Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lightbox.

Last week I made a DIY lightbox for taking better pictures.

I used this tutorial. The process is extremely simple - take a large box, cut light panels into the sides, cover the sides with tissue paper, insert a piece of white posterboard for a nice smooth backdrop, and place under a light source.

I adore the clean, simple backgrounds that the lightbox gives me now... but it still doesn't help with my color inaccuracy problem. This laceweight, for example -

- should be a deep rich emerald. Instead, it looks blue-gray. (It looks blue-gray to you too, right? It isn't just my monitor?)

I also tried retaking photos of all the yarn I got in Reno, but since most of the colors didn't come out much better than the first set I took, I'll only show you the one that does look true to life now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The rest of Reno.

I neglected to mention last time that Jimmy Beans has a hot tub full of yarn.

One of my goals in life has now been achieved.

I spent almsot two hours just wandering the Jimmy Beans warehouse, but eventually the yarn fumes heat and aridity wore me down - it was 104 degrees in Reno that day, and though the warehouse was big enough to retain some coolness, only the front portion of the store was actually air conditioned. After making my purchases (more on those in a bit) and recovering a bit in the front part of the store, Bandit and I headed back to our hotel for a nap. Later in the evening, when things had cooled down a bit, we went downtown for dinner.

There was a wonderful riverside terrace where we sat and watched the water and took in the city.

We wandered down the main street because Bandit wanted to get a picture of the famous "Little Big City" sign. Right next to the sign was a high-rise building with a rock-climbing wall built right into its face. It might be hard to see, but further courses follow those two stripes of dark "rock" right up to the top of the building.

Turning around, I saw... a knitting factory?!

(It was actually a music venue. That was disappointing.)

Dinner was at The Chocolate Bar. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It's become my new gold standard for fine dining experiences. Almost everything was utterly divine, with the exception of the flatbread appetizer, which was merely delicious. I ordered the bacon-wrapped lamb, and couldn't open my eyes for a good thirty seconds during my first bite, I savored it so. It was surprisingly affordable, too, for such quality upscale food - a martini and two beers, an appetizer, two entrees and a fondue-for-two dessert came out to under $75, and if we had just gotten entrees, it would easily have been under $40. The only thing that might put people off is the vibe. It had a very strong hip-twenty-somethings feel, which suited me perfectly fine, but might be jarring to others.

The next morning we tried to visit Lake Tahoe, but since it was so packed, we ended up hiking around the adjacent but much smaller Lake Spooner instead.

All right.

Jimmy Beans purchases.

My current GTalk status, with apologies to Johnny Cash*, is: "I bought some yarn in Reno, just to see its dye... but I can't photograph it, and it makes me cry."

For some reason, I cannot photograph these colors properly. I spent a lot of time and fiddling with the camera and postprocessing in Photoshop, just trying to get them to come out right. Can't do it. They won't come through. I'm determined to build my long-desired DIY lightbox in the next few days to see if that will help. If I must, I will take these yarns back to Boulder with me and retake pictures with my own camera there, which has never given me this problem before. I will get better pictures, I swear.

So, when you see these first pictures, just understand that these are a pale shadow of the real yarn, okay? The real colors are ten times, a hundred time more glorious.

Anyway, I wanted to get beautiful luxury yarn. You don't drive seven hours to Reno in order to pick up two skeins of workhorse yarn, right?

So I looted the MadTosh.

Tosh Chunky, in Baltic. The real color is darker, more vibrant, a touch more greenish. This appears to be the closest we'll get to finding the mythical Bandit's Favorite Color (We make a game out of trying to find the exact perfect color. Really.) and it will become a DNA cabled scarf for him.

MadTosh Prairie, which is a laceweight single, in Stargazing. The real color is also darker and more luminous, ranging from forest green to teal to sapphire, in a spectrum that reminds me of the iridescence of a peacock's tail. It's beautiful in any light, but practically glows in direct sunlight.

Tosh Lace, in Lichen. This one is actually not too far off in color (by which I mean it doesn't make me want to bury my face in my hands and weep, merely somewhat sad). It has more forest green in it and less light purple in real life. It reminds me of my World of Warcraft character**, and no doubt at some point soon I'll be looking for foresty shawl patterns that will work well with this.

Handmaiden Sea Silk. (More or less the right color. It's very hard to screw up pale gray.) This is my second try with this yarn - the aftermath of the first project I tried out with it was not very pretty, but I'm willing to give it a second chance. Maybe I'll do another Commelina with it, now that badly-pooling colors can't interfere with the pattern, or maybe I'll find a different scarf pattern.

Finally, Lorna's Laces Solemate, a merino/viscose/nylon blend with the irresistible name Winter Is Coming. (The colors are just about between the ones shown in those two pictures.) Socks for myself are definitely on the horizon.

Edit: Also a Jimmy Beans project bag which I initially forgot about because I've already started putting it to use.

 

 

* Johnny Stash?

** She's usually a night elf, but is currently enjoying a brief stint as a troll. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy looking for the perfect yarn and patterns to try to capture her personality.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Great Jimmy Beans Pilgrimage.

Warning: massive amounts of photos ahead.

Let's skip over all the unimportant details about how we got to Reno, and get straight to what you're all dying to hear about, yes?

When we first went into Jimmy Beans, I was surprised and a little disappointed. It looked... just like your typical LYS.

But do you see that set of double doors hiding behind that rack of yarn? Beyond those doors was... the warehouse.

We were saved from sheer overwhelmed confusion by a gentleman named Gus, who gave us a lovely tour of the warehouse.

Then I... sort of went wild looking at all the yarns.

Tune in next time to see what I bought, and the rest of the Reno pictures!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Preparing for Reno!

Tomorrow evening, Bandit and I set out on the seven-hour drive to Reno. We're preparing tonight by getting snacks and drinks for the road, downloading audiobooks for the drive, filling the car up with gas, and, of course, making sure that I'm going to be well supplied with knitting.

When I got my anniversary yarn, I knew that this teal fingering weight yarn would be the perfect color to make something for Luna's birthday. After consulting with her for a while, she settled on the Storm Warning shawl/scarf. I started it with some multicolored metallic beads, but quickly realized that between the color of the yarn and the beads, the project was quickly growing to look like a Christmas tree. I frogged it and started it again with hematite beads, and it's been coming along... slowly.

There's nothing wrong with the yarn, or the beads, or the pattern, or even how all of them fit together. It's just that the project seems to be coming along at a snail's pace. Maybe the slight splittiness of the yarn, which would usually not be a problem, is causing havoc whenever I try to place beads with a too-small crochet hook, and it's making me reluctant to want to knit on it. Maybe it's just that, since the project in progress always has the same dimensions, it always looks the same no matter how much I knit, and it's tricking me into thinking that I'm making no progress. I find myself weighing the remaining yarn after each pattern repeat, eagerly monitoring how close I'm getting to the halfway point. (The pattern is knitted sideways, increasing from a small cast-on to the halfway point of the triangle, then decreased symmetrically to use up yarn as efficiently as possible.) Hopefully fourteen hours in a car will force me to make some progress on it, at least.

Or maybe I'll just ignore it entirely in favor of casting on a new shawl. I plan to knit Out of Darkness out of the yak laceweight that I got at the Estes Park Wool Market this year. The yarn is wound, the pattern bought, and the beads are still waiting in their box from when I used them for Vostok. I just have to decide on what size needles to use - I'm going to downsize the shawl a little bit, just in case, because I'm skirting dangerously close to the required yardage listed on the pattern.

And just in case these two aren't enough to occupy me... I might bring Bandit's sweater with me too.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some Sunday snapshots.

After journeying from Colorado to New Jersey to DC to Utah, I'm finally getting to rest a little. Vostok is done and delivered, and although I didn't get a picture of it before it was blocked, I hope to get some photos of it in action soon. Meanwhile, new projects are on the needles, there's lots of blogroll backlog to read and comment on, and that trip to Reno and Jimmy Beans is now less than a week away. I hope to catch up with you all soon!