If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

Dear Ann,
You shoulda been there on Saturday, July 9, for Gale Zucker’s Photography for Knitters workshop, aka The Real Knitters of the Hamptons. It was so deluxe.
At the beginning, while her students gently pre- and re-caffeinated, Gale re-gale-d us with an instructive slide show. She showed exquisite images that she had taken on assignment, letting us ooh and/or aah, and then telling us what she didn’t like about them. It was always something we hadn’t consciously noticed; there was always a better version of the picture to follow. Gale was going to teach us how to get to the better picture.
Here’s the thing I learned that I most needed to learn, but will be hardest for me to implement: each photo is a story. It is a story about ONE THING. To tell that story visually, you must eliminate from the photo all visual distractions from that story. So if the story is THIS GARMENT HAS AWESOME TEXTURE, one might want to eliminate, or at least blur, the adorable dog in the shot. Adorable dogs are fine, when the story of the picture is THIS IS THE MOST ADORABLE DOG. But when the story is texture-of-knitting, you eliminate the dog and figure out how best to capture the texture story, which usually involves getting some light coming in from the side of the shot and reducing the ole depth of field.
(The story: this yarn is really red.)
I also learned how to underexpose, and put subjects in shade, and bleach out the background and lots of other stuff that I will forget in a very short time if I don’t keep practicing. So, I’m practicing. I’m trying to avoid the temptations of the auto setting and the good-enough, mediocre, multi-story photo. As it turns out, this is a lot of work. Gale’s job is secure.
(The story: Sara’s shawl is ruffly. Bonus points for ruffly echo of Adirondack chair.)
I also learned that a person I have known since I was 20 years old is quite photogenic.
(The story: Phyllis Rowe’s shrug, her own design, is airy and lyrical.)
The model is my friend Karin, a pal from my college days in Omaha. Karin ended up modeling everybody’s knitting, so that they could take pictures. She was really good at it, game for any prop or pose, mohair in July, and lying on black velvet on the front porch.
I got to use a light box! I had misunderstood what a light box was, as it turns out. You put things inside it, and stick your camera through holes in it. (Never mind how I thought it worked.)
(The story: This dishrag is faded in a poignant way.)
It was a lovely day. We did drink those G & Ts.
(The story: Good snacks.)
(The story: I’m glad you egged me on to buy this old tablecloth, that time at the Tailgate Antiques Show.)
In this photo, by Susan Mullhaupt, the story is, “After 3 hours, Olive still won’t behave herself, so Kay has to carry her around like a wiggly sack of potatoes (but isn’t the lighting lovely).”
(To see more photos of the day, go here.)
A word of advice. If you are able to get to one of Gale’s workshops, GET THERE. There are two coming up in September: Fiber College in Maine (September 9-11), and The Creative Connection Event in St. Paul (September 16). It’s an amazing opportunity for amateurs to learn from a top pro, who–because she’s a knitter– understands the stories knitters want to tell.
P.S. One final photo:
(The story: A bunch of knitters are tickled to be photographed with a toy sheep named Ramble, who has been traveling the globe getting his picture taken with bunches of knitters.)




  1. What a very nice story!

  2. Awwww… All those stories make me happy in an indescribable way. Thanks for posting – I miss ya!

  3. Thrilled to see a new post; one question: since up until yesterday, I’ve only seen the July 6th post, why does this evening’s post read July 13th? Have I somehow missed something?
    Now I’ll go back and read it……
    LoveDiane 🙂

  4. I always look forward to your “stories” and the stories of the photos are coming through loud & clear.

  5. That Olive knows she Done Wrong although she is awfully cute. Bet that class was fun.

  6. Thank you for a(nother) visually beautiful and (non-boringly) educational post. I have been contemplating my own (indifferent) photography skills. Happily, I noticed in one of my umpteen bookcases, a book bought 15-20 years ago, on how to photograph one’s craft work. Methinks I should start there.

    I am ferklempt over your new images.OMG that was fun.
    FYI for anyone looking for my classes I am teaching at Fiber College in Maine Sept 9-11th and at The Creative Connection Event in St Paul (sept 16)….and if you know a good venue for a class by all means send me an email!

  8. If Ramble and/or Gale would like to come to Colorado Springs/Denver, I would be happy to introduce him/her/them to lots of knitters and show him/her/them a good time. Looks like a VERY good time was had by all.

  9. I wish I could have been there! And … Ramble! I miss that sheep. We bought him something like 25 years ago on Martha’s Vineyard and named him Baaabs (because he used to baaa when you turned him over). When we were packing up the house to move 2 years ago, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of him, and so he renamed himself and started this tour. He’s been all over the place! We had no idea he had such wanderlust, but we’re starting to wonder if he’s ever coming home!
    Still, he visited last October so that he could come with us to MV and visit his roots. You know, before he jetted off to Africa…
    And, really? September? Hmmm…

  10. I hope Olive survived, in that first shot I thought “what is that woman holding??” never thinking my eyes were telling the truth that it was a dog. Love your description of her and she looks the same in both the pics, which cracks me up!!!

  11. Looks like you learned your lessons well. I wish I could have attended; I need it!

  12. What’s the pattern for Sara’s shawl?

  13. So jealous!!! Maybe I’ll try for Maine in September (but I guess I have to buy a digital camera first…..). When I took photography class in college, we had to use an all manual camera (mine was ye old pentax k1000) so that we could learn all about “pushing” and controlling everything, you won’t forget it (you might the names, but not the skills).
    As for Olive, isn’t she ALWAYS the story????

  14. This sounds like a class we would love, knitting and photography and improving the two – magic! We use a professional for our website shots but I must attend a similar class to make the most of our blog shots.

  15. This sounds like a class we would love, knitting and photography and improving the two – magic! We use a professional for our website shots but I must attend a similar class to make the most of our blog shots.

  16. First, NEVER blur Olive out of the picture. The story is always about Olive!
    Second, would you post pattern and yarn details (if available) for Sara’s Ruffly shawl?
    I loved the post!

  17. Lovely fun! G&Ts with fiesta ware and that tablecloth? Yahoo!

  18. That is awesome! I will have to look into taking her class if she is in my area. I missed Franklin’s class when he was in the Boston area earlier this year, which would have been similarly wonderful.

  19. Kay, you summed up the workshop so well. Decide what the story will be, and don’t get distracted.
    Even by the world’s cutest terrier.
    And thank you for the kind words about my shrug.

  20. Kay, I took your advice and just signed up for Gale’s class since I live just an hour away from where Fiber College will be. I’m excited!
    Olive is so cute…

  21. What a great workshop. I love Phyllis Rowe’s shrug. Please tell me her pattern is available.

  22. Sorry to be a renegade, but the story I saw in that last shot: Linen rumples in an adorable way. Deduction: Some pictures have lots of stories. Of course, I have thought highly of Gale’s talent ever since I first saw that jacket photo of you and Ann. Lighting, colors, composition, your two expressions. It had it all. Thanks for this great post.

  23. Thanks for sharing some of what your learned. So good to hear from one of you Mason/Dixon Gals.

  24. Looks wonderful. I just took a class from Franklin Habit……Hoping my images get better on my blog

  25. What fun! I am so envious — as I would love to learn from Gale. Combining two of my favorite hobbies in one workshop would be heaven! Looks like a fabulous time.

    Thanks for the pix – I like the rear shot especially!

  27. Did Gale show you the “knitting sticks to tree bark” trick? Worked like a charm.

  28. I like the knitting stories, but I confess I would be sad without Olive stories! Love love love Phyllis Rowe’s shrug, can we see the front? Any chance she will provide the pattern for us to purchase? Saw this cute story about something Tom Hanks did:
    Could he be anymore charming?

  29. Olive is quite flexible. Yoga? Pilates?

  30. I enjoyed your post so much-check a couple times a week and miss them when there is no new one. The colored shawl is gorgeous-oh, please….what pattern is it? and the yarn? I noticed others asked too

  31. I enjoyed your post so much-check a couple times a week and miss them when there is no new one. The colored shawl is gorgeous-oh, please….what pattern is it? and the yarn? I noticed others asked too

  32. Were you all instructed what to wear? You coordinate so well!

  33. Lovely post and great photos. Looks like a lot of fun. Add my name to the list of those requesting patterns for the shawl and the shrug

  34. Excellent post title. Loving that pic of Olive the totedog, too.

  35. lovely posting kay
    powells books has free shipping four days
    your first book is on the way lots of good comments and reviews i just need certain patterns
    the year 2006 five years ago! stay cool!

  36. Yes, thank you for passing on a portion of Gale’s wisdom and experience. I will try to keep “the story” in mind when I next photograph my knitting. Also, the photo of “Good snacks” actually said “lovely summer day…isn’t it good to eat outside?” to me.

  37. looks like a great day! I am intrigued by the ‘story’ idea ….. by the looks of things, my story begins and ends with pugs. (with a bit of nail art here & there)

  38. Neat post! Maybe I will remember some of those ideas when I take my (amateurish) pics.

  39. Backwards Shawl with a ruffle is a free ravelry pattern! The one in the photo, uses 2 strands of Zauberball held together and Sweet Georgia worsted as the contrast….

  40. Boy, I could have used that workshop! I am having a devil of a time photographing my finished Birch. She deserves better after sitting in my WIP pile for two years.

  41. Kay, it was so lovely to meet you at Purl by the Sea on Tuesday! I was the girl who just finished your baby log cabin blanket and backed it in cotton (you can see pictures-in-process on my blog, with pictures-as-finished coming soon). I hope to see you again soon!

  42. Hi Kay – Wow – what a really nice day you had. Gale is so talented. Great idea – photography workshops for knitters! Hope you are having a nice summer.
    Best, Kristin

  43. Great stories…I’ve been meaning to make a lightbox. Tell me can I still use my iPhone?


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