Friday 10 October 2008

Toadstool house hunt

If you visited my blog on Wednesday you might remember I was looking for a certain something to inspire a knitted picture I'd planned. I spent an hour or more working my way through all manner of children's story books with little success. Then I found 'Winkie in Toadstool Town' and hoped my search was over. You see I'd been looking for fairy toadstools; the kind I remember reading about when I was a child. There seems to be great enthusiasm for all things toadstool at the moment have you noticed?
Unfortunately the cute little toadstool town in this book wasn't quite what I was looking for.
But the toadstool on the cover of this book for Brownies was just right, red with white spots.
What I wanted to find was a fairy house, a toadstool with a door and windows. So my search took me to the book I mentioned last week. 'Come Follow Me' by Gyo Fujikawa. Full of wonderful pictures of fairy folk I felt sure I'd have success. But no! The only toadstools in the book were on the cover. These were being used as garden furniture by the tiny lady who resides in a grassy bank, you can just see her emerging from her grassy house in the bottom right-hand corner. My search continued.

Then I remembered the ultimate toadstool Des Res.....Big-Ears' house. Thank you Enid Blyton, I knew you wouldn't let me down. A sweet little door with a lamp over it and tiny lattice window, perfect. And just look at those inquisitive beetles at the bottom of the picture.
In this second picture you can actually see inside the house. Those stairs look a bit close to the front door wouldn't you say? They wouldn't pass the planning regulations in our human world. By the way, that isn't smoke coming from the window, its steam; in the story Big-Ears is doing his washing.
I was not hopeful of finding any more toadstool homes when I picked up my old 'Pookie' book. You need a hankie for this story, its a real tear jerker. I opened the book.....

....and what a wonderful little toadstool village met my eyes. Traditional red with white spots, lattice windows and chimneys, the lot. And in between were the sweetest tree trunk homes with steps leading to front doors that were hidden between twisted tree roots. What a delightful place to live!
Having found illustrations of fairy toadstools I decided to search for toadstool shaped objects around the house. Surely I must have something! But I'm afraid the result of my searching was this rather pathetic group of three, one made of glass, one of made wood and the third, a well used cake decoration dating from the 1960s.
I almost forgot to include my mother's wooden darning mushroom. Everyone had a darning mushroom in 'the old days' and it was in constant use. I still use it from time to time.
So what about the real thing? Autumn is supposed to be a good time for fungi so I was certain I'd find plenty of examples around the garden and in the wood. After much searching I found two lonely toadstools on a pile of wood chippings.

I've never seen a red and white spotted toadstool in the flesh. Sadly it has the rather ugly name 'Fly Agaric' because it was once used for poisoning flies. It is indeed very poisonous which is a shame because its such a beauty.
You can probably tell that I enjoyed my search for fairy toadstools as it brought back many childhood memories. In the end I decided to knit simple red and white fairy toadstools that would be small enough to fit on children's hats and scarves or something really tiny like a mobile phone or iPod cover. No windows, doors or chimneys in my knitted toadstools I'm afraid, there wasn't room! For added magic I've added a row of dancing fairies.
I've left the background white so that you can see the grid clearly.