Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—#6

Whenever I begin editing a knitting book, I take home all of the garments to review as I put the instructions in the Interweave format. That means that I’ve had some pretty amazing collections right here at my feet—for example, all of Nancy Bush’s shawls for Knitted Lace of Estonia; Kristeen Griffin-Grimes’ inspired garments for French Girl Knits, and Lucinda Guy’s gems for Northern Knits, to name a few.

Plus, many of the books I author are contributor-driven so I get to have projects from such rock-star designers as Veronik Avery, Pam Allen, Mags Kandis, Deborah Newton, Kristin Nicholas, Shirley Paden, Vicki Square, and Kathy Zimmerman in my personal possession (albeit for a short time). That alone is enough to spoil any knitter.

But right now I am reduced to puddle of jelly by the collection of socks sitting right here in my home office. I’m working on a book for Interweave (tentatively titled Designing Knitted Socks; due out early 2011) and am happy to boast that the designer list reads like the Who’s Who of sock knitting. The socks have started to arrive and already I have the works of Cookie A, Kathryn Alexander, Veronik Avery, Evelyn Clark, Chrissy Gardiner, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Anne Hanson, Melissa Morgan Oakes, Deborah Newton, Meg Swanson, and Anna Zilboorg in my very own possession. For the most part, I keep them hermetically sealed in a plastic bin but I let them out in the sun today for a group photo.

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Another Photo Shoot

Last week I spent three days at a shoot for Lisa Shroyer’s upcoming book, tentatively titled Knitting Plus. I’m quite excited about this book. As the edtior of KnitScene and senior editor of Interweave Knits, Lisa knows her way around a ball of yarn. A plus-size knitter herself, Lisa’s aim is to help other plus-size women make sweaters that have a flattering fit. All 18 of the sweaters meet that goal–the models wanted to keep them!

For this book, we decided to shoot the sweaters “on location”, which meant that we took over a large house for three days while the owners (a young couple with the most adorable 18-month-old daughter) made themselves scarce. I don’t think they realized what they were getting themselves into when 10 of us drove up the first day.

A photoshoot like this requires a lot more people than you might think: the photographer (Joe Hancock) and his two assistants (Jon Rose and Scott Wallace) who took care of lighting and camera settings; the hair and make-up artist (Kathy MacKay), the stylist (Carol Beaver) who assembled all the wardrobe and accessories, the art director (Liz Quan), the author (Lisa Shroyer), the editor (yours truly), and of course, the models (Andrea, Carolyn, Jill, and Tia).

To begin, we decide how each sweater will be styled. Here’s Lisa with 9 of the 18 sweaters in the book.

The photographer and his assistants set up the lighting while the model gets dressed and has her hair and make-up done. Then it’s time to get busy.
Here’s Joe taking photos while Carol watches to make sure that every detail is perfect. Joe and Carol never get a break during a shoot. Joe’s eye is glued to the camera while he clicks photos and directs the model to catch the optimum light. Carol jumps in between clicks to straighten a sleeve, adjust a collar, pick off lint, and anything else that might improve the photo. Besides looking beautiful, the model has to act as though they aren’t there.

The rest of us keep pretty busy, too. Here’s Lisa, Liz, photography assistant Jon, and Kathy huddled around the computer screen watching the images pop up and calling out instrucions and encouragement to the photographer, model, and stylist.

After three days, we packed up and left the house looking like we were never there.
Now that the projects have been photographed, the text and projects will be edited, reviewed, and re-edited. Then the pieces will be assembled in a cohesive book design (which involves a whole other team of people). Then everything will be reviewed, re-edited, and proofed before it finally goes to the printer. This particular book is scheduled to go the printer in November, which may seem like a long time off to you, but is just around the corner to the rest of us. Look for Lisa’s book at the beginning of next year. 

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Advance Notice: Knitting Green!

Advanced copies of Knitting Green arrived at Interweave Press last week. The other 15,000 copies are on the slow boat from China (literally) and will be available next month in time to celebrate Earth Day.

Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this book. Instead of judging between “right” and “wrong,” Knitting Green will help you understand the complicated issues so that you can make educated choices for yourself. Articles by Pam Allen (former editor of Interweave Knits and creative director for Classic Elite Yarns) and Clara Parkes (editor of Knitter’sReview.com) explain some of the misconceptions about organic and “green” yarns. Essays by author and shop-owner Lisa R. Myers, natural-dyer Darlene Hayes, and author/designer/sheep-breeder Kristin Nicholas bring to light some of the pros and cons of putting green practices into use. Additional essays by Sandi Wiseheart (former editor of knittingdaily.com), Amy R. Singer (editor of Knitty.com), Kristeen Griffin-Grimes (frenchgirlknits.com), and avid knitter Carmen S. Hall provide a smorsgasbord of food for environmental thought.

In addition, there are 22 terrific projects (it’s photographed here with my Blue Cloud Afghan) that either make use of an organic or “green” yarn or are designed for an earth-friendly purpose. The projects include Veronik Avery’s All-North American Hoodie that is knitted with yarn that is grown, processed, and distributed only in North America; Nancy Bush’s Videvik Shawl that provides a lightweight layer of warmth; Deborah Newton’s Commuter Knapsack that encourages travel by bike or public transportation; my Honor-the-Buffalo Socks and Mitts that make use of buffalo fiber that would otherwise go to waste, and Kristin TenDyke’s Soap Nut Vessles that just might change the way you do laundry forever.

And talk about green–if you order this book through the Books page on my website, the kind folks at Interweave will give me a kickback of “green” currency!

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Talented Knitters

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that many knitters have other impressive talents. Two of my friends, Bonnie and Jane, are also accomplished artists. Both love color and texture and use it liberally in their work (something I appreciate but am unable to do myself). Because I like to support my friends, I’ve bought paintings from each of them.

You may remember Bonnie from my February 1 blog post (Why I’m a Spoiled Brat #2). She’s the one with the unbelievable yarn stash. Although they don’t take up as much space, Bonnie has about as many paintings (oil, watercolor, pastel) as bins of yarn. If you look closely, you can see a few amongst her yarn stash.

The day I took the photo of Bonnie’s stash, I also purchased one of her pastel landscapes. It came back from the framer this week and is now hanging prominently in my livingroom. I only wish I had purchased one of her oils as well.

My friend Jane lives in Wisconsin and in addition to her own line of knitted garments and accessories (called Jazzknits), she paints pretty amazing watercolors. A couple of years ago I purchased a couple of Jane’s pieces that I lovingly stored under my bed waiting to find the funds to pay a framer. I finally took them to be framed the same day as Bonnie’s pastel. One is now featured at the end of a short hall that is visible from my place at the dining room table; the other, which is only about 6″ square, hangs by the light next to my side of the bed.

I love the way that as I walk through my house, I catch glimpses of Bonnie and Jane.

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I am overwhelmed with the recipe response–I’ve already received 19 recipes in less than than 12 hours. At this rate, I’ll have more than 1,500 recipes by the March 5 deadline. I’m already salivating and it’s only 7:00 am.
Thank you all!
For those of you working on Macs or who cannot post a comment, submit your recipe to my email address: annbudd@annbuddknits.com.
Feel free to submit as many recipes as you want, but your name will go in the hopper just once.
My current plan is to make a downloadable pdf of all the recipes when this is over. It just doesn’t seem fair for me to have all the good eats.

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What’s for Dinner?

Do those three words make any of you cringe?

When we married, I told my husband that if he complained about my cooking, he’d have to cook the next meal. It’s been twenty years and he’s never complained—despite some of the sorry meals I’ve put in front of him (never put asparagus in a crock pot). It reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell about a group of men who go camping and draw straws for who will cook first. They agree that the first person to complain has to cook the next meal. Days go by and nobody complains as the fellow who drew the short straw serves progressively worse meals. He finally serves horse apples. On tasting it, one of his buddies says “This tastes like horse apples…but good!”

Unlike the implications of the joke, I don’t think the actual act of cooking is a problem, but I do get weary of deciding what to cook. There are just so many days that I can serve the same staple meals before I get bored. I spend a good part of each day chanting “what will I make for dinner.” Frankly, it wouldn’t be such a problem if it didn’t spoil the zen of my afternoon knitting. Most days, I don’t have an answer by 5:00 pm and I stare in the refrigerator and pantry for long minutes searching for inspiration.

But as I was making pasta (again!), I had the brilliant idea to set up a competition on my blog for easy, tasty recipes! Here’s how it works: You type the recipe for a favorite main dish in the comment box and I’ll send you an autographed copy (or not autographed if you prefer—the resale value is probably higher if I don’t deface it) of the Ann Budd book of your choice (see http://www.annbuddknits.com/ for a list of my books). If more than one person responds, I’ll put the names in a hat and draw a winner.

Winner will be notified March 5, 2010, at which time I’ll ask for your mailing address.
Important Note: The following ingredients are cause for disqualification: anchovies, brussel sprouts, any animal organ (ick).

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Why I’m a Spoiled Brat—# 5

I’ve managed to convince my family that because of all the time I spend knitting and at the computer, I must have regular massages. So about once a month, I spend a blessed hour and a half with Adele of the magic hands (Adele is also a knitter, which probably explains her talented hands).
I had a glorious session yesterday. Imagine—it’s cold, snowy, and icy outside and I get to climb onto a heated massage table and mentally check out while Adele works her magic. Some of what she does—like kneading my muscles until they scream uncle—makes sense to me. But other times—like when she holds my ankles for about 5 minutes—is a mystery. In the end, though, I always feel great so I believe that Adele knows what she’s doing. And today I can almost touch my shoulders to my ears!

After that relaxing session, I picked up my Boxleaf shawl (pattern from Anne Hanson; yarn from Briar Rose Fibers) and worked several pattern repeats without making any errors! Hmmm, I bet that I could finish this shawl tonight if I had another massage today.

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Five Things I’ve Learned from Blogging

I’m approaching the end of my fourth week of blogging and it’s been a pretty steep learning curve. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. I saw Julie & Julia (twice—I just can’t get enough of Meryl Streep) and I know that you don’t have to be a genius to start a blog, but it sure helps to know one. I couldn’t have managed without the help of Anne and Lori, who tried to explain things like domains, hosts, search engines, and links, and then did the work for me when I failed to grasp the nuances (another reason I’m a spoiled brat).

2. It is best to proofread before posting. And better to proofread two or three times. But if I don’t, it’s nice to know that mistakes can be fixed. Thank you for pointing out the major error in My Favorite Formula calculation, and thank you for not pointing out my typos.

3. Photos are essential, which means that a digital camera is necessary. I’ve learned that a digital camera is more complicated than it looks. I’ve also learned that there is much more to taking good photos than aiming and shooting, although that’s all I’m capable of at present. I’m quite open to tips and suggestions.

4. A blog can take over your life. I now think in terms of blogability, I carry my camera with me wherever I go, I knit even more than before (if that’s possible) so that I have new projects to photograph, and I wake up in the middle of the night composing posts. My family and day job have definitely suffered.

5. Blogging is loads more fun than I expected. I love reading the comments and getting feedback. I love discovering how much I have in common with so many other knitters. I love connecting with people I’ve never met. For someone who is a hermit at heart, this is huge!

I think that’s cause to celebrate.

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