27 October, 2011

Fun With Fungus

Wild Mushroom Show 2011
Every year the Puget Sound Mycological Society holds a Wild Mushroom Show and we decided to go to the 48th installment!  

This exhibit is one of the largest and most complete in the United States featuring over 200 varieties.  There were an incredible amount of shapes sizes and colors and has made me notice the mushrooms around me more.

Along with the mushrooms themselves there were chefs preparing samples, experts to identify any mushroom you brought in from home and even a section for yarn that had been dyed with mushrooms and lichen.  How cool is that?!

We had a good time and can certainly  see ourselves going again next year.  We're even considering joining PSMS to learn more about our fungal friends.

Below I'm sharing a few of my favorite specimens from the day.  Make sure you check out the color swatch for the mushroom/lichen dyes.  Pinks, purples, yellows, oranges and greens, who knew?!

Have a happy Thursday!

Tons of colors dyed from mushrooms and lichen!

24 October, 2011

A New Hat :)

One can never have enough winter hats and it's just in time for chilly Seattle weather.  I really love this design and am thinking of adding a pom on top.  It's made of 100% wool, the soft kind not the itchy kind so it's warm and cozy.  The pattern can be found for free on Ravelry.  The lattice is made with a Lattice Treble Cluster which is explained in the pattern.  This was a new stitch for me but was super easy to learn and may be a new favorite.  Cheers to winter hats and warm heads!

17 October, 2011

Pins, Nails, and String

I'm slowly and surely becoming a Pinterest addict.  Though my pins are few I like looking at other people's boards and typing in key words like "crochet" or "cute dresses".  Some times I'm sorely disappointed but other times I find wonderful new things.  I also love that the pin links back to the page of origin.  This means that my long list of bookmarks is being condensed in a visual way and as I'm a visual person that's excellent news!  The biggest and only substantial board I have at the moment is Things to Make.  The plan is quite simply to make some or all of these things.  Then I will create a "Things I've Made" board and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I am proud to announce the warm and fuzzies start now!  I've made something from the list and am going to share it with you!

Here is what I pinned,
Pinned Image

It's not so much the phrase but the method I wanted to try out.  Since this was my first attempt I didn't want to be too ambitious so I started small.  There was some scrap wood left over from a shelf we built so I grabbed a 5"x 9" piece, sanded, and stained it.

wet stain
sanded edges

My sanding job was embarrassing and lackluster.  You can especially tell in the second photo where the scratches in the wood really shine through but once dry they're less obvious.

The next task was to decide what to put on it.  I thought I would start with one word and the first thing that came to mind was "VOID" because the word would be spelled out of the void left by the string.  Aaron said this was very 'meta' of me.  I took that as a positive review so I decided how big it would be, sketched it out, marked crucial nail spots, and started hammering away.  For the nails I used wire nails size 3/4 x 18 they are small skinny and still have heads so the string won't be able to slip off.

105 nails later here's what I had.

nail forest

Just rip the paper off and voila!  Can you see the VOID?  It's okay if you can't, it will become clear in about 5 seconds.

Now for the string!  Here I used doily thread for its slender width and muted color.  I tried to connect each nail to every nail within it's range.  I don't think I succeeded at that endeavor but I came close enough and in between.  Most have multiple tethers to the same nail but who cares.  The final product is pretty neat.

It's hanging on our wall now and the coolest thing is walking by and seeing it at different angles.  The nail heads catch light differently depending on where you're standing and the lighting of the day.  This is an aspect I did not foresee but am happy to discover.

Lots of ideas are flowing through my head now of ways to transform this project.  Could I do silhouettes? Colors? Maybe string the letters themselves?  So many possibilities!

13 October, 2011


   Pinned Image     Chevron Print Schumacher Fabric
They've been around forever but apparently chevrons are IN this season.  I've been seeing them everywhere! I think it was first apparent to me when the blogs were all-a-flutter with Missoni for Target where people flooded the stores and emptied Targets across the country of all their chevrons and 70's inspired glory.  Even Heidi Klum was wearing a chevron shirt on the latest episode of Project Runway.  I thought I'd join in the chevron fun and create something new as well as show you an old chevron project of mine.

Lets start with the old.  Coming up on 4 years ago was the first Christmas Aaron and I were seeing each other. I came up with kind of a crazy idea for his Christmas present, a handmade afghan. I say crazy because we hadn't been together that long, I don't think our families even knew about each other yet.  Maybe I knew it was going to last or maybe it's what made him fall in love, the world will never know.  After countless skeins of yarn, movies, and single crochets I produced my first ever finished afghan and sent it off to Gloucester, VA where Aaron lived.  I still love the afghan and we use it almost daily, my only regret is that I didn't make it bigger because I think it would be spectacular covering an entire bed.

For my new project I acquired some discarded vases from the good ol' Goodwill.  The Goodwill closest to our house here in Seattle is the biggest one I've ever been in and has SO MUCH STUFF!  There's always a crowd when we go and always lots of new things.  The turnaround there must be incredible.  So I bought the  vases with the plan of crocheting or knitting around them.  At first I was going to do stripes but chevrons seem like they'd be more fun and since I already know how to crochet chevs it'd be simple to whip some up.  I made two but for the second, and larger vase, I made terrible color choices and crocheted the layers too thick so I won't be posting that failure online.

My original plan was to crochet all the way to the top but I got to this point and thought it looked great with the combo of clean glass and comfy yarn.  I think it's adorable and can't wait to get flowers for it.  The cozy comes off easy enough for when I need to wash the vase after use.  I also used acrylic yarn so it won't felt and will be easy to clean if need be.  I hope to make a little family of these vases but I need to go buy more and come up with a new game plan for the bigger one.

07 October, 2011

I Wish Totoro was MY Neighbor

I joined the Miyazaki fans of the crochet nation and made an amigurumi Totoro and his little friend from the film My Neighbor Totoro. Everyone and their mom seem to have crocheted a Totoro as there's a million posted pictures online.  A generous soul posted a free crochet pattern  but I decided I wanted to make up my own pattern.   For the most part I really like the way he turned out.  I love that I got the ears to narrow at the base yet still stand up but I'm disappointed that the nose isn't quite right.  I actually started him back in Portland where I finished his body, ears and face. He traveled to CA where I didn't do any work on him and then back up to Seattle where a few months after starting I FINALLY picked him up yesterday and finished him.  I even whipped up his little friend from the movie that perches on his head in the Studio Ghibli logo.  I would also like to make the little blue guy and some of Totoro's accessories like the leaf he puts on his head, his whistle or the umbrella.  All tasks for my never ending list of things I want to do. With all that said here is my Totoro contribution to the infinite abyss that is the internet.

Hooray! For another finished project!

04 October, 2011

Make tree rings not water rings.

About a week ago I decided to make a coaster that looked like a cross section of a tree, so I did.  I then decided I wanted to make a simple tutorial and post it on the blog, so I am.  You can't imagine my disappointment when I saw THIS a couple days ago. UGH!  The same idea! On Craftzine! And if you go to Pinterest and search coasters it's all over that too with raving reviews of how cute it is!  All I can think is, "That could have been me!"  though probably not since I don't have many readers yet but that's beside the point.  In the end hers are cute but I still prefer mine so I suppose that helps.  It would've disheartened me even more if I liked hers better.  So cheers to two people with a good idea and a slightly different interpretation.

If you would like to make my version you should first start by downloading and printing off the pattern.  This was my first time linking a document so I hope it works, if you try and it doesn't let me know.

brown felt
tan felt
brown thread or embroidery thread (I used regular sewing thread)

Step 1.)  If you haven't already printed out the pattern then do that.  Then use the pattern to cut the pieces out of felt.  
            Tip 1:  The border of the top piece and the bottom piece ARE THE SAME.  I would recommend cutting them out at the same time and then cutting the center out of one as the pattern shows.  It saves time and guarantees they'll match up.

            Tip 2:  The pattern I posted is a guideline to help you size your coaster.  You could make it bigger, smaller, groovier (as in you cut the grooves deeper and the ridges higher).  It's your coaster and your call.

Step 2.)  Stack the pieces as indicated on the pattern sheet.  Make sure you line up the top piece and bottom piece edges.

            Tip 3.)  If the heartwood (round tan piece) sticks out from between the other 2 trim it down a little but make sure it is still within the inner rim of the top piece.

Step 3.)  Sew the outer edge, you will be sewing the top and bottom piece together here.  The heartwood is not being sewn in yet.  Don't worry, it will be secure soon enough.

Step 4.)  Sew the inner edge of the top piece.

Step 5.)  Sew the rings in!  They don't have to be perfectly circular or evenly spaced.  The width of the tree ring tells you whether it was a good year for the tree or a bad one so give it some of both, it builds character.

            Tip 4.)  Sew rings NOT a spiral.  If you sew a spiral your arborist and plant scientist friends may get grumpy.

  VOILA! A coaster for a tasty beverage!

I hope my instructions are clear.  Now I'm going to deliberate whether or not I should pin my coaster on Pinterest to make myself feel better.  Is that wrong?  I haven't decided yet . . .