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2015-06-29 11:27 pm
Entry tags:

Exciting times chez moi: public talks, house, houseguest swap

- I gave two talks at Open Source Bridge. I think they went well! Links to slides and stuff on my speaking page: http://terri.toybox.ca/speaking/
- J and I took possession of our new house (on the same day as I was giving both of said talks!)
- J's dad moved into his own lovely 2 bedroom apartment on Saturday and we helped him get it set up
- Also on Saturday, my friend R from Ottawa came to visit for the weekend
- Also on Saturday, our friends C and M arrived from Denver for the week
- We had our first bbq at the new place on Sunday
- R took off today (Monday)
- GSoC midterms are due this week
- my day job workload is heavy (but not yet unpleasant) this week
- our yearly "invitational open source community leadership summit" is happening next weekend (that's what the Coloradans are up for)
- J is the best and has been handling most of the finding of contractors for the new house
- R is awesome and helped us move some pretty significant amounts of stuff while I was too headache-y to walk up and down stairs.

J and I had apparently mis-remembered when our lease is up, so we only have 1 month of overlap with the new house. This is not a problem since J's travel schedule meant we'd planned most of the stuff before August anyhow, but it does mean a bit less wiggle room.

The house is awesome and the yard is more awesome and I'm sorry but I'm too wiped out to deal with requests for pictures this week so please don't ask. I'll put some up when I've got the spoons for it, but I have a touch of concrud/headache/nausea on top of all the stuff going down this week and it's not going to happen for a while. Thanks for being understanding!
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2015-06-20 01:25 pm
Entry tags:

Book review: It's Raining Men (or maybe just succubi)

It's Raining Men: Slacker Demons Book…
It's Raining Men: Slacker Demons Book One
by Jennifer Stevenson

Chloe's been dumped by yet another loser so she turns to sympathetic bartender Archie, who suddenly claims that it's the fault of terrible sex demons (including himself) and she's been selected to receive a rain of good men as part of victim's compensation. Wacky hijinks ensue.

The demon-lover trope of paranormal romance is usually a big yawn for me because they usually pair it with a "he wants to be better for her" style plotline that takes itself entirely too seriously, but this book is silly and flippant enough about it to be fun. I don't know that I'll bother with any more of the series, but this was a fun summer read on its own.

I received this one free from Librarything in exchange for fair review.
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2015-06-20 12:18 pm

Book Review: Knit Wear Love

Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for…
Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting…
by Amy Herzog

I really loved the idea of Amy Herzog's Knit to Flatter book, which is about finding and adjusting patterns to suit you. It's a great book (from what I can tell without actually following any of the patterns since I just had it from the library for 3 weeks), but I found that the patterns didn't inspire me, so it hasn't gone on the list of things I want for my personal knitting reference library.

Knit Wear Love has solved this problem for me: rather than focusing on body type, the designs are more heavily focused on aesthetic: classic, sporty, bohemian, etc. She's got some really cute details, and it's showcased by lovely photography. Plus, of course, huge numbers of charts, advice about fit, etc. It's pretty much everything I wanted in a sweater book. I borrowed a copy from the library to check it out, but this one is going on my personal library wishlist for when I'm interested in tackling a sweater for myself.
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2015-06-20 11:54 am
Entry tags:

Book review: Powers vol 1 and 2

A few books going back to the library today:

Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection,…
Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol. 1
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator)

This graphic novel is an exploration of what it would be like to be a cop in a world with superhero celebrities. It's decent, and I know lots of folk who like the grittier, broken superhero genre who would enjoy this. I felt like there were some really great world and character ideas set up and it was worth reading for that, but I also felt like the pacing and the genre didn't quite do it for me. I'm happy to recommend it to people who like the genre, though.

Also, I want to note that I don't really recommend the "definitive hardcover collection" for light reading. It's a huge coffee table book, lovely but hard to read in bed.

Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection,…
Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol. 2
by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator)


I liked the first volume enough to pick up the 2nd book, but I found the pacing even more off in that one, to the point where I was tempted to just flip through pages until it got to the point. Too much media retrospective, not enough story. I feel a bit bad complaining about this because I think the media treatment of superheroes is part of the point, and the puff piece media clips feel like they've been dropped from an alternate reality in a good way. But the problem is that I dislike reading/hearing these things normally because I don't care about the celebs in real life, and thus it didn't help me care about fictional celebrities any more than I do about the real ones. I guess they are a clever device but ultimately not one that worked for me. Your mileage may vary. Still quite the story, but a bit hard to get through at times.
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2015-06-18 04:09 pm

Definitely a right-brained brain hat

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 actually did complete this hat before giving it to M for Christmas 2013, but apparently I can’t find pictures of it (or the kraken hat I made for S the same year), so instead you get this one photo of it with only one side completed:


Definitely right-brained


BTW, I chose the title for this post because of my half-finished picture. But for those of you who don’t know, the whole “right brained / left brained” thing is kind of BS and you might want to read up on it. The myth comes from some research on epileptic patients where the two halves of the brain were severed and they don’t seem to generalize to humans with normally connected brains.


From the article linked above (because I’m not looking up pubmed for a knitting post):


There is a misconception that everything to do with being analytical is confined to one side of the brain, and everything to do with being creative is confined to the opposite side, Anderson said. In fact, it is the connections among all brain regions that enable humans to engage in both creativity and analytical thinking.


“It is not the case that the left hemisphere is associated with logic or reasoning more than the right,” Anderson told LiveScience. “Also, creativity is no more processed in the right hemisphere than the left.”


Anderson’s team examined brain scans of participants ages 7 to 29 while they were resting. They looked at activity in 7,000 brain regions, and examined neural connections within and between these regions. Although they saw pockets of heavy neural traffic in certain key regions, on average, both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their neural networks and connectivity.


(tl;dr: Brains are much more versatile than pop culture might have you believe.)


So there’s your science tidbit for the day. Let’s go back to talking about knitting.


The pattern


Brain Hat (KNITTING PATTERN, not actual hat)

by Alana Noritake
($5 on Ravelry)


This is a pretty simple pattern: make a skullcap, put a lot of i-cord on it. But it’s worth buying yourself a copy of the pattern because it includes a bunch of pictures of the hat in progress and finished, as well as photos of brains and insight on how to make it look good. I definitely felt like I got my $5 worth and had a much better hat for it!


My notes


I made the brain hat for M, who’s allergic to animal fibers, so I was somewhat limited in my choices of yarn. I think I used knitpicks comfy, which is a cotton-acrylic blend that’s quite nice to work with (soft and a little more stretchy than straight cotton). This worked pretty well, to be honest, but doesn’t make for the warmest of hats. This makes it not so great as an all-winter Canada hat, but ok for warmer climates or indoor costume use.


If I did this again again, I’d probably make 50% more brain icord and take more time pinning it to be absolutely perfect. I just didn’t allot quite as much time as I should have before xmas so I was frantically making this on the plane to Ottawa and at my parents’ house before it got packaged up as a present.


Overall, though, a fun pattern and one I’d be happy to make again, given a lot more time or a knitting machine that produced icord.

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2015-06-15 04:10 pm

Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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 made this Twilight Sparkle for a friend and then, uh, took a year or something to get it to her. I am the worst at mailing things (in the end, J gave it to her in person and I never mailed it!)


The pattern


This is a pattern I made myself, and this Twilight Sparkle is actually one of the first ponies I made after I had actually published the pattern. (I also have a set of teensy tiny felted ones that I haven’t finished up and photographed yet… someday I’ll get through my backlog of projects to document!)


[Crochet Pony Pattern inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on my website (toybox.ca)]

[Crochet Pony Pattern inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Ravelry]


(You can tell it’s been a while because she’s still just a unicorn!)


Photos


Since I wrote the pattern, I don’t have much more to say about it, so here’s a bunch of pictures of the pony!


Body only:


Violet Pony for Katie


I do love that she’s a bit posable….


Violet Pony for Katie


Those legs are surprisingly bendable!


Violet Pony for Katie


If I wanted to her to have a bigger range of positions I could have wired her legs, but this is just the qualities of the yarn and stuffing.


Violet Pony for Katie


Her head also moves, although maybe not as much as the legs


Violet Pony for Katie


And here she is with a mane and tail and cutie mark: I don’t love her eyes (I haven’t found a great way to do them; these were drawn on fabric and sewn on), but she does look more expressive with them!


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


Closer look at her rump so you can see the cutie mark. Or make jokes about butt-shots, whatever.


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


Did you notice what book it is?


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


I chose it for photos because of the colour, but it does seem like something she might enjoy, eh?


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


Maybe one day I’ll do a version with the wings…


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


Or at least one for myself!


Twilight Sparkle for Katie


Overall, my biggest regret on this one was not sending her out sooner. Sorry about the delay, Katie!

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2015-06-14 07:06 pm
Entry tags:

Book reviews: Two books I'm not sure how to write about

I haven't really been on top of book reviews. That's somewhat intentional in that I decided to focus on documenting my maker-y projects instead, but I noticed today that it meant I haven't been doing a great job of keeping up with the books I've been sent in exchange for fair review, so I guess I'd better get back into the groove if I want to keep getting free books. Here's two from the library as a warm-up.

Both these books have somewhat unusual protagonists. They're challenging in different ways.

When Everything Feels like the Movies…
When Everything Feels like the Movies (Governor General's Literary…
by Raziel Reid

I heard about this book because it was on Canada Reads, although being out of country I didn't manage to actually catch the episodes talking about it when they were broadcast so I still went in mostly not knowing what I was in for. The idea of coping with high school by imagining it as a movie set intrigued me.

I'm finding myself at a loss as to what to say about this book. It's authentic in that way that people don't always like to see high school depicted, with swearing and sex and violence and feelings with raw edges. For all that intensity, it's as playful as it is painful, as well as insightful and hard to put down. It takes "gay (trans?) kid not fitting in to small town" and pushes it out to an extreme that YA isn't often allowed to go. I loved it and was horrified by it at once, and I guess that's the point. I kind of hope it actually does get made into a movie.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick…
The Slow Regard of Silent Things
by Patrick Rothfuss

This is a book that's so hard to pin down that the author's forward warns you that you probably won't like it. Which honestly, I think is a brilliant piece of marketing gimmick in that it challenges you to try. (Perhaps I am being too cynical here, but it's true.)

Since it doesn't exactly have a plot so much as a gentle unfolding of the life and mind of one small woman, I found it very hard to get into it when I was reading it in dribs and drabs. If you're going to give it a try, set aside an evening where you can immerse yourself in Auri's world, magical and strange as it may be. I doubt anyone would promise you'll like it, but at least you'll have given it a fair chance.

I highly recommend accompanying the afterward with some Dar Williams, which seemed during my reading to be the musical equivalent of what they were talking about.
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2015-06-11 04:09 pm

February 2015 Knit-a-long: A very belated part 2

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.

You might remember that I posted week 1 and 2 photos from this KAL, but forgot to post the other two weeks of photos and finished object photos here. I finished this back in March at the end of the KAL, so it’s a bit late!


Pattern: Fern Lace Shawlette


Fern Lace Shawlette by Michele Bernstein ($6 on Ravelry)


Michele is also known as PDXKnitterati. This is the first pattern of hers that I tried, but definitely not the last!


Week 3 photos


February 2015 KAL (Week 3))


I don’t normally block as I go like this, but the KAL had prizes for folks who posted photos every week (I even won one early on!), so I wanted them to be beautiful. I actually sort of think I should do this “block at the end of each week” thing a bit more often, since I was forever pulling out the lightly blocked end to admire it or show it off.


February 2015 KAL (Week 3))


The teacup pincushion was made by a friend of mine, isn’t it adorable? She sells them online if you want your own! Just check out Flying Corgi Studio on Etsy.


February 2015 KAL (Week 3)


Week 4 photos


I love those beads! I wasn’t too sure if I’d like having a mix of colours like this, but I really really do.


February 2015 KAL (Week 4)


Look at this week 4 photo… it’s hard to believe I finished in time, but it went so fast once I started decreasing!


February 2015 KAL (Week 4)


Week 5 photos… with the designer!


The designer who created this absolutely lovely pattern was doing a trunk show at Twisted during the Rose City Yarn Crawl, so I scheduled our shop visits so that I’d get to meet her.


February 2015 KAL (Week 5)


She’s a super talented designer, and I highly recommend you check out her other patterns on Ravelry. Her patterns are really well-described, she always has great photos, and good tech editing. And of course, they’re utterly beautiful! She had a few on sale earlier in the year and I bought a few and picked up yarn during the yarn crawl to make them, so expect to see a few more of her designs featured here!


February 2015 KAL (Week 5)


Also, I’ve got to say that I think her knit-a-longs are really fun and well-run. She’s got a great crew of people who participate and I found it super motivational to see everyone’s photos and comments. Plus she keeps the momentum up with weekly prizes and always has good advice if you need it, including for ways to modify and adapt a pattern to suit you better. I haven’t done a lot of knit-a-longs so I can’t really compare, but I can definitely recommend joining one of hers.


Finished Object!


February 2015 KAL (Week 5)


I am so pleased with myself for finishing! I’m not a fast knitter, so I was worried I’d never keep up with the KAL.


February 2015 KAL (Week 5)


And finally, a wingspan shot:


February 2015 KAL (Week 5)


Thanks to my friend M (the same friend who made the teacup pincushion!) for taking the photos with me in them! She’s the best friend: she flew all the way from Ottawa to come to the yarn crawl with me.


Conclusion


Great pattern, great KAL, and I love my finished shawllette. I wasn’t too sure how much I’d wear it, but it turns out that the weather (and sometimes the excessive air conditioning) is surprisingly conducive to shawl-wearing. I got a shawl pin to go with it so I can wrap it around my shoulders and not think about it, so it’s just like having a slightly lighter cardigan.


I think I’ll be making some more shawlettes in the future now that I know how much I like them!

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2015-06-08 04:06 pm

Yarn of the Month Club review, May 2015

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.

Apparently the Yarn of the Month club is *not* a secret society after all: there’s a Yarn of the Month Ravelry group. I am so pleased to know it exists, and mystified as to why I couldn’t find this when I was searching for information before subscribing.


May’s Yarn of the Month Club package was all about the cottons and the ocean colours:


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Very pretty yarns, all told!


The Pattern: Seaside Tee by Sarah Lucas


Ravelry link for Sarah Lucas, but this particular pattern doesn’t seem to be on Rav.


Here’s a picture of the pattern page:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


I’ve redacted much of the actual pattern, but I wanted to show you the state of the mailing since I’ve talked about it a few times. The cut across the top is my fault (overzealous in opening the package!) but those sheets of paper really do get crumpled up in the mail, don’t they?


Anyhow, this is a cute baby pattern with a picture of a cute baby. I like the wide neckline and use of the patterned and solid yarns. I don’t think it’s going to the top of my to-make list since I just made a baby sweater, but it’s a nice thing to have in hand. I wish it had a link in Ravelry so I could dump it in my queue more easily!


Eco Baby Prints


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints

“With these beautiful liquid colours you can practically smell the beach”

6.25 sts/inch on US 3

100% Cotton

135 yds color 56010


I really love the subtle colour of this one: it’s a very watercolour blue tonal. The yarn is a soft cotton, a bit easy to split but not unmanageable.


The problem here was mostly in the swatch pattern:Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


If you do a bit of math, you’ll see that row 1 grows: there are two yarn overs adding two stitches, but only one k2tog. Row 3 doesn’t fix this, so if you knit it as is, you’d wind up with an ever-growing trapazoid instead of a square. Not great.


I though at first maybe the sl1 was supposed to be passed over the following k1, which at least gets us back to even, but that doesn’t really give you something that lines up. I tried it anyhow to see if it was interesting but it didn’t really do it for me:


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


So I switched it instead so the sl1 became an ssk so that everything lined up, and I got something much more what I had in mind:


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


One remaining complaint, though, it didn’t quite produce a 5×5 square even after blocking. You can see above that it’s almost done but not very close to square yet. I took the photo below at a bit of an angle so it wouldn’t be so obvious, but the finished piece is 4×5 instead of 5×5. Oh well!


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Isn’t the corrected stitch pattern lovely? I’m pretty sure I got it right, since here’s the swatch photo on their website:

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website


Overall, I love the colour of this yarn and found it pleasant to knit with even when I was a bit frustrated, so it’s something I’d consider buying if I needed a pretty cotton.


Prima Kuri


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015



Mirasol Prima Kuri

“A solid worsted summer cotton”

5 sts/in on US 6

100% Cotton

208 yds Color: 18


This is a much thicker yarn than the first, but still pretty soft because of the many small strands in the loose twist. As usual, the upside is soft, the downside is splitty here. This seems like a nice workhorse cotton that really shines with textures.


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Just look at how well it shows off the cable of the swatch. Deep texture, nice crisp holes even before blocking.


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Cables and cotton aren’t something I think about together much, since I associate cables with making something thick and warm, and cotton with not being a great insulator. But if I were to make a sweater out of cotton or wanted to add a texture to a summer piece, this yarn would be a great choice.


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Also, I really liked the swatch pattern and not only because unlike last month’s, it didn’t remind me of nostrils. 😉 As you can tell, this one also wasn’t very square, partially because I didn’t try to stretch it much in blocking. It clocks in at just over 4.25×5.5.


I’m not desperate to make a bunch of textured cotton things so I don’t think I’ll run out to buy this yarn, but if I ever do get the urge, at least I know a yarn that will work!


Cotton Soft


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015



Mondial Cotton Soft

“Soft and funky colours”

7 sts/in on US 2

100%Cotton

196 yds Color: 0876


First, a few more shots to show you the colours in this ball:

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


Isn’t that neat? This is another soft cotton, and again, it’s a “many tiny strands in a lose twist” deal, but I found this one a bit more manageable than the others. But obviously what really makes it stand out is that colourway, which is a really neat self-striping pattern that totally evokes beaches.


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


I do wonder exactly what this yarn is intended to be used for, though, given how perfect the stripes look in my 5×5 swatch and that’s a pretty thin width for any real project. Do people knit cotton socks with it, maybe?


Oh, also, I deviated from the swatch recommendation here, sort of. I actually did the swatch as written, but they claimed row 1 was RS and row 7 was WS which, if it was true, would have made this bands of stockinette and seed stitch. But what was written went knit side of the stockinette to seed to purl side to seed and then repeat. I thought this was fun, so i did it that way.


Conclusion


A great batch of samples this month, especially due to the colours!


Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015


As always, I like that this is introducing me to yarns I hadn’t even heard of before doing the sample: Mondial is an Italian brand, Mirosol is spun in peru. And while Debbie Bliss a name I know because it’s so easy to find here, I hadn’t tried this yarn out, so it was still fun and new to me!


Plus, I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who used to get most of her yarn from Michael’s where they only stock one brand of cotton, I’m pretty excited to broaden my cotton horizons.


In summary: I’m feeling very happy I renewed my subscription, and can’t wait for the next mailing to arrive!

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2015-06-07 10:22 pm

Birchbox May 2015

The box design May's Birchbox is definitely one of the classier ones:

Birchbox May 2015

And the products inside mine were similarly svelte-looking in design:

Birchbox May 2015

Juliette Has a Gun Not a Perfume - 50 ml



Birchbox May 2015

I was intrigued by the idea of a "not a perfume" but alas, this is still too strong a scent for it to be pleasant. Apparently when they claimed it was "minimalist" they were referring to the complexity of scent, not the intensity of it. They claim it "has a single note: elegant, spicy Cetalox."

Birchbox May 2015

They aso claim that it's allergen-free, which I find interesting and also unbelievable. It doens't seem to trigger my sniffles, so that's something, but it still smells like impending headache.

Birchbox May 2015

I like the packaging, but that's about where it ends. This doesn't smell interesting or spicy to me, it smells like generic perfume and triggers my usual reaction of "you should get away from this as fast as possible before it triggers a headache."

Birchbox May 2015

I really wish birchbox would let you opt out of scents entirely, as they are not useful to me: I can't wear them to work because there are quite reasonable no-scent policies in my office building, I won't wear them around other people because I know what it's like to be allergic to someone else's perfume, and I won't wear them myself for fear of triggering headaches. So, uh, I have a small collection of these samples wrapped in plastic bags and lying around now. I can't use them. Anyone want me to mail them some?

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer



Birchbox May 2015

This is a pleasant enough thinner moisturizer that leaves a slight residue on your skin, just enough that you can tell it was applied but not enough to feel seriously greasy. It's got a light but definitely noticeable smell, predominantly of roses.

I did try it as a makeup base, as they recommend, but didn't notice anything particularly special about it compared to other moisturizers, so I don't think I'll try it again because I prefer unscented lotion especially on my face.

Overall, it's nice and I'm happy to have the sample, since it's probably inoffensive enough to wear at work, and it's got nice clean gender-neutral black-and-white packaging. But I'm not in love with it enough to purchase this one for myself.

W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly light mascara. It's not hugely lengthening or thickening, so it's probably great for natural-but-enhanced looks. It's definitely the type of mascara I prefer. It even comes with my current favourite type of mascara brush, the ones that look like little spiky maces.

Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

(I'm a mascara noob and find the rigid bristles easier to control so I don't leave dots on my skin and also easier to not deposit too much crud on my lashes.)

But even though it seems to have everything going for it, honestly, it might be a bit too minimalist for my tastes. Here's some before and after shots:

No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

Or again with eyes open.
No mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (no mascara)
Mascara:
Birchbox May 2015 (well people mascara)

It's not invisible, but on my already dark and fairly long lashes, it's not exactly a big difference.

Because I wore it on some pretty hot days where I got salt in my eyes, I've rubbed it a fair bit and I can tell you that it's not completely smudge-free, but it's not going to leave you with giant marks either.

Overall: it's nice enough to use and enjoy as an option, and I'm happy to have a new mascara since they have relatively short shelf lives due to bacteria growth, but it's not standout enough to buy more.

Beauty Protector Beauty Cream Body Lotion



Birchbox May 2015

This is a thicker "body creme" moisturizer lotion that blends in pretty well leaving skin feeling kind of slick but not heavily greasy. It smells exactly like the other beauty protector products, a scent I like ok, but I think the scent in this lotion is a bit too strong to be really pleasant unless you're only applying in a very small area. So, uh, maybe if you wanted smelly elbows or heels or something? I don't think I'll be buying this one.

Macadamia Professional™ Nourishing Moisture Oil Treatment



Birchbox May 2015

This is a fairly thick scented hair oil. It worked quite nicely when I rubbed a few drops into the tips of my hair, smoothing down the rough ends and leaving it looking great. I actually quite liked the product and would probably use it for when my ends need help, except that my boyfriend is deathly allergic to nuts and rubbing nut oil into my hair seems like a rather rude and dangerous thing to do on a regular basis. (As was, I applied it before I went to work, warned him, and washed my hair when I came home that day.)

I guess I could use it when I'm traveling without him, maybe? But I should probably just pass this sample on to someone who can use it without risk.

Conclusion



I was happy to try everything in this box except the perfume, but the only product I thought was really standout could kill my boyfriend. (That's not why I liked it, promise.)

So... obviously not a winner of a box, but I feel like I got to try some nice products even if they weren't for me, and the trying part is why I have the box, so I'm not disappointed by what my $10 got me.
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-04 04:45 am

Rippy and Chompy the Gators

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.

Rippy and Chompy


These two gators got named Rippy and Chompy after the Arrogant Worms’ classic children’s song Rippy the Gator. The girls who recieved them might give them other names, but I suspect these might stick given how many times their dad and I went to Arrogant Worms shows over the years! For those not familiar with this particular musical gem…



Billy and his family went on a holiday

They went down to Florida to laugh and dance and play

Bill went in for a swim, he didn’t see the harm

But when he came back out again, he was short an arm

‘Cause Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!

Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!

Passing the time by ending children’s lives

Down in the bottom of the swamp, swamp, swamp!


and so on.


The Pattern


Rippy and Chompy


[Baby Gators on Ravelry]

[Baby Gators pattern on Mochimochi land]


One of my complaints about amigurumi patterns is that it’s hard to find ones that really take advantage of the range of textures and shapes that are possible. Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot of cute things you can make with balls and cylinders, like good old Hello Kitty, but when I was working on the My Little Pony-inspired amigurumi pattern I made, I had a lot of trouble finding good techniques for some of the shaping I wanted to do.


So when I saw this creative pattern with the textured stitches and the nostril and eyebrow shaping, I knew I had to try it.


My Notes


Link to my Rippy and Chompy the Gators as a project on Raverly


I used Caron Simply Soft for this, because I like that it’s soft, washable and reasonably hypoallergenic. Since these were going to two kids under the age of two, those are all important things!


One thing that’s interesting about this is that it’s knitting, not crochet. In my experience, knitting tends to be a bit stretchier so knit animals tend to have less interesting shapes because they squish out when they’re stuffed. As a result, I rarely love them the way I like the crochet ones! But this one was cool enough that I wanted to try it anyhow.


You do have to be a bit careful with stuffing this one because of the properties of knitting, though. When I first stuffed the nose, it lost shape and you could barely see the nice nostril shaping, and you can tell if you look at the photos that the tails are different widths. Under-stuff rather than over-stuff on this one.


Rippy and Chompy


The pattern is very clear and easy to read. It’s increases, decreases, knits and purls, with something a bit fancier for the bobbles (the nose and eyebrows), so it’s doable for a relatively new knitter, but probably not an absolute beginner unless they have help on hand (or patience and youtube videos!).


The only thing I might have changed is that I found the legs a bit long once I had them sewn on. I decided I didn’t care enough to re-knit, but if I do this again I might think about taking out a row.


Also, as usual with amigurumi, don’t be afraid to experiment a bit with how you sew things on. A little movement can make things look way more cute or a bit uncanny, and I found this was especially true with the legs on this one: in some places, they made it look like spider gator!


Rippy and Chompy


Conclusion


In conclusion, great and interesting pattern that knits up quickly because it’s so small. I may make this one again!

terriko: (Default)
2015-06-02 12:28 am
Entry tags:

Birchbox April 2015

Can you tell I was playing with some shaped bokeh in these shots? Sorry they're not great product photography, but look at those hearts! ;)

Birchbox April 2015

Short reviews because I'm kind of behind and haven't even photographed my May products yet...

Birchbox April 2015

Beaver professional shampoo and conditioner



Totally acceptable shampoo and conditioner as far as these things go, not too much scent and the smell was inoffensive. What was offensive is this whole "amino acids will fix your hair when applied topically" nonsense on the label. Also, it's made in China, which isn't bad in and of itself, but that seems a long way to import shampoo when it's not really anything spectacular. Overall, I'll use it, but I wouldn't buy it.

Birchbox April 2015

Hello Body Butter



I liked the body scrub with this scent, so I was kind of pleased to get this, although to me it doesn't actually smell quite the same. Still, it's a reasonable enough creme, a bit heavily scented by nicely effective without being super greasy. I have it on my desk at work, although I do worry that it's too strongly scented. (I needed something less greasy, and birchbox isn't so great at low-scent moisturizers as scent is one of few defining features for the genre.)

Birchbox April 2015

POP beauty eyeshadow trio



This is the sample I got to choose, and I'm glad I did!

This is a lovely set of eyeshadows. My sample was all neutrals, which I found a bit amusing given how loud the birchbox box itself was in comparison:

Birchbox April 2015

They go on fairly lightly unless you've got a base coat for it to stick to, but I don't think that's entirely a bad thing if you want to build up a more subtle look. Swatches below without any base coat: you can barely see anything but a sparkle, which is a fun look on eyes, I think.

Birchbox April 2015

Anyhow, they're not heavily pigmented, and I found them really nice to work with, and they worked very well with the eye primer I have. As my birchbox points build up, I'll probably be buying the full-sized one to try some of their other colours, even though I seldom wear eye sparkle. Maybe having more colours will tempt me?


Birchbox April 2015

Cynthia Rowley lip stain



I was pleasantly surprised by the formula here: a lot of lip stains seem to me to be a bit drying, but this was pleasantly moisturizing. Unfortunately, the colour of my sample was too close to my existing lip colour to be very interesting...

Birchbox April 2015

Can you even tell I'm wearing lip shade? I can't.

I'd consider trying another shade someday. Maybe several if they release a set of minis, as this is a great pocket size! Actually, to be honest, I'd buy a lot more lip products if they came in this kind of size instead of giant pen-sized. The small samples get used way more often than the big ones in my life!

Birchbox April 2015

Overall:
The eyeshadow kind of made this box, for me! But the other products are all things I will use (perhaps more than the eyeshadow, even) and good examples of their respective genres. Nice samples this month, Birchbox!
terriko: (Default)
2015-06-01 04:31 pm

Small Starry Sweater / Baby Astronomy Sweater

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.

My friends are having their 2nd child, and since I actually kind of love making baby sweaters (so small! so cute!) I decided to prepare something to welcome her into the world.


Baby Astronomy Sweater


The Yarn


This sweater is actually the first thing I’ve made from my Rose City Yarn Crawl haul. The yarn crawl is a whirlwind weekend++ of yarn shopping. This year (2015) there were 15 shops in the Portland area participating. Believe it or not, that’s not even all the yarn shops in this area! I convinced a friend of mine to come out to Oregon for a visit just to do the crawl and have an excuse to see parts of the area I hadn’t visited yet.


I went a little overboard with the buying, since you got a free pattern (sometimes two!) in each store with purchase. But they had so many neat special “trunk shows” on and so many lovely yarns I’d never tried before, so I kind of bought a year’s worth of fun new experiences for myself, and I don’t regret that at all. Can you spot the yarn I used in the photo of my whole Rose City Yarn haul?


Rose City Yarn Haul


The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a 47% cotton/48% acrylic/5% metallic yarn blend. Colourway is “Nautical Blue” (22). The blend is a bit less stiff than many cottons, and less scratchy than many sparkly yarns. It’s not the softest thing I’ve ever worked with, but it’s got a nice balance of feel, look, and easy-care. And strangely, although Cascade is a very popular yarn mill, and I’ve made at least one pattern from their popular books, I think this may be the first thing I’ve made with their yarn! (but not the last: I even have another project completed from another blend of theirs, but it’s a christmas present so you won’t be seeing it for a while!)


I knew at the time of the crawl that I’d be making a baby sweater, but I hadn’t decided what it was going to look like exactly, despite having queued up a bunch of patterns so I’d have some idea of what yarn requirements I had for each. But when I saw the blue sparkly cotton yarn, I knew I wanted to try it for the baby sweater. Starry sweater!


Starry Sweater Sleeve


(I might just love stars. Hey, that second photo was taken on a trip with dad K!)


The dad of the incoming baby once said he’d like me to be a force for science in his kids’ lives. I don’t get to see the family much since I don’t live in the same country any more, but I try to think about that when I prepare gifts for his family. This has been awesome because it gives me an excuse to look at science toys everywhere and claim it’s research for the kids. (Most recently at the big Maker Faire in San Mateo!) My gifts haven’t been all that science-oriented yet since even the eldest is a bit young for some of the building toys that I’d like to get her. But that blue yarn said space, and astronomy is science, so thus the sweater was born!


The Pattern: Offest Wraplan


Offest Wraplan pattern link on ravelry


This pattern has a big warning saying it’s not tech edited, but lots of people have figured it out and I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I do remember there being something a bit weird about the way they handled the ribbing: I think the pattern was done where the ribbing is written with the right side flipping, so in one section you’re purling where you knit in another section, and it seems confusing or wrong until you sit down and work it through.


I made some changes to do a more mistake-rib style ribbing on it in the end, because I liked the way it looked in that yarn in my test swatch. That change was a bit annoying to translate because of the way the pattern reverses things so I had to flip where my twisted stitches were, but I figured it out.


The one thing I should say is that you should pay attention to the number of stitches you pick up for the front panel. When I picked up every one, I got this:


Slightly lopsided starry sweater


So I had to rip that back and try again, skipping a few stitches when I picked up to make it straight.


The details: Buttons!


I had originally planned for there to be a big star on the side of this sweater and then regular buttons, but when I saw the star buttons in the store I changed my plans:


Baby Astronomy Sweater


How cute are those?


I do feel a teensy bit guilty, though, as they’re a bit annoying to use in conjunction with the ribbing I chose. If I’d planned in advance, I could have chosen an edging that was smoother. But they’re so cute, and even after I realized the flaw I figured the cuteness was worth it. At least my friend’s a photographer and he’ll likely get a chance to admire the cuteness in family photos long after the experience of actually using the buttons has faded? (Dear K – I will not be offended if you use this as a pullover after trying to use the buttons once, and I’m sorry I sacrificed function for form. But they’re so cute!)


The details: Appliqué


But now I had a problem. If I put a shooting star on the side as I’d originally intended, would it be just too repetitive? Would I have to futz over making the star exactly match the buttons or it would drive me crazy?


I could have just left it as an offset sweater without appliqué, but that’s such a big space on the side there…


Baby Astronomy Sweater


I’m not the one who hit on the solution. I think it was either my friend M or my sister when we were on Teamspeak playing diablo/knitting/gossiping who suggested the crescent moon:


Baby Astronomy Sweater


And that’s at the point where it went from “Small Starry Sweater” to “Baby Astronomy Sweater.”


I was reminded that it’s a bit annoying to sew something perfectly smoothly onto unfelted knitting because the stitches provide texture that doesn’t line up with your appliqué, but I decided to go for “look handmade” with chunky embroidery stitches. It’s baby clothes, so it’s bound to get messed up anyhow! I do hope this one get re-purposed to doll clothing or something, though, it’s so cute and it’s a shame that at that size, it may only get worn once or twice before it’s outgrown. Ah well, that’s the risks of making baby clothes!


The details: fait avec amour


I’ve never really added clothing labels to the things I make, but I saw these cute “fait avec amour” labels on Knitpicks and thought they were too cute to pass up. I always am pleased when I see French down in the US at all, and the baby this is for has lots of francophones in her family tree!


And while I was at it, I figured I might as well add a washing instruction label. Never hurts to be sure of how you should care for a handknitted piece, although knowing her dad it was bound to be machine washed and dried no matter what!


Baby Astronomy Sweater


Conclusions


Yarn


The sparkles in this are absolutely amazing in person, and the yarn was easy to work with. I love how it holds crisp corners, so I think it was a good fit for this pattern even though there exist softer cottons I could have tried.


Pattern


Despite the dire warnings about tech editing, it’s not bad. Not entirely beginner-friendly, in my opinion, but fine if you don’t mind thinking your way through it and have enough experience reading patterns to do so. I love the shape of the final project with the wide neckline, and I liked the way it left space for my own themeing. You could make hundreds of these and not feel like any of them were really the same.


Overall


When I gave this to the family, big sis was kind of upset that this sweater wasn’t for her. (I wonder if I could scale up this sweater to her size and do it in some other pretty yarn…) It may be just the grabbiness of a (then) almost-two year old, but I take it to mean that the baby astronomy sweater is an object of desire. That’s good, right?


Whims of almost-two-year-olds aside, I liked this and will almost certainly make this pattern again!

terriko: (Default)
2015-05-14 04:04 pm

Yarn of the Month Club review, April 2015

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.

This is my third yarn of the month club envelope, which is significant because I only paid for 3 months up-front and promised myself I’d make a decision thereafter. Only two samples once again, but I liked them!


The samples for April 2015:

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


Pattern: Spring Showers Hood


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


This is a cute little pattern that I’m tempted to make just to see if I’d use it. I’m not much for cowls, but I like hats, so maybe? No author given, no reference to it in ravelry, so I guess it’s just a YOTM special.


Tenzing


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


Tenzing

“This is a great blend. The merino gives it bounce and the yak adds just a little haze.”

6.25 sts/inch on US 3-4

85% Merino Wool 15% Yak

153 yds Color: 13


I love this yarn. Soft but shows off the stitch pattern nicely. I’ve definitely pet yak-blend yarns before, since J has a particular fondness for Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ YAKSI Fingering in Tardis Blue, but I hadn’t knit anything with yak in it myself. This was definitely a treat!


Look at it, even before it was blocked:

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


I liked this stitch motif for the swatch, which makes a nice zigzaggy cable across the top of each rib. It’s nice and stretchy, but a little more solid than a regular rib because of the teensy zig-zag cables. I may have to find a way to use this in a pattern!


And here it is blocked:

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


I wouldn’t mind picking up some more of this, and I’m definitely interested in trying some more yak blends now, even if they are pricey!


Azalea


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


Azalea

“Soft and strong cotton”

5.5 sts/inch on US 6

100% Printed Cotton

262 yds Color: 207 Monet


This is a really nice soft cotton. Not fuzzy the way the yak yarn is, but easy to bend and knit. It tends to unwind a bit; the loose twist that helps with the softness doesn’t do you favours in the “staying together” department, but I think the balance in that tradeoff was ok.


What I don’t like about this yarn is the way the colourway looks when it’s knit up. It looks ok in the ball. Interesting, at least. But put it together into a stitch pattern and it seriously makes this look like a grimy paint rag:


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


I’m not a huge fan of the “bluebell rib” swatch pattern provided, as it once again looks like a bunch of nostrils to me, and I think I probably should have flipped my yarn overs so that both holes worked out to be the same size, but I decided to just run with it rather than re-knit.


I don’t think this colourway does any favours the bluebell rib, unless you figure providing camouflage so you can’t see stacks of noses in photo is good. It’s a bit easier to see the shapes in person than in the blocked photos below, but it’s still not great.


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015


I think I actually like the reverse side better in this case! But I did enjoy the yarn even if I think the colourway is too much and the stitch pattern is too nasal. I would consider buying this in another colour if I had a project that could use a soft cotton.


Conclusion


Even though there were only two samples this month, these two were both really fun yarns to try out and they weren’t very much like other yarns I already have, so I’m pretty pleased! I definitely feel like I got more bang for my buck than last month.


So in the end, I’ve decided to continue the subscription. It’s $9.25/month for a fun little surprise in the mail, and I’m not having trouble making sure I knit the samples every month at least so far. I was worried these might pile up with all the travel I do, but in practice I really like having quick knit projects when I want a break from my bigger works in progress, or as a palette cleanser while I decide what to work on next. It’s actually kind of changed my attitude towards swatching, too, since I can just add my other swatches into the pile I’m building up from yarn of the month samples.


All my samples are going to make one *very* strange blanket, though.


Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

terriko: (Default)
2015-05-05 06:47 am

Summer Sweater for S (Sleeved version of The Cherry Variations)

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.

One of my personal goals for 2015 was to try knitting an adult-sized sweater. And I’m happy to say that I’ve managed it, although I admit I cheated a bit in making it for my sister rather than for myself, as she’s a few sizes smaller than I am.


S's Cotton Sweater


The Yarn


The yarn is KnitPicks Billow, which I picked up because my sister prefers things without animal fibers so that they won’t be bad for her boyfriend, who is allergic. It’s soft yarn and lovely feeling, but it’s a bit weird to work with because it has variable thickness. After a few test swatches, I decided it would be nicest in a simple stockinette that showcased the homespun feel of the yarn, since the other things I tried seemed to be fighting it.


The pattern


This is based off The Cherry Variations [ravelry link], a most excellent free pattern from Knitty’s Spring 2003 edition. (I didn’t even know how to knit back then!)


However, if you go look at that pattern, you’ll notice mine’s a fair bit different from the original…


Untitled


So what happened?


1. Stripes. These are simple, 8 rows wide, 3 colours.


2. I decided to add some sleeves. I actually didn’t plan to do this, but when it got done the sleeveless version I decided it would be nicer with some sleeves. So I picked up stitches around the arm opening and did them seamless-style. I think there were 35 stitches the way I picked ’em up. I knit the sleeves straight at the top, with stripes to match the body. (My stripes are 8 rows wide.)


When I got down to a bit before wrist length, I decided belled sleeves would be hilarious in this yarn because of the way it drapes. To do this, I divided the stitches into 3 (it wasn’t quite even but close), placed markers (since I was using 2 circulars at this point) and increased at the stitch markers every 3rd row, approximately, for the last two stripes (so last 16 rows).


I cast off using some ludicrously stretchy bind-off from this page comparing bind-off methods. I think it was Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.


S's Cotton Sweater


3. The thing you might not notice immediately is that I decided to add a crochet border along the neckline. I found that the sweater as was tended to be a little too off-the-shoulder on me, and since my sister has much less wide shoulders, I figured that would be annoying and would eventually stretch it out to the point of uselessness. So I looked up stabilizing methods online and settled on a simple single crochet.


S's Cotton Sweater


I didn’t think to take a picture of myself wearing it, so no modelled shot. I figured it would just look ill-fitted anyhow, as the shaping around the bust line was made with my sister’s approximate measurements in mind, so it was quite tight on my rib cage, let alone my bust.


I don’t know how much she likes it, but it does fit, at least!


20150323-IMG_7200.jpg


I kind of fell in love with the yarn as I was knitting it, and I like the pattern enough that I’m strongly considering making one for myself, even though it’s cotton and not exactly the most suitable for the Pacific Northwest’s soggy weather!

terriko: (Default)
2015-04-14 11:16 pm
Entry tags:

"but it is not going to be installed"

Playing with docker and the mailman bundler today in an attempt to get some images running, and I hit a point where I got this:


root@fd97a058ea83:~/mailman-bundler# apt-get install python3-dev
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
python3-dev : Depends: libpython3-dev (= 3.4.0-0ubuntu2) but it is not going to be installed
Depends: python3.4-dev (>= 3.4.0-0~) but it is not going to be installed
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.


It was very non-obvious to me what was going on and google wasn't super helpful, so I'm posting in case someone else searches for the same "but it is not going to be installed" installed error message.

Turns out, what happened is that I needed to run apt-get update, and now it's happy.

Well, at least relative to that... buildout in mailman-bundler is complaining about numpy so I've still got some work to do!
terriko: (Default)
2015-04-07 04:31 pm

Yarn of the Month Club review, March 2015

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.

Well, no one’s come after me for spilling the secrets of the Yarn of the Month Club, so I guess it’s time to post another review. This is for March, so I guess I’m not surprised that there’s some green yarn.


Here’s the two samples:


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


With this came a Beanie Cap pattern and instructions for two squares using the yarn.


Pattern: Beanie Cap


No author given for this, probably because it’s too simple to claim ownership of it. It’s a basic toque with a k2p2 ribbed edge and stockinette body, a nice staple to have in one’s collection but probably not something I’ll be knitting up immediately.


Here’s the yarn in their baggies, so you have the names:


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


Let’s talk about the white one first…


Moments


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015



Moments

“Fun and funky fur”

7 sts/in on US 5

100% Polyester

98 yds Color 471 or 470


This is a pretty typical fur/eyelash yarn. I’ve done enough variants of fluffy yarn that I’m pretty comfortable with it, and it was nice that this wasn’t of the sort that sheds. I’d be kind of disappointed in getting this since it wasn’t exactly a new fiber experience for me, but I did learn something due to the swatch pattern:


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


The swatch has every 4th row as a sl1 p3 pattern, and it *really* tightens up the piece (which is otherwise garter stitch). That’s a good technique to know if I ever do a scarf out of an eyelash yarn again!


The swatch pattern leaves faint lines across the piece. I couldn’t seem to get them to show up in my photos, since the light characteristics of the yarn mean I’d have had to be more selective about my lighting, but you can feel them under the fuzz and I kind of like the effect.


Rübezahl


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015



Rübezahl

“Soft and superwash – a workhorse of a yarn”

4.25 sts/inch on US 7

20% Wool and 80% Acrylic

447 yds Color 57 or 73


This is a wool/acrylic blend that didn’t really work for me. It’s got too much acrylic to block very well, and the “leaf” pattern of the swatch suffers for it, although it does result in the back looking especially like nostrils to me:


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


(Sorry about the excessively small depth of field; I forgot to switch camera settings)


Frankly, I think it does better as a nostril pattern than it does as a leaf, with them all running together like that, but it’s an old standard, I guess.


Pattern aside, I’m not sure what niche the Rübezahl yarn fills: it’s got too much wool to be useful for folks who can’t handle animal fibers, and too much acrylic for you to experience the greater flexibility in a wool fiber. I guess at least it has nice stitch definition, and it seems like it might be warm and hard-wearing for stuff like slippers?


I am, however, very pleased that I remembered how to do an umlaut on my mac, so there’s that. ;)


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


Here’s the finished piece being held down by pins for blocking, but frankly it rebounded back to look almost like it did unblocked.


Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


And here’s both of them so you can see it unblocked:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015


You can also see there that the white swatch is really not square. Oh well, it’s going to be hilarious when I put these squares together in a blanket because of the density, so why not the shape as well?


Conclusion


I’m not going to lie, with only two samples and one of them pretty meh, I’m not very impressed with this month’s offerings. But I still enjoyed knitting up the samples for the purpose of trying new stitch patterns, and I learned a useful thing about making eyelash yarn knit up more densely, something that I think will be useful for scarves and hats in the future.


If this had been my first sample, I’d probably be on the verge of giving up, but since I enjoyed the first one, I’m willing to be optimistic. I only bought a 3-month subscription, so after next month I’ll have to decide if I want to renew!

terriko: (Default)
2015-04-06 08:27 pm
Entry tags:

Birchbox March 2015

This Birchbox is much prettier than last month's eye-searing box. (I'll post pictures/reviews of last month's later; I was busy with a visiting friend and didn't do it on the usual timeline.)

Birchbox March 2015

I actually managed to catch the "choose one sample!" email, so I chose the hair stuff. It was a good choice!

Now, to the reviews:

Birchbox March 2015 2015


With the muslin cloth included, it seems that this is intended as a whole facial cleansing ritual, and it's a pleasant one. I like the eucalyptus and plant-y scent, and the whole experience with the hot cloth makes it feel fancy and thorough. It's like a little mini spa treatment every night, which is a bit more work but I kind of enjoyed working it into my nighttime rituals. I'll consider purchasing this when my current facial cleanser runs low, but I would plan to buy a few extra cloths since they recommend laundering them every other use or so.

Birchbox March 2015 2015

It's a 10® Miracle Leave-In Product




This is the sample I chose!

This is a leave in hair product fitting a similar niche to the beauty protector one that I sampled earlier and now use regularly. I like that the scent is a bit lighter and dissipates faster in the It's a 10 product, making it more suitable for low-scent environments like my workplace. I wish I knew why it makes me think of berries every time I apply it! I don't think it's quite as good a detangler nor do the effects last as long as with my existing product, but the lighter smell is enough of an asset that I'm quite happy to have it as an option in my hair care toolbox!


Birchbox March 2015 2015

Elite Therapeutics Rosemary Eucalyptus Body Crème



This is another plant-smelling moisturizer. Seems like a reasonably effective lotion, takes a bit more rubbing to blend in than some. I quite like the combo rosemary-eucalyptus smell when it's going on, but I found the lingering scent of eucalyptus on my hands started to drive me nuts after a while. Thankfully, though, it's got a nice gender-neutral packaging, so my boyfriend was happy to take it off my hands (har har) and make good use of it as a convenient travel-sized lotion for his kit.

Birchbox March 2015 2015

Roloxin™ Lift Revitalizing Facial Treatment



With only a few exceptions, I enjoy trying out new face masks. Sadly, this is one of those exceptions: it dries to a powder finish, and then removing it made me sneeze like I'd been going through dusty books. It felt tightening as it dried out, but I couldn't tell much difference in my face after except for redness caused by needing to rub and rinse a lot of times to get rid of the dust. Despite my best efforts, it left chalky residue in my eyebrows and around my hair line, making them feel dirty and weird. The drying to powder experience was fun, though, it was just the removal that was too annoying for me.

I have a second packet if anyone wants to try it, although given my review, you're probably not going to be too tempted. ;)

Here's what it looks like dried on my face:
20150404-IMG_8362.jpg

(when it's wet it looks like sunscreen or moisturizer you haven't blended in)

And here's what it looks like when half-removed, so you can see the difference relative to my skin colour:

20150404-IMG_8364.jpg

Entertaining once, but too annoying to open that second packet. If anyone wants me to mail it to them, just ask. ;)

Birchbox March 2015 2015


Jelly Pong Pong GLOW GETTER Highlighter



This is a little jar of sparkle for your face! You'd think I'd be totally into this, but since my moisturizer-sunscreen already has a sparkle-vampire kind of effect, it's a bit excessive for regular use. Still, the effect is fun, and I've had a good time blending it with my matte cheek colours to try out new effects.

Conclusion:

Nothing in this box is going to change my life, but I had a good time trying most of it, and that's what sample boxes are for, right?
terriko: (Default)
2015-03-02 05:30 pm

Hello Kitty Amigurumi ("Bring me the head of Hello Kitty!")

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.

Hello Kitty Crochet is a book I have coveted since I knew it existed, in part due to nostalgia as I remember getting little cute Japanese things on occasion as a kid, but also because it just looked like a fantastic set of amigurumi crochet patterns with lots of details and cute photos.


Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurumi…
Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurumi Patterns for Sanrio Friends
by Mei Li Lee


J’s parents were sweet enough to get me a copy for my birthday. So of course, the thing to do is to make the titular character and send her back with a thank you note! I have no idea what they’re ever going to do with a little Hello Kitty, but what has one ever done with Hello Kitty other than admire her, really?


I finished her head pretty quickly, then got side-tracked by something else so there was just this severed head lying around the house for a week:

Hello Kitty Amigurumi


Eventually, though, she got some more body parts:


Hello Kitty Amigurumi


The strange one there is the bow. I am quite sure that there’s an error in the book, because they have you doing 4 sc and then 3 sc in one, which would give you a total of 7 sc across… but then the next line says you should turn and do 9 sc plus another 3-in-one. Does not compute, Hello Kitty. Through looking at the pictures and some online research my best guess is that you’re not supposed to turn your work front to back but rather make an oval by crocheting around the other side of the original chain, so that’s what I wound up doing.


Here’s a picture where you can see it better:

Hello Kitty Amigurumi


And here’s one so you can see that she does indeed have a tail:

Hello Kitty Amigurumi


What you can’t see is that she has washers in her butt to make her a bit weighted and not top heavy. I debated putting a rare earth magnet in there too, but I couldn’t really think when that would be useful, so I went with just the washers.


To fill out the post, here’s some photos with a Hello Kitty Makeup box I got when it was on sale at Sephora:

Hello Kitty Amigurumi


Very kawaii, indeed. I’d originally intended to felt her, but once I got her features on I didn’t want to mess them up. Maybe next time!


Hello Kitty Amigurumi


Hello Kitty Amigurumi


If you don’t know how big that box is, it might be hard to tell how big she is. Here’s a shot with a ruler, although the one I have with the ruler up and down didn’t turn out so well, so you’ll have to guesstimate from the one where it’s beside her. She’s a little under 3in high.

Hello Kitty Amigurumi


Aside from the issue with the bow, I found the directions pretty clear. They’d be suitable for a crochet/amigurumi beginner if you’re eager to try her out. I can’t wait to try some of the other patterns in the collection!

terriko: (Default)
2015-02-27 05:31 pm

Blue starry math pony (using @valleyviolet's pattern!)

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.

Ever since I saw Valleyviolet’s Pony Pattern collections, I’ve wanted to make one. I finally bought the collection in order to make the Pink Fluffy Unicorn mascot for Quelab (who is apparently MIA right now, likely stolen by the same person who vandalized the room sign; much sadness. She was a lot of work!), but I didn’t want to jump right into fighting with fun fur, and I’m fortunate enough to know a little girl of around the right age to enjoy a pony, so…


Custom my little pony for V


I went with blue and stars not out of any particular reason other than I liked the way the two fabrics looked together. The recipient’s young and lives far away from me, so I don’t know much about her preferences yet! However, I *do* know that her mom’s a mathematician and that her dad would like me to be a science role model for her. So the pony came with a book:


Custom my little pony for V


The book, as you can’t quite see in that photo, is “The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdős.” I was super excited when I first heard of it, as it’s a beautifully illustrated children’s book about a rather famous mathematician. One of the things he did was travel the world, collaborating with mathematicans all over the place. Mathematicians sometimes talk about their Erdős Number, which indicates degrees of collaborators on your published papers leading back to the man himself. (I published a paper with someone who’s number is 2, so mine is 3, a number worthy of bragging about at math parties!). My Calculus prof, an excellent storyteller, used to tell us tales of Erdős at the end of class sometime, and I was totally enchanted to hear more of them through the book. And the art works a lot of careful math and real people into the story, which is amazing. I also love that it doesn’t shy away from the fact that he was a man who couldn’t do his own laundry but helped do so much math that people were willing to welcome him into their homes.


The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life…
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos
by Deborah Heiligman, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)


I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve got a kid in your life who could use a gift!


It’s also a kind of funny pairing with this pony, as some folk have this theory that one of the My Little Ponies with somewhat similar colouring also really likes math. Not an intentional joke on my part, but I’ll take it!


So back to the pony construction…


Much like how representations of humans can have an uncanny valley effect if things are close but a little off, my experience is that this is a pattern that can go kind of horribly wrong if you don’t pay attention to the details. I originally sewed her head on in a weird way and was totally disappointed with the end result. I wasn’t even going to give it to V, it was so awful. I didn’t even take pictures (which is a shame in hindsight because the comparison was so striking). But after ruminating a while, I tried again, and with her nose tipped up just so, she got the curious look I was hoping for.


Custom my little pony for V


Valleyviolet’s instructions are very detailed and clear, and there’s a lot of work put into the shaping that really shows in the final product. There’s also just a lot of thought put into the instructions. I’ve actually never worked with a pattern that was so careful about explaining things, and I’ve got to say the patterns are worth every penny as a result. You can can buy her pony patterns here, and I promise you can make much more polished ponies than I did!


Custom my little pony for V


I think when I do my next one, I’ll have to be a bit more careful about marking the notches and just generally careful about the stitching. I also need to invest in some heavier weighting for her legs since, as you can see, she doesn’t quite keep all four feet on the floor sometimes. (This was right after she came out of my suitcase from my flight to Ottawa, though, so I can’t blame her for looking a bit disheveled!)


Custom my little pony for V


I don’t know how much the recipient cared for the pony, and to be honest she’s a bit young for the book yet, so I didn’t win any gift giving awards here, but it was fun to do and I really loved the pattern.


I think I’m going to try out the shoulder pony pattern next, once I find some suitable beanbag filling!