My best Dressed list!

I spent most of the weekend working on my craft show booth which I think I have finally worked out for this year's Strange Folk display. I have everything painted in my earth tones and I still have paint smudges on my hands and feet. Yes, I paint barefoot. I promise to share pictures tomorrow.

Last night as I was painting the last of my Styrofoam heads I saw the stunning Rutina Wesley above from the show True Blood rocking her handpainted dress from designer Douglas Hannant. Mike and I have this show on our Netflix que but since we are right in the middle of Mad Man currently it will be awhile. With his attention span we can only watch one series at a time.

I also really liked her costar Carrie Preston's look below. She has my current hair color and she's not afraid to wear a bold custom made print from Japanese designer Makoto Takada. I love everything about her look from the hair to simple shoes. I actually found both of these looks on a lot of the worst dressed lists which says a lot about my fashion sense compared to the "authorities" in the fashion world. I love when someone wears something that was made just for them and shows their individual style whether it be a student in my office or on the red carpet.

I prefer watching the Emmys over the Oscars since I actually have seen most of the shows unlike the Oscar nominated movies. And I think the fashion tends to be more diverse and accessible. Did you have any favorites from this year's emmy awards?


Headed in the right direction.

Because I've gotten so much great feedback from you all about the last scarf/hat set pictures I thought I would throw another set of pictures at you from last weekend. It's a more grown up style made with an organic cotton yarn. The hat is my new favorite pattern that I came up with in a fun lace stitch.

This is another example where I can't decide whether I like the one on the torso or the one on the head better. The consensus from the last set was that you liked the head shot best but I'm not so sure in this example. I really wish that I had a mannequin that actually had a head or that I could stick the head on the torso but it doesn't work that way.I will probably enlist Ani one of these weekends to do some modeling for me. I just don't know how people feel about hats being worn to be photographed. You see it all the time on Etsy but I think it could be a turnoff to some potential buyers.

So which one gets your vote in this round. The head shot or the headless torso?


More Picture Questions than Answers...

I'm having a hard time photographing my scarf/hat sets for some reason. You have to get both of them at their best and finding a unique angle with everything clear isn't easy. I don't know whether I prefer the torso shot with the hat stuck on the top or the head with the scarf wrapped around the neck better as a first shot on Etsy.I understand that someone browsing online wants to see exactly what they are getting before they make a commitment to buy. But I wonder what causes someone to click more, a straightforward shot like the second one or something a bit more creative like the top one. I cropped more of the hat than I wanted in order to get a square in the first shot but I think you still get the idea a lot more clearly than the closeups from yesterdays post.

I've decided to focus my energy photographing and listing on Etsy with the sets. I am much more confident that I will be able to sell my reasonably priced scarves at my craft show so I'm not going to waste time photographing them. I would love to hear which of the two shots above would most likely cause you to look further and click on the listing.


Aperture Survey

I did a quick aperture test on a hat/scarf set this weekend and I would love to get some feedback. I shot on a tripod in every possible aperture to see what my favorite would be. There is a definite difference in mood as you get higher depths of field and more of the hat in focus. I chose three to share that I think reflect the different depths of field and the different moods.

The first is a the the smallest depth of field of any of my lenses with an f stop of 1.8. It is Mike's favorite and the most arty of all of them with just the front of the hat in focus and the rest blurry. I think it would make a good 2nd or 3rd shot in an Etsy listing but then again maybe it would catch someones eye as a first shot.
The next one is at 5.0 f stop which is a pretty typical setting for me. Since learning more about the different settings on my camera I usually have it set on Aperture Priority and depending on lighting conditions I tend to have it set around the 5.6 stop. It's a good middle ground spot as whatever you are focusing on is nice and clear and just the outer limits are out of focus. This would probably be my choice for a first shot on an Etsy listing I'm thinking.

The last shot is at the largest depth of field this lens shoots f stop 22. Everything is in clear focus and I think the eye doesn't really know what to focus on. I would probably use this more for a full shot of both the hat and scarf but I don't think it works for the closeup on the hat. Especially for this wild hat with all of the colors and textures as I think it all is to much to take in but I could be wrong.

I would love to get some feedback. You can see more of the detail if you click on the picture to zoom in on them. Which of the three shots most catches your attention? Which of them would you use as a first listing shot on Etsy, if any?


Back to Knitting!

Since getting admitted to the Strange Folk Festival again this year I have been knitting my fingers to the bone. It was exactly the motivation I needed to get my business act together. For some reason my knitting has been on the back burner this year. I guess my enthusiasm for my new DSLR and learning more about digital photography has caused me to be distracted. I used the shot above as one of my texture shots for my Image Within Class a few weeks ago. It's a lacy mohair blend scarf hanging on a little mannequin.

It's funny because I initially wanted to learn more about photography so that I could take better pictures of my knitting but before I knew it photography had overwhelmed my free time leaving little time for my knitting. I know I'm going to have to strike a better balance next year. I didn't realize how much I had missed my knitting time until I started doing it full force about a month ago. I never really stopped knitting but I didn't have the passion that allows me to sit and knit for hours at a time almost in a meditative place.

I'm also getting excited again about trying new stitch patterns and coming up with new designs for the first time in a while. I'm really enjoying creating my hat/scarf sets which is something new to my collection this year. I'm having trouble with the pricing issues but that is for a whole other post. This weekend I plan on getting a lot of pictures taken of my inventory before I start tagging things for the show. I hope to have my Etsy shop back up and running with all new pictures by the beginning of September.


Handmade Back to School 2

Yesterday I shared some of my favorites from my Handmade Back to School treasury. Today I want to share a few more that I think are both cute and practical. I read an article yesterday about how some school supply lists are getting a bit out of control. Some schools are even requesting kids bring in toilet paper and trash bags. Who wouldn't want to brighten up their school supply list with a few handmade creations to add that one of a kind style to their locker.

Every kid should have their own unique lunch bag with a squirrel or some other pattern from Julie Meyer's shop full of Insulated Lunch Bags and Eco-Friendly Reusable Bags. Or how about that very retro Eclectic pencil holder from Glitter Bits.

What strange requests have your kids come home with on their school supply lists?


Handmade Back to School

It's that time of year again. Our classes start next week but most of the public schools in the area are starting this week. I put together a treasury of handmade back to school items which you can see in its entirety here. I particularly like the "Great Rules of Writing" by Quotes and Notes. You should click on it to read it in it's entirety especially if you are a grammar nerd.

Kai actually started last Wednesday. He starts High School this year which seriously blows my mind. His Mom let him get his eyebrow pierced when he turned 14 so with his mohawk he looks like a real trouble maker. When you get past all of that bravado he is the sweetest kid I know whose family is the most important thing to him. He actually enjoys hanging out with his uncles playing Dungeons and Dragons every Sunday night in our basement and isn't too cool to be seen with his Aunt at the mall. He already has his college picked out and I'm really hoping that the momentum he had last year will continue into high school.

He is with my other nephew Graham in the shot above. Graham is starting kindergarten this year which also is mind boggling. It seems like just yesterday that my sister in law told me they were going to start trying to get pregnant. She got pregnant the first month. We started trying around a year later so that the cousins would be close in age. The best laid plans...

I've been thinking a lot about our decision not to pursue fertility treatments and to just accept whatever happens. As I get closer to the big 40 it seems more and more like a final decision. Having such special nieces and nephews like Graham and Kai help to fill whatever void might be there but I still feel it now and again.


Minor Changes

Around 11 weeks ago I joined the Weight Watchers group at work. They very kindly agreed to move the meetings to my building so I really didn't have any excuse not to join. So far I've lost almost 15 pounds. It's not a major change yet but a series of minor changes which I hope will add up to real lifestyle changes over time.

I've lost over 50 pounds multiple times in my life but they always seem to find their way back to me with some friends. This is the first time I've ever really attempted to lose while I've been on my antidepressants. The cycle has always been that I go on my medication and gain a bunch of weight since for some reason the medication that helps me the most seems to disrupt my will power. Eventually I go off my meds, lose the weight, end up in a major depression, go back on the meds and gain it all back and then some. This is clearly no way to live. I'm hoping that the slow weight loss and subtle changes in my eating habits will work this time.

The thing is I know how to lose weight and I certainly know how to gain it but I've never conquered the keeping it off. My Mom recently told me that people like us can just never turn it off. We always have to be on guard. I know I will slip up but I just need to be able to catch myself more quickly and get back on track without going all Elvis as Mike has referred to my bad periods.
I think you can see the difference already in my face. The top picture was taken this weekend. Compared to this picture which was taken in March it's pretty dramatic. At the time I thought it was an OK picture but now I'm pretty shocked at how round my face was. This was during the bad days of not being able to walk. Mike was showing his mean teacher face.

I will keep you updated on my progress. I obviously have a long way to go but I'm trying to focus on the good changes that I've seen already. Besides being able to see a difference in my face, my pants are fitting much better and once I lose another 10 pounds I will easily have gone down a pant size. Since I have pants in at least 4 different sizes I will luckily not have to make a big investment in new clothes for awhile.


Old Farmer's Advice

At my photography class last night I showed the shots from yesterday's post from Dad's barn as well as the one above. I said that they were all from my Dad's front yard and that got everyone's attention. I think one guy was ready to take a field trip until he found out it was a few hours away.

One person asked if I had a picture of my Dad which got me thinking. Next time I'm home I'm going to have him wake me up when he gets up at the crack of dawn to go check the cattle and photograph him doing what he loves. He has such a distinct look and character which should make some damn good pictures especially in the early morning light.

My Mom sent me the following forward this week which I thought had some very good advice from an old farmer's perspective. I particularly love the last one.

"Life is simpler when you plow around the stump."

"A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor."

"Words that soak into your ears are whispered.....not yelled."

"Meanness don't just happen overnight."

"Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads."

"Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you."

"It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge."

"You cannot unsay a cruel word."

"Every path has a few puddles."

"When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty."

"The best sermons are lived, not preached."

"Most of the stuff people worry about, ain't never gonna happen anyway."

"Don 't judge folks by their relatives.

"Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer."

"Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you'll enjoy it a second time."

"Don 't interfere with somethin' that ain't bothering you none."

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."

"If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'."

"Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

"The biggest troublemaker you'll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin'."

"Always drink upstream from the herd."

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment."

"Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in."

"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."

"Live simply, love generously, care deeply,
speak kindly, and leave the rest to God."

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you."



Quick trip home

So we had a birthday party on Saturday night that was about halfway to my parent's farm so we went ahead and drove down there that night. Mike went floating on the river the next day with a few friends and I spent the day with dear old Mom.

The pictures above are a few I'm bringing to my class this week of patterns that I captured in Dad's barn. I love the colors of the rusted out truck with the tangled barbed wire. I thought the dirty gas cans lined up in primary colors really popped too.

Mom and I went shopping at a few antique malls and ate lunch at Sybill's Restaurant in St. James. It's actually a very upscale place for brunch that a school mate of my sister's opened right in the middle of a hick town.

I was shopping for a few things for my craft show booth at the Strange Folk Festival coming up in a month and we found one thing I was looking for and one I didn't even know I needed. Those are the best kinds of finds in my opinion. I've been thinking about my display a lot and I'll be talking about it once things slow down a bit more.


Is it Friday yet?

This week is literally the most insane week of the year at my job. Monday was the last day to pay for Fall classes. Tuesday we dropped over a thousand students for non-payment and yesterday we saw close to 500 students in my office between around 10 counselors re-registering or reworking their schedules. When I got there at 8 a.m. there was a line all the way down the first floor, up the stairs, down the second floor, up the stairs, and all the way down the third floor hallway. There was a constant stream of students until I left at 7 p.m. I have been up and down on my ankle around every 15 minutes and I can totally feel it tonight. My head has been in a total fog. Tuesday night was the second week of my latest photography class from the photo resource center. This one is called the Image Within and it focuses on advanced composition and design. Our assignment for the week was to photograph at least 5 subjects in our backyard every day and to bring in our favorite shot from each day. I actually completed the assignment, spending at least 15 minutes in my backyard for 6 days at different times each day. I spent several hours going through my shots and editing my favorites. I created a file and named the shots, put my flash drive in my hard drive and went to class. When she pulled up my flash drive the file was no where to be found. All that work for nothing.

So I'm sharing some of my favorites here. Our assignment for next week is to focus on texture, patterns, and lines and bring in 6 shots. I will probably use the Buddha shot and maybe even the spider web so I will get some use out of them after all. I have another scarf with really cool lines that I'm planning on photographing this weekend.

My brother is healing nicely. Thanks for all the well wishes. He and his girlfriend made it back to Miami this week and he is still planning on going on another business trip next week. My job may be pretty stressful this time of year but at least I don't have to worry about traveling to BFE while I'm healing from major surgery. Ham just can't seem to slow down.

(c) Lenox Knits, 2009|Created by NSD