September – The Photocalypse

I’m on Twitter. I don’t tweet much (still haven’t figured out how to do that without looking like an idiot), but I do follow a lot of knitterly people to keep up with knitterly news. I saw a tweet from someone mentioning a knit-themed photo challenge and followed the Tweet-trail back to this:

Why yes, I AM interested. I’m still figuring out Instagram, so this seems like a perfect opportunity to learn how to use it!

princessdeia, the intrepid Tweeter behind this challenge, posted the photo prompts on Friday.

Because I like to make things way more complicated than they need to be, I’m imposing rules on how I create these photos.

  1. I cannot use the light box. I really want to learn how to take decent photos in places that are not flooded with light and have a carefully controlled background. The only way I’m going to learn is to DO IT.
  2. I’m not going to pre-edit the photos before I Instagrammize them. All the photos I’ve posted on Instagram before have gone through the process of being uploaded to my computer, edited in iPhoto (usually cropping, adjusting brightness, and color correction), and then sent back to my phone to be uploaded to Instagram (with added filters, of course). That’s just too much work, and not really what Instagram seems to be for. I will do all of my pre-screening on my phone and whichever photo looks the best on my iPhone will be the lucky recipient of a shiny new Instagram filter.
  3. In order to compare and contrast my Instagram photo style with my usual style I will ALSO edit my photos on the computer. The winning photo from my iPhone screening will also be treated to my usual photo editing routine in iPhoto.
  4. After all of that, I will post both photos here on my blog and tell you how I did them! I’ll show you my light sources, how I staged the photo, and I’ll tell you exactly how they were edited.

Yep, that’s right, you’re in store for another month of DAILY BLOG POSTS! The photos may end up looking like crap, but I think we’ll all learn something.

Oh look, it’s September already. Here’s the first photo – UFO.

Location and staging: my bedroom, on a chair several feet from the window. I moved that set of drawers a bit to the left for the photos to obscure my bed, which just looks weird and ugly without a bedskirt. I mean, I hate bedskirts with a burning passion – they never stay put – but that would have been a nicer background for the photo if I had one.


Light source: Overhead light, and some light from my window. The sun does not face my window EVER, so it’s hard to use the window as the only light source even on a really bright day like today.

IMG_4521 IMG_4517

Photo editing: For Instagram I did that blur function thingy (anyone know what that’s called?) to blur the top and bottom of the image, and used the Lo-Fi filter with a border. There’s also some automatic cropping in Instagram to make the photo fit the prescribed frame, but I didn’t do any cropping manually. For iPhoto I used the “enhance” button and did my usual color correction – increased the blue and decreased the yellow a bit to correct for the yellow cast from the light sources.

edited with iPhoto

edited with iPhoto

Another note about my photo-a-day challenge – I will be plastering these photos all over the internet, so if you don’t care about my blathering on about my fledgling photography skills but still want to see the photos you can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, or Tumblr. Don’t expect anything too polished or professional from me on those sites though – that’s basically a list of every social media platform that I have barely a passing knowledge of how to use. I want to know them better, but I haven’t had time to sit down and read the manuals yet. You’ve been warned.

Welcome to the Photocalypse.

The Art of Stabbing Oneself

I’ve had several questions lately through my Indiegogo campaign about needle felting. Namely: “what is it?” Well, I think I am prepared to share with you all my “sketches” in needle felting to illustrate the process.

Basically, it’s just a form of sculpting, except with wool instead of clay. You start with some unformed batts of fluffy wool, a very sharp needle, and a surface (preferably not your hand).

I had some needle felting kits I got from the Moxie booth at Urban Craft Uprising to work with. Since I was still very new at this, I also bought My Felted Friends which had some great instructions on how to make and connect certain shapes.

I decided to try for a pony, of the My Little Pony variety of course. In order to turn those balls of fluff into something with any semblance of form, you have to stab it with the needle. A lot. This locks the fibers together into one mass, felting them. Ideally this process would be done on a stab-worthy surface, like this Ecofoam provided in the Moxie kit, but I found it difficult to control the felting process that way, so I ended up picking up the wool and stabbing it in my hand. Sometimes into my hand. I stabbed myself many times actually, but I only drew blood once. What is art without suffering, anyway?

Very quickly I had roughed out a body that looked remarkably like a pony!

After making a few edits to the overall shape I started to add what details I could given the limited color palette I had to work with. I tried adding a unicorn horn, thinking making something so small and specifically shaped would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy!

I took a good look at the colors I had left and consulted with my sister, the resident Pony expert, and determined that despite the horn, this was mostly likely going to be Roseluck. I added a rose Cutie Mark and then worked on installing the mane and tail. Now, keep in mind, this is only a sketch. The mane turned out…alright. The quality of wool provided in the kit was great for needle felting purposes, but it was rather wooly-looking and not very hair-like. For a more finished product I would use a higher quality wool for hair details, possibly even something with silk content. Even if I had taken the time to comb the wool before installing it may have improved the overall appearance, but I was really just testing out techniques with this pony and wasn’t particularly concerned with how it turned out. I didn’t have the right colors to attempt to add eye details, so I just left that out.

Not bad for a rough sketch of Rose Luck.

Here’s a pic of Rose Luck for comparison:

Roseluck from

So, there’s my first rough, just-trying-to-figure-out-the-basics attempt at needle felting! Just from that short experience I can already tell that practically ANYTHING can be needle felted. Especially if I have a reference photo to work from (which I did not have Roseluck in front of my as I did this, just a few other Pony figurines so I could get the basic body shape right) I should be able to replicate figures fairly easily! By the end of it I was even getting better at NOT stabbing myself. For more example of what other people have done with needle felting, try checking out the Moxie Flickr Pool. I have also seen some really cool needle felted interpretations of celebrities from Felt Alive.

I am still trying to raise money to replace my stolen computer and tools so I can start my own business. Any amount helps, but if you donate $25 to my Knotty Narwhal campaign I will needle felt anything you want! Even if you can’t donate money you can help out by spreading the word.