Yarnography

I sometimes wonder if I don't knit my stash yarn because it looks so much nicer as skeins.

 Malabrigo "Mecha", col.43 Plomo

Malabrigo "Mecha", col.43 Plomo

(More likely it's because the yarn in its unknit form holds infinite promise whereas the knitted item sometimes falls short of those wild hopes and dreams we had when we bought the stuff.  I'm sure I'm not alone in preferring a room full of infinite promise over a dresser full of disappointment and that's why the yarn stash is so out of control.  That, and unchecked shopping.*)

As beautiful as a skein of yarn is in its unsullied state, I find photographing an appealing image of my yarn to be pretty challenging.  Something tells me it ought to be a simple task, yet I find that most (as in, nearly all) of my yarn photos fail to capture that appeal that made me buy the yarn in the first place.  Kettle dyed yarns like the Malabrigo Mecha pictured above provide a certain amount of visual interest all on their own but try photographing ten balls of a solid colour mercerised cotton or superwash wool and then you find out how good a photographer you really are.

I had a look back at the evolution of my yarn photography and I can see a progression (mainly in camera quality) but maybe not as much progress in skill as one might hope for over the course of 8 years.  Somewhere in my mind I believe that if I can learn to consistently take an eye-catching photo of any yarn, be it a hank of beautiful hand-dyed or a drab ball of workaday cotton, I'll have actually reached the next stage in my photography endeavours so I continue photographing yarn despite the slow pace of improvement.

Besides, for me, photographing yarn is the next best thing to photographing actual finished objects so it remains one of my subjects of choice, especially since the FOs have been conspicuously not forthcoming in recent years.  Also, when you come home with your latest yarn acquisition or it arrives in the mail, your enthusiasm for that yarn is at its highest and therefore, photographing it doesn't seem like something only crazy people do.

As pointless an endeavour this might seem, there are a few upsides to all this yarn photography I do.  On a practical level, it helps me keep track of what I have in my stash.  Otherwise, after newly acquired yarn gets hermetically sealed into vacuum bags and then buried alive in a storage tote, I might easily forget I have it.  (Surely, if I had kept a visual record since I first began buying more yarn than I could knit, I wouldn't have 6 different balls of nearly the same shade of blue sport-weight cotton for the occasional knitted toy project that only required a few grams of the stuff.)  Photographing yarn has also taught me several things about using a camera and how light has more properties than "enough" and "not enough".

In an upcoming post, I think I'll explore some of the things I've learned from my own past yarnography mistakes and who knows, maybe I will apply those lessons to the yarn I still have in my stash (which is most of it) to see if I really have learned anything.


Footnotes

*The shopping is actually mostly in check now and has been for a couple of years.  The yarn stash though has not shrunk significantly due to low knitting mojo.  But I'm sure I'll have much more to say on yarn stashing another day.