Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Botanical Knits by Alana Dakos

 I may not have much time for knitting right now, but it's not stopping me from planning future projects--and looking at new patterns is a key element of that process.

Most readers know I'm a bit of an Alana Dakos/Never Not Knitting fan girl, so it should come as no surprise that I pre-ordered her latest pattern collection, Botantical Knits, pretty much the instant it became available. Really, it was that very morning.

My pre-order of a hard copy of the collection, to be shipped in May, included a complimentary e-book download for instant gratification; you can order the e-book solo for $18, but the hard copy + e-book is only a few dollars more, so why not?

As the name implies, the 12 designs in this collection were inspired by trees and foliage, and as usual, Alana has put together a stunning collection of nature-inspired knitwear, featuring gorgeous yarns and styled beautifully. The photography, graphics and layout really draw you in--I'm pretty sure even a non-knitter would be eager to cast on after perusing this collection!

The very first thing I'll be knitting is the Twigs and Willows cardigan:

I love the simplicity of the design and the rustic yarn. I have some less-rustic Madelinetosh in my stash that I hope will work for this.

And yet another gorgeous sweater from this collection has already hit my queue:

A adore the big, sweeping collar on the Creeping Vines jacket, and the sweet, flowered pockets. I'm imagining it in an autumn-y red-orange.

This cloche is so different than your typical knit beret or watch cap. I can't wait to knit this one, just to see how it's constructed.

The collection features 2 more sweaters, as well as 2 additional hats, 2 pair of mitts/mittens, a pair of socks, a shawl/scarf and a cowl. I suspect I'll eventually knit all 3 hats, as well as the mittens and socks, in addition to my 2 favorite sweaters, so that's easily 7 must-knit patterns from a single collection, which would run about $35 sold individually--quite a steal!

And a final word on the e-book design: Alana has placed direct links to Ravelry right in the book, so you just click, and it whisks you over to the Ravelry page. You can also click to move directly to specific patterns in the book from the table of contents. Flipping through pdfs and e-books page by page is a great annoyance, so I think these features are nothing short of brilliant!

An overview of all the patterns from the collection can be seen here, and you can order your copy here. Enjoy!

All photos courtesy of Alana Dakos/Never Not Knitting

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesdays with Dory: Baby Edition


It's safe in the box.

Well, a few weeks ago, Kristen brought home The Baby. He makes a lot of noise and doesn't smell great. He's also getting all my usual attention--so I've had to behave extra badly to get noticed. I've been stealing yarn out of Kristen's leftovers bag and dragging it all over the house. 

I'm still not entirely certain what The Baby is, though. If he were a Person, I would be hiding in the closet. But he's too small and immobile to be a Person. He's definitely not another kitteh either--or I would be hissing and throwing a huge fit. 

So as long as I'm confused about what he is, I've decided to just ignore him.

And stay in my box, just to be on the safe side.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Sew On

I haven't even taken my new sewing machine out of the box, and I'm finding it hard to imagine ever having time to learn to use, but that doesn't mean I'm not daydreaming about future sewing projects! Here are just a few:

"Easy" baby quilt 

Source: via Chelsea on Pinterest

Darling hot pads 

A simple apron 

Holiday sewing: tree skirt 

Adorable pjs 

Project bags! Lots of them! 

Do you sew? What was your first project?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Failure to Knit

It's surprisingly hard to run a knitting blog when you don't have much time for knitting.

I know there are many new moms out there who pop out babies and don't skip a beat, returning to their regular activities as if nothing happened.

Sadly, it looks like I'm not going to be one of those.

It's not for lack of trying--I really miss knitting!--I just can't seem to find enough hours in the day at this point.

Though the good news is, we decided to break up CP's paternity leave--he gets 4 weeks, and after taking the 1st two right after JJ's birth, he's alternating work and non-work weeks for a month--and he'll be back at home next week, so that should give me a few more hours to do something productive.

(Not that constantly washing baby clothes because the baby keeps PEEING on them isn't productive . . . )

But I don't have much to show for this week, sadly, other than another pair of socks that have sprouted a hole and need darning.

I've made meager progress on JJ's new sweater:


And have been desperately trying to make progress on this design:


I'm really missing that free week I was planning to have between the end of work and JJ's birth. The best laid plans . . .

Monday, February 18, 2013

Readers' Survey Giveaway Winners!

I'm going to try to keep this post free of any pictures of my adorable baby. Let's see how I do!

First and foremost, I have YARN to give away! Thirty-five awesome people responded to the readers' survey--thanks so much to all of you for your ideas and feedback!--and two of them have won grab bags (or, boxes, really; mailing a bag would be difficult) of yarn! And those two lucky crafters are Mary and Leann! I'll be emailing you guys to get your mailing addresses, and then will get your yarn out to you just as soon as I can. (It will hopefully be next week, but next week--eek!--is my first week at home ALONE with baby, so . . . no promises. I might have to spend my days crying in a corner instead.)

Ok, I said this post was going to be baby-free, but I lied. But really, this photo is all about the knitting. This is JJ in his coming home "sweater," which is clearly more of a coming home dress.


Sigh. I guess he'll grow into it one day. Probably in July.

His hat is also too big, but I've ripped it back and redone the crown decreases, so it fits much better now. I hope to release it as a free pattern, just as soon as I can.

But I wouldn't hold your breath or anything.

As you can imagine, figuring out how to keep a new baby alive and healthy has severely cut into my knitting time, though I was so dismayed by the idea that he won't be able to wear this sweater until he's 30 that I did cast on another one for him. It's Phazelia's Mitered Baby Jacket, which I'm working up in some Knit Picks Stroll handpainted in Tree Fort. It's an easy to memorize pattern, so I can add a row here or there while baby naps.

I know I'm supposed to nap when baby naps, but apparently, given the choice between sleep and knitting, I've chosen knitting. Let's see how long it takes that to come back and bite me in the tush . . .

Friday, February 15, 2013


Happy Friday, and a belated Happy Valentine's Day! Just a quick post to let you know that I'll be returning to the blog on Monday, February 18, and I'll be announcing the winners of the giveaway! Thanks to everyone who provided feedback, I am slooooooooowly going through it, putting together lots of great ideas for the future of Learner's Per-knit and MediaPeruana Designs.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Greatest FO Ever: Meet J.J.

I'm sure you've already put 2 and 2 together--my prolonged blog absence and my rapidly approaching due date. It's true--the wee Peruanito has arrived!


Javier Joseph (J.J.) was born Saturday, February 2, at 11:49am. Despite our ultrasound tech promising us an 8-9 pound baby, he weighed in at 6lbs, 11oz, and 20.5 inches long.

If you're one of those people who prefer to imagine white storks traversing the earth, dropping off pink and blue bundles to expectant parents, feel free to stop reading right here. But if you love hearing other people's birth stories, then read on!

Friday, February 1, I got my hair cut in the morning (finally!) and then made my way to my regular prenatal appointment. It started with an ultrasound, where we found out the amniotic fluid was very low. Then they checked my blood pressure, which had been high for the last several visits, and found it still elevated. So the doctor said the magic words: "You need to go have a baby--today."

A quick stop for lunch and to pick up my bag, and we were off to the hospital, checking in around 2pm.

I have to admit to being ever so slightly concerned about the nursing staff--2 nurses showed up to say hi, and then 1 said, "You know, I think I'll go get her chart!" Well, there's a novel idea. She came back a half hour later, and still didn't have it.

Finally around 5pm, I got the Cervadil, which was supposed to, and I quote, "ripen" the cervix. Ewww. Unfortunately, it did nothing but give me painful contractions. By 3am, I had made no progress, cervix-wise, and the baby was reacting badly to the Cervadil, so that phase of the induction was over. Next, I was supposed to get Pitocin to bring on contractions, but the baby's heart rate kept dropping whenever I had to get up to pee (which was fairly often, since they were dumping a bunch of fluids in my IV), or changed position. We waited until 9am for it to stabilize, at which point the doctor decided it was now or never. I was started on the lowest dose of Pitocin.

Contractions started again, but baby wasn't having it. His heart rate dropped after each one. I'm sure you can see where this is going: doctor swung by to announce that baby had to come out, and he wasn't going to do it the natural way. I was heading to surgery for a c-section--in 10 minutes!

I had almost no time to wrap my brain around it, which was probably a good thing. The c-section went smoothly, but I was absolutely heartbroken that after 9 months of carrying my little Peruanito around, everyone and their brother got to hold him before I did. I think they invited a homeless woman in off the street to give him a kiss. When he could, CP brought him over to me to see, but it felt like hours until I was finally wheeled to recovery and baby was placed on my still-numb chest.

Still, the important thing is, we're all happy and healthy, learning to be a family.

And also, he's the cutest baby ever: