The concert poster for the season premiere of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra visually balances the light and dark of the musical program. I used the method I worked out from the April chamber concert poster playing with illustrator’s path settings. My intent is to use this theme for all the posters this year, changing the colors and mood depending on the pieces we play for each.
In 2015, I decided to go in for purchasing Adobe Illustrator since I’d be using for both CSO posters and my knitting pattern diagrams. Like everything, it was an educational process since I’m the type to jump in and get a tool working, rather than take the time for a class.
I set up a workspace with “artboards” for the whole season. This way I can see, compare, and use elements across the group of posters and ads. And what goes on the first poster tends to set the theme for the season.
There are always head-shots of the musical guests, along with a lot of text and sponsor logos. I like to pick a color scheme for the text to draw attention to the soloist. In the case of the Mahler poster above Indra Thomas‘s beautiful photo has a lovely green-grey backdrop that I wanted to work with. And as a new Illustrator user, playing with text appearance was the most fun, so I decided I had my theme for the season. All the posters would have roughly the same layout with the “Cambridge Symphony Orchestra” text working with the soloist head-shots.
Here for “Holiday Pops” I chose Adobe’s subtle sparkle effect for the CSO text along with an already festive head-shot of Jennifer Sgroe and a happy photo of Cynthia Woods.
The Family Concert in January always features are remarkably talented young musician, this year was no exception. Visually, I loved that Yoo Jin Ahn‘s cute head-shot has a white background. The CSO text illustrator fun for this concert was the bright pastel colors from the Illustrator “graphic styles” library.
Doing this for a couple of years now, I have to say the March concert always throws me for a loop for the color scheme. If I use springtime green it makes people think of St Patrick’s Day which is almost never the concert theme, and especially since the program for this concert is “The Russian Masters” I had to work with something else. I went with a color theme in the red and blue spectrum since using the grey in the soloists head-shot would make the poster too dreary, giving the CSO text a circular blue gradient glow.
The Chamber players need a poster from time to time, and I could go off the season’s theme trying something new. I played with Illustrator paths to create a fun swirly violin, and I loved this effect so much it is going to be the theme of the 2016-2017 posters.
This Firebird show with the accompanying ballet ended the classical season with a bang. The concert was a labor of love for many, with the dancers and musicians using their creativity to bring this event to the next level. I contributed with the painting “The Prince and the Firebird” that I was able to work into this poster format. Having too much fun with color and design I created this surface design line at Spoonflower.
And finally, for the end of the season I had some more Illustrator fun, creating warped text for the title. The CSO logo is still recognizable with the SYMPHONY portion shown in bold. The entire image has an under layer of crumpled paper to portray a summer-of-love type vibe to it. I used color picker to pull the color from the sponsorship logo to use for the background and lettering.
Often the tools used and project restrictions dictate what the posters will look like. The limits, I find, help the creative process, if only to keep projects from being over-designed.
The one most important thing that I have learned in this post-tech artistic life: designing is decision making.
“Hello World” is a short hand term for projects techies create while working on a new platform. My new platform? Spoonflower.
The “Hello World” idea is similar to the Minimum Viable Product, “MVP“, for people that know something about marketing, where the learning process involved in getting the first item/program/project/design out into the world takes most of the work. Theory being that once you get this first one done, the rest will follow much easier. I mean, think of all the learning involved with any new thing you’ve tried to do. Procrastination can get the best of you, but giving yourself the one goal to push toward, the “Hello World”, the first product, the first class, etc, you have something achievable and worthwhile.
Once I had my MVP design ready to go I uploaded it, ordered my proof, and waited by my mailbox.
When it arrived I opened up the package and inspected my new fabric, and oh no, a subtle problem: there was a light “aliased” outline on the right and bottom edges of the repeat. It may have been mistaken for wayward white thread if I had left it as it was, but it would bother me not to fix it.
It’s a sweet little octopus to help people learn how to Cast On and Bind Off fearlessly. Knitters are always worried that they are working their stitches too tightly or loosely, and this project lets you do either and the results are that the tentacles simply curve and sway making your octopus look unique.
The idea came from knitting the “Nuvem” shawl by Martina Behm. I wrote a blog post about it. I had two lovely skeins of yarn, one with twice as much yardage as the other. I racked my brain for a way to distribute the colors evenly without doing regularly spaced boring stripes, but I also didn’t want to run out of the pretty multi-colored yarn before I got to the ruffle edge. Pacing around my home (yes, I truly paced while thinking about this), I spotted two decks of cards on my shelves and, voila, perfect: an easy to carry, easy to randomize, easy to count way of controlling which colorway to knit the next row with.
I have a list of design ideas I am getting out into the world. My first labor of love was the police box shawl, but Hoo*bert is NOT necessarily an easy knit. So I really wanted to get a fun accessible pattern out there next. I used the two to one idea that I knit my Nuvem with, but I wanted to add different stitch patterns depending on the face value of the card. The test knitters all said they had fun knitting it wondering which card would come up next and how it would look next to the previous row. Shuffle can be done with solid colors, or you could knit it with a solid and variagated, similar shades or bright contrasts, it all works. My first shuffle was done with solid worsted weight from Harrisville Designs (they liked it). My second Shuffle was knit from the two ends of my slowly changing color Loop handspun, and I kinda love it.
What will your Shuffle look like? 😊
Keeping knitting fun,
P.S. Join my email list to get a $2 discount code. Link is above.
I never wrote a blog post about the Squam Art Workshops before, though I’ve been attending since 2011. I suppose I never knew how to put it all into words: meeting great people, taking intriguing classes, dodging “woo”, and, well, the food.
I also took Gudrun Johnston‘s Short Row class, which was really helpful – I really had no idea there were 4 different ways to do short-rows, and that the one way I knew – turns out I was doing it wrong. I took no photos in this class, as it was a knitting circle, basically. Her designs are beautiful, she had a container full of them where she showed us where she used short rows. Such an inspiration.
But, then, it ends. We say goodbye to everyone at breakfast and we go.
So to console myself on the way home there was a stop at Mr Mac‘s, which really needs to be a national chain.
My mother told me that when I was a little kid, like 3 or 4 years old, my grandmother crocheted a hat for me.
This is a photo of my grandmother and me, maybe a bit before the incident, I don’t have a photo with the hat.
While looking through a magazine she saw a little kid wearing a granny square hat, so she made me one. She knit three granny squares, connected them in a row, added ties, and gave me the hat. The thing is, my mother says I wouldn’t wear the hat because my grandmother wasn’t finished with it yet. Evidently I recognized that there needed to be a forth square in the back, stitched to the first three to make a hat shape. My grandmother didn’t realize this, she just knew she had to crochet the ones she saw, she wasn’t thinking about the structure in the back. So, the poor woman went off and made the forth granny square, added it to the back of the hat, and then I wore it. I remember the hat, I remember I liked wearing it. I do not remember sending my granmother back to finish it.
Little kids are cute as a life saving device, I suspect.
This is the grandmother who taught me how to knit, btw. She taught me when I was about 5, having me knit a purple headband (it was the 70s) – 7 stitches across. It bored the bejeezus out of me, so much so that I never finished it. I’d pick it up every few years, having to add a few more rows since my head was bigger (figuratively and physically) every time.
It took until a Boston Ski and Sports Club trip to Italy in 2004 to get me into knitting. I understood it differently at that point. Instead of a headband shaped hole in space, it was the process of knitting that made the hobby interesting. Maybe by then I had lived a life of deadlines at my day job, and sitting down to quiet time to work with beautiful yarn was a reward in itself. (Italy had some gorgeous yarn.)
Since 2004 I have been knitting. And while spending my days working on a team designing computer chips, I would doodle knitwear designs and patterns in my notebook.
About three years ago I had an idea for a shawl design that I couldn’t believe no one had come up with before. The universe needed this, so I have been trying to make it happen ever since.
The idea? Police boxes in a tiled rhombus pattern (I, also, had to look up the name even though I’ve seen a tiled rhombus pattern a thousand times.)
I tried and tried to make this concept a reality when I was working, I just couldn’t get it done.
Fortunately, I lost my job last September.
Seriously, I had been planning, nesting, saving, and preparing for a lay off in my office since we were bought by the last company. So when the day came, I was the happiest person in the room. As I walked out I realized other people weren’t happy – at all, so I told them “Don’t worry, I’ll be sad later.” They laughed. They were happy for a minute, anyways; laughing at or with me? I wasn’t sure.
Turns out I lied. It didn’t happen, I wasn’t sad.
I was thrilled. I could finally get this idea on a .pdf and up on Ravelry.
I thrashed around a little bit. I was always driven by adrenalin at the day job, and now I was living with no time restrictions, no place restrictions. Possibility was my restriction. The hardest thing, I found, about leaving corporate America was time management and direction.
But I have to say, my favorite thing about all these re-enactors is when you see people in historical clothing mixing in with modern-times. For example, my boyfriend has a photo of a minuteman carrying a leaf-blower, which he really needs to have online somehere.
Here I have this sneak-over-the-shoulder #selfie thing: Minutemen, in line for a port-a-potty.
Priceless. There should be a name for this mash-up of modern and 18th century, a hashtag, something.
I had driven by Munroe Tavern, where the British set up their field hospital after that first night of the Revolutionary War, a hundred times. This time we finally stopped in. Here are some iPhone photos that I took. (Aram’s awesome photos are here.)
Red coats getting ready for the battle re-enactment at Tower Park
After the war President George Washington visited the Munroe family for tea, to thank them for all their troubles during this battle. The family saved everything he touched. He sat in that bigger chair in the middle, and the cup he used is in a display case nearby. Gotta love the love people had for the pertinence of these items.
I would be remiss if I didn’t post a photo of the flax spinning wheel. Making linen from flax was important in the avoidance of buying British cotton goods in the 18th century.
Inside the Munroe Tavern.
And here are the lobster-backs getting ready for their part of the re-enactment on the front lawn of the tavern. This Tower Park battle today (Saturday) actually took place after the famous battle of Lexington Green (Monday), they just do it on this Saturday beforehand to get everything done in the weekend.
So much fun nerdy stuff going on around here right now. Can’t miss it if you try, get out there and see some of it.
That’s Miss Babs in the front, and Tosh lace color “calligraphy” in the back.
“Gorgeous, so what do I knit with it?” I thought. Never did much with laceweight before. Did the old Ravelry search and came up with Martina Behm’s Nuvem. It’s pretty, no lacework that I’d have to pay attention to ‘cuz if I’m knitting 2000 yards of something I don’t want to have to pay attention to it, count, or anything requiring intelligence – this is what my day job is for. (“OCD for Dollars” is how I refer to it, and I sure don’t need the extra brain hurt for my hobby.)
The idea behind the Nuvem is you knit ’til there’s 20% of your yarn left and then do the ruffle. This kind of blew my mind… that 20% of the yarn is in the ruffle. That’s like a country mile around the perimeter when you think you’re almost done.
Though I had the same weight each of Babs and Tosh it turns out the Tosh is thicker with less yardage. I did some rough math and figured I have about TWICE as much yardage of Babs as I do Tosh. I needed to go around twice on the Babs for each time I went around once on the Tosh to make it work.
Pattern purchased, off I went… one round Tosh, two rounds Babs, one Tosh, two Babs.
I liked it, but it was too uniform for my taste to do the entire shawl this way. About 5 inches of knitting from the center out I decided to change it up, but I needed a way to maintain the one-Tosh::two-Babs ratio so I didn’t run out of one or the other color before I got to the ruffle. I wanted the same ratio with a different more organic distribution.
Walked around my place, stood for a moment staring at my humble board game collection. And there they were… a deck of red cards and a deck of blue cards.
52 red cards mixed with 26 blue cards, shuffled roughly together, would give me an approximate model of my yarn amounts,
with a more organic looking distribution than how I started out in the center.
2::1, right? yep.
I commited to this progression. I wrapped an elastic band around the cards to secure them, and threw the deck into my project bag. When a red card came to the top of the deck I would knit a round with Babs. When a blue card came to the top I would knit a round with Tosh.
I made it through the 78 (52 + 26) rounds and still hadn’t gotten to my 20% left. Figuring I wanted the colorful Babs for the ruffle I did a simple large swath of the Tosh “calligraphy” color to set off the ruffle.
I kind of love how it came out.
And about that 20%. I used a $3 postal scale that I bought off ebay on a recommendation that I got from a knitter friend who also quite enjoys smoking pot, and, I learned, she can evidently use the postal scale for either hobby as both often need accurate measurements of quantities less than 4 ounces.
I had previously only understood that this scale was good for measuring envelopes and yarn, it took another savvy knitter to explain to me what most people use this little gadget for and why they are so readily available on the internet.
P.S. So get this, still living the knitter’s dream I’ve been lucky enough to attend a few Squam Art Workshops, including this last one in Spring 2014. Turns out I finished this Nuvem in the nick of time to give the designer of this lovely pattern a lift up to New Hampshire from the airport. Turns out she’s lovely too.
Here’s me and my Hitchhiker, Martina Behm, returning from N.H.