I mentioned that I was using my $10 coupon to buy adorable kbeauty things. This is the best one: a little aloe eye stick in an adorable panda container. It is greenish, makes my eyes feel cool for a minute, and serves basically no purpose in my life except that it looks adorable beside my sink. I'm ok with that. :)
I mentioned that I was using my $10 coupon to buy adorable kbeauty things. This is the best one: a little aloe eye stick in an adorable panda container. It is greenish, makes my eyes feel cool for a minute, and serves basically no purpose in my life except that it looks adorable beside my sink. I'm ok with that. :)
And the contents:
So let's talk about 'em!
Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser
I know, I know, more lather doesn't equal more clean, but I love how this lathers up and it's so easy to see to rinse clean even if I'm exhausted when I head to bed. I normally don't think much about my cleanser, but this one feels like a treat. The person who described it as smelling like pina colada mix isn't wrong, but I like it.
I've tried a billion cleansers thanks to birchbox and most of them make very little impression on me. Since it's sometimes a struggle for me to remember to wash my face as much as I should, I figure anything that makes me actually happy about doing it is a good thing. I'm putting the full-sized version in my next birchbox order!
0.2 Meet Your Destiny® 0.2 Eau de Parfum - 50 ml
It's a perfume. While I don't immediately hate it, I also don't love it or even care about it. It's a grand meh on the perfume scale. The nicest thing I can say about it is that the incredibly meh "0.2" name goes well with the meh scent and the meh packaging.
update: okay, after putting it on my wrist and leaving it there while I wrote the rest of these reviews, I care about it enough to wash it off. bleh.
Ciaté® Nail Polish
I love getting nail polish samples and I'd never tried out Ciaté so I was pretty excited. It looks pretty neat on my nails, fairly different from the way it looks in the bottle. But unfortunately, that's where the fun ends for me: it's a fairly thick, textured polish (not a personal favourite) and it chips pretty easily so my mani only lasted two days. Maybe fun for a special event, but certainly not a daily wear for me. Alas!
It did look pretty for a day, though:
TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint
Using this feels like I'm staining my lips with strawberries -- it's got that berry scent and a light liquid formula. I kind of love it! It's quickly become a favourite of mine because of the easy-to-pocket small curvy sample container. Do be careful on chapped lips: it can stain dry edges a bit more than other places and leave you uneven, but I've used this as motivation to remember to put on lip balm overnight so that I can use this in the morning.
Definitely nicer and easier to use than the benefit stain, maybe a bit less easy to use than the stainiac one, similar to the one I have from Sephora but the scent is more fun.
Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner
This seems like a perfectly nice liquid liner, but I just can't seem to get the hang of using it even in a nice big easy-to-hold pen. I did manage to get some thinner lines without much difficulty, but I still end up with mis-matched eyes half the time I try. I guess at least there's lots of sample for me to practice with?
I guess if I had to pick one of those stickers, I'd go with creativity, since when I thought about resolutions, I realized most of what I had were craft/maker goals. I think honestly, though, that it's less about creativity and more about refinement. My goals are mostly based on learning new techniques that complement what I know and using the skills I have more effectively, and about tackling bigger projects. That's honestly true across non-maker goals too.
I think this carries over to makeup: I'm feeling less like it's a fully creative endeavour and more like I'm in a slow skill-building phase. And this is good, because tuning the looks I can use at work is super useful, and also means I have a sense of subtle tweaks that make a difference in my continuing use of makeup as a social engineering tool. (everyone uses makeup that way, I'm just more intentional about it than some, I guess.)
Anyhow, overall, this was a good box for me: I loved the cleaner and the lip tint. While I didn't love the nail polish or eye liner, they were both products I'd considered paying for and I'm glad to know not to spend money on them. A few dollars of sample continues to be a much better investment for me than most full-sized products, even if I wind up with perfume samples every other box.
I've been wondering if I should give up my birchbox subscription when it comes up for renewal this summer since I've gotten myself into another yarn subscription and honestly, how many boxes does one gal need? But given the way I use makeup, it's still looking like a reasonable investment especially because it encourages me to keep my makeup fresh and toss old samples so I don't have bacteria-filled tubes of mascara around. Plus, I like the points system. I'll make a decision when the subscription comes due, though.
I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!
The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.
Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.
As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.
Shibui Pebble and Cima
I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.
Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:
This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.
The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.
Shibui Maai and Staccato
Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.
This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.
The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.
Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..
I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.
But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!
Astute readers may note that I’m doing the December YOTM review but still haven’t done the Beanie Bag full review. That’s because even though it’s January I still haven’t knit up anything with any of my Beanie Bag yarns. How embarrassing. Now, I could blame a busy holiday, but I the answer is much simpler than that: I don’t know what to knit. Without a recommended swatch just sitting there in the bag, and a combo of yarns to choose (remember, this was the “try two held together of different types!” package), the barrier to just sitting down and doing it is a lot harder. What needle size should I use? What should I knit? Which combo of yarns? Should I try the included headband pattern even though I barely ever wear headbands? This isn’t a “grab all the supplies and throw in purse” kind of project and apparently that’s a barrier.
This isn’t an unsolvable problem, of course, but since the idea behind doing tiny yarn samples was that I wouldn’t have a huge backlog of unused yarn, it’s a bit distressing to realise that not having swatch patterns in the bag makes such a difference. I’m approaching the end of my self-imposed “I’ll try this in 3 months and then decide” and I’m torn. I love the packages, they feel like a serious treat and I like the way each one has a theme that involves teaching you about fiber, and I like taking pictures of them, but if I’m not using them, I should probably give up and move on.
So expect some experimentation on that front soon! I’ve grabbed some stitch dictionaries and a set of interchangable needles and queued up an episode of Dr. Who, but there’s a percent chance that what you’re going to see next is a bunch of tiny octopi.
Anyhow, in the meantime, here’s the easy-to-use Yarn of the Month for December!
This month’s yarn was *super* posh. The black is fuzzy and soft, and the red is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever used. It was a huge contrast to the pleasant-but-unexciting superwash in my other yarn bag, which isn’t to say that the other was bad at all but wow did I ever want to play with these first!
It’s a Santa hat! I think I might stop mentioning the patterns; I hardly ever use them.
“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”
5.5 sts/inch on US 7
65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk
164 yds Color: 60
This yarn is plush and soft. You can’t tell too much from the photo, but it’s got a really pleasant halo and somehow manages a teensy sheen as well in person. It would make a positively lovely scarf or cowl, or anything worn close to the skin. It’s the sort of yarn you just want to sink your fingers into.
Given the halo, it’s pretty surprising how easy this is to work with (sometimes fuzzy yarns can be pretty temperamental). The stitch pattern with the long criss-cross thing really shows off the yarn. It’s soft even knit into tiny stitches, but those long ones are especially easy on the fingers. So very soft. It makes me want to do a bigger project with fuzzy yarns, even though it’s getting warmer and warmer here.
“Colourful and subtle and a workhorse yarn with great texture”
5.25 sts/inch on US 6
65% Wool 35% Silk
382.76 yds color: 06
This is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever worked with. It’s flexible, soft, and feels like it would make amazing clothes because it’s a bit lighter than many wools. It somehow feels silky without feeling too slick. The heathering and colour is fun too.
The stitch pattern is a pretty neat cable. Although I don’t think I got the sides quite even! Yarn was very easy to work with, the slight side-to-side difference is a me problem, not a yarn problem, and it might even block out.
I was surprised to see that this yarn’s regular price is $15/100g because it feels like a much fancier and more expensive blend. Thank you Cascade for producing such nice luxury yarns!
December’s YOTM was a real treat, even in the face of me working with the super nice yarns I was using for presents in December. I’d definitely use either of these yarns again, and Cascade at least should be a thing I can find around here so I can check out the other colours. Guess I’ll keep an eye out during the yarn crawl!
The week 3 clue came out on Friday, so I’m a bit behind still. But Clue 2 was much easier than clue 1, at least! Here’s what clue 2 looks like for me and my dino buddy:
Still loving that thick cuff, but not so much loving the transition at the wrist bead line — it feels and looks a bit lumpy around my wrist, and the beads make strange cool spots. Of course, this is also the part of the pattern that cramped up my hand. Bah!
This is where the mystery is a bit of a disadvantage: if I’d seen the finished product, I might have done something about that transition line. Or maybe I just have absurdly dainty wrists? Either way, I’m not willing to rip back now, though I’m debating a little bit of elastic thread or ribbon to deal with the issue, or maybe it will block a bit flatter. I will ponder it. In the meantime, on to the next clue!
I did manage to cast on one of those knit-a-longs: the fingerless mitt “Catch a Falling Star” MKAL. since clue 2 has now been released (as I write this — I think clue 3 might be released by the time this posts), here’s my pictures from casting on and clue 1!
I’m using Knitpicks Capretta in the Admiral colourway. This is super lush:
Fiber Content: 80% Fine Merino Wool, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
Weight: Fingering Weight
Knitting Gauge: 7-8 sts = 1 on #1-3 needles (2.25mm – 3.25mm)
Crochet Gauge: 21 – 32 sc = 4” on B – E hooks (2.25mm-3.5mm)
Put Up: ball
Care: Hand Wash/Dry Flat
I decided after taking this photo to go with the green beads, since I like how they catch the light.
This is not an easy pattern to do: the beaded section made my hand cramp up so badly that I had to take painkillers and rest, and I haven’t had sore wrists with any regularity since high school. I had to switch needles to metal ones to handle the purl-yo-purl that makes the texture there. And you knit part of it inside out and have to do a stitch swap… it’s definitely a challenging pattern.
But it’s so pretty! And it is super soft with the cashmere blend yarn and those plush bobble-like POP sections.
I haven’t done the second cuff because I’m not feeling like pulling yarn out of the middle of the ball *and* I’m not feeling like cramping up my hand again, but I think I will move on to clue 2 now that I’ve documented clue 1!
Not sure what I’d say what November’s theme was, but it certainly resulted in some pretty yarns arriving on my doorstep!
A drop stitch shawl. Probably won’t make it into my repertoire because there are just so many shawl patterns in the world, but who knows, maybe it’ll be perfect for some specific ball of yarn?
El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
“This warm and ethereal yarn is excellent for large lace patterns.”
4 sts/in on US 8
89% superfine alpaca 11% Nylon
579.6 yds color 04
This is so soft and light! I always love alpaca, but this turns alpaca into something like mohair, and it’s amazing. It’s also teensy-tiny if you don’t count the fluff — it took me way longer than I expected to knit that tiny swatch!
The stitch pattern gets a bit lost in the halo of this yarn, but with a bit of light or white behind it, it becomes a subtler, fuzzier version of lacework that I quite enjoy.
Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
“This superwash yarn is soft and snazzy and super fun to knit up”
3.25 sts/inch on US 11
69% superwash 30% polyamide 1% polyester
79 yds color 89
The ribbon works really well to add a bit of sparkle. This is thick and pretty easy to work with because the two pieces are sewn together rather than just plied. My only complaint is that it isn’t quite as soft as my alpaca, but I understand that I am getting ridiculously spoiled.
I think this one would probably be a really fun treat for a new knitter, since it’s not to hard to work with and the slow colour change and sparkle ribbon really add a lot to even pretty basic stitches. Even basic garter stitch would be pretty neat because the yarn showcases the up-down of the knit stitches and the horizontal nature of the purls.
Really great yarns for November! Although I liked the Artliea I don’t see myself buying more because I’ve been doing a lot of texturework that needs solids and tonals to really shine, but I could definitely see picking it up as a gift. El Cielo is one I’ll remember as a beautiful fuzzy lace option — I’d actually love to do a sweater from this but I think I’d start with something easier for myself before I could tackle this. Maybe a huge fuzzy shawl for my grandmother, though?
Made this one for my friend M. But apparently this is the only picture that turned out!
Pattern: Celtic Myths (heh, I typed “Mythos” first — I think a bit too much Cthulhu in my life)
Yarn: Timberline Ice by Alexandra’s Crafts. This is a really lovely blend: 63% superwash, 20% silk, 15% nylon, 2% silver. Yes, actual silver! So pretty.
I love the knitted fair-isle look of the December birchbox. So pretty! And in a rare circumstance, I was actually able to use the $10 coupon they provided (it looks like it'll be a gift cert, but it's actually just $10 off $35 worth of stuff in their shop. I had a couple of cutesy k-beauty things I wanted and I wanted to replace a lip balm that's gone AWOL in december, and with the coupon and my birchbox points, I got $40 worth of stuff for $0. The points system remains a serious benefit of the birchbox subscription!
jane iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain
I would buy another of these in a heartbeat if I could get it in this sample size -- so classy looking and easy to slip into even the tiniest dress pant pocket! And it's a metal tube, which just make it feel way more posh than my usual plastic ones. I thought the orange colour would be over the top when I opened it up, but it turned a beautiful peachy tone when combined with my skin. Subtle and buildable on my cheeks especially.
My only complaint is that I've already crushed the top into the top of the tube twice. Apparently I don't know how to lipstick?
Silhouette by Christian Siriano Eau de Parfum 50ml
Meh, it's a perfume. This one was a bit more interesting than most because of the weird stopper-bottle sample container, but frankly it's a bit too much of a grey-haired classic scent to appeal to me, if I even wore scent. On the bright side, maybe it'll appeal to J's mom?
gorge* I’ll Make You Look Amazing Daily Spray
I've been using the Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle spray since I tried it in my Birchbox many moons ago. This sadly doesn't seem to detangle as much (it doesn't claim to, but I really like that about BP) but it's a pleasant enough alternative scent that I'm happy to have it to try! Alas, it looks to be about twice as expensive since the bottle is half the size, so I don't think it'll make it into regular rotation for me.
Coastal Scents® styleEYES Palette
The gold is lovely with the perfect amount of shimmer on my lids. I wish the green had the same pay-off! It's a little more washed out and not as shimmery. Neither had a lot of staying power without a primer, but eyeshadows rarely do for me so I'm not sure if that's a function of my eyes or my unwillingness to spend $$$$ on eyeshadow when I rarely wear it.
Nice sample, though, with a little magnetic lid.
(MALIN+GOETZ) clarifying clay mask
This is a pleasant clay face mask: cools the face a little while drying due to evaporation, gritty texture encourages thorough face washing after. I found it a bit more annoying to remove than most, but the careful face wash is probably part of why my skin feels nice afterwards, so I guess it's just part of the experience!
This one was always intended to be a Christmas gift to my Mom, but I finished it in May. That might be the earliest I’ve ever started or finished a present.
(whoops, sorry about the cleavage. SLR selfies are hard.)
Pattern: Pome by Agata Smektala
Yarn: I think it was Cascades Eco Alpaca or something. Super soft, pretty natural colours. My enthusiasm for the yarn might be why this got started so early!
(No, really, SLR selfies are hard…)
Anyhow, I think the hat worked out! It’s a bit smaller than her favourite blue one, but the alpaca is definitely soft and hopefully warm enough for her daily walks. At this point, J would remind me to tell you all that alpaca is also also fire resistant. (He had an amusing chat with the alpaca rancher at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival once.)
I would definitely use this yarn again, and probably do the pattern again, although with so many neat cabled hat patterns out there, it’s hard to resist the lure of the new!
January is apparently the month to start knit-a-longs! I guess it makes some sense, since many people are done with holiday gift knitting, and maybe have made new years craft resolutions to try new things where a KAL would be a good way to get help and tips as they go. But oh my goodness, I’ve seen so many of them that I feel rather overwhelmed. Normally I see a KAL once every few months, not a pile of them stacked into the new year! Even though I’m totally excited to try some of these, I just *barely* finished a Christmas present shawl to give it to M before I left Ottawa and I’m torn between taking time off and jumping in to these!
Here’s the three KALs that I’m seriously considering, of the very very many that I’ve seen:
2016 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit Along : This is one of two mystery patterns associated with the RCYC, a big event in March where you visit some of the many yarn stores in the Portland area over the course of the weekend. This year it’s 14 stores, and that’s not even all the stores in the area! I’m tempted to do this one because it’s so neat seeing so many people making and wearing the same pattern, and I kind of want to have my own plumage for the event this year! There’s actually two Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery alongs, one for knit and one for crochet. I’m gravitating towards the knitted one because I love the description they used to help you choose your yarn. First clue comes Jan 27, so I still have some time to decide.
Catch a Falling Star MKAL: This is the January Mystery Mitt KAL for the Fingerless Glove Fanatics Group on Ravelry. I honestly don’t remember buying the pattern, so I think maybe it was free for a bit in December and I clicked the link on spec. But the designer has nice stuff and I’ve found fingerless mitts incredibly useful in the Portland weather, so I’ll probably be digging through my stash for a skein this week. First clue is already out, next due on Friday! (The Ravelry notification is the only way I remembered that I had this pattern.)
Twin Leaf Crescent KAL: This was designed by a local designer who creates beautiful patterns that are clear and easy to understand, and I’ve loved doing KALs with her in the past. The gradient kit for this is from Black Trillium, a local dyer whose yarn I’ve loved working with, and the colours are beautiful. But it’s a big shawl to add to my KAL list, overlapping directly time-wise with the RCYC cowl, and it requires a yarn purchase.
Since it seems weird to have a post on this blog without a photo, here a quick cell phone snap of what’s currently on my needles that I want to finish as well as these potential KALs:
This will be a set of convertible mitts for J, who says his old ones are getting pretty beat up. (I think maybe I bought them for him when we were first dating and he didn’t have enough cool-weather gear for regular visits to Ottawa?) They look super tiny on the needles, but they’re *really* stretchy and I didn’t want them to be too loose, so that’s the way they’re going to be… assuming they feel right to J when he tries them on a second time later in the process. They’ll fit more easily in a pocket this way, right?
That picture represents only a couple of days of kniting (I cast on two days ago and barely knit anything today), so they’re going fast enough that I’m hoping I’ll get these done well before the RCYC MKAL starts up! We’ll see if it gets messy when I get to the fingers!
Quick peek at my yarn subscriptions for December 2015:
As with last month, Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags really wins on presentation. The bag is cute and just packed with pretty cards and offers and patterns. I think they win on sheer amount of yarn this time, too! Those circular things are pom-pom makers. This wasn’t obvious to me until I read their info page, but I’m kind of excited ’cause I was just thinking that my current system of cardboard tends to make kind of messy pompoms and that I could probably do better.
This month, Yarn of the Month Club wins on having the more luxe yarn with their theme of silk/wool blends (one’s silk/wool, one’s silk/wool/mohair). As you know if you’ve read my reviews, YOTM isn’t always so fancy, so it’s a particularly nice treat this month that it’s so different from my other samples! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these are super soft.
Excited to try both of my subscription bags, but with the holidays and my holiday knitting, it might be a little while before I get to them! Although they are small enough to fit in my suitcase…
It’s Dec 13, which means I’m a little overdue for my October YOTM review. I did the swatches and I’ve had the pictures ready to go for a while, though, so it’s time to write!
October 2015’s yarns have a autumn colour scheme: brown and orange. The swatch descriptions this month also included the maker of the yarn, which I’d been looking up/guessing before. Hurray!
Fall vines tablet cover. Simple and cute! The paper was so messed up that I don’t really feel like it’s worth photographing the picture, though.
Classica by Silvia
“This washable yarn is soft and shows strong stitch definition”
4.5 sts on US 8
229 yds colour: 121
This is a pleasant to work with, a workhorse acrylic yarn. Comparing with the acrylics I use for amigrumi, it’s a bit softer than Red Heart but not as soft (or splitty) as Caron super soft.
My experience with the swatch was ok as far as knitting went, but blocking had no effect on this yarn, so what you see when you knit it what you get with little flexibility. That’s ok for some applications, but as a recent convert to blocking, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed for it to have no effect.
Honestly, even though I liked the yarn, I’m not sure I’d buy it since it’s more expensive has harder care instructions than my cheap craft store yarns. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad yarn! It’s quite pleasant to use, it’s just a hard category to get a win in.
Big Hug by Euro Yarns
“This superwash jumbo yarn is squooshy and an easy knit”
1.25 sts/inch on US 17
50% Wool 50% Acrylic
40 yds color: 111
This yarn sample is *huge*. I took a bunch of photos trying to show how big it is, but I’m not sure I found the right comparison. The sample bag was probably more than double the size of a regular one, though!
This was super nice to work with: soft, fluffy, huge and quick. I actually wound up starting the swatch recommendation then ripping it out to create something I liked better, so I can tell you that it unknits pretty nicely.
My knit up sample could probably be used as a potholder, it’s so thick. I’m guessing it’s going to wind up as a heat pad for my teapot because we finally found the oven mitts and after months of having nothing but crummy potholders for taking cookies and cakes out of the oven, I kind of never want to use one again.
I’ve been busy doing gifts in fingering weight yarn since before this sample arrived, so the sheer size of it was a real treat. It has definitely rekindled my interest in working with some bigger chunky yarns!
Pleasant yarns to try, and I loved Big Hug enough that it got me excited about doing some more stuff with giant fluffy yarns!
I’ve had a few different types of bacon chocolate chip cookies now, because I have the type of life where that’s a viable dietary choice and plenty of friends who are willing to try something new. But I’ve got to say that I’ve got mixed feelings about them.
Some bacon chocolate chip cookies are pretty much “I put bacon in this existing recipe” which is fun but not always a true melding of flavour. Some are even “I put bacon on top of this chocolate chip cookie and glued it there with maple goo” which is more the voodoo donut approach to sweet and bacon.
Those are fun, don’t get me wrong. But this is the type of cookie where people go “hey, sure, let me try one of those” and then they do and they go “that was neat” and then they move on to more traditional cookies.
What I wanted was more melding of flavour, which is hard since chocolate and bacon don’t dissolve into each other, flavour wise. So I decided to try merging my favourite spiced cookie recipe with some bacon chocolate chip cookie recipes, in hopes that a bit of spice would bridge the gap.
The resulting cookies taste sort of like a candied bacon with spiced chocolate, which is what I was aiming for. Hurrah!
I took these to a cookie exchange party on the weekend and am pleased to report that more than one person tried these, said “hey, that was neat” and then ate a second one immediately. This is a particularly high compliment given the number of truly excellent cookies on offer at the party! So I’m declaring them a success and publishing the recipe.
Are these actually the best bacon cookies? The title is a tongue-in-cheek nod to academic speak for “we don’t want to over-state our claims but we’ve made some real improvements in this area.” So they’re probably not the best cookies yet, but I think I feel comfortable saying that I’m on a viable path in the search for the best!
Spiced Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a hint of Sriracha)
Note that I’m calling these “spiced” but not “spicy” — you can easily tweak the spice level, but the current version of the recipe doesn’t rate on my spice scale. The dominant tastes are chocolate, bacon and cinnamon.
1 stick butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
~3 tbsp bacon grease
1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp sriracha (in place of vanilla; if you want less spicy you could revert)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 C flour
1 1/4 C chocolate chips
1/2 C thick bacon cut into 1/4 inch pieces (make them similar in size to the chocolate chips)
Cook the bacon until the edges are just crispy, but the bacon is still chewy enough to work in a cookie. Set aside to cool. I don’t really recommend shelf-stable bacon bits for this because they tend to be too salty and crispy, and thicker bacon is better. Don’t waste money on getting the nicest bacon ever, though; you probably won’t be able to tell once it’s covered in cookie dough.
Cream together butter, sugar and bacon grease. (We just poured warm grease directly from the pan after eating some of the bacon with breakfast, so 3 tbsp is an estimation.) Don’t worry if there’s lumps in your brown sugar, no one minds. Add milk, egg and sriracha and mix further.
Mix in the soda and cinnamon, then stir in the flour slowly and stop when just mixed. Add chocolate chips and bacon, stir. You can tweak the amount of chips and bacon to suit your tastes, but remember that the bacon may be a stronger flavour than the chocolate.
Set the whole thing aside in the fridge to cool for a few hours.
When ready to cook, heat oven to 350F and make small (~ 1 inch) balls. Bake for around 14 minutes. (possibly less if you didn’t bother to chill the dough)
Makes around 48 small cookies.
You can totally make big cookies with this recipe if you want, but I don’t recommend it for two reasons:
- The chilled dough is really solid (all that cold bacon grease?), so small balls easier to make.
- This is the sort of cookie people will be curious about but not want to commit to, so smaller cookies let them get a taste and decide if they actually want more.
There’s three things that I think really make the meld of flavours work better, so if you’re tweaking the recipe, approach these with care:
- The substitution of bacon grease for butter/lard/shortening. It works!
- The cinnamon. I think you need this to make the flavour meld work. It might not be the only spice that could do this.
- The sriracha instead of vanilla. Seriously, it makes the dough quite a bit different than the original recipe, in a good way.
If I were doing this again, I would increase the sriracha to at least double, probably more. It seems overwhelming when you add it to the batter, but by the time the flour is mixed and the cookies are baked, it’s not as detectable as it could be.
The original spicy cookie recipe this was based on included cayenne pepper to make a mexican hot chocolate style cookie. I removed it because I think sriracha goes better with bacon and my taste tester dislikes cayenne, but if you’re into a bit more chemical heat, that’s a good option to experiment with.
I declare these a success, but there’s not much call for bacon cookies in daily life, though, so it might be a while before I try this again!
You may have seen xkcd’s comic about git:
I feel this pain. Because of Mailman, I actually learned Bazaar when many people were learning git, and did most of my contributions through launchpad, so I’m a relative newcomer to git and doing contributions on github (Mailman’s on gitlab now, but I do github for work and other reasons). This is constantly embarrassing to me because I’m a pretty seasoned open source contributor and so people always assume that I’ll be good at git. But I’m not. And lots of other people aren’t either! I was amused at how quickly that comic made the rounds with everyone saying things like, “I thought it was just me!”
Of course, my boyfriend not only does git but used to develop gitweb, so he was horrified when I laughed at said comic and thus cemented his role as my personal git tech support forever. I am both relieved and horrified that he has to look this stuff up all the time too.
Anyhow, in the interest of making my own life easier, I’m writing myself a teensy tiny reminder of the parts of git I most often get wrong. (It’s possible that this tutorial is also wrong, but I’m bugging J as I go so I don’t screw it up too badly.) I’m hoping that writing it out will make it easier to remember, but if not, at least I know where to look.
Setting up my repo
I do this through the web interface so I have a personal copy to work with and sometimes so I don’t accidentally try to push directly upstream on projects like Mailman where I totally could do that if I wasn’t paying attention.
- Clone my fork on my local machine
This makes a nice local copy I can poke at and grep through and whatever.
git clone firstname.lastname@example.org:terriko/mailman-website.g
- Set up an upstream
This helps make it easier for me to get changes from the upstream original project and integrate them into my local copy.
git remote add upstream email@example.com:terriko/mailman-website.g
- If I want to get changes from upstream, I then do
git fetch upstream
git merge upstream/master
Note to self: don’t use git pull. I know that git pull basically just fetches and merges, but somehow I always screw something up with it if I have changed any file anywhere. As far as I know, git pull seems to be the equivalent of releasing angry flaming wasps into your repository. You might try to clean it up for a while, but eventually you’re going to decide that dealing with flaming wasps is way more hassle than just making a new repo copy and going there.
I know, the guides always tell you to use git pull. I assume most of the guides on the internet are written by angry flaming wasps who desire new homes in your repo.
Making a branch
Note to self: always make the branch before making any changes or you’ll find a way to get your tree into some sort of screwed up state and all the
git stash and
revert attempts in the world won’t push your mess out of the way enough to make git happy. The flaming wasps will win again.
git checkout -b mailman3doc --track
(This will use my upstream settings (set above) and tie this branch to that upstream. With magic.)
Saving my work and pushing it publicly
When I want to check stuff into my branch (aka save what I’m working on) I do
- Add the ones I want to save
git add $files_I_have_changed_and_want_to_save
If I’m not sure which files I changed, I can check
Note to self: I never forget how to add, but I often try to use
git diffinstead of
git statusso that’s why this is here.
- Check in my files
git commit -m "Useful commit message goes here"
I also rarely forgot this one, because it’s basically unchanged from the first version control systems I used. yeay!
- The first time I want to push my branch to gitlab or github, I do
git push -u origin $branchname
The -u part sets the magic for the branch so that in theory in the future I can just use
Note to self: The -u stands for “upstream” but after some point, I’m losing track of what is upstream and what is origin and I can never remember what I need here. It’s all magic incantations as far as my memory goes.
Cleaning up my commit messages before a merge
Often I make a commit, push it upstream, then realize that I have a typo in a comment or something that I want to fix quietly without anyone knowing. Thankfully,
git rebase is here for me. If it’s just gone to my personal fork and not to the main repo, I can use it to hide my shame.
git rebase -i HEAD~2
Will “interactively” let me mess with my last two commits. There’s a nice tutorial on how to do this here so I won’t write one out myself.
That’s the most common ones I can think of off the top of my head!
Remember my simple hat post? It’s been done for a while now. The cloud helpfully made a collage out of my selfie attempts showcasing the finished object:
What’s fun about this hat is that it’s actually just a rectangular bag that you wear on your head. the “ears” aren’t built in at all, they’re an artifact of your head filling out everything except the corners of the bag, leaving you with “ears” made out of the corners. Here is it looking flat and hanging out on a tree in my backyard:
I put the pattern in the last post, but here it is a bit more fleshed out.
Link to this pattern on Ravelry in case you want to add it to your queue!
Super short version of the pattern
1. Cast on 126 stitches and join in the round
2. k2 p2 repeat until you have around 1″ of brim
3. knit in stockinette for another 6″
4. Divide stitches evenly on two needles, (63 stitches on each) and graft closed with kitchener stitch.
That will get you a 21″ hat assuming a gauge of 6 sts/inch in your yarn. But if you want to use different yarn or have a different sized head, read on for more detailed instructions!
Yarn: Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca.
Any yarn would do, though, just do the calculation for your head circumference.
What’s the gauge? 6 st/inch on US 7 (4.5mm)
What’s my head circumference? Around 21 inches
Since I didn’t want much negative ease (i.e. stretch), that meant 21 inches x 6 stitches/inch = cast on 126 stitches
Brim ribbing (1 inch/2.5 cm): Cast on 126 stitches and join for knitting in the round
k3, p1, k1, p1 repeat 21 times (or as many times as you have inches of head circumference)
Repeat brim rows until you reach an inch or so then switch to stockinette
Main hat (6 inches/15 cm): knit in stockinette (e.g. knit all stitches in the round) until hat measures a total of 7 inches (17.5cm), including the brim.
Arrange on two needles with equal numbers of stitches (63 for my hat) and graft using kitchener stitch.
This can be done with any yarn, although the ears may not look as ear-like in a really bulky one. Just do the calculations for your head circumference!
If I were doing this again, I’d do a simpler brim ribbing. You can’t really tell this from a k2p2 ribbing unless you’re looking for it.
I went the knit in the round + kitchener route because I like knitting in the round and having a seamless hat. If knitting in the round or kitchener stitch is not for you, you could knit flat and sew up the sides.
If you want, you could also put a few sewed stitches in to keep the ears in place. I actually like them as they are because they’re a bit moldable for expressiveness if I want to be more sad kitty. Or I can tuck them in so they don’t lay weirdly under my bike helmet.
Also, just for fun, here’s a picture of what the path down the side of my house looked like around when this hat was finished:
We’re a bit past fall and it’s now freezing every night and thawing every day. That hat still meets my needs! I *really* love this hat: it fits in my pocket or under my bike helmet. I’ve already bought myself yarn to make a backup copy because it’s so handy that I’m afraid I’ll misplace it!
But there's one little part of the house that really makes me smile and think of John when he's away: the bike rack in the garage. See, I would never have thought to get a bike rack (I've always just left my bike leaning against the side or on a kickstand) but John decided to surprise me with one, and every time I glide in from a ride and put my bike away, I think about him. It's just such a nice touch to make me feel like my bike is a first-class citizen in the garage, and it's especially sweet because I ride a lot more often when he's out of town so it often gets me when I'm missing him.
I guess he's a keeper. ;)
September was blue for Yarn of the Month.
This month’s pattern is “UTurn Scarf” which is a fun mitered knitting scarf, good for self-striping yarns. I don’t know if I’ll try it or not!
Louisa Harding Amitola Grande
“This single ply yarn is subtle and soft”
4.5 sts on US 10
80% Wool 20% Silk
273 yds Color: 516
I love single ply yarn because it can be so soft and you don’t have to worry about it untwisting or catching threads in the same way. This is soft, squishy and quick to knit up.
The standout part of it is the nice slow tonal gradient. I really love these colours and they look great knit up in the swatch too. The swatch is an odd little “knit into the stitch a few rows back and drop” stitch ribbed thing that I wasn’t too sure about when I was doing it, but it looks ok when complete and the loosened stitches go nicely with the squooshy yarn.
I can really see using this for quick knits and with the pretty colours, it’d be great for scarves. Maybe a really nice present for a beginner knitter? I can see keeping some on hand for last-minute gifts, too.
“Squishy, braided yarn feels oh so delicious”
5 sts/inch on US 6
60% wool 40% Alpaca
137 yds Color: 09
This is soft, dense and seems warm. I do so love alpaca! I didn’t have much trouble with the smaller threads in the braid coming loose, so it was nice to work with.
You can’t always see it because the yarn it overall so dark, but it does have some very nice heathering in there with glints of purple.
The swatch pattern is cute, if a bit hard to see because of the darkness. Really shows off that stitch definition as a texture, but the dark makes it not show up so much in photos.
And back-lit so you can see the holes:
This screams sweater yarn to me, since it holds up for interesting stitch patterns but is still soft against the skin. It’d probably be nice for colourwork, although it’s hard to tell without trying. I could see it making a nice hat too, but it doesn’t have nearly the thickness I want for my scarves unless it was double-knit. Still, very nice and something I wouldn’t mind using in larger quantities! Maybe this would be good for the next baby sweater I do?
Two great yarns this time! I could see buying both of these myself for specific projects, and Amitola Grande especially as a gift because of the colours. Definitely happy with my subscription for September!
I was visiting So Much Yarn in Seattle and looking for possible presents for folk with September birthdays. When I saw this beautiful rayon yarn with a thread of gold in it knit up in the store, though, I knew I had a winner for my sister.
I love the description of French women and their scarves, which actually kind of reminds me of my sister (although she’s best known for her hats).
French women are known for wearing scarves. Starting in September and until summer arrives, this is a most important accessory. The scarf may be striped or patterned, colorful, wrinkled and is much bigger than the scarves you probably have. Women just wrap the scarf around their neck in a “Je suis belle et ça ne demande aucun effort*” sort of way and off they go.
Since I have lived in Paris, I have realized that these ladies are on to something. I find I am much warmer wearing a scarf, even if I’m not wearing a jacket, so here is my knit version of the French scarf.
This is a very popular pattern on Ravelry (over 20k projects!) and you can see there that it looks pretty different depending on the yarn.
The construction of this one is a bit unusual. Can you tell that the early pictures are of the same shawl?
You knit clapotis as stockinette with some twisted stitches for stability, and then drop the stitches later on and unravel. It’s kind of fun, although it feels weird to do it since normally you’re trying to avoid dropped stitches when you knit!
This particular yarn was very silky and it’s got lovely drape. Just look at it knit up!
This is Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic, and loved it so much that I may well buy more if I can figure out which colours I actually like. (Sadly, some of the colour ways *really* didn’t do it for me in the store, so I’m hesistent to buy more online!)
One skein made a nearly full-sized Clapotis (I had to leave off the last repeat, but honestly it was big enough!).
While knitting stockinette is “boring” to many, I kind of like it because it means I can concentrate on other things and multitask. Plus, the yarn itself really made this a treat to make.
I may have to make one of these for myself!
Also, next time I ask J to take photos of me, I will skip reminding him that I want photos of the project, not the background, and I will remind him not to cut off my head. He really needs to up his portrait photography game!
August’s colour scheme was a light lavender grey. I decided to liven up some my photos a little, colour-wise, in part because I haven’t found my light box since the move, but also because I like a tad more colour in my selections.
This month’s pattern was for a bracelet made of woven icord that was actually small enough to make with the sample, so I did that instead of the swatch.
“Soft chained yarn with beautiful stitch definition”
5 sts/inch on US 8
85% pima cotton 15% alpaca
137 yards Color: 5650
This was soft and nice to play with. As is common with these chained yarns, I do have some trouble where I accidentally pull the individual threads and have to unknit and try again. Definitely not yarn for knitting in a dark theatre or other time when you’re not looking at it.
The pattern is a pretty cute little bracelet, made with a bunch of icord that you then weave together before picking up stitches and finishing the end. If I did it again, I’d probably leave off the side icords: they put them there so you could use them with beads, but since I don’t really like things clunking against my keyboard, I decided to leave my bracelet bare, and it was annoying to have to sew the side icords on to the center braid. I think the structural integrity would be better without them if you’re not in it for the beads.
I haven’t dug out my buttons to finish it yet (they’re still buried in some box from the move), so I haven’t worn it. I strongly suspect it’ll wind up getting used as a coffee cup sleeve more often than it’ll get worn, since I rarely wear bracelets, but it’ll be nice and thick for holding hot beverages too. Maybe I should wear it just so I have it when I need it for hot beverage purposes?
“Silky, slippery, slinky with a shimmer and a sheen”
4.5 sts on US 8
60% cotton 23% polyester 17% acrylic
98 yards Color 5557
They are not kidding about this being slinky. It’s a treat to work with, firm but slippery, and the swatch pattern shows it off nicely.
I can see this making a pretty neat summer scarf. It’s got kind of a loose sliding chain feeling, satisfying to fiddle with, and the whole sample scrunches and stretches in a pleasant way.
Two nice yarns and a fun pattern! I don’t think I’d buy Maya again, because I’ve since worked with 100% alpaca in this chained format and I love it so much more, but it was good to try and a nice fit for the cuff pattern. But I may pick up a ball of Captiva to make a scarf when I need something pretty for a present or something!