-climate quite unlike the mainland).

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The path into Glen Sannox became less friendly (and more boggy) after we crossed the stream. October 2014 076We walked towards Coire na Ciche (The Devil’s Punchbowl) with the slopes of Goatfell on our left and the peaks of Cir Mhor and Caisteal Abhail in front of us. I was worried about how my injured left knee would hold up (especially as the path was not as gentle as we had imagined) – but although I was in pain, I did not have to resort to the heavy-duty pain killers and my knee only caused me to stumble occasionally.

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We couldn’t resist a selfie (though I look odd!). I wore my trusty Snorri jumper and i have a bit of a story to tell about the hat I’m wearing – but that’s for another day.

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No filter! When the sun came out, the colours were breathtaking. The clouds rolling over Cir Mhor (the peak in perpetual cloud) kept getting darker, though, and the already brisky wind got stronger. It was a beautiful, rich landscape. Wildlife was all around us too – we saw so many red deer that we got jaded (though I am sure they were not “wild” animals, just “managed”), various birds, the ever-present sheep and I even caught the eye of a little adder. But it was clear that we needed to head back before the clouds caught up with us.

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It was just after midday, but it felt later. We retraced our steps, had the last of our packed lunch and then caught the bus (the bus – there are no other busses on Arran) making an almost full-circle of the island before going home.

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What a lovely, special day. I don’t get to go on adventure with my partner as much as I’d like but our trip to Arran was just perfect: stunning scenery, the best company in the world, apples in the backpack and I even cast on something very special whilst there. Magic.

A Month Ago: Unwind Brighton

Can you believe it’s been a month since Unwind Brighton – that magical yarn event which felt more like a rock festival than anything else? No, me neither. So, in honour of Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d dig through my photos and conjure forth some memories.July 2014 239

Shawls at the p/hop stand.

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My friend Karen’s amazing, amazing bunny dress.

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The Eden Cottage stall (before the marketplace opened; afterwards it was pandemonium)

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Polo & Co from France

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We heart John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers DK

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And the stunning Triskelion Yarn from Wales

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And a pair of knitting geeks comparing mustard/brown shoes

July 2014 095Yeah, I loved Brighton and all the fabulous people I met there.

A Trip to Holmfirth

June: Yorkshire TripI usually love train journeys. I love the sounds of travelling on a train, I love having time to looking at the landscape, and I love knitting on trains. My ideal holiday would be a train journey across a country or a continent. It is just so relaxing.

Except if you are travelling down the East Coast of Britain on a hot and sticky Sunday in June. Then a train journey is hell on earth. After a five-hour journey, it was a joy to arrive at my destination in Yorkshire.

I have been to the Rowan Yarns HQ several times now and after the initial excitement of my first visit, I am now able to appreciate the Mill for other things than OMG, I recognise that cardigan and gosh, that’s a lot of yarn. This time I closed my eyes and soaked up the quietness of the setting and recharged my batteries.

June: Yorkshire TripMost of the Mill is devoted to offices, but the workshop room never fails to make me smile. It is a riot of colour and textures – the walls are laid out like a giant yarn shop (though nothing is for sale), the tables and chairs are covered in Rowan fabric and every nook and cranny features Rowan projects. The photo above shows the Wool Week 2012 collection (patterns for which you can download for free from the Rowan website) tucked away in a corner with a Kaffe Fassett pattern library on the shelves underneath.

As workshop rooms go, this is hard to beat for location and creative spirit. As you can imagine.
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I was there to preview the Autumn/Winter 2013 Rowan collection. It is always odd to preview winter garments and yarns in the height of summer, but yarn companies work with long lead-times. I know that just this past week they were shooting the Summer/Spring 2014 magazine which means that the Design Room is now currently hard at work on preparing for Autumn/Winter 2014!

(Needless to say, the mannequins on the right have nothing to do with autumnal or winter knits- I just loved the simple styling and the fruity colours.)

I cannot say anything about the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection – simply because it is yet to be released (although it will be released in a month or so). There are several new yarns and it is always one of the highlights of a Mill trip to see these. I have my own personal favourite already – but I always try to remember that I am not there for myself – I am there to assess how knitters will respond to the new yarns. It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it!

Unfortunately I suffered from insomnia whilst visiting Holmfirth, but it meant I could work on the Stevie cardigan by the lovely Sarah Hatton. Because I live in Scotland, I’m doing the long-sleeved version(!) and I’m knitting it in Rowan Wool Cotton in French Navy. It is a top-down cardigan and I’m into the body section now which means perfect knitting night project.

June: Yorkshire TripThe train journey back was much, much better. And I even managed to catch a glimpse of Antony Gormley’s The Angel of the North.

The Light Is Pale & Thin

Oh, 2013. You are off to a slow, slightly bemusing start.

Life is slowly creeping back into Casa Bookish. The suitcases are nearly unpacked, the laundry basket is nearly empty, and the fridge has been emptied of all holiday food. I still feel exhausted and I get easily winded, but I am feeling much better than I did just a few days ago. We’ve caught up with several friends and everybody seems to have been laid low with something this past holiday season. One thing is certain: I’ll be getting the flu jab next winter season! No need to go through this %&¤#! again if I can help it..

So, I’ve been crossing off items on my giant To Do list. One of the top items was “preparing patterns for release” – and I crossed that one off my list today. All three yarn club patterns are now available for general consumption via Ravelry – you can buy them individually for as a bargainous e-book collection. Seeing as the original yarns are not available, I’ve worked together with Old Maiden Aunt yarns to find good colour substitutions.

At Midnight

At the same time I am busy designing some new things – I currently have two new designs on the needles and three other designs somewhere in the process between sketch and knitting.

In-between all my sample knitting, I have been knitting on my Bute cardigan. I cast off the second front last night which means I only have two sleeves to go, huzzah! I’ll be block the back and fronts this week and hopefully get the body seamed, so I can pick up stitches for the button-band. I have a couple of different button styles to decide between but we’ll cross that hurdle when we get to it.

Resident Photographer ran off with the camera today or I’d show you the unblocked pieces.

And if a blog entry could have a colour, this entry would be pale blue-grey with a dash of pink blush. The colour of winter slowly turning on its heel. Just like this photo from the Botanic Gardens we took late last year.


Nobody Told Me I’d Need To Do This On A Regular Basis

That’s one shawl for magazine publication finished and sent into the world. I wish I could show you, but you’ll have to wait until November :) What I can show you is what I got up to this afternoon.

Photo Shoot

I needed to get a head-shot done for various reasons (not least because my face’ll be in a magazine soonish – good grief!). Luckily my Other Half is a talented photographer with a knack for making me relax in front of the camera – this is no mean feat as I hate having my photo taken and I usually pull all sorts of unnatural faces. It took Dave quite a few attempts to get some good shots and I thought I’d share some of his tips for successful photography:

1) Unless you have a really fancy kit, natural light is best. In the photos above I am standing right by a window.

2) Indirect light is a lot better than direct light. Direct light tends to either flatten your features or cast harsh shadows where you least want them.

3) Work with a neutral background. We have neutral coloured walls which work well in this context but brickwork, painted doors and foliage can also work. Remember, you don’t want anything to compete for attention, so move that table lamp!

4) Take lots and lots and lots of photos. Dave routinely shoots between thirty and seventy photos whenever we work together on something. Having a lot of photos to choose between makes it  easier to find that “hero photo”. For this headshot we actually shot in excess of 90 photos(!) because I just couldn’t stop pulling faces.

5) .. and relaxing in front of the camera is something I find really difficult. I keep trying to pose or doing model-like faces – none of which work because I’m a 5’6″ lumpy thirty-something woman, not a 14-year-old super-skinny genetic freak. How does Dave make me relax? He makes me focus on something else than that infernal camera pointing at me. He also ensures I feel comfortable – unsurprisingly I won’t look relaxed if I’m wearing uncomfortable clothes or in an awkward setting.

I am not saying I look particularly relaxed here but that shawl looks absolutely stunning (especially in the original size photo). Apparently my Other Half is now so well-trained that he automatically starts homing in on knitwear. This bodes well for future Finished Object shoots..

.. which reminds me: come late August/early Sseptember I might be looking for a Goth/steampunk/burlesque type model for some knitwear photos. Sadly I cannot promise much in the way of financial recompense bar coffee & cake at Glasgow’s finest retro cake shop, but it is a good chance for any budding model wanting something for her portfolio. Glasgow-based, por favor. And, of course, absolutely no nudity involved (oh please, it is knitwear!).

Day Four: Landscape


rainThe West Coast of Scotland? It rains a lot and we frequently do not get much above 20C. But it is pretty here and I have plenty to wool to keep me warm, so it works out. What I hadn’t planned on was how much the landscape would inspire my colour choices..

Landscape / colours

Shades of pale brown mixed with grey skies and hints of mossy green. You can see the Campsies in the distance if you look hard enough!

Landscape / coloursGrey-blue lichen on trees. Bark an enticing grey-brown with  – yes – hints of mossy green. This photo was taken during a walk around Possil Marsh which was rudely interrupted by heavy rain.

Landscape / coloursMossy green! Spawling across reddish brown! This sight is very common in the Glasgow Arboretum, just a few minutes from Casa Bookish.

What has all this to do with my knitting and crocheting? Quite apart from being overtly fond of mossy green, I am also planning a pattern collection of accessories all of which will be knitted in colours oddly reminiscent of the photos above. My poetic partner says that I am wrapping myself in Scotland. It is a nice thought.

PS. Yes, this was supposed to be about seasons. We often have four seasons in one day. Layers make sense.

You can find more blogs participating in the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week by googling 3KCBWDAY4. If you have come here as part of the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, thank you for visiting. I’ll still be here once this week is over and I’m usually blogging about arts, books, films, language besides all the craft stuff. Do stick around.