Thursday, January 31, 2013

Speak Up: Provide Some Feedback about MediaPeruana

My day job is often spent trying to explain to countries how drug policy and programs are supposed to work.

For example:

Me: You want to improve your drug prevention programs? Great. But first you have to evaluate them.
Country: Why?
Me: Because . . . how else will you know what needs to be improved, and how to improve it?

Ok, the conversation isn't usually quite that straightforward, but the lesson at the end is the same--it's better for everyone if you figure out what's working and what isn't, rather than making changes willy nilly, just for the sake of change.

This applies in a lot of areas in life, including, I think, blogging.

2013 promises to be a big year for our little family. I'd like to take the blog and MediaPeruana Designs in some new directions, but first, I need to know how my audience feels. What do you like? What do you hate? What do you want to see more of?

(I know. Dory.)

So I'd like to request some feedback from you. Whether you're a long-time reader, or new to the blog, I'd love to hear your ideas.

And what's in it for you?

How about some yarn?

I have 2 lovely boxes of miscellaneous yarn here, just waiting to be mailed to 2 lucky respondents.

They both look something like this

I can't tell you exactly what's in them . . .

(Well, I could, but that would ruin the surprise!)

But I can tell you all the yarn is new and unused, from our fresh-scented smoke-free home, and may or may not have been snorgled by Dory at some point.

All you have to do to be entered in this giveaway is fill out this Readers' survey.
Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win--I promise not to spam you!

You have until February 8 (the wee Peruanito's due date!).

Thanks so much in advance for sharing your thoughts with me!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Year's Organizing: Knitting Needles and the Rest!

It's January 30th, incredibly, and our month-long organizing spree is nearly complete. 

So, what's left to do?

If you haven't organized your knitting needles in the course of organizing everything else, that should be a top priority.

As I sorted through WIPs and UFOs, I reclaimed quite a number of needles, and promptly put them in their rightful places, before they got lost in the abyss. I have a few cute organizers that I've been lucky enough to collect over the years, some gifted to me through swaps.

Yes, that's Beatles fabric, with Yellow Submarine illustrations! I die. 


What I didn't do--what I've never done--is update my needle inventory on Ravelry.

This is because, well . . . I have them all.

I have DPNs in every size from 0 to 10.5, including an extra set of sock-sized bamboo DPNs, sizes 0 - 2. I have 2 sets of interchangeable needles (after Santa's generosity), with at least one set of tips in every size from 3 - 13, and at least 1 set of duplicates from sizes 3-8. I have 24" circulars in sizes 1, 1.5 and 2, for socks. I have 16" circulars in sizes 3-8 for hats and sleeves.

I am a needle hoarder.

The result being that I don't really need an inventory, because I know I have the needles necessary for any given project.

They might be in use, or have fallen to the bottom of a WIP basket, or become a cat toy, but I have them.


If you aren't compelled to collect an absurd and unnecessary number of knitting needles, though, I encourage you to go ahead and keep track of your inventory on Ravelry, or via some other method--it is pretty handy to know if you have the right needles on hand when considering a new project. WEBS offers a number of suggestions for needle tracking programs in this post.

So, with our yarn, needles, knitting tools, WIPs, UFOs, and books and patterns organized, the last thing to do is tidy up our actual crafting spaces.

I have a combo office/craft room that I think is going to get quite a bit of use as I work to expand my home-based businesses during 2013. It is in serious--desperate--need of a paint job, but blah blah blah, paint fumes, pregnancy, etc. So I'm not ready to tackle that yet. But I did straighten up and declutter.


I can feel the creativity flowing already.

And with that, our New Year's organizing comes to an end. How did you fare?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesdays with Dory: Unloved Yarn

 I have learned all I need to know about snow.

Dear Dory,

I've spent most of January organizing, and my crafting space looks great! But, I have a huge pile of yarn I want to get rid of. I certainly don't want to throw it out--what should I do with it?

Overwhelmed in Oneonta

Dear Overwhelmed,

It would be a terrible waste to throw out perfectly good yarn, though with a nice, clean crafting space, I definitely understand your desire to get rid of it before it starts breeding.

If, for some odd reason, you don't want to wind it all into balls for your kittehs to play with, here are a few other ideas:

  • Sell it! 
First, make sure you have all your unwanted yarn listed on your Ravelry Trade/Sell page. Be sure to give it a price, and specify whether that price includes any shipping fees. Then try posting a destash message in the ISO and Destash of Yarn Group.

You can also try selling it directly through your blog, on eBay, or through your existing Etsy shop.

Or, check out yarn-specific Ravelry groups like Knit Picks and Madelinetosh, and try selling relevant yarns there.

  • Trade it!
In these uncertain economic times, people often don't have cash on-hand to buy new yarn, but might be interested in trading their own unloved yarns. Set up a fair trade, and you're both happy.

  • Giveaway!
Put together a yarn grab bag or two, and host a giveaway on your blog. It can help attract new readers, and is a nice reward for current readers as well. Who wouldn't like to get a box full of mystery yarn in the mail?

  • Charity!
If you browse Ravelry, you'll often find people hosting fundraisers, and looking for prizes. Donate your unloved yarn to their charity drives. 

Also, be on the lookout for a place that might accept yarn donations, like your local hospital. This yarn is often provided to volunteers who knit items for those in need.

I hope your yarn finds a good home!

Have a purrrrrrfect day!


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Open a Book

We got some snow yesterday! ONE entire inch! I can't even fathom how long it will take us to dig out . . .

Before I discovered knitting, snow days and lazy weekends were spent reading. If you're snowed in during an actual storm, or just lounging at home for a relaxing weekend, here are few books that are on my to-read list:

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
A look at the "new world" just after Columbus' arrival. This is right up my alley.

How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?: And Other Delightful Mysteries of Raising Boys (Spire Books)
Hmmm, I guess this one might not apply to everyone, but it comes highly recommended.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
A good World War II saga is always a winner.

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats
Bahahaha! Just for the title.

Loved the first book in this trilogy, can't wait to continue!

So, what are you reading this week?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bound Off: Heartbreaker Hat

Again, I have knit something in red yarn, and again, I can't manage to photograph it well.

Red, you are my enemy!

It was hardly my fault, though, as obviously the Peruanito needs a hat to match his Valentine's Day/Coming Home sweater. I had plenty of Tosh Sport leftover from his Little Oak cardigan, but after a thorough Ravelry search, could find no newborn-sized hats I liked.

I blame the pregnancy hormones.

Empty handed, I decided to just make one up.

Heartbreaker newborn hat
This is a pretty accurate representation of the color! Don't mind the shadows.

The lovely thing about newborn-sized hats is that they are very, very tiny, and even winging it, this took just a couple of days to come together.

The brim features a seed stitch border and  XOXO cables, perfect for Valentine's Day. 

Heartbreaker newborn hat

The rest of the hat is a simple plain stockinette, with easy crown shaping.


And still more yarn remains, so I've started a pair of matching Moc-A-Soc booties for the Peruanito as well. I knit a pair of these waaaaaaay back in 2010, and still can't get over how adorable they are. I finished the bootie portion of the 1st one yesterday, so now I need to pick out some scrap fingering weight for the cuff.

Baby is due in 2 weeks!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Craft Room Addition: Amelia, the Aqua Dress Form

In preparation for baby's arrival, CP and I recently reviewed our budget and came up with a post-baby spending plan.

A spending plan, I might add, that, if implemented correctly, and assuming we've retained the ability to add and subtract correctly, will allow me to stay home with the Peruanito, for at least the first year!

We'll be putting it into action next month, and things are going to get tight around here as we learn to cut back and focus on needs vs wants.

So I thought a final, pre-baby splurge was in order.


Meet Amelia.

She's an adjustable dress form with a rather unpleasant, chemical smell and a heart of gold.

And I think she's going to come in quite handy for knitting sweaters, designing garments and learning to sew things that actually fit me.

Currently I have her adjusted to what I vaguely recall were my pre-pregnancy measurements, so she can show off my Rocky Coast Cardigan.


She can be adjusted in a number of different places: bust, waist, hips, neck (?), and back waist length. Bust and waist are probably most key for sweater knitting purposes, and can be adjusted from 33-40" and 26-33", respectively.

The height is also adjustable, which will be of great use when I learn to use my sewing machine and want to sew skirts or dresses.

I'll admit to not be spectacularly impressed with her sturdiness, but for $85, I can't expect miracles. 

She stands upright, adjusting seems fairly easy, and a little Febreeze ought to take care of that smell.


For now, she's not a bad sweater model either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesdays with Dory: Nursery Edition

I'm excited to let Dory take you on a tour of our newly completed HARRY POTTER NURSERY today!

When we last visited the nursery, I was being helpful, like so:


And here we are today!

Welcome to the Leaky Cauldron!

 Harry Potter Nursery 
I haven't tried sleeping in the crib yet, believe it or not.

Harry Potter Nursery 
That chair looks comfy, but I haven't used it either. I'm losing my touch. 
And I'm scared of the dragon.

Harry Potter Nursery
I'm suspicious of what that table is used for.

Harry Potter Nursery 
Dumbledore is so wise. 
Also, I would like to sleep on that blankie, but Kristen says it's handmade and not for kitties.

 Harry Potter Nursery
Oooh, a birdie!

Kristen says one last themed-item she plans to get is a toy chest, like this one, that looks a bit like Harry's traveling trunk. I think I could probably take a nap in it. 

 So, I guess we're ready for the baby's arrival.

I hope he's quiet.

Have a purrrrrrrrfect day!


Monday, January 21, 2013

New Year Organizing: Patterns!

The New Year organizing continues, and this week we're tackling knitting books, magazines, patterns, etc.

This is one area where I consider myself fairly well organized already--in no small part because when we moved last June, I purged a lot of unused books, patterns and magazines that I didn't feel like packing.

What I haven't done recently is update my Ravelry library--deleting the patterns I'd purged and adding new ones--so I decided to start there.

While not essential, I find it useful to keep close track of my pattern library on Ravelry, because when searching for patterns to knit, I can check off the "in my library" button, and it will show me patterns I already have that meet my requirements--for example, all the patterns in my library knit in DK weight yarn, or all the children's cardigan patterns I have.

I think we can all relate to that feeling of buying more and more patterns, yet using very few of them. Keeping an organized library can help minimize that!

It's also helpful to check your library occasionally for pattern updates--any pattern you download through Ravelry can be updated by the designer, who can notify all purchasers when any changes are made. Just click the update button, and you ensure you have the latest, most error-free version of the pattern at hand, quick and painless.

I started with 177 patterns in my Rav library.


I deleted a number of Interweave Knits issues I had purged, free patterns I had already used or was no longer interested in (hey, you can always download them again!), and added a couple of books and magazines I'd purchased, and wound up with 130 patterns, about 8 of which I also updated. Not a major hack job, but trimming the fat, at least.

In addition to tracking patterns in the Ravelry library, I have a number of patterns stored on my iPad, including single PDFs and ebooks, in the iBooks app.


I can access these patterns anytime, even without an Internet connection, so I keep a good selection of patterns here "just in case."

Always prepared for a knitting emergency!

I also have Interweave Knits downloaded in the Newsstand app. You can purchase and download an issue when you want to use it, and then archive it for later use, so it doesn't eat up your storage space. Very handy.

I didn't have much work to do on my physical pattern storage space:


This is my fairly modest collection of books, with some single printed patterns stored in a large binder (and a big vase full of yarn balls). The bookcase could probably use dusting, but otherwise, I think I'm in good shape.

And while I was at it, I decided to tackle my Ravelry queue. I deleted some patterns I was no longer interested in, and made sure each pattern had at least one tag for searching and organizing purposes; I also noted any yarn I already had on hand for specific projects. I'm down from 181 to 152!


What are you organizing this week?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Snow Day

We were supposed to get a big snowstorm Thursday, which turned into a fat lot of nothing. Sadly. We haven't had a decent snow since . . . February 2011? I spent all Wednesday daydreaming about how I would spend my snow day, and then found myself trapped in the office on Thursday, as usual.

They must still be getting snow somewhere in the world, though, right?!? So here are a few snow day ideas, for when you're done building snowmen, having snowball fights and sledding.

Peruse Alana Dakos' upcoming Botanical Knits collection--and pick out yarn to knit everything with! 

Make some REALLY healthy Salted Caramel Butter Bars--and eat them, of course. 

Plan your vegetable garden, and order seeds to start seedlings indoors.

Crochet a Sheldon and send him to me, because I don't crochet. 

Source: via Kristen on Pinterest

Take an online knitting or crafting class at Craftsy!

Try some Valentine's Day crafts

Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

Look at adorable cat pictures on the Internet

How do you like to spend your snow days?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Your Knitting Organizer: What do you really need?

Whether you use the Crafter's Tool Butler I reviewed yesterday, a spare project bag, or a ziploc bag, you probably find yourself toting around some knitting miscellany on a fairly regular basis. But what do you actually need to keep on hand? And what can you safely stash in your craft room / office / behind the sofa for irregular use? Here are my suggestions.

Knitting bag essentials:

Stitch markers (A lot. More than any one could ever use.)

Stitch holder, or small length of scrap yarn (Holding mitten thumbs and other live stitches)

Key for your interchangeable needles--or two! (These disappear like socks in the dryer; I wish I knew where they went. You can use a paper clip in a pinch.)

Yarn needle (Seaming, kitchenering sock toes and weaving in ends)

Crochet hook (Provisional cast-ons, dropped stitches and other such emergencies; Knit Picks also sells this emergency fix keychain, which is fabulous.)

Needle and thread (Buttons)

Scissors and/or yarn cutter (Scissors are more flexible, but harder to travel with; finishing projects, steeking and opening stubborn plastic packaging encountered in every day life.)

Needle gauge (NEVER guess what size needle you have in hand!)

Tape measure (Measure gauge, lengths of knit fabric, and yourself.)

A small notebook and pen (Always be ready to take notes on your project; if you modify anything, you'll want to write it down. Target actually has a lovely selection of pocket-sized notebooks. I may be slightly notebook obsessed.)

Lip balm (Chapped lips are no one's friend.)

Emery board/nail file (I've had to stop knitting before because a rough nail kept snagging the yarn; very frustrating.)

Hand cream or lotion bar (Rough hands can also snag delicate yarn; they also feel icky.)

Reference guide (Not a tome, like Principles of Knitting; just a wee pamphlet with basic info, like this one.)

Yarn stranding guide (if you do colorwork.)

Cable needle (if you use one; though I highly encourage learning to cable without one!)

Pattern magnets (if you're a paper pattern user / chart reader.)

Of course, there are other tools we use on occasion, like sock blockers, sweater stones, and ball winders, but those can safely be left in your craft space to be unearthed as needed. You could really hurt your back trying to haul around a swift.

What do you recommend knitters keep in their tool kits?