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A Family Heirloom April 22, 2014

Posted by Mitchell in Art, Crochet.
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As I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere my parents are downsizing and are starting to distribute some of their stuff to the kids. As I’m the only one living in the same city & state as they do naturally it’s mostly flowing my way. Here’s one such item. You’ll definitely want to clicken to embiggen this one.

Vikcers Beadspread

This is a queen size crochet bedspread made by my great-grandmother as my Mom and Dad’s wedding present. Let’s take a closer look at her handiwork.

Vikcers Beadspread Close Up
That’s an amazing level of detail in these sections.

Even closer:Vikcers Beadspread CU

I think this was made with #3 white cotton thread, maybe with a size 2 steel hook. I have no idea how long it took. I’m only just now starting to get into thread crochet so I have just a tiny glimpse of what it takes to make something like this. It’s both humbling and inspiring.

It doesn’t show in the pictures too much but there is some distinct yellowing present, particularly around the edges. Next weekend I’m going to hand wash it in my bathtub. Have any of y’all ever had any experience in washing something like this?

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The Morel Challenge April 18, 2014

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Ok, so the basic design of these things aren’t hard – kind of like a…uh…Christmas tree. Yeah, that’s it. A cone on a stick, easy peasy. So I whipped that up in no time. Morels top out at about seven inches and that’s how tall mine is. Shroots aren’t appropriate here so it’s heavy footing time. One problem I encountered with previous heavy foots is that the bottom of the forms invariably dome outward, making them not as stable as they could be. I figured out a solution, which I’ll share. These are done bottom to top so when starting out leave a long tail. Then about the midway point after you’ve put in your weighting material pull that tail tight and incorporate into the rest of the form by weaving in that end. This makes a nice, flat bottom that sits easily.

Footed, stuffed and closed, it’s now time to do the hard part: the soft, sponginess. At first I thought I would just meander all over the top, working back and forth a few rows. Yeah, that wasn’t going to work. I settled on using some crochet thread I had lying around, made a long tape a bit over a 1/4 inch wide of few rows of single crochet back and forth. I then sewed sections of these tapes in a meandering fashion. It worked out pretty good I think. Check it out (clicken to embiggen):

MyMorel

I think it compares pretty favorably to the first example picture in the post below. Here’s a closer look at the texture:

MyMorel2

It’s not quite done yet though. Next is to get out the airbrush and darken up those interior pockets and some light, warm yellows around the outside to make the folds really pop. I need some further instruction from Mr. King on this and he’s been a bit incommunicado lately. I hope everything’s ok.

Check back tomorrow, I have something really special!

A Shroom for a King April 16, 2014

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Not quite two weeks ago in the comments a request / challenge was posted by blog-friend Lemur King:

I will pay good money if you can do a morel mushroom. My dad is an amateur myco-gastronomist.

Um, ok. Leaving aside what “good money” might be I needed to know what morel mushrooms actually look like.

Morelmorel1

He tasks me. He tasks me…

These are but two examples of several varieties. All are pointy-ish and spongy with different shades of yellow, peach & pale white on the outside and deeper variants of those colors on the inside.

I looked for morel mushroom patterns online of course, but the very few examples I saw were terrible. So I just started to make my own morel mushroom.

 

A Humongous Fungus Among Us April 14, 2014

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Yes, it’s been a very long build-up to that headline, but it’s worth it I think.

 

The Shroom of Primes

The Shroom of Primes

This design actually has a concept behind it. Its structural elements are comprised of the first prime numbers: 1, 2, 3, 5, & 7. There is one central trunk, two branches, three caps each having three, five, and seven points to them. And of course, the three shroots. Yes, I recycled and reworked the previous Mitchshroom™ cap design for this one. I wanted to explore the versatility of the basic technique and it still has LOTS of potential.

Some notes about this one: I stuck with the same thicker wire gauge all throughout and that made things a lot simpler. Currently structured it’s right at two feet tall. For the filler I’ve used both poly-fill and cotton balls in the past. I don’t like poly-fill as it’s hell to try to stuff it in the smaller tubes, but I used it in this one. Next time around I’m going back to cotton, but I need to find something better than the balls. The top seven pointed cap got a bit too big and isn’t as stable as I’d like it to be.

This is a fantastic build but even as I finished it I realized that I reached the end of this particular material / structure paradigm….and came up with new one. This new system will make for faster, more expressive, and far more stabler builds. Also, the previous versions required that actually work around the wire structure – that’s REALLY annoying, particularly when the top is at eye-pokey level.

Folks, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Oh, and also you’ll see the albinos in glorious color soon too I hope. Next Thursday is the start of a five day weekend for me (woot!), time to bust out the airbrushes and procion dyes.

I also need to start working on new cap designs, I can’t always dip into this well.

Hmmmmm...

Hmmmmm…

A Tripodal Fungus Among Us April 11, 2014

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Ok, time to strike out on my own into new territory. There are lots of ideas tumbling around in my noggin and it’s time to shake a few loose. Also, it’s time to stop heavy footing around.

BEHOLD!

The Mitchshroom Mark I

The Mitchshroom Mark I

My first original design and it’s a beauty! There’s no weight in the bottom, the roots or legs (Shroots! I just made that up!) give this form fantastic stability on flat surfaces as well as the ability to cling to other structures. The shroots are made with the thinner gauge wire and it switches to the heavier stuff in the bulb section for the rest of it. That was a tricky bit of business to get that to work though. Let’s take a closer look at that cap.

ShroomCap

I’m really proud of this design. I only had a vague notion of what I wanted when I started out: something kinda droopy like the mycena, but not that droopy and more interesting than just a simple dome. I played around a bit with a pentagram without much luck until I added a variant of an increase / decrease technique I was using on a small throw and came up with this. Cool beans. Oh yes, I’ll be using this design again. I immediately started on the next one.

Time to take it to the next level.

An Albino Fungus Among Us April 10, 2014

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Yes…I’m still on this mushroom jag. One of the patterns I hadn’t done yet was this toadstool, and it’s easily one of the coolest of the designs I’d bought. But I wanted to make it bigger so I went up a couple hook sizes and made it taller with the wire. And I switched yarns.

Previous shroom for scale.

Previous shroom for scale.

It’s considerably beefier than the mycena but not as tall though. That cap is two layers thick and  WAAAAYYYY  heavier than the other one. I also tried something different with the wire, threading it into the form after I’d made it (before the cap though). It…didn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped. As a result it’s not as stable as it could be. Which brings us to the next point: why white?

I switched to plain white cotton for experimentation purposes. It’s inexpensive, easy to buy in large quantities and I don’t have to get hung up on colors. This all about form. Plus, I can always add color later. 🙂

A Better Fungus Among Us April 7, 2014

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The Sister Unit wanted a shroom for her house so I whipped up a near twin of the previous Mycena design with the remainder of that hank of Noro yarn, but with a twist – literally. Check out the bottom of the one on the left.
ShroomFamily

I simply did a coil instead of the heavy foot. I also used the heavier gauged wire. This design is a a lot more stable than the other and MUCH more versatile with poses as you can curl the bottom around anything handy and the stiffer wire doesn’t let it droop. Sweet! This started giving me other ideas too.

A Larger Fungus Among Us April 5, 2014

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This mushroom form is of a mycena. There are several varieties but they are typically tall and spindly with a narrow dome cap. As I wrote earlier I wanted to get bigger.

BEHOLD!
Maximum Mycena

Cool colors no? I have some hanks of Noro yarns lying around and thought they’d go great with mushrooms. They’re famous for the brilliant color ways and interesting textures. They’re perfect for natural forms. They’re also kinda pricey too.

The mycena in the previous pictures was made with pipe cleaners to give it some stiffness. That’s not nearly enough to support this kind of structure so I picked up some steel wire in a couple of different gauges. This was made with the lighter gauge. This type of construction uses what I call “The Heavy Foot”. To keep the thing from toppling over the bottom is packed with pennies. I used pennies or sandbags in the bottoms of all the other mushrooms in the previous picture too. Still, it’s a delicate balance to keep this thing free-standing upright. While making this one I had an idea for an improvement and started another one right after. Now I’ve started deviating away from the instructions in the patterns I bought. I call this design variation the Mark I.

Oh, and no I didn’t make that doily it’s sitting on. That would be the work of a great-aunt of mine.

P.S. Interesting mushroom yarn-bombing.

Fungus Among Us April 2, 2014

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There’s been a nasty fungal outbreak here in Casa Del Mitch. It’s my own fault really, I’ve been letting things slip. I took pictures, check them out:

20131212_105752-1 20131214_101628-1 20131214_102154 20131216_101032 Shroom1

Aren’t they delightful? I love mushrooms, both for eating and artsy stuff. As a pure natural form shrooms come in such a variety of shapes and colors but with a very simple formula: a stalk and a cap. This offers virtually endless possibilities to riff on the form. And riff I shall.

I made these from patterns I bough from the CAROcreated Etsy shop. I bought all of her mushroom patterns and they’re worth every penny. They’re very well done and easy to follow. Officially Endorsed. I didn’t strictly follow the color suggestions for all of them though.

Still, as fun as these are they left me with a scratch un-itched. I wanted to get some size to these things. And more color.

 

Up Against The Wall March 28, 2014

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Well I finally got it hung up last week and I finally got a decent picture of it to show you. Clicken to embiggen.

BEHOLD!!

CRWAOnTheWall

110 Year Old Antique Organ for Scale

I used velcro strips and they worked marvelously. I bought five yards of the stuff and sewed sections of the hook side in a radial pattern around the middle medallion and near the edges, with long strips near the top for maximum support of the whole thing. The fuzzy side had the sticky backing that went on the wall. With the help of a couple friends we were able to position it and stretch it out. Frankly five yards was complete overkill. Velcro is VERY resistant to shear forces and the sticky backing is also very sticky indeed. I could have used half of it. Oh well, it ain’t going anywhere and that’s what matters.

Now onto other things. There’s an outbreak of fungal growth in the house that I have to deal with.