and heeeerrre’s chrissy!

Posted on Posted in book reviews/events, interviews

Hello, Knitspot readers!
This is Chrissy Gardiner, your guest poster for today, speaking. Anne was kind enough to let me take over her blog for a bit as a stop on the blog book tour for my (relatively) new sock book, Toe-Up! Patterns and Worksheets to Whip Your Sock Knitting Into Shape. You can go to the Toe-Up! website for details about other stops along the tour, including great reviews of the book by Grumperina and Carol over at Go Knit In Your Hat.

Today I’m going to share a few of the little fun details about the production of the book with you all. It all started just over three years ago, when I managed to get myself accepted to Cat Bordhi’s Visionary Retreat for self-publishing authors. Each year, Cat finds 6 to 8 fiber artists who have book ideas she thinks are intriguing and commercially viable and invites them to attend a week-long retreat up on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. I’ve just returned from this year’s retreat, which you can read about on my blog.

I went to the original retreat with a completely different book idea, but decided that I needed to write a “practice book” first (as in, I needed to write about something I wouldn’t stress out about designing and knitting a lot of, and that something happens to be socks). I came up with the idea of a toe-up sock book in July of 2008. At the time, there was only one book on the market focusing on toe-up socks and it was pretty small. I decided to focus on developing a series of worksheets that would allow knitters to customize their heels and toes, since most sock patterns need to be converted from top-down to toe-up, and the most difficult aspect of conversion is figuring the new toe and heel numbers.

One of the huge advantages of publishing the book myself was that I was the final decision-maker. I was able to include things in this book that I don’t think would’ve made the cut with a large publisher, like the little section on cabling without a cable needle. I am delighted that the final product is a great reflection of how I think about toe-up socks and how I teach my classes. I was also able to take a lot of time thinking about quality-control, and I made sure all of the socks were tested and the entire book combed over by several proofreaders and both of my tech editors. To date we’ve had a grand total of two minor errors discovered – a real bonus for a book that’s been out for several months!

Boring technical stuff aside, there are a number of fun behind-the-scenes stories about the patterns and photos in the book. Since I was doing everything myself and didn’t have the budget for a professional stylist and models, the photos were taken of the socks on my own feet and those of my family, who were mostly happy to cooperate (the 3-year-old was a little iffy if we didn’t get the shot within the first five minutes). We did a number of photo shoots (my photographer was the intrepid and patient Gail of We Heart Yarn), both at my house and at my in-laws’, and I spent much of the time wondering if the neighbors were going to call the police (or at least the neighborhood association)!

One of the main pattern photo shoots took place in my front yard, and there were lots of contortions and interesting camera-to-foot manipulations involved. The house across the street was for sale, and they just happened to be holding an open house that day. I can’t imagine what people were thinking of the strange women across the street who were dead serious about taking photos of feet… We ended up with delightful neighbors, so maybe it helped keep some of the riff-raff away!

The Vortex socks are photographed here with our shaggy Japanese maple as the background.

To get this shot, I had to sort of sit in the tree with my legs held sideways while trying to make my feet look nice and relaxed. Easier said than done, but after several shots, we managed! I’m so grateful for digital cameras.

After we captured Vortex, we moved to the strip of grass between our sidewalk and the street to photograph Great Plains.

This sock is knit out of Buffalo Gold bison sock yarn, which is incredibly lovely to knit (and wear!) but a little bit difficult to photograph due to the dark color. We decided that the overgrown spring grass on the parking strip would be a nice background for the socks. It sure didn’t look like much when viewed from the street (my next job after getting the photos done was to spend a couple days weeding), but it provided just the right grassland-looking background for these shots, which involved me precariously perched on top of an unbalanced little step ladder.

In a little moment of serendipity, a ladybug landed on my foot and posed for a couple of photos.

Our next shot involved the ancient cherry tree that happened to be in full bloom at the middle school around the corner. What better place to photograph Sakura, a sock inspired by and named after the regal cherry tree?

Only problem is, how best to get feet (normally on the ground) next to cherry blossoms (normally not on the ground)? We spent about half an hour with me lying on the ground with my feet in the air (great fun since we were next to a busy street, near a little neighborhood commercial center, on a lovely Saturday afternoon).

That photo wasn’t so bad, but again it involved me holding my feet sideways against the tree trunk while trying to make my feet look relaxed. Yes, your feet really will look tense and awkward if you’re not concentrating – who knew there was so much skill involved in foot modeling?

This next one was the icing on the cake because it involved Gail getting down on the ground next to me and shooting my feet with the sky/top of the tree as background. We got several slow drive-bys with this one…

One of my favorite shots (obtained with much less drama in our fenced back yard) is of the Old-School Knee Highs, modeled by yours truly outside our backyard chicken coop. Our hens, Ruttager and Diddy, are peeking through the chicken-wire fence in the background.

I was quite adamant about getting at least one chicken shot into the book, and I actually got two (here’s another with my daughter and Ruttager).

But what I really love about that first shot is how nice and shapely my legs look. If you’ve met me, you know I’m no fashion model, so I couldn’t believe this photo when I first saw it! The camera adds 10 lbs, but apparently the right kind of ribbing takes it right back off. This pattern includes a table of measurements and ease recommendations so that you can custom-fit your knee-highs no matter how unmodel-like your calves are.

Can you tell we had a ton of fun with the photography? Our final shoot involved the technique photos, which Gail made look crystal-clear on a nice white background. We shot these on the wide railing of my front porch on a drizzly day. Many of them involved me crouching down with Gail perched over me to position the camera to shoot from a first-person point of view. By this time, I think the neighbors were used to the whole scene (and the house across the street was sold – no more parade of open-house attendees to gawk at us). These shots look so staid and indoor, but they’re just as wild as the rest of the bunch. Who would guess there were so many stories behind all these normal-looking photos? It makes me wonder every time I see a magazine or book if similar things go on at the pro shoots. Maybe someday I’ll find out!

And now I’ve held Anne’s blog hostage long enough – I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the book-publishing process (or at least my own crazy take on it). You can find your own copy of Toe-Up! on Amazon or at your LYS. Happy knitting, y’all!

MANY thanks to chrissy for providing such a beautiful and intriguing post on my travel day! one last word from me as i head out the door—chrissy has generously provided two copies of her book as giveaway prizes. if you’d like to win a copy, please leave a comment at the end of this post by 9 pm on sunday evening february 14th (happy valentine’s day!); we will draw names randomly when i return from germantown and your books will be mailed on monday.

199 thoughts on “and heeeerrre’s chrissy!

  1. Oh, I would LOVE to try some socks from this book! Those old school knee-highs are right up my alley, and I’ve also been intrigued by Fjordland. It’s really fun to hear about behind-the-scenes moments on the photo shoot. The lengths we will go to…

  2. The photos are beautiful, and it really makes it fun knowing what went into successfully taking them. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes glimpse, and I know that I’ll have a blast knitting some of these socks — especially Sakura, since my husband and I got married in Japan!

  3. Thanks for sharing, Chrissy (and Anne). Your book would make a wonderful addition to any knitting library.

  4. Thank you Chrissy for sharing the story of your fun photo shoots, and thank you Anne for giving us this opportunity. Hope you’re enjoying your week-end…

  5. Thanks for the blog post–I never would have guessed that the photos were done just outside on the lawn! LOL I have had this book on my must-get list for a while, so it would be great to finally get my hands on a copy! Thanks! 🙂

  6. I don’t have a blog, but I really enjoy yours and your beautiful work. I live where there aren’t any yarn shops. I love knitting sox and would love to learn the toe up directions. Your book sounds great.I almost never win anything so here’s hoping for some luck this time.

  7. I loved the explanations of how you took your sock photos! The socks look really great – toe-up are my favourite, probably because they were the first socks I started out knitting. Love them!

  8. Thank you for showing us the “behind the scenes” story of the photos. So hilarious sitting in trees trying to look relaxed. I’d love to win a copy of the book!

  9. When I first started reading, I thought, how could talking about taking photos be interesting? Wrongo!! This was great fun to read and it really makes me want to see the book.

  10. What a nice treat! Inside scoop on the photos of a book that will go on my Amazon wishlist regardless. Thanks Chrissy.

    Though I do miss the shots of Anne’s travel preparations for knitting projects. Must be those secret knitting things…oh well.

  11. Fascinating post! I’d love to win a copy of the book, and it is my birthday on Monday…fingers crossed!

  12. Beautiful…and inspirational…and makes me want to try toe up socks! I want to make a pair of everything you showed; they are so lovely. Thanks!!

  13. I always wondered how the pictures for books are taken, how many takes, etc. Nice to read the background.

  14. Oh, what fun! The buzz on that book has been all over on the blogs I frequent. Fun to see it here again. Gotta have it, whether it comes to me as a prize (whee!) or from amazon. I know how to do that!

  15. I live in one of those “well planned neighborhoods” so your narration of the process involved with getting just the right photo with the neighborhood looking on nearly knocked me out of my chair laughing!
    The end result is fantastic!

  16. I guess it’s worth waiting until Monday to try and win a copy but come Monday, one way or another, this book is mine!

  17. I enjoyed reading about the photo creation process. I would also like a copy of the book if the sock deities are looking my way.

  18. That was an awesome post. Thanks for sharing your behind the scenes photo experience. Will really look forward to seeing your book.

  19. What beautiful socks! I’ve tended to stay away from knitting socks because they never seem to hold my interest long enough. I have a strong feeling that these patterns are TOTALLY different and will keep me knitting right along! No SSS for me! Please put my name in the hat!

  20. The photos are wonderful! Thanks to Anne for announcing this at dinner tonight. Chrissy’s book would be a great addition.

  21. Interesting write up. Thanks so much for the inside story! Designs are fantastic too. I will have this book in my library…one way or another. And it would be great to win it. All the best with your next book.

  22. Please enter me in the drawing. Everything I’ve read or heard about this book has convinced me it’s my only hope of ever learning to knit socks.

  23. Very interesting. I cannot imagine how muche hard work went into publishing your book. Thanks, Anne, for giving us this opportunity to see behind the scenes.

    Thanks for the contest, too.


  24. Pick me! Pick me! I really need a book like this…I am making my very first pair of socks EVER for the Knitting Olympics. Besides, Sunday is also my birthday! (hint, hint)

  25. Thank you for making me smile in the wee hours of the morning. What wonderful stories to share and memories to hold dear! I have done a number of baby booties and am now trying to learn how to do socks. As a beginning sock knitter, I would LOVE to have a copy of the book! It would be a great birthday present and keep me company while I recuperate from minor surgery, both of which are in the next two weeks.

  26. The chicken photo is adorable! My sister-in-law has just begun the chicken raising life while living in Hollywood! She certainly loves her three hens. Chrissy’s daughter looks so sweet with her “girl.”
    Our school nurse purchased this book at Christmas. I love all that I’ve seen! Enjoy your trip, Anne. I hope the weather is kind to you.

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