Over the last year, I’ve thought and written a lot about knitting photos. I’ve talked about techniques and tools until I felt like I was boring you all. Surely, after all that, there can’t be more to say about taking pictures of our knitting.
There’s one thing, though, that I never touched on: why do we do it at all?
Taking pictures of my knits is, for me, as much a part of the finishing process as weaving in the ends and blocking. I love giving each project a little photo shoot when I’m done working on it.
I’ve never known a knitting life without Ravelry and social media, so I’ve never lived in a world where I didn’t share my projects with friends online.
But we don’t all have that same lived experience. I decided to fire up the old Instagram stories and have a chat with my community over there.
Knitting Photos are Our Scrapbooks
The vast majority of people who responded said that taking pictures of their knits was a way to keep a personal diary of their knitting journey.
It instantly made me think of the 1884 Knitted Lace Sample Book that a knitter going by the name of Vintagekathleen worked through more than a decade ago. I remember following her blog with such excitement. She had a composition book from the late 1800s that another knitter had used to record their projects, including scraps of knitted trims and instructions clipped from newspapers. Her blog chronicled her journey of knitting through those same notes, patterns, and clippings.
Our modern photos of our knitting serve a similar purpose to that old composition book. While most of us have moved to digital record-keeping, we still like to have a way to visualize our work, remember what we’ve done, and see progress as we learn and refine our techniques.
Photos allow us to do just that. Whether we log them on Instagram or Ravelry, print them for an album, or just keep them on our phones, we have a record through photos that shows our unique journeys as knitters.
Knitting Photos are a Way to Connect
Knitting can also be a really social activity. I love being at events with other knitters because we’re constantly passing around yarn to squish and sniff, asking if we can pet someone’s sweater, or ogling a particularly well made shawl.
Distance, however, can make it hard for a lot of us to attend those sorts of events. I live in a small-ish Southern California beach city, which isn’t exactly a hotbed of fiber meetups.
The pandemic of the last few years has only exacerbated things. For a while, there were no events happening at all, and many events are still inaccessible to people who are medically vulnerable, caring for someone who is, or are otherwise trying their hardest to avoid getting sick.
So what’s a knitter to do when we can’t gush over each other’s work in person? We take photos and share projects with each other that way. Many of the people who responded to my questions said they love taking pictures of their knits to share with friends.
That’s one of the reasons I still love Instagram, even though the algorithm changes make the main feed less and less interesting over time. I still love seeing pictures of new projects, telling my friends how beautiful their stitches are, gushing over new colorways from dyer friends, and otherwise participating in the joyful give and take of sharing yarny pursuits.
Sharing Photos of Our Knitting Helps Spread the Word About Patterns
The smallest group of respondents indicated that they shared photos because they’re test knitters and want to help spread the word. I confess, that’s a huge part of why I share my own photos now as a designer: I want you to know what I’ve got coming next! You’ll never know about what patterns I’m releasing if I don’t share pictures of them in various places.
And, without wishing to toot my own horn too much, I think they’re pretty great patterns and would love for you to know about them.
Three Quick Photography Tips for You
In the last 15 years, I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks for making my knitting photos look better. Here’s a little video tutorial I shared on Instagram today, which includes three of my favorite tricks for using flowers in flatlays.
I’d love to hear about your own journey with photographing your projects. Do you enjoy the process? Does it feel like a necessary evil? It is another creative outlet for you? Please drop a note in the comments, and let’s chat!