Mushrooms in the Redwoods - A lesson in low light photography

My sister and I went to the Redwoods the other day to scope out some wedding locations for her. There were the most adorable assortment of mushrooms everywhere! And banana slugs! We stopped counting at 20. They're pretty gross actually. Good thing they're yellow, or they'd be really gross. 
It was a nice sunny day, but the forest was dense enough to make it quite dark, which posed a photography challenge for me. I have the least steady hands in the universe so I shot the majority of these at 1/250, f1.8 with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens. For the more blurry ones I used a macro filter, thus the blurriness. That is something I really have to practice with. But I really love the way these look, even with the blurriness. Adobe Lightroom really came to the rescue enabling me to brighten them up. I highly recommend it and it's not even that expensive!


Bulky Mountains - Free Crochet Pattern

Coming back at you this week with a free crochet pattern! These mountain pillows are quickly hooked up with super bulky yarn, like Wool Ease Thick & Quick. I love the thought of a colorful bed or couch full of mountain pillows!
Also included in the pattern are instructions to make a super awesome Mountain Range pillow! I stole this yarn from my sister. She didn't mind at all though and kept exclaiming "I can't believe you finally found a use for that awful yarn!" It's pretty awful, indeed, but it works as a mountain. 
I could also see these looking cool as colorful triangle pillows, without the snowcaps, triangles being tout le rage and all.

Download the pattern:


D.I.Y.O.D.S (or why you should be an autodidact)

Looking back on my life, I realize that I've always been an autodidact. As a student I was a "satisfied santos": I was happy just getting by in some areas, but when confronted with a subject I was passionate about I excelled. I took it upon myself to practice more and find more information about these subjects. Later as a science instructor, I quickly discovered that teaching is the best way to learn. When teaching others, you're also teaching yourself! And now, more than ever, I thrive on finding new hobbies and crafts to try. I've really become passionate about self-learning and I think you should to. Here's why!

Be as fickle as you wish!
If there was ever a fickle pickle, it was me. I become disinterested in things very quickly sometimes. Say you're taking a class or a seminar, and you realize it's just not for you. Calling it quits could be rude, a waste of money, and possibly downright just not possible. When you take it upon your self to learn a new skill or idea, you can stop whenever you like. Or you can pick it back up if you change your mind again! 
On a whim I started playing with some clay and made a little giraffe. In the process I learned a bit about how polymer clay behaves and how to paint with acrylics. I took these lessons and made some more animals. The mood to sculpt and paint doesn't strike very often, but when it does I just pick it back up from where I left off. 

It's cheap(er)
Classes are expensive. School is even more expensive. Online classes are a little better. But the best tools an autodidact has are absolutely free: youtube and google. Back when Al Gore was inventing the internet, he obviously had autodidacts in mind. His vision was for it to be a world-wide, self-propelled university. With cat videos. Ok, maybe that's not true but that's basically what it is. Anything you want to know, you can find online. Heck, anything you don't want to know you can find online.
Granted, some hobbies themselves can get quite expensive. Photgraphy is a big passion of mine right now. Equipment and software isn't cheap. But all the information I need to learn how to use that equipment and software is free for the taking. It may take some honing of your search word skills, but it's there.

Create your own syllabus
Who can resist an adorable amigurumi with huge eyes and a little smile? You don't need to know how to crochet every type of stitch to make 1 pattern. If there's ever a stitch or technique that you don't know all you have to do is google it or look it up on youtube. Voila! You have what you need for that specific project. 
Once you've built up enough knowledge you can take it wherever you want! Make your own patterns. Build your own website. Fix your own car! 
You never know where it will take you!
Start a new business venture, create a lifelong passion, end up on TV! Exploring your passions and potential can have amazing results. 
I used to play The Sims 2. One day I saw a video someone had made using the game. It was like a mini movie and it blew my mind! "I can do that!" I thought. "I want to do that!" So I did! I started making my own Sims movies, or machinima. A year later I was contacted by The Sims advertising agency, asking me to make some stories and movies for magazine print ads and television commercials! A few months later, I was actually working at Electronic Arts making video content for The Sims 2. 

You really have nothing to lose by becoming an autodidact. Try new things. Seek out knowledge! Go forth and D.I.Y.O.D.S (do it your own damn self).


How To: Magic Ring (or Adjustable Loop)

Lately, I've been making a lot of amigurumi patterns that start off with this "chain 2, single crochet six times into the first stitch" mumbo jumbo. I will always go with a magic ring over this method because, for me, it's easier and doesn't leave that annoying little hole in the middle of the ring.
All of my crochet patterns start with a magic ring, so I thought I'd share how I do them. So let's go!
Start by looping the yarn around two fingers, so that the working yarn crosses in front of the end (1). Flip your hand over and insert your hook under the loop on your fingers (2) and pull the working yarn through (3). Flip your hand back over. You now have one loop on your hook (4).
Carefully slide the yarn off your fingers (1) and grab hold of the ring (2). Yarn over with the working yarn (3) and pull through the loop on your hook (4). Now you're ready to begin making single crochets.
Put the hook through the ring that your left hand is holding and yarn over (1). Pull the yarn back under the ring. You now have 2 loops on your hook (2). Yarn over (3) and pull the yarn through both loops on your hook (4). That was your first single crochet! 
One Single Crochet in the ring:
This is where patterns will differ. Most will have you make 6 single crochets into the ring. So repeat the 4 steps above 5 times for a total of 6 single crochets. 
Pull the end of the yarn nice and tight to close the ring and voila! That's a magic ring. 
But let's not stop there. You'll notice a little bump at the beginning of the round. Just ignore that. The first stitch is directly to the left of the bump. Most of the time, you'll be increasing around the ring. I've single crocheted 2 times in each stitch...
...to make a total of 12 stitches. 
Ahhh. I just love the look of a nice, tight magic ring (lol). As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Why not practice with some heart arrows? That's right! They use magic rings!
Good luck on your magic ring endeavors and thanks for stopping by!


Heart Arrows: New Crochet Pattern!

Valentine's Day is coming up and I'm certainly not one to to buy into the red roses and chocolates hullabaloo. I was trying to think of a nice little gift I could make for my loved ones for Valentine's Day but I just couldn't find that perfect thing. So I made my own, of course! These heart arrows are the bee's knees and I'll tell you why. Not only are they an awesome diy for Valentine's Day, but they could be made and given year round! And my mind just reels with the possibilities here: make a mobile for baby's crib, make a whole quiver of them and give them instead of a bouquet of flowers, line a vase with heart arrows, arrange some on the wall as an art piece... I could go on! But I won't.

Grab the pattern: