How to Knit Lace with Regency Style
Of Manatees and Models
If you’ve never attended a magazine photo shoot, it’s hard to imagine all the chaos. For the location hosts, it’s like dealing with your teenager’s friends coming over (or a home invasion by clumsy cat burglars): a bunch of people pile into your house or garden, strew their belongings all over the place, and move furniture around without asking for permission. Models zoom in and out of the makeup chair, the wardrobe department, and the camera zone. Finally, the editor has to be everywhere at once to confer with everybody: approve hair, makeup, and outfits; brainstorm on photo staging; ensure we get shots of all key details—oh, and keep everybody on task without turning into a tyrant. That was my job for Jane Austen Knits, 2015.
I’ve managed lots of complicated situations before, and have always relied on stupid humor to glue a team together. So I fell back on my old standby this time. Anything that could get the crew laughing together was likely to build team spirit.
Fortunately, the craziest, silliest moment occurred about a week before the shoot, in the research phase. The nineteenth-century houses at Timberlane Farm Museum provided all the interior settings, complete with antique furniture and period decorative items. As the creative team discussed ways to stage one particular garment in the sitting room, our designer suggested that we could seat the model on the manatee. It was actually a settee, not a large marine mammal lolling on the rug, and he immediately realized what he’d said. But too late—we’d all begun to laugh. Naturally, his slip of the tongue became a running joke, and it ran for a long, long time. Everybody heard the story on shooting days, and back in the office, and so on. By the time Jane Austen Knits went to press, we were all using the two words interchangeably without even noticing anymore. Someday I will visit Florida and ask to pet and feed the settees; this is what happens when we internalize erroneous word substitutions.
When you page through the magazine, you (hopefully) will gasp over the wonderful historical articles and the gorgeous knitting projects. If you know how to knit lace, you’re going to be thrilled. If you don’t, you can learn here! (You can also order a kit for the Garden Walls cover project, with luscious Handmaiden Mini Maiden yarn.) Maybe now that you know about the shoot’s backstory, you’ll also imagine us laughing as we try to position an elegant model on a sea cow.
Erm . . . a very serious model takes her seat on the manatee. She’s wearing Susan Crawford’s Surplice. Manatee ©iStockphoto.com/lemga; background illustration ©Vectorstock.com/fireflamenco