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Birchbox January 2016

I mentioned that I was using my $10 coupon to buy adorable kbeauty things. This is the best one: a little aloe eye stick in an adorable panda container. It is greenish, makes my eyes feel cool for a minute, and serves basically no purpose in my life except that it looks adorable beside my sink. I'm ok with that. :)
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Unsurprisingly, the Birchbox for January is new year's resolution themed. Here's the eye-searing outside:
Birchbox January 2016

And the contents:

Birchbox January 2016

So let's talk about 'em!

Birchbox January 2016

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser

I know, I know, more lather doesn't equal more clean, but I love how this lathers up and it's so easy to see to rinse clean even if I'm exhausted when I head to bed. I normally don't think much about my cleanser, but this one feels like a treat. The person who described it as smelling like pina colada mix isn't wrong, but I like it.

I've tried a billion cleansers thanks to birchbox and most of them make very little impression on me. Since it's sometimes a struggle for me to remember to wash my face as much as I should, I figure anything that makes me actually happy about doing it is a good thing. I'm putting the full-sized version in my next birchbox order!


Birchbox January 2016
Birchbox January 2016
0.2 Meet Your Destiny® 0.2 Eau de Parfum - 50 ml

It's a perfume. While I don't immediately hate it, I also don't love it or even care about it. It's a grand meh on the perfume scale. The nicest thing I can say about it is that the incredibly meh "0.2" name goes well with the meh scent and the meh packaging.

update: okay, after putting it on my wrist and leaving it there while I wrote the rest of these reviews, I care about it enough to wash it off. bleh.

Birchbox January 2016
Ciaté® Nail Polish

I love getting nail polish samples and I'd never tried out Ciaté so I was pretty excited. It looks pretty neat on my nails, fairly different from the way it looks in the bottle. But unfortunately, that's where the fun ends for me: it's a fairly thick, textured polish (not a personal favourite) and it chips pretty easily so my mani only lasted two days. Maybe fun for a special event, but certainly not a daily wear for me. Alas!

It did look pretty for a day, though:
Birchbox January 2016

Birchbox January 2016
TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint

Using this feels like I'm staining my lips with strawberries -- it's got that berry scent and a light liquid formula. I kind of love it! It's quickly become a favourite of mine because of the easy-to-pocket small curvy sample container. Do be careful on chapped lips: it can stain dry edges a bit more than other places and leave you uneven, but I've used this as motivation to remember to put on lip balm overnight so that I can use this in the morning.

Definitely nicer and easier to use than the benefit stain, maybe a bit less easy to use than the stainiac one, similar to the one I have from Sephora but the scent is more fun.

Birchbox January 2016

Birchbox January 2016
Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner

This seems like a perfectly nice liquid liner, but I just can't seem to get the hang of using it even in a nice big easy-to-hold pen. I did manage to get some thinner lines without much difficulty, but I still end up with mis-matched eyes half the time I try. I guess at least there's lots of sample for me to practice with?


Birchbox January 2016

In conclusion...



I guess if I had to pick one of those stickers, I'd go with creativity, since when I thought about resolutions, I realized most of what I had were craft/maker goals. I think honestly, though, that it's less about creativity and more about refinement. My goals are mostly based on learning new techniques that complement what I know and using the skills I have more effectively, and about tackling bigger projects. That's honestly true across non-maker goals too.

I think this carries over to makeup: I'm feeling less like it's a fully creative endeavour and more like I'm in a slow skill-building phase. And this is good, because tuning the looks I can use at work is super useful, and also means I have a sense of subtle tweaks that make a difference in my continuing use of makeup as a social engineering tool. (everyone uses makeup that way, I'm just more intentional about it than some, I guess.)

Anyhow, overall, this was a good box for me: I loved the cleaner and the lip tint. While I didn't love the nail polish or eye liner, they were both products I'd considered paying for and I'm glad to know not to spend money on them. A few dollars of sample continues to be a much better investment for me than most full-sized products, even if I wind up with perfume samples every other box.

I've been wondering if I should give up my birchbox subscription when it comes up for renewal this summer since I've gotten myself into another yarn subscription and honestly, how many boxes does one gal need? But given the way I use makeup, it's still looking like a reasonable investment especially because it encourages me to keep my makeup fresh and toss old samples so I don't have bacteria-filled tubes of mascara around. Plus, I like the points system. I'll make a decision when the subscription comes due, though.
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This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!


First, let’s look at the package. The mailing envelope contained a single bag filled with stuff:

20151110-IMG_9149.jpg


The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015


Here it is all together with the card and packaged-by note so you can see the other side of the bag, which is fun too:

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015


Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.


As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.


Shibui Pebble and Cima


I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.


Shibui Cima and Pebble

Shibui CimaShibui Pebble


Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.


Shibui Maai and Staccato


Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.


Shibui Maai and Staccato

Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato


This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.


Conclusion


Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..


I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.


But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!

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This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

Astute readers may note that I’m doing the December YOTM review but still haven’t done the Beanie Bag full review. That’s because even though it’s January I still haven’t knit up anything with any of my Beanie Bag yarns. How embarrassing. Now, I could blame a busy holiday, but I the answer is much simpler than that: I don’t know what to knit. Without a recommended swatch just sitting there in the bag, and a combo of yarns to choose (remember, this was the “try two held together of different types!” package), the barrier to just sitting down and doing it is a lot harder. What needle size should I use? What should I knit? Which combo of yarns? Should I try the included headband pattern even though I barely ever wear headbands? This isn’t a “grab all the supplies and throw in purse” kind of project and apparently that’s a barrier.


This isn’t an unsolvable problem, of course, but since the idea behind doing tiny yarn samples was that I wouldn’t have a huge backlog of unused yarn, it’s a bit distressing to realise that not having swatch patterns in the bag makes such a difference. I’m approaching the end of my self-imposed “I’ll try this in 3 months and then decide” and I’m torn. I love the packages, they feel like a serious treat and I like the way each one has a theme that involves teaching you about fiber, and I like taking pictures of them, but if I’m not using them, I should probably give up and move on.


So expect some experimentation on that front soon! I’ve grabbed some stitch dictionaries and a set of interchangable needles and queued up an episode of Dr. Who, but there’s a percent chance that what you’re going to see next is a bunch of tiny octopi.


Anyhow, in the meantime, here’s the easy-to-use Yarn of the Month for December!


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


This month’s yarn was *super* posh. The black is fuzzy and soft, and the red is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever used. It was a huge contrast to the pleasant-but-unexciting superwash in my other yarn bag, which isn’t to say that the other was bad at all but wow did I ever want to play with these first!


The pattern


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


It’s a Santa hat! I think I might stop mentioning the patterns; I hardly ever use them.


Soavia


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


Soavia

“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”

5.5 sts/inch on US 7

65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk

164 yds Color: 60


This yarn is plush and soft. You can’t tell too much from the photo, but it’s got a really pleasant halo and somehow manages a teensy sheen as well in person. It would make a positively lovely scarf or cowl, or anything worn close to the skin. It’s the sort of yarn you just want to sink your fingers into.


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


Given the halo, it’s pretty surprising how easy this is to work with (sometimes fuzzy yarns can be pretty temperamental). The stitch pattern with the long criss-cross thing really shows off the yarn. It’s soft even knit into tiny stitches, but those long ones are especially easy on the fingers. So very soft. It makes me want to do a bigger project with fuzzy yarns, even though it’s getting warmer and warmer here.


Roslyn


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


Roslyn

“Colourful and subtle and a workhorse yarn with great texture”

5.25 sts/inch on US 6

65% Wool 35% Silk

382.76 yds color: 06


This is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever worked with. It’s flexible, soft, and feels like it would make amazing clothes because it’s a bit lighter than many wools. It somehow feels silky without feeling too slick. The heathering and colour is fun too.


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


The stitch pattern is a pretty neat cable. Although I don’t think I got the sides quite even! Yarn was very easy to work with, the slight side-to-side difference is a me problem, not a yarn problem, and it might even block out.


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


I was surprised to see that this yarn’s regular price is $15/100g because it feels like a much fancier and more expensive blend. Thank you Cascade for producing such nice luxury yarns!


Summary


December’s YOTM was a real treat, even in the face of me working with the super nice yarns I was using for presents in December. I’d definitely use either of these yarns again, and Cascade at least should be a thing I can find around here so I can check out the other colours. Guess I’ll keep an eye out during the yarn crawl!

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This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

The week 3 clue came out on Friday, so I’m a bit behind still. But Clue 2 was much easier than clue 1, at least! Here’s what clue 2 looks like for me and my dino buddy:


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)


Still loving that thick cuff, but not so much loving the transition at the wrist bead line — it feels and looks a bit lumpy around my wrist, and the beads make strange cool spots. Of course, this is also the part of the pattern that cramped up my hand. Bah!


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)


This is where the mystery is a bit of a disadvantage: if I’d seen the finished product, I might have done something about that transition line. Or maybe I just have absurdly dainty wrists? Either way, I’m not willing to rip back now, though I’m debating a little bit of elastic thread or ribbon to deal with the issue, or maybe it will block a bit flatter. I will ponder it. In the meantime, on to the next clue!

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