Thursday, September 29, 2011

early evening sun...

long shadows

natural dyed urchins

we have a lot of tall trees in our yard. i like tall trees, but for many reasons i wish they weren't in our yard. it makes gardening almost impossible, as no area gets more than a couple hours of sun each day. the inside of our basement suite gets very little natural light. and at this time of year the yard is cloaked in shade before i get home from work. but sometimes too, as the sun creeps lower in the sky these days, it peeks below the trees and shines in areas that never see sun in high summer, with that warm glow of an autumn evening. i feel the need to soak up these little spots of light, revel in them as the days grow quickly shorter.

in one of these patches of golden sun and long shadows, i caught some new sea urchins. the setting seemed to suit their natural dyed colours. all three are hand dyed linen - the green from dandelion leaves, the middle pink from avocado skins, and the palest pink from beets. they are sitting with me for a bit, although if one catches your eye please let me know and i'm sure i can be persuaded to part with it.

hope your week is going well!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

just a word on foraging...

a comment from erica reminded me that i have been rambling on about foraging for mushrooms and other edibles, but not giving very helpful details about it. first off, i want to be clear that i don't harvest or eat any wild plants unless i can positively identify them. wild mushrooms especially are ones you don't want to putting in your mouth unless you are 100% sure what they are. while there are some wild edibles i have learned as i grew up from my naturalist mother (see salmonberries, huckleberries, blackberries, etc), there are others i am just beginning to learn, such as stinging nettle. with mushrooms, i have found it easier to become familiar with only a couple species at a time rather than learning them all at once. make sure you know a species backwards and forwards, especially if there are look-a-likes, and then even after you are sure and take it home, check again in a reference book or online. one of my favourite expressions is "there are old mushroom hunters, and there are bold mushroom hunters. but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters."

a few books i use:
Wild Harvest, by Terry Domico.
• Mushrooms Demystified, by David Arora.
Common Mushrooms of the Northwest by J. Duane Sept

there are lots of other good reference books out there, and obviously mine are a bit northwest-focused. Mushrooms Demystified is kind of the "bible" for 'shroom hunters, although it can be a bit overwhelming in its scope for a beginner. Lone Pine makes several guides for different areas of North America - i like these ones because they have illustrations instead of photos, which for me sometimes makes identification easier - something about matching a drawing rather than getting too stuck on your fungi looking exactly like one photo (i do the same with birds and other wildlife).

i hope that helps some of you that are looking to get into foraging. if you have any specific questions or something i wasn't clear on, please feel free to ask.

more time amongst the trees...

hanging on

moss and sunlight

little ones

forest light

amongst the mosses

don't let these photos, with sun dappled light through the trees, fool you: we had a very wet weekend. the wind howled long and hard for the first time this season, blowing down trees and leaving more than a few of us in the dark for at least a few hours yesterday (some for much longer). and the rain was occasionally epic, pouring down in monsoon sheets for long periods at a time. but in between, here and there, a bit of blue sky would appear, and a few shining sunny moments with it. like any good islander, we took advantage of these little windows as best we could.

mainly, we were hunting for chanterelles again. that would be the main premise by which i can get A to come out for a walk with me, anyway. but we all know i love to tramp through the bush with my camera handy, seeing what i can see. there were tiny mushrooms aplenty, and there are sometimes other curiosities. above are fragments of a deer skull, part of the jaw and top of the head (i believe that one pointed area at the top of the skull is where the antler attaches). they were in odd broken pieces, with no other signs of the animal left. allows time for wondering what carried them there, away from the other bones. treasures of the forest.

and you might think, with A "focused on the task" - as he put it - while i am flitting about with camera, getting distracted by light and plants and whatnot, that he would bring home a lot more mushrooms than i. we each had our own bag this time, since we tend to wander in separate directions, always within earshot but not always sight. and when done he knotted up his bag quite separate from mine, wanting to head home and weigh them to see who had been working harder. i will somewhat smugly report that i had the heavier bag, by just a hair.

new plaid for A

but the man had other things to make him happy this weekend, just in to head out into some of that wet and wind yesterday afternoon. a new toque to keep off the chill, in cosy soft merino. colourwork is not always my favourite, and i will be the one to notice where it puckers despite a good blocking, but still i'd count it as a success.


i'm not sure if it is the change in weather, or just overwork, but my hands and joints are aching a lot lately from stitching and knitting. so i'm feeling a bit slowed in my work, even as i try to fill up the shop as (hopefully) folks begin to have holiday shopping on the mind. please let me know at fogandswell[at]gmail[dot]com if there is something you are hoping to see soon, but otherwise i hope you'll forgive me while i wait for the ibuprofen to kick in! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

forest magic...

i DO believe in magic

more magic

the woods were very dark on friday evening, the sound of rain dripping through the trees our only company as the two of ambled along. at first i was a bit surprised how FEW mushrooms i saw popping up through the moss, but then i spotted a bit of forest magic. the above pinecones are a little ode to margie, and the magical mushroom-covered pinecones she posted last week. i was lucky enough to spot my own little fircone caps, just popping out of the douglas fir cones nestled on the forest floor. once i saw one, they were suddenly everywhere, little treasures to distract me from more serious mushroom hunting. luckily, A is used my easy distraction, and continued to wander ahead in search of what he came for.

polypores in the gap


the polypores, robust almost year round, seemed refreshed by the rain, increasing their numbers on trees and old logs. i think if we go out today, i will try to gather a few and see if i can get any dye out of them. i am watching especially for the dye polypore, phaeolus schweinitzii, but we get a lot of red-belted polypores around here that might be worth experimenting with. and there were a few little brown mushrooms (the ubiquitous LBM) sprouting up here and there. even at 5000 or 6400 ISO, much much higher than i would prefer to go, i was faced with glacier-slow shutter speeds in the gloomy forest, so many of my pics came out blurry.

forest gold

but what was the real prize of the night? just when we thought we might have come too early, or too late as we spotted a few patches already picked, we found some golden chanterelles beginning to poke through the moss. firm buttons, and some bigger ones unfurling, made for a good gathering and we returned home with nearly 2lbs of cantharellus formosus. oh yum. last night some was enjoyed with fresh local pasta, sauteed up with butter, cream, garlic and a few herbs, and okay, a little splash of rum. a few more i sliced up for the dehydrator, to save for later. we are hoping to head out again this afternoon and see what has emerged after the deluge of last night and this morning. something approaching sunshine seems to be peering through the clouds, but more rain is due tonight, which just means the fungi will keep coming!

tasty treats

how is your weekend going?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

big bear, little bear...

big bear, little bear

big bear and little bear have been debating all morning, about whether they should go down to the river and fish for salmon, or stick a bit closer to home and plunder that apple tree heavy with fruit. i tried to explain that perhaps they should each do their own thing, as when food actually enters the scene i suspect the two of them won't be as cordial. but then they both checked the forecast and wondered instead if i might be persuaded to pull some berries out of the freezer and make them a nice crumble. we'll see...

grizzly bear

this curmudgeonly grizzly bear is hand stitched in brown linen and stuffed with locally sourced alpaca. he has a wooly coat to keep him warm, of repurposed and natural dyed wools and tweed, with a silky nose. if you'd like him to come home and prowl through your refrigerator, he is available here. then again, you might be able to persuade him to just take a long winter's nap with you, dreaming of the raincoast forests and mountains through which he likes to roam.

black bear no. 2

little black bear is stitched in repurposed wool, with soft alpaca fleece around his shoulders to keep off the autumn chill. he is a bit more timid than his burly companion, but still welcomes treats or a spot to keep an eye on what you're up to. he has been known to offer advice, but most of it relates back to what might taste good for dinner. he seems to be making moves on my honey jar, so he's looking for a new home here.


our wander through the woods last night seemed to be fairly uneventful until we stumbled upon a sizeable patch of chanterelles pushing through the mossy duff. i'm trying to plan some dinner with those tasty morsels (and keep the bears out of them!), but i'll be back soon to share some photos from our wet forest walk and a bit of magic that was found. happy saturday!

Friday, September 23, 2011

autumn's here...


...and yet the first thing i noticed when i stepped out the door was how mild it was. after the temps dropped down earlier this week while we had some clear skies, they have soared up again quite a bit since the rain set in the last few days. still, it is wet and windy and it is surely not summer anymore, even as the sun tried to poke through here and there. it even snowed a little bit up at the local ski hill last night - a very early start indeed. but back up a few days to when it was still summer, technically, although i think these shots feel very fall-like. a walk along one of the local rivers, keeping and out for salmon migrating upstream to spawn, along with the big furry beasts that are looking for salmon too! keep in mind your view of this walk will probably be a lot more peaceful than the real thing - there is no audio of my niece and nephew bickering with each other and whining along the way! (seriously, i do love them just the same!)

looking for fishies

waiting under maple leaves

here fishy fish

river rocks

big humpy


i plan on enjoying this solstice evening with some exploring in the woods, keeping an eye out for tasty morsels and other curiosities. and some more of the same this weekend. we had hoped to head to the west coast for a last camping trip of the year, but the rainfall warnings have scared off even us fairly hardy campers. too bad, i was really looking forward to some misty days at the beach. i will have to keep my exploring closer to home, where i can get wet and cold but still have a dry house to come home to with a fresh pot of tea.

fungi on maple

and inline with the trundling bears above, there will be a couple new bears heading in to the shop tomorrow - i will let you know when they are up. autumn is in full swing, and i aim to get some more woodland items in there shortly, but possibly a whale or two will sneak in as well. wishing you all a happy fall!


a few more things:
• did you see smitten kitchen's take on tomato soup & grilled cheese? it was every bit as delicious as i thought, perfect for rainy fall evenings.
• i've also got my eye on two different autumn cake recipes: this harvest cake from roost, and a spicy pumpkin bundt cake from martha.
• i have whittled away my knitting pile to just finishing up a hat for A, which means i can start plotting this awesomely slouchy hat for me! autumn is all about new toques in our house.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

wordless wednesday*

sunset over grasses

climbing in the shade

late afternoon light



*it hasn't started yet, but it looks to be a very rainy day, and for the foreseeable future too. made me want to take a little trip back to the sagebrush of eastern washington, even if only in photos. thanks for joining me!

Monday, September 19, 2011

ochre stars...

ochre stars

i was working on some other items for the shop today, but sitting in the crisp nearly fall sunshine inspired me to stitch up a couple of ochre stars, one purple and one orange. these little fellows always make me smile. you can find them in the shop.

thanks for all the kind words about my cardigan! hope your week is starting well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

golden autumn...

aidez - side

aidez - back

we are not quite into woolen layers weather yet, i don't think, but i know what i'll be wearing when we get there! late this week, when i probably should have been doing so many other things, i finished up the last stitches of my aidez cardigan and then forced myself through the seaming. i was a little concerned it might be too snug, but after blocking it it seems to fit well. if i were to do it again, i'd probably try to add a few stitches in the biceps, 'cause apparently i've got such huge pipes - ha! i feel like i've ended up with several cardigans that are quite slouchy and shapeless - which have their place - so i'm quite happy to have one a bit more fitted now. full details can be found on the ravelry page (link above), but a few here: knit from squishy soft cascade eco+. this is my first try with this wool and i love it. awesome stuff. i actually have an entire skein and a bit more left, so i'm debating what to do with it. i'd love to make a squishy hat, although somehow i'm always reluctant to have two different pieces out of the same yarn, even if i have no plans to wear them anywhere near each other. we'll see - maybe i will knit something for someone else!

ETA: i almost forgot to say - the wool & wood brooch i am wearing is from the very talented Lisa at lil fish studios. when i ordered it a little while back and it arrived in the mail, i knew right away it would be perfect with this cardigan, that i had only just started on at the time. check out her work if you are not familiar with it - all of it stunning!

aidez - detail

our walk on the river today was nice, even if i was a bit disappointed not to spot any mushrooms. the forest floor was very busy with slugs though, all sorts and sizes. has got me thinking i need to stitch up some more. the original banana slug resides with my friend Em, and i got to see it again last week. i don't have a real inclination to touch any of the slugs i see in the forest, but i do find them quite fascinating, and i really liked making the first one.

the trail today was also "decorated" quite well with many piles of bear scat. we did spot a couple of bears (maybe just the same one twice), but they were on the other side of the river, where it was nice to be able to watch them but be slightly less concerned about them being a danger to us. and of course there were lots of fish. i think in years past we have gone a few weeks later, where the fish are really coming in droves, and the *ahem* fragrance of them is strong in the air as many have already spawned and died, or been dragged into the woods for eating. there was very little of that today though, which made it a more fresh air walk - ha. i'll share a few pics later this week.

now back to cooking dinner. i wish i could share more shots of the food i make, but the near lack of natural light in my kitchen combined with the general late hour i usually make dinner precludes that most of the time. so i'll share a few links instead:
• last night i made a batch of one of my favourite soups, this kicked up coconut split pea soup, which we ate with this oat soda bread i had made in the morning.
• and tonight i'm making pizza x 2. no real recipe to point you to, but one has cottage cheese, assorted peppers (spicy & sweet), a few 'shrooms, tomato and hot calebrese and is baked my usual way on the pizza stone. the second uses some magic sauce with spinach, mushrooms, garlic and bacon and i'm trying out cooking it in my cast iron pan thanks to an idea i spotted on pinterest.
hmmm, the above shows that i am distinctly settling in to winter hibernation mode, and my waistline is going with the rest of me. nuts. best get back out to hiking through the bush in search of mushrooms!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

popping up...


drip drop


crackled caps

forest cauliflower

only a couple days of rain so far, not enough to thoroughly soak the forest floor. but still, things are beginning to appear. i went for forest walks twice this week, assessing the lay of the land and eagerly keeping eyes peeled for treats and treasures of the fungi persuasion. nothing to eat yet, except that big cauliflower mushroom above; unfortunately, many creepy-crawlies had beaten me to it. ugh. but that's okay, they will all come in time, and i am enjoying watching the woods gain back their lush, over-saturated appearance, knowing there will be something new to see each time i venture into them. if you know the names of any of these, please chime in - i only know that the second from the top is a red-belted polypore fomitopsis pinicola, and the bottom is a cauliflower sparassis crispa.

autumnal tones

autumnal tones are everywhere now. above is a recently finished custom sea urchin in rusty/creamy tones. last night i finished my handknit cardigan in its dreamy golden colour - it's blocking now but i will share soon! and the maple trees have starting changing colour with a vengeance.

what are you up to this weekend? A started work earlier than usual today, which meant i got up a nice early hour and am well into my day. i'm just waiting for some oat soda bread to come out of the oven and am trying to organize all the other things i want to get done today. post office, recycling, blackberry picking, and hopefully a good bit of stitching in too. and while i am enjoying the new rain this week, it's nice to look out and see a large swathe of blue this morning. saturday is off to a good start!

i am a bit back-logged on photos i would like to share with you, but tomorrow we are headed up island a little bit to meet my sister and kids for a walk we try to do each year, along a river where the salmon come up in large numbers to a local hatchery. it is always a pretty walk in the woods, and a joy for all of us young and old(er) to watch the thousands of fish moving upstream. so those will probably be first to come, but who knows?! fall is my favourite, and i'm sure my camera will stay busy!


Lisa has been playing with acorns, both cooking and dyeing with, so i may need to go find some more to try this as well!
• Margie is having an awesome giveaway that you should go enter.
• and since autumn is a knitter's favourite season, i really like Jenna's knitter lore.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

just like that

acorn bunch

fallen treasures

that light

it's fall. yesterday was hot and sunny; today, well it's not. today it is 10 degrees cooler, overcast. a bit of heavy mist/drizzle fell this morning. the first two weeks of september have been probably the best weather we have had all summer, but it was bound to make a shift at some point.

and apparently i don't need much encouragement to slip into that autumn state of mind. i wore a scarf today (albeit with a tank top) - one of my cool season staples. i'm roasting up some farmers market acorn squash and corn and peppers, to put into some sort of comforting coconut curry that i haven't worked out all the details for yet. i've turned on some nina and friends while i prep the food. and i'm contemplating cracking open that bottle of red that's been sitting most of the summer (i just can't do red wine in the hot months). lastly, how could i not check out buffy in her new tv show tonight? yes, i enjoy my tv, and the fall season is here.

what about you? are you ready for fall? what is your favourite part of it? (and don't think i'm not also scrutinizing the precipitation forecast and trying to determine the best day to head into the woods in search of the first mushrooms.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

full moon rising...

just set

against the tide

nearly full

a few shots from a glorious evening paddle the other night, a beautiful night with two friends exploring the estuary at high tide (and then paddling against the current of the outgoing tide to head back up the river to our start point). the moon was beautiful rising up as the sun set. it's full tonight, i think - might have to make a point to go look at it again.

other things on a monday morning:
• i've already been to the beach, where i snapped some shots of my Plush You pieces. yay, i'm done! now i just need to write up descriptions to email to Schmancy, and package them up to send to Seattle this week.
• the beach was beautiful, although the sun was already high in the sky at 9:30, and the heat building fast, so i didn't snap too many more photos before leaving.
• but i did stop again just a short way up the road to pick another bucket of blackberries - i think i'm closing in on 10lbs so far.
• further along, since i was already way out that way, there was another short detour to pick up acorns where they had gathered below the massive garry oak trees in a local park.
• i also made another stop and finally bought a small chest freezer at a really good price, so i have lots more room for berries and other things, to store up during this harvest season to carry us through the winter with goodness.
• i'm really eager to start using the freezer, but think i have to wait for A to get home from work later, to help me carry it from the truck to the house. it was hard enough to get in the truck by myself.
• until then, if you should need me, i'll be hiding in the house or in a shady spot outside. our heat wave is slowly easing back into more seasonally appropriate temps, but it still looks like a pretty hot, sunny day out there. so for now, i will make a lunch smoothie, with a few of those blackberries i just picked!

hope your week is starting well!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

dyeing and foraging...


happy weekend all! we are settling in for another scorcher day, so i am hiding out in our basement suite which stays nice and cool for the most part. i may try and find myself a shady patch outside to sit and stitch in a moment, but first i wanted to share some recent natural dye results with you. my mom had given me a beautiful bouquet of red dahlias from her garden a while back, but after they were enjoyed and the flowers shrivelled up, i saved the heads. after soaking for a few days in water, i had a murky brown liquid to work with - that is what you see on the left with some fabrics dyeing away. i also mentioned a couple weeks ago that i had gathered a bunch of oregon grape berries on a forest walk. after simmering in a pot for a hour or so, i strained the liquid and used that for my second dye batch (on the right).

natural dyeing

i think i ended up with some lovely autumnal colours, an almost dusty rose from the berries and a nice golden tone from the dahlias. with the berries i dyed silk, wool and washing linen, and the dahlias just the wool and linen. i need to mordant some more fabrics soon so i can try dyeing with mushrooms (if it ever rains again so we can get some 'shrooms). you may have seen in my friday flickr faves some gorgeous fungi dyeing from Lisa that i am in awe of.


and to some other berries that i definitely am not dyeing with - blackberries! this heat is making the berries quite happy and they are ripening all over the place. i hope to get out and pick some more this afternoon. i am filling up the freezer (okay, and also filling up my belly) for winter baking and smoothies, but a couple friends and i have also hatched a plan to take a large crop over to the local u-brew place and make some blackberry wine. yum.

okay, best get back to my stitching - this piece is taking too much time and i am feeling the deadline crunch! must finish this weekend so i can send my pieces of to Schmancy for Plush You!