Coral Cave Contest Submission

French artists, Cécile Brun are Olivier Pichard, are the duo behind Atelier Sento. I came across their work when I searched for examples of watercolor artwork using Sennelier palette. Their work is so happy to look at!

This is my submission for their Coral Cave contest, ending on Jan 2nd.

It was tons of fun to create this mini 9cm x 9cm square, inspired by their game. I love that they required all submitted artwork to be done with traditional media only. 

First, a sketch!
In progress...
Final piece - wish it were cleaner. I'm slowly getting better with watercolor. Slowly.  
Close-up. Media: pencil, colored pencil, and Sennelier watercolors on Arches CP paper.
Oh yeah, Happy New Year! But for me, the real New Year doesn't begin until Lunar New Year rolls around. January 1st is usually the opportunity for me to clean out the home to get ready for Lunar New Year. :-) 

Let's Be Like Our Fungi & Lichen Friends

Lichen dyes. Oooohhh ahhhhhhh!
They staged a forest setting, with real mushrooms! The one on the left dyes beautiful hues of warm orange and yellow.
This beautiful shade is extracted from a rare lichen
Wool dyed with mushrooms by a local spinner, creator. I resisted buying them!

The San Francisco Mycological Society has been holding their Annual Fungus Fair since the 70's! What captured the show for me were the few exhibits of mushroom and lichen dyes. To be clear, lichen are not mushrooms. They’re separate, distinct organisms that live symbiotically with mushrooms – beautiful relationships.

The dyes that can be achieved with lichens are captivating, and precious. Lichen can only be collected from the ground, off fallen branches or withered off a rock surface; never, ever peel it off a tree or rock! NEVER EVER!

Lately, my heart has been heavy with raw injustice domestically and abroad. Tea has really helped to calm and soothed my spirit. Feeling beat and tired from the emotion and tension that’s in the air? One to two cups daily of the following humble tea helped me...

2 parts chamomile
1 part nettle leaf
1 part roses

Add anything else that calms you (e.g. bit of lavender buds).

A small action that has great magnitude is simply to speak up when you hear or see injustice happening. Heard a micro aggression? Be an ally, and say something! You could be the critical voice in a situation, and enlighten others or plant a seed. 

Do you follow Humans of New York? Brandon Stanton is recording some of the stories of Syrian refugees who have been admitted into the U.S. Their stories strike my heart. My parents and relatives have told me stories since I was little about enduring war in Vietnam, and traveling sometimes harrowing journeys to leave. Over 450,000 Vietnamese refugees were provided citizenship in the United States.

I am so grateful for the Orderly Departure Program. I wouldn't be here (my parents met in San Jose, CA and I was born here), and I wouldn't be a U.S. citizen if it weren't for the fact that my parents were granted asylum. So far, the United States has granted asylum for less than 4,000 Syrian refugees. Let's hope this changes, and sign any petitions that come our way!

The Return of Knitting and My Search for Wool Tights

Paige Green Photography
Paige Green Photography 

Wool has really never left me. It’s been over a year since I’ve knit something with wool yarn, but I have wool with me every day: my dresses, skirt, socks, hats, sweaters (all secondhand from Etsy/Ebay), and even my underwear are wool!*

Of all the types of garments that I own, the most difficult to find is wool tights or leggings. I want wool tights or leggings that are durable, worthwhile to repair, and  from organically-raised, happy sheep. There’s nothing out there that fulfills my criteria, and if it did, it might be prohibitively expensive. I need to own a few pairs, and they can’t cost $95 each (SmartWool leggings are about that much last I checked).

Besides, I don’t want to own SmartWool leggings because they’re machine washable, which means all the fibers are actually coated in plastic! Fellow knitters may be familiar with this because yarn that’s undergone this treatment is called superwash. Can you say super gross? No thanks, I’ll take my yarn without synthetic treatments, please.***

My thoughts about yarn have changed since I last picked up a pair of knitting needles. I’m no longer interested in the softest, plushiest fiber. Right now, I want the yarn that feels, smells, and looks earthy. I want yarn that is alive!

Enter Full Belly Farm. In addition to growing amazing produce, they raise sheep for their wool and meat. They have a flock mixture of Ramboiillet, Lincoln, Suffolk, and Merino – the resulting fiber is soft, yet tough and hard-wearing. Their 3-ply worsted weight yarn is absolutely wonderful to work with. Can you see where this is going? 

Elizabeth Zimmerman has a pattern called “Nether Garments”** and with a few skeins of Full Belly’s beautiful brown yarn, I’ve been knitting up a storm. I’m about done with one leg (took a few days), and will begin on the other leg soon. My knitting muscles are reawakening, and are sore as a result, so I’m doing my best to listen to my body and to take many breaks. I’m on my way to having those wool tights, knit with yarn from happy sheep…at $10 a skein (250 yards)!

*I made myself a pair of undies from felted thrift store SmartWool sweater. It is absolutely divine to wear felted merino against your butt. DIVINE. There are sellers on Etsy who actually make these if you're interested. 

**I initially began to knit the Tights Pattern from Fibershed's Marketplace, designed by Kacy Dapp, but didn't enjoy the gaps in the stockinette (it's knit with size 10 needles). It wasn't keeping me warm enough! :-( 

***EDIT: Oh! I just learned on Ravelry's forums from another user who shared that Superwash wool can be processed in another way that doesn't coat it in plastic/resin. It's rather bathed in an acid bath, and the scales are stripped so that they cannot felt. That also sounds sad to me! :-( Oh well, it's preferably over the coating with plastic. Ick.