Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lost in the Woods part I

Some of my favorite forest photos are from the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia.  I had my nice camera, my nice hiking shoes, and my nice husband who happened to have a nice topographic map, and we set out one early afternoon around 1 PM for a nice hike.  Within the first 30 minutes we realized that this was not going to be a "clean" hike.  Other than being covered in mud from slick, wet paths (ski slope trails in the summer), we found that many of the trails were not marked and made quite a few circles around the ski slope trails before we finally got to the entrance of the wilderness.

In spite of the minor obstacles, we were truly enjoying our little hike.  The weather was cooperating relatively well and the surroundings were absolutely breathtaking!  A few hours went by quickly as we witnessed amazing changes in terrain, foliage, and biomes.  We laughed at a delightful, yet feisty little snake, picked a few wild blueberries, and fondly talked about the bears in the area and how they must enjoy such delicious blueberries.  

Two more hours went by as we hiked along, still enamored with our surroundings but less enchanted by the lack of signs and marked trails.  In fact, after the big sign at the entrance, we only saw one other sign.  Occasionally we saw a weird rock pile, sort of a totem indicating that the trail was of some importance.  Or perhaps someone was just really bored.  In addition to being poorly marked, the trails also had a tendency to turn into nothing more than streams, weeds, and piles of rocks.  Regardless, we kept getting out the topographic map to plan how to get back to the entrance.  It was getting late and we were tired, hungry, and wanted to get back to our cabin with the rest of our family.  

We ran into very few humans during our hike.  The first small group was at the entrance picking blueberries and riding horses.  The next group we encountered hours later at a campsite, a group of college guys in some wilderness-related club.  The third person we encountered around 8 PM, cooking over a campfire and seeming quite confident in his wilderness skills, appropriately dressed with just enough gear to look experienced but not going overboard.  When we asked if we were going in the right direction, he kindly gave us the facts.  NO.

WE WERE WAY OFF THE TRAIL AND THE MAP!  There were 2 ways to get back to the entrance.  The first option was to simply backtrack the way we came.  Of course, there was nothing simple about hiking 4 hours back over a series of trails that led us into oblivion.   The second option was to keep going and climb the mountain ahead.  It was a shorter route but well known for being stocked with many bears.

My husband looked over at me to get my opinion and discovered that I was no longer there.  I was already on the trail heading back the way we came, moving forward at warp speed with determination to get back to our cabin.   We had no cell phone reception so our family had no idea what had happened.  Having packed our bags for a "day hike," we were almost out of water, completely out of snacks, and in my case, totally out of patience.   I was going to walk and walk and walk in the dark until I got home.  I wanted to see my children!

To be continued... see Lost in the Woods part II aka Some Who Wander Actually ARE Lost

Monday, September 9, 2013

Speak, Little Friend, and Enter

September in central Virginia means slightly cooler days, a little less humidity, and at times, fewer mosquitos.  This inspires me to be a little more productive outside, pulling weeds, planting winter vegetables (hopefully the bunnies will not confiscate the entire lot), and engaging in practical activities such as transforming our trees into little gnome homes.  

I wish I could say that I used all found objects to make this little abode, but I did not.  I went to Michael's, originally seeking yarn.  One does not simply walk into Michael's.  Its sliding gates lead to more than just yarn.  Anyway, you get the idea.  There is a section with a bunch of wooden thingies, precut in every shape you can imagine.  I also picked up some Martha Stewart glow-in-the-dark paint, but so far the glowing effect hasn't impressed me.  Of course, I added white to the yellow paint because I wanted the glowing windows to look quaint and cozy, like a warm fire is crackling inside, not a toxic waste spill.  If I had used the paint straight out of the bottle and layered several coats, perhaps I would have glowing windows.  
Bunnies Triangulating
Naturally, I could not stop at one.  In several weeks I hope to have a bountiful crop of broccoli, kale, onions, garlic, and gnome homes.  More than likely, we will have a bountiful crop of ravenous bunnies.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Strings and Stitches part II

See Strings and Stitches part I.
I still stink at sewing bodices that fit and using a sewing pattern is not my cup of tea.  However, I have discovered that I can CROCHET bodices much better than I can cut and sew!  This has taken my dressmaking skills to a whole new level of the Molly Weasley school of stitching!

I love these basic dresses for summer, especially to wear over top of a swimsuit.  They dry easily on a hot day!  You can even leave them out for winter with a turtleneck and some cute leggings.

I'm horrible at writing patterns, but honestly all you need to do is single stitch crochet and keep a child nearby for measuring.  I use cotton yarn, so I make sure it's a little snug because it will stretch some with wear.  If you need a pattern, I looked up a few for you on Ravelry...
Beautiful Red Dress
Kindergarten Dress
How to Crochet a Child's Dress

Along the bottom of the bodice, I usually do a small shell stitch and along the top and the sides of the straps, popcorn stitches.  Most popcorn patterns call for 5 double crochet stitches, but I make a more petite edging for these by using 4 half double crochet stitches.

I have actually washed these and they held up, but remember cotton yarn is going to fade a little.  If you are going for rich, bold colors, you may want to look for another fiber.

Spending less time worrying about the exact cut and stitching of the bodice allows me to be more creative and experiment with the skirt (see "hobbit dress" below).  I actually used wool yarn for this bodice because I knew it would be worn over top of a blouse in October.   After this photo was taken, I took the straps up a bit because, well... they needed it.

I did not make the bunny (lamb) costume!

Notice the "furry" hobbit feet!

Of course, crochet works beautifully with tulle!  

 For very basic and amateur instructions, see How To Make a Butterfly Fairy Dress.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Gothic Horror

 Something wicked this way comes...
Scarlet Grove print with quote

Sleepy Hollow stemless wine glasses

Ichabod ornament

Sleepy Hollow print

Crimson scarf
Edgar pilsner glasses

These can be unearthed in my Etsy shop.