Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Favorite Greens #3

Harry Potter 6, published in 2006. I can't make a list of favorites without including Mr. Potter.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hogwarts House Cup

Hello. My name is Kristin and I am a member of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry.

There, I said it. The depth of my obsession with Harry Potter-related crafting has gone public. So what is the House Cup and why is it totally nerdy, you ask? Well, just like fictional Hogwarts students compete in class to win points for their houses, so does this group of real life crafters. The game consists of a 3-month term, with 6 class assignments offered every month. You have until the end of the month to knit/crochet/spin something that fits the assignment and post a photo in order to get points for your house. At the end of the term, the house with the most points wins. It's pretty simple and lots of fun!

For example, this month's Care of Magical Creatures assignment is to 'take care of a niffler'. Basically, you can create a niffler, something for it to wear, or something shiny that it found. I made this little golden heart (pattern here), as I assume that nifflers' love of shiny objects comes from the fact that their hearts are pure gold.

In addition to the monthly classes, 'students' can also take an OWL exam, which is a big project that is started and finished within the entire three-month term. My OWL this term is the Vivian cardigan, but means I had to frog my (small) progress and restart it at the beginning of the term in order to qualify. However, making the sweater for the House Cup gives me much more incentive to finish it before the cold weather arrives.

The current term of the House Cup started on September 1st. They probably won't 'sort' more students until the next term starts in January, but everyone is welcome to play along (though you won't earn any points until you are in a house). To learn more about the House Cup, check out the Ravelry group or the blog. Also, now that my Potter obsession is really out in the open, I'm adding a 'Harry Potter' tag to the blog so you can easily find all of my Potter-related posts.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Favorite Greens #2

My new Privo! shoes that are a very dark olive green in color.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Two Tips For Taking Better Photos

Since I'm currently doing a photography project on my blog, I thought it would be helpful to go over how I process my photos. There is a reason that some of the most-favorited projects on Ravelry are some of the best photos, and all it takes is an extra minute to set-up and process a picture to make it really pop. I don't promise to be an expert in this area, but these are two very simple things I do to really improve my photographs:
  1. Take photographs in natural light. Otherwise, learn to use your camera's white balance feature.

  2. Use photo editing software, such as Picassa (which is free and easy to use) to post-process all photos. In Picassa, I usually use the 'I'm feeling lucky' button and almost always increase the 'fill light' to make my photos really shine. 'Crop' and 'straighten' are also nice features.

Since I don't own the world's best camera (I use a decent point-and-click with an optical zoom), I find that a couple minutes work before and after I take the photos makes a huge difference. I've taken a couple pictures to show the improvement these small steps can make:


Photo taken in fluorescent lighting with no white balance, no editing

Photo taken in fluorescent lighting with white balance adjusted, no editing

If you take photos in natural light or use white balance in fluorescent lighting, you can avoid using your camera's flash. Flash is useful at times, but can do funny things to the depth of the photo. I generally try to avoid flash, whenever possible, and opt for natural light or white balance.


Photograph taken in natural light

Same photo using Picassa's 'I'm feeling lucky' feature and a smidge increase of 'fill light'

I can't say enough about increasing the fill light. This feature livens up colors and takes away heaviness in a photo. Adding the right amount of fill light makes it appear as if the picture was taken on a beautiful sunny day, which is always a good thing.


One other thing I do when I take photos for my blog is to take lots of shots from different angles and placements. The more photos I take, the more likely it is that one will be spectacular. Plus, using a digital camera means that you can delete all of the files that aren't any good.

I hope these tips help you improve your photographs. It doesn't take that much extra time to rejuvinate a picture and the results are definitely worth it.


Etsy put together this nice video on how to take good photos. It's geared toward Etsy sellers, but the principles are the same.

Diane Gilleland of CraftyPod put together a very nice eBook on making a great blog, which has a good section on photography. It's not free, but also contains lots of valuable information on blogging.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Favorite Greens #1

My favorite ring, purchased in West Yellowstone in 2004.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wham, Bam, Thank You Ma'am!

I told you about my current Ysolda kick in my last post, so you should not be surprised that I have two more items of her design to show off today. The first one is the Icing Swirl Hat from the Whimsical Little Knits collection. It's made with chunky yarn, so it only took me a few hours of knitting and then I had a fun little hat to wear. I am so ready for Fall, it's not even funny.

My second item is actually a repeat of Ishbel, also from the Whimsical Little Knits collection. I consider her to be the sister of my first as it was done in the same yarn, but a different colorway. I think of her as the bolder, younger sister who is always getting into trouble. Not that I actually know a person like that...

While I was knitting these projects, I tried to think about why I like Ysolda's patterns so much and I came up with a few thoughts: (1) the designs are beautiful; (2) the knitting is challenging enough to be fun but not so complicated that you can't hold a conversation; (3) the patterns are logical and easy to follow. All of these things add up to give the most important quality of a great pattern, something that is as fun to wear as it is to knit. And that is exactly why I will be knitting more of Ysolda's patterns.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Greens

In addition to your normal knitting content, I've decided to start a little photography project on my blog. Partly because I'm trying to improve my photography skills and partly to focus on the things I have instead of the things I think I need.

The idea behind 'My Favorite Greens' is to photograph things I own that I truly love. Since most of these items are in my favorite color, green, I decided to use this color as my theme. So for the next few months, look for a mid-week photo and description of one of my favorite greens.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A New Trend

If you have been paying attention to my very few knitting projects this summer, you may see a trend developing. I'll give you a clue. Since June, the only three knitting projects I've worked on are a Vivian cardigan, an Ishbel shawlette, and a Damson shawlette. The correlation between these three patterns? They were all designed by Ysolda Teague.

You could say that I am now firmly on the Ysolda bandwagon. Since seeing her lovely work in person (and meeting the designer herself) at a trunk show in June, I've come to realize all of the great patterns she's done. So when she announced the publication of her second pattern booklet, Whimsical Little Knits 2, I jumped to buy it. She's releasing the patterns one at a time, with a new pattern available for download each week. The first week was Damson and this week's pattern was Veyla:

Needless to say, Veyla was a relatively quick knit. I worked it up in Knit Picks Shimmer in the Cummulus colorway, with the laceweight held double to approximate a fingering weight. Between the alpaca-silk yarn and all of the wonderful little details of the pattern (from the cuff edging to the little leaf detail on the back of the hand), these mitts are divine. The special finishing touch was using mismatched buttons from my late great-aunt's vintage button collection. I can already tell that these mitts are going to be a favorite of mine!

So there is another Ysolda pattern checked off the list. I still have to finish the Vivian cardigan, hopefully before it gets too cold, and I actually just cast on another Ishbel this week (the one I was thinking to make on my vacation). As these patterns represent just a few of Ysolda's beautiful designs, I don't expect this new knitting trend to end anytime soon.