Category Archives: Gardening

5-12-2019: Free Picot Stitch Crochet Tutorial; New Candle Making Book; A Brilliant Writer You Should Know About; More

Hello friends! How are y’all doing today? What’s new with you? Happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are mamas. 🙂

I have been writing articles, updating old pages on my websites and writing new ones. Here are a few more of the details about what I’ve been up to:

Free Picot Stitch Crochet Tutorial

How to Crochet Picot Stitch -- Free Picot Stitch Tutorial

How to Crochet Picot Stitch — Free Picot Stitch Tutorial

This isn’t a brand new tutorial — but at the time I originally wrote it, I somehow forgot to blog about it. (I did tell my newsletter subscribers about it.) If you missed seeing it the first time around, I hope you’ll enjoy it now.

A Lovely Candle Making Instruction Book Featuring EASY Projects for Beginners

Candle Making Basics, Published by Stackpole Books

Candle Making Basics, Published by Stackpole Books

My friend Mari makes the most amazing scented candles. It took a long time for her to learn how to do it, and she once confessed to me that there are bunches of pitfalls that can derail the process of candle making. She got really good at it, but she invested a massive amount of time into the learning process before she did.

I’m pretty fearless when it comes to crafts, but I have to admit that I’ve been scared of candle making. When it comes to crochet and knitting, we’re talking pretty low stakes. Every once in awhile I accidentally jab myself with a tapestry needle or something, but there are no major hazards involved.

It’s different with candle making. Some of the possible hazards include burning yourself and squirting hot liquid wax in your eyes. Yikes.

But, there’s a lovely new candle making book I found that has put me at ease enough that I am now interested in giving candle making a try. It’s called Candle Making Basics. Eric Ebeling is the author, and Stackpole Books is the publisher. I reviewed the book for The short version of my review: I definitely recommend this book.

A Brilliant Writer You Need to Know About

Yesterday, my one and only major accomplishment for the day was reading just about every article posted at Greg Satell’s website.

I didn’t set out to do that. As I was researching an article I have to write, I found one of the pieces he wrote for In a world full of fluff articles that aren’t worth reading, Greg’s writing stood out as being substantial and filled with important insights that would be easy to miss otherwise.

So I kept reading. One article led to the next and the next and the next. I didn’t get my own article finished (or even started — I moved it to my to do list for today) but I do feel like I understand the world a little bit better as a result of the time I spent reading Greg’s archives.

Most of the time, when I get sucked into an article reading vortex like that, I end up getting mad at myself for not finishing the actual to-do-list item I’m working on. But this time, I feel that it was time well spent — even knowing that I have to hustle harder today to make up for it.

Still on My To Do List for Today…

…aside from the usual articles I inevitably have to finish, is my balcony gardening project. Out of about one zillion strawberry seeds I attempted to start last month, only 3 germinated — and they somehow all germinated in the same coconut coir pellet. Phooey. I think the probability of that happening would be just about zero outside of user error. Like, maybe I watered that one pellet more than the others, or something.

I have a few more seeds left. So, I am going to try again. Wish me luck with that.

That’s it for now. Here’s wishing you a lovely day filled with happiness, chocolates, kittens, bunnies, crochet, knitting and / or whatever else your favorite things are.



4-29-2019: Woven Crochet, Dogs on Sweaters + Balcony Gardening

Hi there! How’s it going? I hope all is well with you. Today is 4-29-2019, and I’m having a lovely, productive day so far. I’m just finishing up my workday (which is possible at 2:30 PM because I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning, like I do most days).

New Woven Crochet Examples Posted at

Today I have been working on updating my page about the woven crochet technique at In the past, I’ve crocheted about one zillion different swatches using this technique. The only woven crochet project I’ve actually finished is a scarf (except I still have to finish the end weaving — which is going to be a challenge).

Most of the woven crochet I’ve done looks really cool — but it doesn’t look cool enough to justify the crazy amount of work it takes to do it. So instead of sharing what I’ve come up with, I keep starting new swatches, hoping to find some elusive and magical combination of stitches. What I’m trying to find is a combination of stitches that will look spectacular, but actually be worth the substantial effort it takes to create a project using this technique.

I’m getting close to that…

So far, the closest I’ve come is with this swatch:

Woven Crochet Example I posted at

Woven Crochet Example I posted at

If you want to know how this swatch is made, you can find more details at this page about woven crochet.

This needs re-designing before I design an actual project with it — first of all, because I used yarn that has now been discontinued, and also because my first attempt at this fabric came out waaayyyyyyy too dense and stiff (which you can’t necessarily tell from looking at the picture).

In the actual form you see it, this fabric is practically suitable for making furniture, it’s that dense and stiff. I thought it would make a nice cat bed or basket, but it is so thick that a cat bed or basket would be prohibitively expensive for the average crocheter to make. It would make more sense to create a less dense version of this same sort of fabric.

So, back to the drawing board — but the idea is definitely promising. I think this type of stitch pattern will make a lovely scarf, cowl or pillow. With the right yarn and crochet hook combination, I could also see using it to design other types of projects.

You can see one other new woven crochet example at

I’m still pondering what to do about the scarf. The finished sample I made was far too labor intensive to want to mess around with. Even as I was crocheting it, it was testing my own patience levels. I have more patience than average, so if it took too long for my liking, I’m guessing no one else on earth would want to attempt it. So, I can only conclude that the scarf needs redesigning, too. That’ll be a project for another day — or maybe for never. For now, the scarf will remain in hibernation.

My Current Work-In-Progress Is…

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Accessories: Hat, Fingerless Gloves and Cowl

Tunisian Crochet Mesh Accessories: Hat, Fingerless Gloves and Cowl

…a revised version of this accessories set.

The set you see here in the picture is one I made awhile ago. At the time, I held back on releasing the pattern for a few different reasons.

For starters, the math is a little wonky with these projects as is. Not only that, in real life, each of the pieces is a little too small. I’m a little fuzzy on remembering the details of why, but I think it might be, at least in part, because I stretched them wayyyy too aggressively for blocking. Then after the blocking was complete, they relaxed more than I expected them to. Well, duh, of course they were going to do that. In hindsight, that seems obvious.

The instructions I wrote down at the time would more than likely have you all duplicating the same mistake, if you were to work that pattern. Yikes.

Plus, the main color in this design is a hand dyed color, and the others aren’t.

That’s a few too many problems for me to want to release the pattern exactly as is. But, I’m working on a simplified version that I think is going to be much better. I LOVE IT!

I made a similar hat and fingerless gloves in only 2 yarn colors. In the photographs above, the colorful colors are all Cascade 220. I’m redoing the set so all the yarn colors in the project will be Cascade 220.

I think this time I’m going to skip making the cowl (unless a few thousand of you beg for express interest in the cowl pattern…)

The hat and fingerless gloves have used up less than 2 full skeins of yarn, and there’s enough left over to make something else small. I’m still contemplating what I want that something else to be — perhaps a cell phone pouch or a headband. Would you have a preference on that? If so, I invite your comments below.

Dogs on Sweaters — a New Knitting Pattern Book

Dogs on Sweaters, a knitting pattern book featuring dog-themed projects by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. Trafalgar Square Books is the publisher of this title.

Dogs on Sweaters, a knitting pattern book featuring dog-themed projects by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne. Trafalgar Square Books is the publisher of this title.

Trafalgar Square Books has an adorable new book available called Dogs on Sweaters. I just posted a book review of this title at The short version of my review: Thumbs up! The book is absolutely charming. If you knit, and you love dogs, I think you’re likely to enjoy it.

Our Balcony Garden

You: So, Amy. I hear you’ve started a balcony garden. What are you growing this season?

Me: Cats. I’m growing cats. Like this one:

My Balcony Garden, Complete With Cat

My Balcony Garden, Complete With Cat

OK, the honest truth is, I’m attempting to grow herbs — cilantro, dill, holy basil and chives — plus some strawberries. But so far, things with the balcony garden have not gone all that well.

Why is that?

A couple of reasons. The first is because every time a seed has germinated, this naughty little nuisance of a cat has attempted to eat it.

Mike and I know a lot of cats, because we’ve spent substantial amounts of time in Greece and Israel, two countries that have high feral cat populations. We’ve determined that this particular cat, Inky, is the fourth most annoying cat on planet earth. Remind me some other time to tell you about the 3 spectacularly annoying cats ahead of him in line for that distinction.

Anyway…aside from catnip, cats aren’t supposed to like herbs, are they?

But Inky likes herbs. He has a particular affinity for dill, but he’s not picky. He’ll attempt to eat any herb that germinates in my balcony garden.

I came to the conclusion that planting catnip was not optional. I planted some of it in hopes of deterring the cat from eating everything else. The catnip just germinated a couple of days ago. So far Inky has shown zero interest in it, despite me showing it to him repeatedly. So much for that idea…

I suppose what I really need to do is get some cat grass seeds. I used to grow cat grass, and Inky adored that.

Reason #2: I’m not getting many seeds germinating to start with, because I’m planting old seeds that were exposed to heat. Bummer. But I’m working with such a small space that hopefully, even with a low germination rate, I can get enough plants growing to fill the few flower pots I have available. Wish me luck with that…

Today I Ate…

Organic vegetable soup — no recipe available (yet), but you can check out the other organic recipes we’ve posted here.

Mike has some freshly baked organic bread in the oven as we speak. He is trying something weird — sneaking vegetables into the dough to see if we can get some extra nutrition into the three year old, who, like many kids her age, adamantly refuses to eat anything green.

Let’s hope this goes well. The jury is out. There are lots of places this experiment could go waayyyyy wrong, so we’ll see what happens.

Update: The vegetable bread was absolutely delicious. But, the three-year-old ate all of two bites of it. Make that three bites…

Today’s Workout…

…hasn’t happened yet. I was really hoping to go out for a walk with the family this afternoon — but, would you believe, it started snowing. That’s Brian Head for ya. It snows a lot here.

So, that’s how my day is shaping up. I better wrap this up — gotta go get the plants inside.