To all of you new knitters and crocheters, to all of you long-time knitters and crocheters and to all of you soon-to-be knitters and crocheters:

You MUST, MUST, MUST sign up for an account at Ravelry. It’s sort of a MySpace, Flickr, pattern store, organizational hybrid. You can do as little or as much as you want: search for patterns, see how other people’s projects turned out, see new yarns, dialog with others who have similar interests, and the list goes on, and on, and on.

One of my favorite things about Ravelry is that you can start a projects queue. I’m forever looking at things and saying, “I want to make that.” Now, when I see something I want to make, I stick it in my queue so I’ll remember. When I feel like starting a new project, I skim through my queue and my favorites to see what I have the yarn for, or what I have the yearn for. (hyuck, hyuck)

Since Ravelry’s still in beta, invitations are passed out in batches, so you won’t get immediate access. The wait isn’t too bad, though, and it’s completely worth it.

If you’re already on Ravelry, drop me a line!

(The picture for today’s post is a screenshot of my inbox with two messages I’ve been saving. Vickie Howell is one of my crafting heroes, and Jess – aka frecklegirl – is the co-founder of Ravelry. I was so happy when they friended me back. I often friend people on Ravelry so that I can read their blogs easily, yet another feature on this AMAZING web site.


Spring is here! (already)

And now for something completely different … (a knitting break)

Can you believe how warm it is down here already? I don’t know why the weather continues to surprise me, but the temperature has me in the mood to garden.

Last year was my first attempt at a vegetable garden. I didn’t have great success. My onions and cucumbers thrived and my peppers did so-so. I can’t seem to keep herbs alive for more than a few weeks.

At the end of the season, I let one of the cucumbers stay on the vine until it went overly ripe, then I scooped out its innards. I separated the seeds from the cuke flesh and put them in a little cup in the back of my refrigerator.

Just last weekend, I pulled the seeds out and planted them in some seed starter soil. I had very low expectations. In fact, so low that I planted several seeds in each cup, expecting few if any sprouts. One week later, my seeds are germinating! I took pictures of my most successful tray, and as you can see, in one cup, all three seeds I planted are sprouting!

Some friends have agreed to form a very informal gardening co-op. We’ve decided that we’re each going to put in a little extra of one item so that we’ll each have one thing to share. I intend to share cucumbers! Looks like we’ll have plenty!

Contest Time: I have some extra seeds I haven’t put into soil yet. The first two people to post a comment get a dozen cucumber seeds. I can’t promise they’ll sprout, but you have a pretty good chance it seems! (Don’t post your address, I’ll e-mail the winners.)

Happy Valentine's Day!

I did it! I finished all 32 hearts for my co-workers!

Rewind: about felting

By way of explanation, for those of you who’ve never experienced the joys of felting, here’s how you do it:

1) Knit something using a yarn with heavy wool content.
2) Stick it a washing machine with some blue jeans and a little gentle soap. If you’re really organized, put your project in a lingerie bag or pillow case to protect it … and to make it easier to fish out of soapy water.
3) Set the water level low and the temp hot.
4) After the tank fills, keep the washer agitating; i.e., don’t let it rinse.
5) Check your project every so often. Make sure you don’t overly shrink your project.

You can also needle-felt with roving, but I haven’t tried that yet. Another adventure for another day!

These pictures are a before-and-after of my husband’s clogs. I only made the tops because I’m going to sew suede bottoms onto them. Problem is finding the right size!

Warning: You should always felt a test swatch before committing your whole project to the washing machine! The item will shrink significantly, more so lengthwise than horizontally, so plan for that in your knitting (most felted patterns do it for you).

All You Need is Heart

These hearts are taking longer than I expected! I’ve tried several different methods, too. Here’s the break down:

1) The pattern calls for felting, so I grabbed a ball of Caron Felt-It I had laying around. I’m not overly fond of the yarn, so I’m happy to have a project I can use it up on. Since I didn’t want the hearts to be oversized, I used size 6 needles instead of the size 9s the yarn recommends. This helped me get gauge, but I forgot that tight stitches makes for bad felting. (see below). I knit two sides flat to felt, then sew up like the pattern states.

2) I thought knitting in the round would work, but as I neared the bind-off, I realized I’d have to pack the heart with filling before felting, which isn’t optimal. Regardless, i went ahead and did it.

THEN, I felted. Ugh, they just fuzzed up no matter how long I left them or hot the water or how many clothes I stuffed in for agitation.

3) I knit some flat and decided to forget felting. They look cute.

4) I tried knitting in the round again, sans felting, but the edging doesn’t look as nice.

5) I decided to turn them into little candy pouches, so now I’m knitting flat and not sewing the tops up. I’m giving them a little handle, like an ornament. I think this is the win.


Last-minute Valentine's project

I just decided today that I need to show some V-Day spirit, so I’m going to knit up enough tiny, felted hearts for my co-workers. It’ll help me bust through some variegated red and blue wool that’s been hiding in my stash. Here’s the free pattern I’m using: Mochimochiland Hearts Since my yarn is super bulky, my hearts will be a bit bigger. Just like in real life. 😉 Hopefully I can get a bunch done to felt and sew this weekend.

Vickie Howell made my day

This morning at work, I was doing some pretty rote stuff. As I’m prone to do, I popped in my iPod headphones and tuned into a podcast I had downloaded. I listened to Vickie Howell’s“Craft, Rock, Listen.” After three episodes, I had to swing by a bookstore on my way home to look at knitting books; no purchases, looking was enough.

For those of you new to knitting: Vickie’s got a great tutorial site

Random plug: Something else I like to listen to at work
This, too.