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How to Photograph a Goddess

I hope you’ve all seen the wonderful wintry delight that is the latest issue of the Twist Collective, dear readers. Apart from the usual joy I feel at seeing the latest patterns, this issue had an extra little something that sent my heart racing in excitement. As the page loaded I jumped up and walked around the room for a while… Then I took a little peep. Eee! I ran off again and did something else because I just couldn’t bear the excitement. Then I came back again and looked at the next page. Squee! Here’s the spread with my photos illustrating Paula Berman’s beautiful poem, ‘Clotho Visits the Local Yarn Store’. There are a couple of photos on the Articles page too, but I thought I’d share some of the outtakes with you, and tell you how it all came to be. You can see the full set on Flickr.


The whole vision took a while to present itself to me, as it always does. After I received the poem, I did some brainstorming on paper, I set up a few shots with my spindle and some roving, but things were grey and still and boring. As is always the case, I had nothing in my stash that would work for the assignment. I was also having trouble with good natural lighting, so I decided to take a trip to Wales. True to the title of the poem, I visited my Local Yarn Store first. I walked in, carrying my weekend bag & backpack, rather out of breath as I was hurrying to catch the train, and asked the girl at the counter whether they had some nice creamy-coloured yarn, something fluffy. She thought about this for a bit, then went and found me a ball of Wendy Chic. I explained that I meant yarn with a nice pile, preferably something natural. She ummed a bit more and found me another ball of acrylic. I gave up, spotted a bag of a silk/merino blend that was on offer, paid and ran out of the shop. I’m sure Clotho never had this trouble…

The Fates

Clotho, in case you don’t know (I’m sure you do) is one of the three Fates (Moirae) from Greek mythology. Clotho (the “spinner”) spun out the life of a person, Lachesis measured it out, and Atropos cut it. The Fates were usually depicted wearing white, and I thought making everything very pale would add to the sense of mystery and dislocation. This meant getting very cold in a white summer dress in the cottage, and seeking out blank walls. I did my best with the spinning shots, as my skills are still rather rudimentary. I dreamt a lot about ordering a custom ebony spindle, but I overran the deadline as it was! Ah well.

The next photo involved emptying all my boyfriend’s books off his shelf. I wanted a lot of ghostly motion in the photos; everything must be ethereal, as the premise of the poem is basically a dream (and I imagined Clotho as rather incorporeal).


I love the end of the poem, the strong voice booming, ‘I am Destiny’. This is mythology, after all, not the place for happy endings. I wanted to presage this; Clotho’s inability to escape her role. Here is Atropos sneaking into the shot, ready to cut the dream short…


I hope you enjoy the photos, and thanks once again to the lovely ladies at Twist for giving me this opportunity! :)

18th November, 2009  // Inspiration, Photographs // tags: , , , .

Wonderful Welsh Weekend

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apple tree
furry fir
red oak

Your life has all the makings of an idyll.
Have a wonderful week! :)

Grey Bank Holiday

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sixes cowl

Hello! Welcome to those of you who found me last weekend thanks to the lovely Julia. I hope I won’t disappoint! It’s Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK (a 3-day weekend, basically). I haven’t enjoyed weekends very much since I left school (whatever happened to saturday night?). For a start, I always get the urge to order yarn on Friday evening, just when I’ll have longest to wait for it. Then if I decide to go to the library, or to the supermarket, it’s always extra crowded. And then the internet is always so quiet (where do you all go? sniff). Besides, I’m not going to stop “working” just because it’s not a “workday” for most people! But well, thanks to Julia and the Twist Collective, this weekend was devoid of its usual tedium, and I was bouncing around in excitement instead. So welcome! :)

It’s another grey day here, but I hope you’re making the most of your long weekend (if you have one) to do some knitting. I felt like something quick and cosy yesterday & found this in my stash. I love Colinette so much. This is One Zero in the colourway ‘Banwy’ (I wish their website still had those charming blurbs, remember those?). I found myself driving (well, being driven) through Banwy the other day, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop and scout out the Colinette workshop. Anyway, I absolutely adore this colourway (though no photos can do it justice), in particular the inky blacks that look like they’ve been dripped onto a light mossy green pool. Welsh slate, mossy rocks, tenebrous woods, and (this is pure genius) the rosy glow of morning sunshine on limewash. How did they do it? How did those clever Colinette dyers manage to put all this in a yarn?

sixes cowl

You really don’t need to work hard to show it off. Sometimes the simplest thing is the best: stocking stitch (stockinette for Colinette, you might say). Wide and loose cowls seem to be in fashion this winter, but I like mine to actually keep my neck warm! And this is the perfect width for that. It’s jolly tricky taking photos of yourself with a manual focus 50mm lens, by the way.

There were so many sixes in this pattern, I decided to call it the Sixes Cowl, maybe it’ll make it easier for you to remember if you decide to knit one.

sixes cowl
sixes cowl

Simple Instructions for the Sixes Cowl

You might just be able to squeeze a cowl out of one hank of One Zero, but get a couple (or 6) just to be sure.
Gauge is also a bit tricky since One Zero is a thick & thin yarn, but mine is approx. 12 sts / 19 rows to 10cm/4in of stocking st.

Using 6mm 60cm circular needles,

Cast on 66 sts & join to work in the round.
Work in 1×1 rib for 6 rows.
Work in stocking stitch for 30cm / 12in (or however long you desire).
Work 6 rows in 1×1 rib.
Cast off in rib.
Weave in ends (my cowl is still umbilical).

sixes cowl

Easy, eh? Look at that sweet wobbly cast off! Because of the uneven nature of the yarn, your stocking stitch will have gentle waves. I recommend you enjoy it that way, rather than trying to block it flat. If you need help with circular knitting, read All About Circular Knitting. And did I mention you can wear it either way out?

colinette one zero in colourway 'banwy'sixes cowl

knitting desktop wallpaper

Just in case you haven’t got any One Zero handy though, and you can’t bear the wait, how about having a picture of it to warm up your desktop? You can download a large copy of the photo above from Flickr, which should shrink to size when you apply it to your desktop. If it doesn’t work though, let me know your screen resolution & I’ll see if I can whip up some specific sizes. :)

P.S. I was very tempted to call this ‘Cawl’ (pronounced ‘cowl’), which is a hearty Welsh soup made with leftovers. Just the thing after a long damp walk. But then I thought (cowls being addictive) that maybe I’ll knit another cowl to call Cawl, what do you think? ;)

31st August, 2009  // Inspiration, Neckwear, Yarn // tags: , , , , .
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