What is the Yarnscape? Part I

It's the question that drives us...

What is the Yarnscape?

(Bonus points for whomever caught The Matrix reference.)

For me, a yarnscape photo is an ode to the simple beauty of a new yarn.  It's a style of image that reminds me of a landscape, and it's become a ritual I do every time I start a new project.

Each stage of the knitting process is special. (Except maybe weaving in the ends.) But I love beginning a hand-dyed yarn project the most: selecting a yarn from a sea of wonderful possibilities, and then opening it up to find all the surprises it holds.  The places where colors blend together and speckles clump unexpectedly--it's like getting to know a delightful new friend. 

Beginnings are beautiful things. They’re the tank full of gas and the open road, a brand new notebook and a freshly filled pen. Reality hasn’t had time to intrude. All you see is the vast and exciting opportunity that lies ahead.
— Clara Parkes, The Yarn Whisperer

Before I start winding, I savor this moment with photographs. I try to set up a few shots that show the texture and the ways the colors play. It prolongs the anticipation and makes diving into the project that much sweeter.  It's kind of like landscape photography.

A successful traditional landscape photo has beautiful light and an immersive composition that makes the viewer wish they could walk in and find themselves right there, surrounded by all that.  Often the best light comes at sunrise or sunset, when the colors are richer and the lower light source (the sun) creates attractive contrasts of light and shadow, highlighting the textures in the scene. Landscape photos that include a hint of the foreground allow the viewer to feel close to the scene, too, because there's something in the shot that looks close enough to touch. 

My favorite shots of yarn do all the same, using directional light that adds depth, and a close-up, low angle to help the viewer experience the yarn's texture.  Using the warm light at sunrise or sunset can enhance the romance of the yarn moment, helping the image match the sentiment we knitters feel about a scrumptious yarn.


Sometimes it's fun to look down, too. Including top-down shots of a scene can provide grounding (with literal pictures of the ground) or an interesting study of the shapes of a detail. We can imagine reaching out and caressing what we see.

Above all, a yarnscape is an immersive image. It is intended to entice the fingertips of a knitter with tempting textural details and to invoke an emotional response with light and color. 


It's why I call this type of yarn image a "Yarnscape" and part of why I chose the name Yarnscaping for my blog. 


Some dyers have been calling their versions of these images #YarnSpaghetti, which is irreverently fun. But I think I'm sticking with #YarnScape. If you're feeling inspired to try your hand at it, will you use the tag, too? I'd love to see!


Yarn Credits:

  • 1 & 2 - Hedgehog Fibers Sock Yarn in "Malice"
  • 3 - Machete Shop sock yarn in "Grandma Willow"