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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

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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!

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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!

terriko: (Default)
2015-02-23 05:31 pm

Yarn of the Month Club review, February 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 month, I joined a yarn subscription club that No One Talks About on the Internet. So of course, I’m going to talk about it on the internet. I hope I’m not breaking some unspoken rule by telling you about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be pleased if I broke some rule. Knowledge for all!


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


First, though, let’s back up to how I wound up joining this club. I’ve been intrigued for a while by the idea of yarn subscriptions.


On the plus side:

+ Surprise yarn!

+ Trying new things!

+ Learning about new dyers and mills and whatever!

+ Getting some patterns to inspire me!

+ And having enough yarn to complete the projects!


But on the down side:

– Most of the boxes are moderately expensive. Around $40/month is pretty normal, and you can pay much more.

– … so if you hate what you get, you’re going feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money

– I don’t think I actually use 2+ skeins of yarn every month, so it’s going to start to pile up


Some pricing:

Knitcrate has 6 subscription types, ranging from $22.50 for 5 minis/month to $65/month for indie yarns. Likely subscription for me would have been $55 for an intermediate/advanced box.

Yarnbox: $35.95/month, more for the luxe version (presumably)

There are lots of others, but those were the two that came up the most.


In the course of doing some research about options, I encountered Yarn of the Month, which sends out little teensy yarn samples instead of full skeins. Because it’s only a taste of yarn rather than a full meal, it rings in as a $9.25/month subscription (less if you get a few months at once). That hits that sweet spot on subscription boxes for me, where it’s easy to write off a bad month and won’t result in rapidly growing pile of stuff in my life. I’d miss out on some of the advantages, in exchange I’d basically wipe out all the disadvantages I listed, and instead miss out on extras that fancier boxes throw in. (That’s actually kind of a shame because I haven’t been knitting long enough to acquire a lot of the small tools that show up as extras!)


What finally pushed me to the decision brink was the assertion that you’d be able to do little 5 inch swatches from your teeny yarn balls, and put them together to have a blanket at the end of the year. So it wouldn’t even be a pile of craft clutter when I was done admiring them, and I’d be motivated to actually *use* the yarn. Awesome!


The problem is, I couldn’t find pictures of the yarn, the swatches, or even many people talking about this club. It was a giant social media void. I could find pictures for yarnbox, pictures for knitcrate, pictures for random yarn of the month clubs on etsy… but only a few forum stale threads for Yarn of the Month.


What to do? I contemplated for a bit, then figured I could afford to try it out and see what happened. But in the interest of helping others, I was darned well going to post some pictures when (if?) I actually got a shipment!


So here’s a review. Hopefully the lack of posts about the yarn is a lack of social media marketing rather than a sign that I have paid money into some sort of mysterious yarn cult that will be upset at this breach of unspoken social etiquette.


First, let me show you the yarn again on a different background to give you a sense of colour:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


I guess February was kind of red themed for valentine’s day.


Not pictured: the February Socks pattern from Birgitte Zeuner and instructions for 3 square swatches. Frankly, they’re printed on thin US letter paper and just not that attractive as a photography subject after being mooshed through the mail. Totally legible, but I might have invested in stiffer paper if I were running YOTM.


February Socks by Birgitte Zeuner


The February Socks pattern looks cute enough. I would have liked better pictures, but obviously I can find them on Ravelry so that works out.


Unfortunately, having just finished my first pair of adult socks, I’m not actually that excited about starting another one, so I think this is getting shelved indefinitely. I’m going to have to find a binder I can put these in! Maybe I’ll find a friend who’s super excited about this and I can pass it on, though.


Angora Lace


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Angora Lace

“Luxurious with a delicate bloom”

6.5 sts/inch on US 2

50% Merino Superwash 20% Angora 30% Nylon

462 yds Color: 102


This is soft and lovely in the ball as one would expect for Angora, and quite pleasant to knit with. It’s not fluffy and doesn’t seem to shed (ask me about my experience knitting pure angora bunny fur sometime) but instead just results in beautifully soft yarn. It’s tightly wound enough that it doesn’t split on those little size 2 needles, and it held up to some unknitting as I tried to end my swatch as close to the end of the ball as possible and mis-calculated.


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


It’s not the easiest thing to photograph since it is subtly fluffy and catches the light a lot, but that’s only annoying for the purposes of this post and not in general. (Actually, I’d totally be into anti-photography yarn… I should work on that with some retroreflective stuff.)


The swatch pattern provided uses double-wrapped knitting stitches, a technique I hadn’t tried but a video tutorial wasn’t too hard to find. I actually usually prefer non-video tutorials, but this one is short and clear. You put the needle through as if to knit then wrap the yarn twice instead of once around and knit those, leaving two loops on. then when you come across it in the next few rows, you don’t bother trying to keep those doubled but instead slip stitch through them, leaving you with one longer stitch floating over the fabric.


Here’s one regular vs one weirdly processed photo to show you the floating stitches:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The finished piece is super soft and pretty light. I suspect it'd be pretty warm, but it's hard to tell with just a swatch!


Saki Bamboo


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Saki Bamboo

“Soft and yummy with great stitch definition”

7 sts/inch on US 0

50% Merino Superwash 25% Nylon 25% Rayon from Bamboo

230 yds Color: 203


This one feels great in the ball, all silky smooth, but I found it actually a bit odd to work with. While I’m knitting it, it has that sort of squeaky/roughish feel that I associate with some acrylics, even though the finished piece feels nice.


I was so pleased when I figured out the swatch pattern:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


I’m thinking that I might see if I can incorporate this into the hem of a baby sweater in the near future. I’m not sure I’d buy this yarn, though. It wasn’t hard to work with and it does as promised have great stitch definition, but with so many yarns in the world “feels a little weird to knit” is enough to drop it off my personal to-buy list. I’ve never knit with bamboo before so I don’t know if that’s a function of the fiber or if I just didn’t love this particular blend, but I suspect the latter so maybe I’ll try some other bamboo blends out.


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


And finally here is is, blocking on my chair, so you can see the repeats better:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The finished, blocked piece is smooth and very light, so it might be a great for summer knits. To be honest, I like the stitch pattern best when it’s a single row, but the swatch was still fun to do!


Saki Silk


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Saki Silk

“Beautiful, subtle sheen and drape”

7 sts/inch on US 2

55% Fine Merino 25% Nylon 20% Silk

440 yds Color: 305


Silk blend yarn is one of my favourite treats for myself. I’m not sure that the stitch pattern really showed off the drape at all, though:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


It’s kind of a bumpy rib pattern with twisted stitches. It’s quite dense and doesn’t drape at all! What’s neat about this pattern is that it’s very reversible and feels completely different on both sides.


The bumpy rib side:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Much smoother back:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


The smooth side is where this yarn really appeals, since it’s got that little bit of silky slippery-ness.


I would strongly consider using this to replace ribbing on worn items like sweaters and mitts, since I like the look of the one side and the feel of the other.


The one thing that this pattern does show off is the yarn’s stitch definition:


Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015


Overall, I liked working with this yarn a fair bit: it’s soft, easy to work with, doesn’t snag too much, and the results are reasonably striking. I do wish I had a way to see if I actually like the drape, but I enjoyed the swatch pattern so much that it’s hard to really mind.




So in conclusion…


Do I still want a fancier, more expensive, larger yarn subscription?


Heck yeah, they sound lovely. But while I can afford more, this seems like a good balance of price and quantity for me. I think I’ll aim to spend money in my local yarn stores (there are so many here!) rather than risking it on a larger subscription at the moment.


Am I happy with this month’s box?


Heck yeah! I *loved* making the swatches. I’d never done any of those stitch patterns before, and I’m glad to add to my repertoire. And I’m glad to have tried all the yarns, although I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of any of them unless I had a specific project in mind. But I really like having samples of them all so I can tell if they *would* fit a given project.

terriko: (Default)
2015-02-16 05:56 am

February 2015 Knit-a-long: week 1 and 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.

A local designer (PDXKnitterati) started advertising her February Knit-a-long (KAL) and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s an excuse to try out one of her lovely patterns, to take more pictures for sharing (I definitely need more practice photographing my knitting projects to best effect) and there are even prizes, which is fun. This one came at just the right time for me, since those rainbow socks (see previous post) had been almost ready to come off the needles and I needed a push to get them done.


I’ve never tried a KAL before, although I guess I did have a mutual “create as many crocheted angry birds as possible before PAX East” pact with my friend M one year, which I guess is sort of similar, maybe?


Feb 1st, I gathered up my ingredients… The pattern I’m using comes out of the Knitpicks “under 100″ (as in under 100g of yarn).


February 2015 KAL prep


The yarn is Knitpicks Gloss fingerling in the Kennai colourway. (Two 50g hanks, you see?)


February 2015 KAL prep


I had 3 bead options, all of which I liked. At a suggestion, I tried a swatch with them all to see which ones worked best for me:


February 2015 KAL


The silver and gold were clearly better than the blue/greens (which barely showed up) but what really decided me was thinking of ferns and what the fruiting bodies look like:


Fern fruiting bodies (pairs of them running along the underside of the frond) from  A Digital Flora of Newfoundland and Labrador Vascular Plants Fern fruiting bodies (pairs of them running along the underside of the frond) from A Digital Flora
of Newfoundland and Labrador
Vascular Plants


The pattern beads are designed to go in the center, but I liked the idea of brown to remind me of real ferns anyhow. Perhaps someday I’ll work on some fern lace with pairs of beads, though!


Here’s what it looks like in the shawl:

February 2015 KAL


After a few false starts and times where I had to rip back to where I went wrong, I finally made it through a few repeats of the pattern. Here’s how far I was near the end of the first week:


February 2015 KAL


I guess I must have been tired since I blocked it upside-down. Thankfully, that doesn’t matter!


Now that we’re at the end of week 2, I’ve gotten much further! Here’s one to show the current length.

February 2015 KAL (Week 2)


I was actually the lucky recipient of the week 1 prize, which was a pair of bead aids. This has made it way easier to put on the beads, as previously I was using a teensy crochet hook that didn’t quite grab all the yarn, so sometimes it would take me 2 (or more!) tries to get the bead on. The bead aids are much easier to get right, so that’s helped a lot. Here’s a wingpsan-y view to show the beads and the detail of that blocked tip while it’s rightside up!


February 2015 KAL (Week 2)


And finally, here’s a photo with real live ferns!

February 2015 KAL (Week 2)


Those last photos were taken along the Columbia River Gorge, since we have an out-of-town friend visiting and since she’s a photographer and it’s been a gorgeous weekend, we’ve been trying to hit some prime photo spots. So to round this out, here’s a picture of the famous Multnomah Falls:


Multnomah Falls


It’s a bit of a unusual photo because the falls are usually photographed vertically to show off how tall they are. I was showing off my new very wide lens to my boyfriend, which is why I took this one, but I kind of like it because it’s not a shot you see that much! (Sadly, I didn’t get it perfectly horizontal, so clearly I’ll have to try this again another day…)


Want more KAL photos? I have an album for them which has a few that I didn’t put here. More waterfalls will probably show up in my flickr photostream shortly as I process the weekend’s photos.

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2015-02-09 07:46 am

Making my own yarn swift

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.

A yarn swift is something that holds a hank of yarn so you can wind it into a ball or skein. Here’s a useful link on the typical ways to package yarn, in case you’re not familiar.


Yarn swift


When I was mostly buying relatively inexpensive yarn at the craft store for amigurumi, I’d get it in skein form and be ready to go. Which is awesome! But those ultra-washable bright coloured acrylics that I enjoy for crochet don’t work as well for some of the fancier knitting patterns and colour work I want to do now — it really helps to have some forgiving natural fiber that can be wetted and reshaped to look just so.


(Yarn snobs here might give me a hard time over the synthetic yarns, but they still have a place in my repertoire!)


So the end result is that I get a lot more yarn in “hank” form, and while I find winding balls to be pretty relaxing, I don’t love trying to wrap the yarn around my knees and keep it from getting tangled as I do it.


February 2015 KAL


Thankfully, the internet knows how to make a yarn swift. I modified this a bit, because I didn’t care as much about portability and I wanted something a bit smoother with some real ball bearings in there, so when John and I were wandering around the hardware store finding parts, he came up with the idea of using a Lazy Susan bearing.


This one was a joint effort between me and John, with him doing a lot of the heavy work and me doing more of the detailing. I feel a bit silly about this, as I’d intended to do it myself, but he’s got much steadier hands and greater strength so it’s probably safer to have him to it. He did teach me to use the router, though, which is one of the few pieces of woodworking equipment we own that I’d never used!


Routing!


But mostly I took photos and measured and turned things over to John for drilling or cutting:

Measure twice...John at the drill press


I also cleaned the garage workspace, vacuumed, and at least tried to keep him company. I also did some sanding and hand filing for things that didn’t quite match up. As you may have noticed in that earlier picture, neither of us is super precise at the routing.

Doesn't quite fitThe base


I asked John to round the ends so they wouldn’t catch on the yarn, and he did a lovely job, then I stained the whole thing up, let it dry, and reassembled it… only to find that the pegs for holding the yarn no longer fit in the holes due to expansion. Oops. A bit of drilling later, though, and we got it up and running.


Stained pieces:

Stained yarn swift piecesStained yarn swift pieces


First test with yarn!

Yarn SwiftYarn swift with wool!


You might recognize the stain as the same one I used on Puppy K-9, as this is the only stain we own.


Here’s the final product:

XOXO


I’m pretty happy with it! I wish I’d looked for a smaller bearing than the lazy Susan as I found out that it’s possible to fit a yarn tail into the bearings where it gets all slimy from the lubricant. But that’s what the store had, and it does make this a pretty solid device. And I only got the yarn tail caught once out of the 5 balls I’ve done on it so far, so it’s reasonably avoidable if you know you need to wind up the tail on a pole.


I do like how it looks so fancy all stained up. I was worried that I’d find it too bulky and be sad I hadn’t gone with the collapsible version, but I’m actually kind of tempted to try sticking it to the wall with that 3m wall hook stuff and seeing if I can use it as functional art!

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2015-02-08 02:01 pm
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Birchbox January 2015

I finally dropped my Wantable subscription, since I'm at the point where I didn't really need more soft bras, sleepware, or even probably socks for a while.

To be fair, I don't need makeup either... but Birchbox is fun and only $10/month. :)

Here's January's box:

Birchbox January 2015
My blush brush is in there for scale (not included in the box).

Birchbox January 2015

Davines OI / Shampoo


This was a very generous sample! The shampoo lathers well, cleans nicely, and the smell doesn't linger too strongly once my hair is dry. But it is pretty strong while still wet and honestly, the smell just wasn't for me.


Davines OI / Conditioner



The instructions for this suggest you towel dry hair, apply, and then rinse out. I agree that this needs a rinse out because the smell is much too strong otherwise. But that's way too much work unless the product does something amazing, or smells so great that you'd want to be in a cloud of it all day. Sadly, I don't love the smell, and my existing leave-in does just as nice a job on my hair while being less hassle.

Davines OI / Oil Absolute Beautifying Potion




Given my dislike for the smell of this, I couldn't really bring myself to use it as directed and put it directly in my hair. I may eventually try it as an overnight hair mask, but only if I've got enough time to wash my hair thoroughly in the morning.

Birchbox January 2015

Sweet Science Invisible Daily Tint SPF 35



Nice, simple tinted sunscreen, smells vaguely fresh and citrus-like. Cute container. Hard to blend because it's so thick and sticky, but that might mean good things as far as being effective sunscreen.

You can see how thick it is by how the sample is a giant blob on the lid:
Birchbox January 2015

Still, it looks hilarious while I'm putting it on:
Birchbox January 2015

Birchbox January 2015

Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge

I love the cityscape packaging! (I tried to get a picture of it but it's more a thing you see as you turn it in your hand. Lovely, though!) All of these are named for cities and I got the "New York" colour, which is a bright red with a hint of orange to make it more coral-like. I was worried because the applicator looked kind of sketchy (think gooey velvet) but the product itself is nice.

Here's a picture of the brush. It's sort of scoop shaped with a slimy velvet cover. Works, but not exactly a texture sensation. (You can also see that the silver "new york" lettering on the cap is suffering some from a few trips to work in my pocket.)
Birchbox January 2015


And here's a very simple look with me wearing the tinted sunscreen and the lip rouge (note how it looks more orange on my lips than it does in the tube):
Birchbox January 2015
I like it!


Birchbox January 2015

Essentiel Elements Wake Up Rosemary Body Lotion

The old school medicine bottle really works with the slightly medicinal scent of this body lotion, while still feeling fancy. I am strangely taken with this little body lotion as a result! Birchbox combined with J's mom kind of keeps me in more body lotion that I'm going to use, but I'd consider buying this because I find it amusing.

Birchbox January 2015

Harvey Prince Hello Liquid Loofah

Normally I complain about scents, but I actually kind of adore "Hello" which is some sort of citrus-y thing. I feel like it makes me feel more awake in the shower, although I suppose that could be the caffeine. I'm not so sure about the whole "liquid loofah" thing, though: this is such a light exfoliant that I can barely feel it if I apply it to my face, which is usually too sensitive for such things. But as a shower gel, it works and I like the smell, and that's basically all I want.


Birchbox January 2015

In conclusion...

I disliked the scent of the hair products, but the rest was pretty good!
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2015-02-08 11:51 am
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Book Reviews, the novels and the nonfiction, January 2015

Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel) by…
Night Broken (A Mercy Thompson Novel)
by Patricia Briggs

This wasn't my favourite Mercy Thompson book since I'm not a huge fan of passive-aggressive relationship crap (and there's plenty of that as Adam's ex wife comes to stay with them), but the rest of the book is good, and Coyote's in fine form as always. Definitely not the finest book of the series, but not one to miss if you're already a fan!

Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy…
Closer to Home: Book One of Herald Spy (Valdemar)
by Mercedes Lackey

This is a book that seriously pleases my inner teenager, although my adult self notices and wishes for more for the women of Valdemar. I don't know how well it would stand up if you weren't already familiar with the world, but if you loved Mercedes Lackey as a kid, this is a nice journey back to Valdemar.

Ashes of Honor (October Daye) by Seanan…
Ashes of Honor (October Daye)
by Seanan McGuire

I'm a big fan of Seanan McGuire's InCryptid books (as well as her books written as Mira Grant) but I'd found the October Daye series hard to get into because poor Toby takes so much abuse. So I would read a novel, think "that was amazing but I can't take another of those" and wait 6 months before spotting one on a library shelf and thinking "oh, right, I should figure out which one I read last..."

Toby's still getting beaten up a lot, but in this novel especially I feel like she's finally getting into her own, and directing her destiny rather than just getting tossed around. But what made this particular book amazing to me was that it marks the first time where I read an October Daye book and thought "I need the next one right now."

Chimes at Midnight (October Daye) by Seanan…
Chimes at Midnight (October Daye)
by Seanan McGuire

(... so of course, here's the next one!)

In this book, Toby gets her whole network of friends an allies working to save the world, and you can finally see where she really shines. I found it very satisfying to watch all those threads come together and see the major and minor reveals for so many characters. It does feel a lot like this is the book that the series has been heading towards, whether you knew it or not. In some series, this would be in the end, but for October Daye, this seems to be a new beginning.

The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium) by…
The Iron Trial (Book One of Magisterium)
by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare

I've really enjoyed both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare's books, so I was really excited to hear about this one. It's a pretty standard magical-high-school setup in a lot of ways, but plays with the tropes and tosses in red herrings to keep it interesting.

Unfortunately, I got this as an audiobook and the reader didn't exemplify what the voice in my head said Callum should feel like. I've never had this problem with an audiobook before! It was *really* distracting to deal with this constant dissonance, and I think I enjoyed the book less as a result.

I'm curious enough to still be anticipating the next volume in this series, but I think I'll get a hardcover instead of an audiobook.




And then, finally, a couple of non-fiction knitting books that I checked out as possible additions to my library:

200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's…
200 Fair Isle Motifs: A Knitter's Directory
by Mary Jane Mucklestone

This collection of Fair Isle motifs is nicely laid out, well photographed and explained. I can definitely see this being a worthwhile reference book for those doing a lot of colourwork. I'm not really there yet, but I'm happy that my public library has a copy.

Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down…
Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple…
by Ann Budd

I've got a goal of doing a sweater for the first time this year, and got this out of the library to get a better sense of pattern design. I found it clear and helpful, but I have a feeling that I'm going to have to actually construct a sweater to really grok how to apply the advice. I will probably put it on my list of books to own for my personal library, though.
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2015-02-02 12:54 am

Rainbow Socks

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.

When I started knitting, I promised myself I wouldn’t bother making socks. It’s just too much work for something that wears right out, I told myself. But gradually, I’ve started to notice that sock patterns have a lot of technique in them that I wanted to learn, and they’re much smaller and more manageable than a sweater.


So here’s my first adult-sized socks:


Rainbow Socks


The pattern is “ballet socks” from Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ book “Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks” (yes, I bought a sock book in a sale). I wanted to get some more complex cable practice, learn how to turn a heel, and make use of the lovely chroma yarn.


Rainbow Sock


It was slow to start and I kind of put these away in September when I started a big Christmas project (which I’ll show when I organize the photos!)


But I’m almost done. I was going to cast off a bit back, but the colour lengths aren’t *exactly* identical in the two balls of yarn and I knew it would drive me nuts if one side hit the green and the other hadn’t, so I’m doing another repeat so they’ll both be in green.


Rainbow Socks


The plan is to finish them tonight so I can start the next project today. But it’ll be dark by the time I finish, so you get pictures now. :)

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2015-01-31 12:38 pm
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Brief Comic Reviews, January 2015

It looks like I've read ~20 books this year already, although a lot of them were graphic novels so that's not quite as impressive as it might seem. Still, I'm going to break this up into a couple of posts and putting all the comics in one is as good a way as any to do it.

Oh, and remember that list? This first one ticks off a few boxes:

✓ A book with a color in the title
✓ A book by a female author
✓ A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
✓ A graphic novel

I expect some of those are going to be ticked off a lot of times on my list. Obviously the last one is *so* done now. ;)

Red Sonja Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues by…
Red Sonja Volume 1: Queen of the Plagues
by Gail Simone, Walter Geovani (Illustrator), Simon Bowland (Contributor)

I've never been particularly into the barbarians and had been turned off the chicks-in-chainmail overly sexualized look of Red Sonja covers in comic books stores, but I bought some Humble Comics Bundle specifically for this book, as I've liked Gail Simone's other work.

Reading this book brings me back to that time when S decided to carry a dead cat through all of Icewind Dale. She'll know what I mean, but maybe most of you won't.

So instead I'll say that I wasn't disappointed. This book features a Red Sonja that makes her strangely reminiscent of my sister: fierce in protecting her friends, determined to see things through to the end, occasionally capricious, and also quite happy to disregard the opinions of others when they're stupid. ;) I'd never really thought of the barbarian fighter in this way except when S is playing them.

It's a fun read, both a little subversive and a tribute to the genre.


Wolverine Volume 2: Killable (Marvel Now) by…
Wolverine Volume 2: Killable (Marvel Now)
by Paul Cornell, Marvel Comics (Illustrator), Alan Davis (Illustrator), Mirco Pierfederici (Illustrator)

From the "Wolverine's lost his healing powers and his enemies have found out" setup you'd this this book would be an epic battlefest, but the authors actually thought about what lost powers meant not only physically and tactically but also emotionally, not only for Wolverine but also for his friends and allies. This one has some surprisingly sweet and bittersweet moments.

I have to admit, though, it wasn't vividly memorable for me and writing this review weeks later is hard.

(This may tick off "✓ A book by an author you've never read before" judging from the list they have for him on wikipedia)

X-Men by Brian Wood - Volume 1: Blank…
X-Men by Brian Wood - Volume 1: Blank Generation
by Brian Wood, David Lopez (Illustrator)

Loved the art on this one, but I felt like I'd missed too much back story to really enjoy it, which is weird since it's a "volume 1" kind of deal.

Gambit, Vol. 1: Once A Thief by James Asmus
Gambit, Vol. 1: Once A Thief
by James Asmus, Clay Mann (Illustrator), Diogenes Neves (Illustrator)

To be honest, I barely remember anything about this one other than the art was nice.

The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale…
The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale (Pt. 1)
by Lora Innes

High school drama crossed with historical romance via Very Intense Dreams. I got drawn to this one as a webcomic because of the art, but Lora Innes' sheer joy in history makes it worth sticking around for. (Also worth going to read her blog posts about the real history behind the story!)

The Dreamer webcomic has just started up again after a hiatus, but if you're going to check it out for the first time right now, go back to the beginning, because those last few comics really don't make any sense unless you know the characters.

Oh look, there's ✓ A book by a female author again!
Also, ✓ A book based on a true story, although perhaps this isn't exactly what folk mean when they say that.

Young Avengers Volume 3: Mic-Drop at the…
Young Avengers Volume 3: Mic-Drop at the Edge of Time and Space (Marvel…
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrator)

I actually kind of hated volume 2 (too much chaos not enough depth for my liking), but this pushed past the "running aimlessly through dimensions" and into the "time to turn around and fight our mind-controlled parents and save the world" point. All in all, a nice wrap-up to the story arc.


Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman (Marvel Now) by…
Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman (Marvel Now)
by Matt Fraction, Annie Wu (Illustrator), Javier Pulido (Illustrator)

After the last volume, I'd been kind of wondering why this series had been getting so many accolades. (It's not awful, it just didn't seem as amazing as I was hearing.) But I understand now: it's not just about the Clint Barton Hawkeye, it's been the Kate Bishop hawkeye that makes the whole thing fit together and work. The comics were actually interleaved in original publishing, this book collects #14, 16, 18, 20. I understand why they collected them separately, but I think I would have enjoyed the Barton Hawkeye story so much more if I'd read it contrasted with the Bishop Hawkeye story. Kate's story is funny, clever, and so very human.

The Infernal Devices 3: Clockwork Princess…
The Infernal Devices 3: Clockwork Princess
by Cassandra Clare, Hyekyung Baek (Illustrator)

I think the manga adaptations of these books are kind of adorable, and this one does not disappoint. I'm not sure it'll be as meaningful without having read the novel, though.

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by Marvel…
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal
by Marvel Comics

After a poor experience trying to read the new X-men series as single issues (The format's a bit too short for me and I found the advertising was outright disruptive), I waited for a collected volume on this one to avoid making the same mistake. As I started hearing more and more hype, I started worrying that the book itself would never live up to the things I'd heard.

Thankfully, that wasn't my experience. The book is sweet, hitting some nerdy superhero teenager tropes I like, and playing off the non-white north american experience in a way that felt unsurprising after reading Secret Identities and getting so many comics recs off Angry Asian Man, but it's nice to see these things in such a big title. And Kamala isn't just written as a minority, where it's that part of her that defines her: she's also practical, smart, adorkable, and just enough introspective to give her sudden superheroism a depth that sometimes you don't see in the first volume of a new series.

I look forwards to more, and I guess having chickened out and gone with the library copy instead of buying it the day it came out, I may go invest in my own copy now. ;)

Black Widow & The Marvel Girls by Paul Tobin
Black Widow & The Marvel Girls
by Paul Tobin, Salva Espin (Illustrator), Jacopo Camagni (Illustrator)

This is a series of shorts about Black Widow teaming up with other women of the Marvel universe. I wasn't sold on the first tale, but the others were kind of neat looks into different depths of her character.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 1 by…
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 1
by Shinobu Ohtaka

This inspried-by-arabian nights manga just didn't do it for me. Too many over-the-top OMG REACTION moments, too much chaos and silliness, not enough story or character. It's a genre for low-attention-span boys, though, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I suspect this one could deepen to more, but I couldn't even make it through the first volume without wanting to skim it.

Soul Eater NOT!, Vol. 1 by Atsushi Ohkubo
Soul Eater NOT!, Vol. 1
by Atsushi Ohkubo

This one's cute: A new girl starts at a school for humans who can transform into weapons and the human "meister" (weaponmasters) who will pair up to become superheroes. I expected this to be kind of silly, but there was just enough in this to make me curious as to what happens next. I guess I have to find the next volume!

PS:
✓ A book set in high school
✓ A book with magic

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith…
The Adventures of Superhero Girl
by Faith Erin Hicks, Various (Illustrator)

The intro describes this as a story about being human, but also a superhero. This is exactly what gives it such charm, and Faith Erin Hicks' adorable art makes it perfect.

It also doesn't hurt that it's also very Canadian. (Why do the cats like the prime minister so much? Is a superhero qualified to work at Tim Horton's?) I think this is a book I need to own!
terriko: (Default)
2015-01-26 03:41 am

Pastasaurus and friends

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.

Continuing in my quest to process more photos, I’ve started aiming to do the Active Assignment Weekly challenges on Flickr. I think some of my favourite photos came from doing their challenges, but I hadn’t participated in a long time.


Here’s this week’s, the Pastasaurus:

Pastasaurus


He normally lives on our microwave so he’s ready whenever pasta needs stirring!


And here’s some from last week, the robots that make our neutral-toned rental less boring:


Robot blast off!  +100Robot light switch


I also uploaded some older photos from the Flock and Fiber festival, as part of my campaign to get old photos processed, but frankly I wasn’t that thrilled with them. Still, I got to experiment with some processing tricks I wanted to try, so that was cool!

terriko: (Default)
2015-01-12 03:17 am
Entry tags:

2015 Reading Challenge

I got this list from popsugar. Well, actually from some social media post long forgotten, but I tracked down the original source. Here's a link.

It's a fun list, but I'm irked that it's an image that doesn't have enough space for me to scribble down notes in between. So here it is in text, for my use later. I doubt I'll chase down all of them, but it might be fun to search for a few of the ones I wouldn't have checked off on my own!

❑ A book with more than 500 pages
❑ A classic romance
❑ A book that became a movie
❑ A book published this year
❑ A book with a number in the title
❑ A book written by someone under 30
❑ A book with nonhuman characters
❑ A funny book
❑ A book by a female author
❑ A mystery or thriller
❑ A book with a one-word title
❑ A book of short stories
❑ A book set in a different country
❑ A nonfiction book
❑ A popular author's first book
❑ A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
❑ A book a friend recommended
❑ A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
❑ A book based on a true story
❑ A book at the bottom of your to-read list
❑ A book your mom loves
❑ A book that scares you
❑ A book more than 100 years old
❑ A book based entirely on its cover
❑ A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
❑ A memoir
❑ A book you can finish in a day
❑ A book with antonyms in the title
❑ A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
❑ A book that came out the year you were born
❑ A book with bad reviews
❑ A trilogy
❑ A book from your childhood
❑ A book with a love triangle
❑ A book set in the future
❑ A book set in high school
❑ A book with a color in the title
❑ A book that made you cry
❑ A book with magic
❑ A graphic novel
❑ A book by an author you've never read before
❑ A book you own but have never read
❑ A book that takes place in your hometown
❑ A book that was originally written in a different language
❑ A book set during Christmas
❑ A book written by an author with your same initials
❑ A play
❑ A banned book
❑ A book based on or turned into a TV show
❑ A book you started but never finished
terriko: (Default)
2015-01-09 09:41 pm

Birchbox Dec 2014

Birchbox December 2014

It's silly, but I'm always pleased when they send out special-coloured birchboxes. This one is especially pretty and will probably be used to house sewing notions in my craft room so that I can leave it out where I will be admiring it regularly. Sadly, the products inside didn't all live up to the promise of the pretty box, although there was one gem!

Acure Organics Lip Lush
Birchbox December 2014

The science of this product is crap. Plant stem cells aren't going to do anything meaningful for your skin, and the papers that claim so are highly suspect (a brief search suggests that they may be the scientific equivalent of tabloid stories about elvis giving birth to bat boy written by someone who's offering to sell you pictures for only $9.99). The company should feel bad and require everyone involved with approving this product to take remedial science classes.

I actually liked the lip gloss just fine -- birthday suit is a terribly boring colour, but it smells ok and is a pleasant enough gloss for when your lips are sore and sticky seems like a good idea. It's not an exceptional lip gloss, but it's not a terrible one either. The sample tube did leak a bit so I'm afraid to keep it in my pocket, but it's not great enough that I want it with me all day anyhow.

However, no matter how inoffensive the product itself is... As a PhD carrying scientist myself, I absolutely cannot support nonsensical bad science claims like these, so I won't be buying this and I'll be telling anyone who asks that it's bull.

[I'm betting birchbox won't publish this review...]


Davines Replumping Shampoo, Davines Replumping Conditioner and Davines Replumping Hair Filler Superactive

I didn't take pictures of the shampoo and conditioner because they were uninspired packets, and I wanted to make sure I used them before time was up on the reviews (you only get birchbox points for writing reviews if you do it before the 10th of the month!). But here's the "hair filler."

Birchbox December 2014


While the shampoo seemed effective enough, this made my eyes water before I even started lathering up my hair, and the smell lingered so much after that even my boyfriend, who has a damaged nose and can barely smell things, commented that I smelled weird. To my nose, not only was it too strong, but it smelled... old and musty, I guess. Like really old makeup that has probably gone bad or something. Not for me.

Similarly, I thought this did a nice enough job as a conditioner, but it was simply too strongly scented for a leave-in. I wasn't even sure if I should go to work the next morning without washing it out.

I wanted to give the spray a fair shot, but to be honest I had to wash it out of my hair after a half hour because the smell was driving me crazy. It was both too intense and just not a scent I want others to associate with me.

Benefit They're Real! Mascara

I already had a sample of this from Sephora, so I gave the one from my Birchbox to my sister.
Birchbox December 2014

Facegoop panned this one for the dreaded panda-eye, and I was really perplexed, as I've never had that problem. And if anyone would have it, it would be me, since I am terrible about touching my eyes during the day. But I've finally figured out the discrepancy: I don't wear creams or anything around my eyes usually, but I received one in another birchbox and was trying it out and... voila, panda eyes. So this mascara dissolves in at least one type of eye creme. Mystery solved! So yeah, don't wear under-eye concealer, or try it out for a bit before you go out with both on in case you also have one that dissolves this mascara. As I dislike undereye concealer, this isn't really a problem for me.

Birchbox December 2014

Their crappy review aside, I like this stuff so much that it has taken me from "eww, mascara" to "hey, maybe I'll wear that sometimes for fun." I guess the idea behind "they're real!" is that this mascara doesn't look that much like you're wearing a pile of eye product. And indeed, it extends the heck out of my lashes (so much so that they brush my sunglasses!) without making me look like I'm trying too hard. It's fun and not too over-the-top to wear to work or the library.

I expect makeup samples will fill all my mascara needs unless I stop the subscription box, but I would consider buying this if I ever *did* need to purchase mascara!


Color Club Art Duo Pen

Birchbox December 2014

This was definitely the winner in my birchbox this month! Great little polish with both a thin nail art-brush and a pen applicator where you squeeze the whole bottle. The brush is pretty neat, but it's that teensy pen applicator that really makes this easy to use. I loved my first manicure with it, and I think with a bit of practice, I'm going to be able to make some pretty neat nail art with this!

Birchbox December 2014

I'm usually pretty hesitant about dotty manicures since anything non-smooth doesn't last too long. One of the nail artists I follow on tumblr says hers last maybe 2 days, and I expect my nails to last around a week. But I put dots all over my nails and they lasted better than expected, so yeay!

Birchbox December 2014

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream

Birchbox December 2014

There was a project a few years back called "Significant Objects" that tested whether people were willing to pay more for an object when a talented writer wrote a story to go with it. I feel like the marketing folk for this moisturizer must have taken those lessons to heart, given the included tale of the Japanese pharmacist's secret and how travelers discovered the cream.

That said, I can't help but like the stuff. I like glycerin moisturizers when my skin has been a bit damaged. This one is effective enough, the quickly-fading medicinal scent makes it interesting to apply, and the story *is* good. I may even buy more!

Birchbox December 2014

(Final picture to show how strangely yellow it is.)

Overall, I *really* hated the hair products and was insulted by the lip balm, but the mascara and nail pen are great and I'm pretty pleased with the weird moisturizer too!
terriko: (Default)
2015-01-08 08:30 am

Candy Cane Cupcakes (to tempt those with new year's resolutions)

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.

Ah, January, the month where one can buy a big box of candy canes in the grocery store for 44 cents. It’s also the month where everyone’s made new years resolutions and don’t want cupcakes. I’m guessing some of my coworkers aren’t going to be impressed with me tomorrow when I bring these in…


Candy Cane Cupcakes


Instructions


My plan for this was “make chocolate cupcakes, dip in candy canes, take to work” but here’s a more descriptive version in case you don’t, say, have a favourite chocolate cupcake recipe.


1. Make chocolate cupcakes


Candy Cane Cupcakes


I use the following “wacky cake” recipe:


Dry ingredients:

1.5 C flour

1 C sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp baking powder

0.5 tsp baking soda


Wet ingredients:

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp vinegar

1/3 C oil

1 C warm water


Preheat oven to 350F

Mix the dry ingredients (and get rid of any lumps in the cocoa).

Add wet ingredients and stir well.

Spoon into baking cups. (around 1/2 to 2/3 full)

For mini cupcakes, cook 10 min. For normal sized ones, cook around 18 mins, or until a toothpick inserted can be removed cleanly.


Note that I actually make mini and normal sized cupcakes in the same batch. In this case, just pull the tray out of the oven after 10 minutes and grab the little ones off (the silicon liners make it possible for me to do this bare handed, but your mileage may vary), then put the rest back in once you’re done. This may make the tops of the big ones look a bit less than perfect (as you can see in the back of the picture above), but it doesn’t matter since you’ll be covering them anyhow.


Candy Cane Cupcakes


Make vanilla icing


I don’t use a recipe for this exactly, but…


Spoonful of butter

Splash of vanilla

Then add alternating icing sugar and milk until you have enough icing. You don’t actually want that much for this, as the extra candy on the side will make them pretty sweet.


My cake is actually vegan, so if you wanted to replace this with some sort of vegan icing, you could change this up. I suspect a water-icing sugar glaze would be enough to keep the candy canes on if you were so inclined.


Crush up some candy canes


We used wax paper and a rubber mallet for this. (When I lived in Canada, I’d use a small milk bag instead of wax paper, ’cause those things are stronger, but alas, this part of America does not have milk that comes in bags.)


Candy Cane Cupcakes


John helped with the unwrapping and crushing duties!


Put the icing on the cupcakes then roll the rim of the iced cupcake in the crushed candy canes


You could, of course, dip them and cover them entirely, but they’re already pretty sweet and crunchy so I figured less is more here.


Candy Cane CupcakesCandy Cane CupcakesCandy Cane Cupcakes


Garnish with tiny chunks of fudge


I had some leftover fudge so we used that as a final garnish for maximal abuse of new year’s resolutions.


Candy Cane Cupcakes


And finally…


Enjoy!


Here’s a few extra photos I took in aid of this week’s AAW assignment, which is to use foreground/background to tell a story about two (or more) items, one in focus and one blurred. I thought the rubber mallet we used for crushing candy canes was kind of a funny contrast with the finished cupcakes.


Candy Cane Cupcakes


Candy Cane Cupcakes

terriko: (Default)
2014-12-07 11:54 pm
Entry tags:

Puppy K-9

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.

So, remember a while ago I posted about a work in progress? She's still a work in progress, but while I don't have full setup for her internal hardware, her chassis did indeed get "finished" in time for ABQ Maker Faire, so here's a picture of her on my table:

DSC_6776.JPG

This picture care of the fine folk at Quelab. I've kind of forgotten who actually took the picture. You can tell it wasn't me because that's my elbow in there!

You know how people joke that building ikea furniture together as a couple is the ultimate test of your relationship? Try designing steampunk robots together! With a deadline looming! I think we did most of this in around 2 weeks, although we had batted the idea around for a while.

The germ of the idea was my fault. I wanted a puppy k-9 who would be less hassle to travel with than John's full-sized k-9 replica, which weighs over a hundred pounds when you include the 3 pelican cases needed to ship him. And I wanted her to be steampunk, because it would break us away from being show-accurate and make her amusingly photogenic. Her job, by and large, is to convince people to come talk to us, although we have some other functional plans for her too! However, it's a long path from idea to finished project, and I have to say that John did the bulk of the execution while I handled the details -- he got the c&c machine to cut out dog panels and engineered it so I could have the wing doors I wanted without compromising structural integrity, while I convinced the c&c to cut out a modified minnowboard logo for the resin inlay, and figured out the hinges and staining. I admit, we might have done some arguing, but we worked her out!

I am quite pleased with the details we managed to get in. I insisted she have ears and a tail because John's larger k-9 replica still doesn't have those details. Her tail is a functional USB wireless antenna, and John even inserted a proper usb port into her butt so it's detachable when she gets packed for travel or so you can plug something else in easily while leaving the case closed. Her ears gave us a different kind of trouble, and we were running out of time until I started digging through the recycling bin and found a pair of 7-up bottle bottoms which I painted gold.

The computer on top there is the Minnowboard MAX, which will serve as Puppy's brains. We didn't get it mounted inside until after the show, and you can see the nice laser-cut mounting plate (again care of Quelab; thanks Morgan!) in front of her (it's the smokey grey piece with all the holes). That's all inside now, with a whole lot of hardware attached.

More pictures to come eventually, but since she's gotten side-tracked by xmas present projects, it might be a while before we get back to her!
terriko: (Default)
2014-12-05 09:35 pm
Entry tags:

In which I am both awesome and not awesome at blood donation

I guess all those years in Albuquerque have made me extra resilient to blood-oxygen changes. I donated blood yesterday and I could barely even feel it today, even going up stairs.  Not even a bit of huffing and puffing! If it hadn't been for my sore finger and arm, I would have forgotten that I was supposed to still be drinking lots and taking it a bit easy.

Awesome part number two is that I have barely a bruise.  This is normally true for me, and wouldn't be surprising... except for the  less awesome part, which I'll put behind a cut for those who might not appreciate details about my blood donation.

It sounds more unpleasant than it was, honestly. )


End result, I have successfully donated blood yet again, I have suffered even fewer ill effects than one might expect, and I got to feel all heroic about having a hole in my arm and maybe saving a life. So yeay!