Botanical Knits Review & Giveaway


I'm delighted to be bringing you another beautiful knitting book. Botanical Knits is the latest collection of knitting patterns designed by the very lovely Alana Dakos. Isn't this cover just fabulous?! Well, let me tell you, this book is just as gorgeous inside too. It is postitively overflowing with the intricate artwork of Neesha Hudson and the special touches and perfect finish that Alana's work has become famous for.

This is Alana's third publication. In 2011 she collaborated with the very talented Hannah Fettig to produce Coastal Knits & last year she published a children's book about a little girl learning to knit; Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf. Botanical Knits is the first book of patterns that Alana has produced on her own, and the book itself, and the 12 patterns it contains, are absolutely stunning. 

A lover of nature, Alana has drawn inspiration for her new collection from botanical elements, especially trees and foliage. On her podcast, Alana said that she created garments that she would love to wear and these 12 patterns just flowed out of her. I love that. Her patterns have always been lovely, but I think Alana has made a giant leap as a designer with Botanical Knits and it's wonderful that she's being so true to herself in the process. I feel so excited for her :)

Shall I show you my favourites?

Autumns End is a 5ply, all over lace sweater and I love it. I can't wait to knit it. Isn't that side panel fabulous? It's so flattering and a clever way of gently shaping the waist. Not only is this lovely garment knit in the round, but Alana has charted the lace repeats through raglan shaping so we don't have to work out how to make the lace pattern work with the decreases! Thank you Alana!

Twigs and Willows Top Twigs and Willows full shot

The worsted weight cardigan Twigs and Willows seems to be the most popular design in the collection. It's so stylish and I bet it would look fabulous over jeans or a skirt. I love the deep ribbing and the angled cabled leaves along the collarbone.

Oak Trail Cloche Oak Trail Cloche back

Isn't this hat just amazing?! The unusual construction of Oak and Trail had me intrigued immediately. The brim is knit flat and then stitches are picked up along one side and knit up in the round to create the body of the hat. I'm looking forward to finding the perfect botanically coloured, worsted weight skein to knit this one.

SIL full new SIL new closeup

I know, another cardigan. But, you know me ... I'm a great lover of cardigans. And, just look at Entangled Vines - the shoulders are such a cool idea and it's so lovely in its simplicity.

Botanical Knits collection

But, this is only a little of what's inside Botanical Knits. See that pile of beautiful natural shades? There are 8 other fantastic designs in Alana's collection, including socks, hats and shawls. Each pattern has both charted and written pattern instructions that are easy to follow. I think there's probably something in here for everyone and the range of sizes is pretty awesome. You really should check it out :) 

At this stage Botanical Knits is available as an e-book or, if you would like a hard copy you can pre-order the printed book, get a complimentary digital e-book download today and receive the printed book in May 2013. More information can be found on the Botanical Knits website.


Would you like to win an e-book copy of Botanical Knits? Alana has kindly agreed to give a copy to one of my lucky readers :) To be in the draw, all you have to do is leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which is your favourite design from Alana's new collection. Entries close midnight Sunday 24 February 2013 GMT. I'll let you know who's won on Monday :) Fingers crossed!


By the way, Alana's podcast Never Not Knitting (with its own catchy theme tune) was the first knitting podcast I discovered. If you haven't listened, you should, it's a great show and still one of my favourites. Alana is warm, entertaining and totally passionate about knitting :)

P.S. Alana hasn't paid me a penny! She did send me her book to review but everything I've written is my own opinion :) That goes for all my reviews.

Boyfriend Top

Boyfriend top

I've been up to my ears in kids' clothes this last couple of weeks. And, as much as I love making things for my kids, I love making clothes for myself even more.... is that such a bad thing?!

I don't grow out of my clothes, nor do I dump them on the floor, or spill my dinner down my front. Well, not often.

"Selfish knitting" is knitting things for yourself. Well, I've been up to some selfish sewing (and I'm excited to say I've got more planned... yippee!)

Anyhow, I've had the perfect excuse to sew for myself. The annual Spring Top Sewalong over at Made by Rae. I just HAD to join in! (Edited to add - I've made it to the finals! There is stiff competition but I'd love your vote if you like my top! I'm Q boyfriend top!)

Boyfriend top Boyfriend top Boyfriend top 

I started with a few of Mr Myrtle's old business shirts. I've been saving them for ages and over the years (!) have acquired quite a stash of crisp cotton shirting. Aside from the hundreds of buttons, the fabric is in perfect nick. Just the collars and cuffs are worn. 

I fished out four goodies and took a photo thinking I'd use them all, but as I tend to make things up as I go along, in the end I used just two.
By the time I decided, I'd chopped them up... so you've got a shot of all four.

Boyfriend top Boyfriend top

I had a few prerequisites when drafting the pattern. I wanted a yoke (taking inspiration from SouleMama's new tunic) but it needed to be loose enough to lift to breastfeed and I prefer a scoop neck. Pockets were a must and, with the reasonably narrow widths of fabric, it needed panels.

I love this top. I love that it is made from Mr Myrtle's shirts.

The deep curved yoke works like a dream. It is close fitting, but with the extra room under the sleeves, loose enough to lift.

The A-line shape hides any tummy issues and yet, by keeping the bulk of the gathering to the side panels keeps it from looking like a maternity top (it's NOT!)

Boyfriend top Boyfriend top Boyfriend top

The pockets have been unpicked and moved a couple of times. They look fantastic gathered and, set to the side, give the top a great shape.

Actually, for Boyfriend Top Mark II (yip, I've got plans to change and improve this one - I've got more shirts remember?!) I think I'll spread them over the whole of the side panel.
But, since I don't have scissors in my hand or my sewing machine on yet, that may change...we'll see :)

In the meantime, Mark II will have to wait a little. I'm joining in the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, starting Monday.
A post a day for seven days... and, it feels like it's about time we had another giveaway... a knitterly one this time.

See you Monday!

American Sportswear

American Sportswear

The brief for Project Run & Play(PR&P) this week was American Sportswear. But, I'm looking at the picture of Zoë in her outfit and wondering if we have ended up with more of a French thing going on....?!

Zoë and I initially read "sportswear" and she was keen on lycra with sports shoes and gymnastic poses... but when we checked the definition of American Sportswear on Wikipedia we found it was something quite different, but could cover a huge range of looks.

Slightly baffled, we Googled for images to give us some ideas. Since Zoë has to actually wear these clothes (PR&P is a great excuse to fill her drawers this spring) I was after something practical as well as fun. The sailor-inspired styles from the 1930's caught my eye. It was a start.

American Sportswear

So, I rifled though my stash and found some stripy lightweight muslin inherited from my mum, and some soft jersey knit in red (left over from the Jubilee Outfit) and white. Sailor-ish.

The shorts came first. I was keen on culottes but Zoë had other ideas, so we whipped them in under the knees with a band of red jersey and called them harem pants.

They've got a comfy jersey knit waistband (our favourite kind!) which folds over double for a snazzy look.
The pants themselves are very full with a low crotch. Roomy and lightweight; perfect for hot days and great for racing around.

American Sportswear

The top is my favourite piece.

White jersey knit, with a red jersey and dotty crisp cotton trim.

I cut around another of Zoë's t-shirts to get the right size and shape (much like I did for the hoodies). The overlocker (serger) made quick work of sewing it up, but the real fun was in the details.

The sleeve cuff is prettily gathered up with a nifty little band. Do you see? It ends up looking a bit like a bow and it just lifts an otherwise boring sleeve.

I did the neck twice... I wasn't going to - but something wouldn't let me leave it alone. So it ended up a little big. But she'll grow!
The first neck band was red jersey knit but it just didn't sit right. It kept riding up at the back and quite frankly, looked yuck.
So, I took it off and had another go with the dots. This time I slightly stretched the neck of the T-shirt as I sewed the collar on. Once it was flipped over, the collar sat much flatter. I was disappointed that the knot at the front didn't fall as well as the jersey knit but remedied this by making a wee jersey toggle.

American Sportswear
American SportswearAmerican Sportswear

And, lastly, the hat. That wee freckly nose needs to be covered. This hat is reversible; french navy on one side and red and white dots on the other. I've topped stitched it in white. Super cute.

It's based on a pattern in the sweet book making children's clothes by Emma Hardy. It's a lovely book, the clothing is practical and fun. The patterns are brilliant for a novice sewer, but even a seasoned seamstress will be inspired by the pretty fabrics and fun details.

The patterns in the book are only for sizes 0 - 5, so for Zoë's hat I cut the pieces a little bit bigger, and away I went.

The hat whipped up in no time and with no exposed seams it looks very professional. Very satisfying.

American Sportswear

It was freezing when I took these pictures! We had to click super fast.

And, there you have it.
American Sportswear - Truly Myrtle style!

Diamond Jubilee Outfit

Diamond Jubilee! Diamond Jubilee!

We've been getting ready to have a bit of Jubilee fun.
It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year. Here in the UK we celebrate with a FOUR day holiday weekend in June. Yippee!
As well as spectacular official events, I'm sure there will be street parties, bunting, flags and much revelry.

And, although we aren't really Royal Fanatics at Truly Myrtle, we do love a bit of pomp and the odd curtsey.

Diamond Jubilee!

This Union Jack circle skirt with its soft knit waistband and bobble trim is just what you need for a proper Royal celebration, don't you agree?

And, when your new skirt is teamed with a new T-shirt, complete with a shiny crown, jewels, a bit of regal fur and puffy sleeves, you just have to twirl!

Diamond Jubilee! Diamond Jubilee!

But, guess what? It's a double celebration! 
Project Run & Play has started again! 
Do you remember the fun I had last time?!

The new competition has kicked off with a circle skirt theme based on this fab tutorial. 
Do try it! 
It is super easy & super cute :)

I thought I'd let the fantastic flag fabric do the talking, so adapted the original pattern only a little. Instead of the elastic waist I used jersey knit (the same fabric I used for the T-shirt) for a soft, slightly dropped, double fabric waistband. More comfy. That's important for my girl!

Diamond Jubilee! Diamond Jubilee! Diamond Jubilee! Diamond Jubilee!

Diamonds. Holidays. Parties. Summer. 
I've cast on my new top for the knit along.
It's all good!

U.F.O. knitting bag

new knitting bagnew knitting bag

I'm loving my bag. It's the last of the Amy Butler Uptown bags that I made recently. Remember, I gave some away?

This luscious velvet gold bag is perfect for my knitting. Straight needles lie flat and it fits loads of yarn, my pattern and bits and bobs.

new knitting bag

I teamed the cotton velvet exterior with some blue and cream floral Liberty Tana Lawn and the colours just pop alongside one another! Eye shattering fabulousness. Nothing less. I do love a bit of bright sometimes.

I wanted to embellish it using some of the lining and thought this retro circle flower-come-spaceship just did the trick. To be honest I was going for more of a flower look than a U.F.O., but...the aliens won. Mr Myrtle says the "circles" aren't his cup of tea even though he is a sucker for all things Liberty. I'm thinking he prefers a more subdued palette...luckily he doesn't need a new knitting bag :)

The outside of the "flower" is felt and I've top-stitched it with my machine in the lighter blue cotton, and by hand in gold and royal blue wool. I'm hoping that those little holes in the centres will disappear with time.... I had to un-pick some over-zealous top-stiching that really made my eyes hurt...

new knitting bag

I've sewn a running stitch in royal blue wool around the top and I'm really pleased with my even stitches. That was tricky, and a bit pricky with the needle.
But, the best bit, do you see inside?

new knitting bag

It's silky silver yarn. For me!

new knitting bag

See, there's enough for a new spring top. Yippee!

I'm joining in the Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along over at luvinthemommyhood. If you haven't met her, Shannon is fun! She hosts regular knit alongs, each with different themes. This one is just like it says on the tin - tops, tanks & tees.

The idea of a knit along is that you knit similar (or sometimes the same) things, at the same time. At the end of this knit along, you take a picture of your new creation and upload it to luvinthemommyhood’s Flickr group, so everyone can ooooh and aaaah at each others lovely knits. And, there are PRIZES! Cool!

I haven't joined in before, and I can't wait because it looks like it'll be lots of fun knitting together. Shannon has posted a few pictures for inspiration, but the plan is that you knit (or crochet) a top that you like, for you. You could even make a cardigan, so long as it is short sleeved.

What am I knitting?

Spring top

Well, I'm making this lovely little number. Buttercup is a free pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier (she's got lots of popular patterns) and you can download it from Ravelry here. I love the scoop neck with the wee bit of detail, the cropped sleeves and the detail repeated around the hem. It is slightly A-line too and knitted from the top down, so I can try it on as I go, all good :)

The yarn I've chosen is a 50% cotton/ 50% modal blend in silver made in Italy for smc select. With all that modal I'm hoping that it will have super drape so that it falls really well. Let's hope it doesn't stretch to my knees...

The knit along starts on April 11th - that's next week! I can't wait to get going! 
There's plenty of time to get something finished, it closes May 23rd, with winners announced the following week. If you want to be in the draw for prizes, you can sign up at luvinthemommyhood.


So, go on, join me! There's a Ravelry group for supportive chit chat and inspiration and I'll let you know how I'm getting on over the next couple of weeks.

Any takers?!