Planet Systers GSoC

May 03, 2016

Anne

5 Simple WordPress Security Best Practices

Here’s a compilation of some of our best practices for WordPress security. These are good measures you can take as an average user without either coding expertise or server administration experience. We believe they drastically decrease the odds of a Wordpress site getting hacked, and we’ve been able to observe them effectively protecting our own websites and some of our customers’.

You’ll see me recommend the free plugin All-in-One WordPress Security several times in this post. In addition to many, many things this plugin can do, All-in-One WordPress Security makes all of the following suggestions very easy. I personally don’t turn on all of its features, because there are a lot, and some cover the same bases as other features, but in addition to using its login lockdown, database prefix, and failed login records features, it can help with everything below. However, this plugin is not at all required for any of these suggestions, and much of what it does is above and beyond these top-five suggestions.

Let me tell you, learning to keep your WordPress site secure because it’s already been hacked is not the way you want to do it. Once hackers get in, you have to take drastic measures to get them out and keep them out. We’ve scrubbed a few hacked client sites lately and it’s tedious, grubby work. The minor inconvenience of applying security measures in advance is vastly preferable to the major inconvenience of cleaning up a hacked WordPress site–and most of these suggestions are easy.

1. Don’t Name Your User Something Obvious

If the attacker knows your username, that gives him half of the user-password puzzle. When your username appears as the post author, or anywhere else on your site, an attacker then only has to guess half of your login credentials. Why make it easier for him?

Wordpress security -- Usernames

In WordPress, under your user settings, you have the option of making your public display name anything you want, using your first name, last name, and nickname fields. It should NOT match your login username.

Wordpress Security: Keep Your Username Unknown!

WordPress Security: Keep Your Username Unknown!

Attackers will also try to guess your user name from context. The first thing they try is “admin.” (Never name your user “admin.” If you have an “admin” user, delete it and replace it with a different one.) Then they may try your site name, site title, or contextually important key words, so don’t use those in your username.

The plugin I mentioned, All-in-One Security, allows you to view login records, including failed login records on your site, so it can allow you to see what usernames attackers are trying. This can be useful. If you see one of your valid usernames is compromised, you can delete and replace that user, or at least ensure that user has a very strong password.

2. Use a Strong Password

This is simultaneously the single most important and easiest step you can do. One of the hack recoveries I’ve been involved with was a site that I could tell got hacked through a weak password.

Passwords that use straightforward English words are easier to crack than ones that don’t contain only dictionary words. Passwords that contain “admin” or the user’s name or the name of the website are particularly easy to guess. The worst are generic passwords like password, changeme, 123456789, etc.

Wordpress Security: Strong PasswordsWhat does a strong password look like? welovecats is weak. w3l0v3c4ts is better. gU’^P-!zc}z58N/U is best. The WordPress user preferences page will now generate strong keywords for you.

One thing that strikes me using All-in-One’s feature to monitor failed login attempts is the volume of failed login attempts from unknown users. I see around a hundred per day on some of our sites. And if All-in-One’s login lockdown feature were not in effect, forcing the attacker to change IP address every time login fails, there might be many more. How long will it take to crack your password?

Use KeePass or another password tool

Why don’t people use hard passwords? Because what’s hard for a machine to crack is also hard for a human to remember and to type. Well, there are solutions for that. We use KeePass, a free tool, to manage our passwords. You can copy/paste your difficult-to-type passwords straight out of KeePass into your WordPress login. A strong password is 1000% worth the slight inconvenience, and you realize this if you ever need to clean up after a hack — or pay a technician in limbs and firstborn babies to do it for you.

3. Update your Plugins & Core!

Wordpress updates are critical to securing your site!

WordPress updates are critical to securing your site!

I would rank this as the next important after your password, yet most WordPress users I’m familiar with are fairly delinquent on their updates. I’ve been involved with at least one hack recovery that was due to an out-of-date version of WordPress.

New versions of WordPress (and other software such as plugins) sometimes contain fixes for discovered exploits. When you continue to host old versions on your site, hackers can utilize those known exploits, especially if your WordPress installation broadcasts its version in the footer or some other location. Most modern themes are smart enough not to do this. But that does not mean an attacker coming across your site won’t try the old exploits. Also, WordPress and plugin versions may be publicly available if someone uses their browser’s web inspector or a crawler bot to view your site’s code.

4. Don’t Use wp-login.php

If the attacker knows your site is a WordPress site (which is easy to tell), then they know your login page is probably wp-login.php, the WordPress default.

The easiest way to change this is with a plugin, such as All-in-One Security. There are others — Rename wp-login.php or Loginizer. I haven’t tried either of these two, but they have good ratings as of this writing.

When I do this, I try not to name the login destination something too obvious, but something that I or the client will remember. One way to do this is to name the page something tangentially-related to the site. For example, if you’re doing a site for a local airport, you could name it takeoff or tarmac.

I don’t know that renaming the login is super-effective, but I don’t think it hurts to do it. When I use All-in-One security to monitor failed login attempts, it seems clear to me that hackers who specialized in this sort of thing are still easily finding a way to attempt logins.

5. Advanced: Disallow Scripts from Your Uploads Directory

Some host services (e.g. Dreamhost) do this for you when you install WordPress (via Dreamhost’s One-Click Install). Dreamhost does this by creating an .htaccess file in your wp-content/uploads directory with only one line:

SetHandler no-handler

To do this yourself, you can open a text editor and creat a file named ‘.htaccess’ with NO extension. Save it with the above line, and upload it by FTP into your site’s uploads directory.

In the hacked sites I’ve examined, I found the attackers did add files to the uploads directory. These files were named like you would expect WordPress files to be named, but there should not be such files in your uploads directory. By placing this .htaccess file in your uploads directory you prevent script, especially php, from running in that directory.

Bonus Tip: Keep a Clean Server

I think that hackers like messy filesystems, because it makes it easy to hide malicious code in plain sight. If you keep lots of directories on your server in addition to your WordPress files it gives hackers lots of creative places to store code. For example, if you have old site backups, development directories, image or pdf repositories, or personal files sitting on your server, hackers can tuck code in these places that either interacts with your WordPress site or that facilities easier access to your site or server.

These days, personal files can be stored at Dropbox or other cloud storage services. Images or pdfs needed by your public site can be moved into your WordPress media library.

The most dangerous thing you can do it leave old WordPress installations sitting somewhere on your host’s server. If you have a development site or an old backup of WordPress sitting there, it can be subject to those known exploits mentioned above. If they can get into this old version of WordPress, they might be able to access your whole server, or at least interact with your current WordPress site.

WordPress Security: Helpful Plugins

In addition to All-in-One Security, I have found Exploit Scanner useful for identifying potential malicious code on sites that were hacked or I suspected to be hacked. Exploit Scanner will scan your WordPress files for common signs of bad code. It will (usually) find a lot of false positives and it is up to you to recognize files that should be there and that should not, but it can help you get a sense whether something fishy is going on beneath the hood of your website.

Comment Spam

I am also asked frequently in the same breath as the WordPress security topic for recommendations about comment spam. This is related, as spam containing links to malicious websites is basically a type of insertion attack. We usually install WP Spam Shield. It’s free, kept up-to-date, and seems effective.

Have ten gazillion spam comments in the backlog that need moderated? Bulk Comment Remove will delete ALL pending comments with a single button push. Make sure you don’t have any legitimate comments hiding in there!

by Bret Norwood at May 03, 2016 04:02 PM

April 05, 2016

Terri

Preserving America's Freedom

A friend posted a screenshot of this impressive webkit issue:

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Which of course, inspired me to write this:

"Really, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to present the Yellow Sign in court. It was something of a miracle that more people hadn't tried to enter it into the public record. Still, she'd apparently gotten complacent about it in her old age. As voting expert Persily pulled out his maps, she didn't notice the sign tucked into the corner of the document until his voice started to change. Thankfully, while youth and speed had long since passed her by, age and cunning held well in their stead, and the glasses she'd had enchanted did their job leaving her mind clear despite the exposure to the symbol. She waited a moment as he continued the incanatation overlaid in some statement about voting in Texas, then began her own counter-charm. Justice Ginsberg wasn't about to let some cultist stand in the way of government accountability, not this day."

And to think I was just thinking, the other day, that it was a shame that I didn't write as much fiction as I used to. I'm not even sure how I feel about this now. ;)

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April 05, 2016 05:39 AM

April 04, 2016

Terri

Strawberry gloves

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

My other goal for 2015 was to try some more stranded colourwork that wasn’t double-knitting. I had intended to do more simple stuff, but I fell in love with this pattern and you know how it goes from there.


Strawberry Fields gloves


The pattern is Strawberry Fields by Jami Brynildson. It was one of the shop patterns offered by Knitting Bee during the 2015 yarn crawl (shops offer one or two patterns free with purchase during the crawl and they’re available for sale after the event). I got the kit at Knitting Bee during the crawl since it was one of the patterns I knew I wanted to make.


The yarn is Black Trillium pebble sock yarn, which is amazing and I would totally work with again. The kit was more than enough to do the pattern, so I’ve got some nice little balls left over for a dash of colour in some future project.


Watermelon helmet, Strawberry gloves


These gloves have actually been done since sometime in 2015, and I wear them around town all the time because they’re among the smallest warm gloves I have. I particularly like that the colours go with my watermelon bike helmet, which is from the delightful Nutcase Helmets. I also like to think that their name is a statement on my mental state, which I assume is why they put it on the front of the helmet. I saw someone with one of these out on the road by the grocery store and knew I wanted one when my helmet was due for upgrading.


The gloves a little more beat up than they were fresh off the needles (you can see a yarn tail that’s come unwoven in the photos) but I hadn’t shared them when they were finished so now’s as good a time as any!


I did modify the thumb a little bit, as the original one felt too tight for my comfort. I don’t like having my motion restricted, and being able to spread my hands wide is kind of important when braking on the bicycle!


Strawberry Fields gloves


Things I learned from doing this:



  1. Working with wool for colourwork is much easier than acrylic or cotton. My other tests had been with cheaper yarn, and it turns out I wasn’t doing myself any favours. The wool is much more forgiving, blocks better, sticks to itself better, and is just all ’round easier.
  2. Don’t pull anything tight. Those floats behind need to be longer than you think, and I can still see places where I pulled a bit too tight to fully block out.
  3. I need more practice doing colourwork while using magic loop (I did two gloves at a time on a single long circular needle).
  4. Blocking is magic. These looked ok on the needles, but they look beautiful after blocking.
  5. I want to do more colourwork!

As to the last, I’ve already started on more experimentation with colours thanks to my yarn sampler subscriptions, but expect more projects in 2016!



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April 04, 2016 03:03 PM

March 31, 2016

Terri

Japanese Knot Bag

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

I was browsing this thread about project bags, saw this design, and thought I should try it out. A quick search of the internet found me some basic instructions (this tutorial has particularly decent pictures and nice clear indications of where to sew), so I free-handed a pattern and gave it a shot.


Japanese Knot Bag


In the picture above, you can see my free-handed pattern. I knew I wanted a project bag for my current knitting project (the sweater) that always has me carrying at least two balls of yarn (that’s to allow me to switch back and forth between two balls and avoid abrupt colour changes when I switch balls). So I basically put the two balls and proto-sweater on my grocery store ad and drew around it.


Japanese Knot Bag


You cut two of both the inner and outer colours, then pin them right-sides in.


Then sew the outside/bottom edge of the bag EXCEPT the outside handles. Basically, start below the handle part and sew along the bottom until you get to where the handle starts on the other side. If you look at that first picture of my template, you’re basically ignoring everything above the grocery store ad likes that say “organic” on one side and “home & family care” on the other. Snip along the curve if you want it to sit better.


Also, sew the top flat part of the handles at this point.


Then, you turn the inner lining right-side out and stick it into the bag, re-pin, and sew the whole top curve INCLUDING the handles but only the one side of them.


It’s going to look kind of goofy as you turn it right-side out:


Japanese Knot Bag


You pretty much have a big oval bag attached in the center with handles sticking out. Wrap it all around and you get a bag with holes in the handles on either side. You need the holes in both handles for it to turn correctly, don’t try to do something clever like I did or you’ll be making friends with the seam ripper. There’s probably some way to do that so it works, but I wasn’t going to experiment too much.


Japanese Knot Bag


Iron the edges so they’re folded in and then complete the seams, do a bit of stitching at the bottom of each handle for strength, and voila, you have a bag!


You fold the long handle through the short one, and it stays reasonably closed and looks like it could be a cousin to the little hobo bag on a stick of the type you see in cartoons (wikipedia tells me this is called a bindle).


Japanese Knot Bag


It’s a pretty simple project, on the same scale as my favourite drawstring bag, but with curvy seams instead of a fiddly drawstring.


Japanese Knot Bag


We’ll see how it does after I’ve toted it around for a while, but it certainly looks prettier than the beat up old small cloth conference bag that I was using before! This is also a great bag to hang on a wrist if you’re knitting while standing in line or just want your yarn close at hand so it doesn’t get tangled or tempt a kitty.


Overall, I think I’d need to be a bit more careful if I were giving this as a gift, since I didn’t love my final seams that much, but I like it enough that I kept my freehanded template in case I want to make another!



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March 31, 2016 03:00 PM

March 28, 2016

Terri

A sweater for me (just started!)

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 goals for 2015 was to knit an adult-sized sweater, but I cheated a bit and made one for my sister (who’s smaller than I and one of the smaller adults I know).


So I revised my goal for 2016 and here’s the start of something cool, I hope:


Cardipalooza swatch


That’s the swatch for my very first sweater for myself!


I’m participating in Cardipalooza” (Ravelry Link) in hopes that having a group to post pictures to will help me stay on track. It’d be better if there were weekly checkpoints or something, but I guess I can make my own.


The yarn is Malabrigo Rio, a beautiful 100% merino wool superwash that comes in the most lovely colours. I wanted to treat myself but still have something that wouldn’t be so hard to care for that I’d never want to wear it.


Proto-cardigan


I’m trying Acorn Trail, which might be a bit of a challenging pattern for me because of all the many many fit options, plus all the seaming. But I like the way it looks, and it’s not like anything else I have, so that’s what I’m starting with. Probably not the most scientific way to choose, but honestly, I think most yarn projects are just “I want” and anything else is just justification anyhow.


The photo is from earlier in the week — despite having to tear back twice due to messing up the decreases, it’s bigger now!



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March 28, 2016 03:07 PM

March 24, 2016

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, January 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.

Yarn of the Month, January 2016


January’s Yarn of the Month package has some serious variety in it! Raffia, cotton-linen gradient, and a single ply acrylic-wool super-saturated gradient. These were all super fun, but I was most taken with learning to block raffia. So flexible and shape-able when damp!


Classic Shadow


Yarn of the Month, January 2016



Classic Shadow

“This yarn has such beautiful colourways – it would be perfect at jazzing up a simple project”

4.5 sts/inch on US 8

70% Acrylic, 30% wool


Single ply, acrylic-wool, super-saturated colour goodness. I love the swatch pattern!


Front unblocked and blocked:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yarn of the Month, January 2016


Back unblocked and blocked:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yarn of the Month, January 2016


Those colours are great, although I will caution that they bled a little upon blocking. After a wash or two, though, I could totally see using this in a brilliant “screw all those pastels” baby project.


Good Earth Adorn


Yarn of the Month, January 2016



Good Earth Adorn

“This yarn is perfect for lacy spring knitting”

4 sts/inch on us 8

47% linen 53% cotton


This is a really nice linen-cotton blend. I could actually see making a garment out of this one, even though I’m not the hugest fan of working with linen (the “so soft after many washings” is too long a pay-off for me).


I think the stitch pattern might make a nice dishcloth, though, and those things get washed a lot more than garments:


Yarn of the Month, January 2016


It wasn’t evident to me that it would be a gradient from the ball, so that was a neat treat. Here it is blocked:


Yarn of the Month, January 2016


And in kite form! 😉


Yarn of the Month, January 2016


Yashi


Yarn of the Month, January 2016



Yashi by Universal Yarn

“This yarn is challenging to knit and creates beautiful and sturdy projects”

3.75 sts/in on US 9

100% Raffia!


I’d been curious about raffia but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a whole ball to try it out. Thankfully, this is exactly the sort of reason I subscribed to Yarn of the Month so I was quite pleased to get such an unusual yarn! It feels weird to be knitting something that feels like paper, but I got used to it quickly. I honestly didn’t think it was that hard to knit after you got into the swing of things: the raffia is much more flexible than I’d have expected.


I didn’t like the seed stitch swatch recommendation because it didn’t really show off the neat flatness possible with this fiber, so I switched mine up with some bands of stockinette to show the difference:


Yarn of the Month, January 2016


The biggest surprise of using the raffia was learning that it can be blocked. (Thanks to the fine folk at Black Sheep at Orenco for telling me that!) It was super satisfying to block, as the damp raffia becomes flexible and soft.


Yarn of the Month, January 2016


I was surprised by how taken I was with the Raffia. I might have to see about making myself a hat or something!


Conclusion


An interesting batch of yarns, but the real winner for me was getting to try out the raffia. Who knew I’d like it so much? I should see if there’s still some in the sale bin at Black Sheep at Orenco…



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March 24, 2016 03:05 PM

March 23, 2016

Terri

It's been a while, how about some book reviews?

GSoC is, as usual, eating my life, but it's not so bad. If you're reading this and want to help mentor for Python, drop me a line, I have a project that needs help and is willing to train new folk.

But let's talk books in brief, since I've read a couple I enjoyed:



Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch



This title sounds like smut, and there's definitely some steamy scenes (The aliens look like supernaturally hot humans, because of course they do), but it's also a hilarious campy mashup of Men In Black combined with a romance novel, and it's *fun*. This one starts when protagonist Kitty walks out of a boring day of jury duty and sees a case of road rage turn into a savage and not-entirely-human attack. Thinking quickly, she jumps in to help... and in the aftermath, finds herself carted off to New Mexico by mysterious and hot government agents as a new recruit.

The weird combo of space-Judaism, code breaking, aliens and terrorists... well, you've got to read it to believe it. I'm particularly a fan of Kitty's mom, but I can't tell you why without spoilers. I've already got the next book from the library.



The Imager Portfolio (Series) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.



The author's Recluce series marked the point at which I stopped asking questions about a friend's book recommendations and just started reading whatever he suggested. I haven't read all his other series, though, so I picked this up from the library because it was one where they had the first book. As I've come to expect, this one has fantastic world-building, politics and societal questions, characters I come to care about, and action to keep everything from getting too dense. I just finished the second book today.

This particular book is about a young man who starts his career at as a portrait painter, but as one might expect from the title, he eventually figures out that he has "imager" powers -- that's basically this world's version of a mage. Soon enough, he finds himself making powerful allies... and enemies. It's a serious study of power in the political/social arena, and while I do think it skirts the edge of being preachy at times, it's good enough that I don't mind, and I even found myself pausing to think about what the characters were saying more than once, and not just because I was knitting and needed to re-read passages if my mind wandered too much.

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March 23, 2016 07:16 AM

March 21, 2016

Terri

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, January 2016

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.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016


January 2016’s Beanie Bag was all about yarn construction. I got the purple version, which was really quite nice! This month’s notion was a shawl pin from Knitter’s Pride (I was so glad mine arrived intact — apparently a few got broken in transit!), there was the usual little package of wool wash from soak, a pattern coupon (I forget if I used this one or not), and of course the 4 balls of yarn.


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016


I just want to give a quick shout-out to January 2016’s bag: The snowflakes are so cute, and I was initially disappointed that the new zipper didn’t look as pretty until I realized that it also doesn’t seem to catch the yarn as much as the chunkier old ones. So score one for improved functional design!


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016


There are 4 samples. You can read about them on the Beanie Bags website for Jan 2016, but in short they were:

20 yds of Alpaca Lana D’Oro

20 yds of Highland Duo

20 yds of Cloud

20 yds of El Cielo


The last one is exactly the same, including the colour, as a sample I’d tried from YOTM, so that was amusing. I used it very differently in this project, though.


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016


The pattern was a simple kerchief, like a big chunk of granny square since I did the crochet version because I like crochet colour changes better. I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but that super-soft edge is really nice. I’d never really worked on a project with 4 completely different types of yarn before. Kind of fun, and something I would totally do again.


20160115-IMG_9662.jpg


Just to do a quick compare/contrast, here’s the Beanie Bag yarns beside my Yarn of The Month yarns. The YOTM sample (on the left) has a broader variety of unusual yarns to try (a single ply with bright colours, raffia, and a gradient linen-cotton mix), while the Beanie Bag yarns although different are intended to go together. It’s kind of interesting how the strategy is different. Also, in case anyone’s curious, I weighed the yarns and the Beanie Bags samples came in a bit heavier than YOTM in January, but it’s pretty close.


Also, I had forgotten that Jimmy Beans does a 5% cashback on yarn, and that this applies to the Beanie Bags and was auto-applied to this bag because I’d gotten to the threshold of $1, so I got this bag for $9 instead of $10. It might have been fun to build up a larger discount over time and then treat myself, but this is so much more convenient and practical and I never forget to use it. Handy! Between this and the fact that YOTM has had to raise their prices a bit to $9.50 (from $9.25), the prices are even more close than ever for people who keep a continuous Beanie Bags subscription.


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016


Overall, I don’t think I learned as much from this Beanie Bag as I have from others, but it’s still a very nice bag! I got a usable project (although I don’t know how much I *will* use the kerchief as it’s started to become itchy as I wear it to write this… and I’m not sure which yarn I’m reacting to!), a nice shawl stick, a great bag, and a convenient travel size of wool wash.



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March 21, 2016 03:01 PM

March 17, 2016

Terri

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, December 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.

Beanie Bags, December 2015


December’s theme was “superwash” and it included 5 samples in worsted weight. This seemed like a perfect time for me to practice my colourwork, since “do a small fair isle project” is on my craft goal list for this year, and I need practice with colourwork.


Beanie Bags, December 2015


In addition to the yarns, there’s some pom-pom makers, patterns for wine bottle cozies, a packet of Soak wool wash, and a coupon for a discounted pattern (which I forgot about before it expired, alas!)


I took quite a few photos of this bag, but honestly when I’m looking for info on a bag I often wish there were more pictures rather than less, so if you’re curious, I put even more pictures up in my curiousity.ca/things I’ve made album on flickr.


Here’s some photo spam of the yarns:


Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash


Beanie Bags, December 2015


This was the softest yarn of the bunch!


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash


Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage


This has the subtle colour changes that Madeleinetosh is known for, although they aren’t super obvious in my photos of the little ball.


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage


Lorna's Laces Shepherd


Beanie Bags, December 2015


This is a nice woodsy variegated with a looser, squishy ply.


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Lorna's Laces Shepherd


Rowan Pure Wool Worsted


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted


A pleasant heathered yarn. I particularly liked working with this one.


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted


Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted


Beanie Bags, December 2015


Another pleasant heathered yarn which was a great match for the Rowan.


Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted


My Fair Isle sampler


Overall, they all felt pretty similar, and it’s possible that difference in softness was a function of the dyes more than the yarn itself (although the different plying does make some difference). This was great for my purposes, since it meant they worked okay together!


Beanie Bags, December 2015


This detail shot shows you two important things: #1, the variation in colour in the madeleinetosh sample. #2, the lesson I learned about fair isle samplers, which is that you *really* need to work in some sort of border to anchor the colour changes. I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I do a colourwork sampler!


Here’s the whole piece:


Beanie Bags, December 2015


The patterns were taken from “Mastering Colour Knitting


I’m not sure how I’ll fit this long sampler into my blanket made of samples yet, but I think I’m at the point where I should start putting it together rather than filing all my samples in a binder!



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March 17, 2016 03:02 PM

March 15, 2016

Terri

Pi day swap!

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 the Ravelry groups I enjoy runs a pi/e themed yarn swap and I decided to participate this year because seriously, how awesome is that? The deal was that you had to include yarn or spinning fiber, some edible goodies, a handcrafted item, and other goodies related to pi or pie. Target value was $30-40, which was actually hard shopping in all the yarn crawl stores with their beautiful handpainted, hand-made items! But I managed!


My swapee likes batman, so I made her a project bag which *might* have just been an excuse for me to buy some batman fabrics.


It’s reversible, so here’s the outside and the inside:

Batman project bag for Pi Swap

Batman project bag for Pi(e) Swap


I also made some papercraft pie boxes to fit the bag and some tea into. The lemon meringue one is a pattern from the silhouette store, and I modified it to make a blueberry pie one since I was putting blueberry tea inside:

Pie boxes for Pi(e) swap


I also made some magnets and a button, and a whole set of pretty stitch markers suitable for even bulky needles, but I didn’t take pictures of those separately.


Here’s two views of the whole package:

Pi(e) swap package


Pi(e) swap package


It included lovely yarn from Thoroughly Thwacked, a Brittany Crochet hook that my swapee was looking for, and some wooden buttons that I thought looked cool as well as the other things I mentioned. I hope it suited her!


And, since I’m sure you’re all curious, here’s the package I got from my upstream partner:


My Pi(e) swap package!


I see she noticed that I like tea :)


Also, check out the amazing little cherry pi pie charm:


Cherry pi pie charm from my Pi(e) swap package!


And the hat fits perfectly!


Super awesome hat from my Pi(e) swap package



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March 15, 2016 01:06 AM

March 13, 2016

Terri

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

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 more preview photo for today!


Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)


These yarns have been sadly neglected in favour of Rose City Yarn Crawl stuff, but they’ll be coming up soon! I’m very much looking forwards to more teensy tiny sample knits.


Yarn of the Month is on the left, with that tempting stained glass pattern that might have me ditch the usual swatch patterns in favour of trying a two-colour affair. Jimmy Beans is on the right with the Eddie the Eagle-themed package. Apparently they yarnbombed the Sundance film festival in celebration!



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March 13, 2016 02:50 AM

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

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

I took this picture back in January but apparently never actually shared it, so here’s a belated preview, if that makes any sense:


Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)


Yarn of the Month is on the left, Beanie Bags on the right. Since I’m planning to block the YOTM samples tonight and nearly done with the project for the Beanie Bags, I’ll leave further discussion of the contents until the full reviews.


I had not taken a picture for February because the Beanie Bags package was delayed to the point where I was completely entrenched in Rose City Yarn Crawl knitting when it arrived, but I’ve taken a quick snap today that I’ll put up shortly!



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March 13, 2016 02:35 AM

Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

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.

Both my subscriptions arrived on the same day, so here’s a quick preview!


Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)


My Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag on the left is a collection of sport weight merino in pretty pinks, with the newer square bag like they did last month, a Soak wool wash packet and this month’s notion, which is plastic spiral stitch markers. I don’t have any of those so I’m pretty pleased!


My Yarn of the Month Club mailing has two larger samples without any obvious theme. The yellow is a neat wool/linen blend with an interesting texture. The white is a slippery, shiny wool/polypropylene/nylon blend that is unlike anything I’ve ever knit by feel alone, but it’s even neater than that because it changes colour in the sun! I’ll try to get some better pictures of it tomorrow when I’ve got more sunlight!



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March 13, 2016 01:42 AM

March 03, 2016

Terri

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 3 and 4)

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.

Crawl starts soon, and of course I’m last-minute blocking!


Here’s clue 3:


Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 3


And the final clue, clue 4, unblocked. I actually missed the final colour change, those last points are supposed to be cake-coloured. But honestly, I’m so in love with the yellow/orange yarn that I’m kind of glad I made the mistake. Plus it looks better with the beads I wanted to use.


Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4


Soaking so you can see that I did actually add beads:

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4


Or maybe I should call them sprinkles, given the cake theme?


Blocking:

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4


Great pattern, but now I’m going to bed to get some sleep for tomorrow’s crawl!



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March 03, 2016 08:37 AM

February 21, 2016

Terri

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long

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

I’d planned to just do the knit-a-long for the Rose City Yarn Crawl, but then I went out to a knitting group and saw what the pattern for the crochet-a-long looked like… Not only does it look lovely all crocheted up, but the pattern itself has the most gorgeous crochet charts I’ve ever seen. Colours to distinguish rows! Highlighting to show you where pieces should line up with rows below! Careful layouts to make everything easy to read! One of the reasons I learned to knit (besides needing something to do on the 3hr long car ride to the Very Large Array) is that there are so few good crochet patterns and learning a similar craft was the easiest way to expand the range of patterns I could do. So it would be a shame to know of such a nice pattern and not try it out!


The Yarn


Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long


I’d been so good about using stash yarn for the MKAL that I decided to treat myself to something at Black Sheep for this one. These are both from Teresa Ruch, a local dyer who works with synthetic fibers and uses amazingly saturated beautiful dyes. The yellow-orange ball is Tencel, the grey is bamboo rayon. It’s a neat combo because the tencel is much shinier than the rayon, so there’s a serious contrast between my two colours. And it’s a nice excuse to try some different synthetics, since I’m always on the lookouts for allergy-friendly options.


The pattern


Here’s a teensy peek at those charts I’ve been raving about:


mcal-chart


Not only are the charts clear, well-written, and easy to follow, but the “flavour” of this pattern is cake, so it’s described in layers of cake and icing. People in the thread have been naming off cakes to go with their colours, and it’s awesome. I’m calling mine creamsicle mousse.


This pattern is named after Rimsky-Korsacoffee house, one of the local places that takes “keep Portland weird” as a personal mission. Also, it has great cake.


Clue 1


Clue one included a layer of cake and the first layer of icing:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1


It’s approximately kerchief-sized at this point, and a bit to fit into my photo lightbox unfolded, so I kind of need natural light to take pictures of it (my flash is somewhere in a box from the move).

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1


Clue 2


Clue two, also included a layer of cake and layer of icing. The icing is pretty similar, but the cake is quite a different stitch pattern! At this point, it’s starting to really look like a shawl:


Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2


And a close up:

Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2 detail


This is the first larger, non-amigurumi crochet project I’ve done since I got some “ergonomic” crochet hooks, and I’ve got to say that it makes a difference. My right hand doesn’t get tired nearly as quickly. In fact, it’s usually my left that gets tired first now! If you crochet at all, I highly recommend investing in a set. It doesn’t even have a very expensive investment: They are cropping up at absurdly cheap prices on amazon and elsewhere, maybe $10-15 for a set of hooks with a case and sometimes with some stitch markers or other notions thrown in. I have a set from clover that has a significantly more expensive list price (I got it on sale) but I honestly can’t tell the difference between it and the cheaper sets. I do admit I haven’t tried crochet with the cheaper ones for any length of time, though.


The only weird thing about these hooks that they don’t match up with the sizing of the other hooks I own, so my new G hook is a bit smaller than my old one (4mm vs 4.25mm). Thankfully, it seems to be working out fine on this shawl.


Doing both the MKAL and the MCAL was probably a bit too much, since it’s meant that I haven’t even touched my January Beanie Bags or YOTM samples, let alone the February ones, but I’m really excited about the final piece taking shape, and it’s kind of neat to be doing the less-common one. The last clues came out this past Wednesday and my deadline for the shawl is when the Crawl starts in two weeks, so it’s looking like I’ll be able to finish both without much trouble!



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February 21, 2016 03:45 AM

February 15, 2016

Terri

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-longs (Clue 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.

As I mentioned in my post about knit-a-longs, the Rose City Yarn Crawl runs both a knit and crochet a long in the month leading up to the yarn crawl. It’s a real treat seeing people wear their creations out on the crawl, and I wanted to be one of those gals sporting a new finished object on the crawl this year.


I decided that enough of my yarn was unpacked that I should be able to find some stuff out of my stash. This is actually hard, since I mostly buy yarn for specific projects and this is my first cowl, so I haven’t really shopped with that in mind. Since it’s Presidents day down here in the US, I’ll show you the red-white-and-blue yarns that became my short list before I decided on my two required colours:


Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long


Okay, so it’s actually blue-white-red like the French flag, but I am Canadian after all! This is KnitPicks Diadem yarn, bought during the big yarn sale in November two years ago on spec, because it sounded lovely and I wanted to try it. It’s a super fluffy alpaca-silk single ply that *feels* like heaven, but it’s kind of hard to work with because it sheds fluff, splits, and the fluff felts into little loops around the yarn that I have to cut off pretty frequently plus it sometimes loops around to make knots. And it’s hard to photograph because of the halo of fluff.


I was initially pretty disappointed by the yarn, but as I’ve gotten used to it, the luxurious feel balances out the finicky nature of the yarn. This is going to be one luxurious cowl, although I’m going to have to work for it!


I really wanted to do red & silver but once I saw the first clue, I decided silver & blue would suit it better:


Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long


Clue 1 is supposed to remind you of bike treads. I think it does!


Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 detail


The whole pattern is written like a story about a bike ride, with twists and turns. Clue 2 involves some scenery and then some winding roads.


Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 2 detail


It was at this point that realized that I’d somehow chosen my high school colours, silver and blue, because it reminded me of an old high school shirt when I started to get into the “scenery” part. Oh well, they’re great colours even if it is a bit funny.


Now let’s zoom out and see clue 1 and most of clue 2. I needed to take the picture while I still had nice light and figured you’ll see the last part next time. Clue 3 has been out since Wednesday so I’m a bit behind!


Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 & 2


That… does not look like a cowl at all, to be honest. What a strange beast! I look forwards to seeing how this construction is going to work in the end.


Overall, the story of this cowl kind of makes it fun, and I’m loving how it feels even if the knitting process can be a tad annoying thanks to finicky yarn. I do think I’m done with mystery knits for a while after this, though… after seeing how beautiful other people’s cowls look with colour two as a variegated, I have a deeper understanding of how much I like selecting colours with advance knowledge of how they’re going to work together. But I did choose something high-contrast which looks pretty good, so I can’t be too sad!



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February 15, 2016 03:04 PM

Catch a Falling Star MKAL Clue 3

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

I’ve paused on this knit-a-long since the Rose City Yarn Crawl ones have started and I foolishly have tried to do both, but here’s what it looked like at clue 3:


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 3)


I really liked the bind-off in this. You can’t tell from the in progress photo, but it’s designed so that the bind off is thicker in places to follow the curve, so I plan to block it curvy. Overall, this was a very technically interesting pattern! And very nice for a free KAL to start the year, although not the easiest one on my hands. I really need less slippy small double pointed needles, I think, but my knitpicks laminate ones broke while I was using them. (They replaced them, but I’ve been too nervous to try the replacement.) Anyone got any recommendations?


I’ve actually finished this one glove, since as you can probably guess there’s just a few thumb stitches left. I haven’t finished the second glove because I’m on to the next project, but it’s cast on and waiting for me when I’m done and ready to come back to it!



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February 15, 2016 12:05 AM

February 09, 2016

Terri

Bonus beauty: Panda Eye Stick

Birchbox January 2016

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

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February 09, 2016 08:11 AM

Birchbox January 2016

Unsurprisingly, the Birchbox for January is new year's resolution themed. Here's the eye-searing outside:
Birchbox January 2016

And the contents:

Birchbox January 2016

So let's talk about 'em!

Birchbox January 2016

Key West Aloe Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser

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

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


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

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

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

Birchbox January 2016
Ciaté® Nail Polish

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

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

Birchbox January 2016
TONYMOLY Delight Tony Tint

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

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

Birchbox January 2016

Birchbox January 2016
Eyeko Fat Liquid Eyeliner

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


Birchbox January 2016

In conclusion...



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

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

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

I've been wondering if I should give up my birchbox subscription when it comes up for renewal this summer since I've gotten myself into another yarn subscription and honestly, how many boxes does one gal need? But given the way I use makeup, it's still looking like a reasonable investment especially because it encourages me to keep my makeup fresh and toss old samples so I don't have bacteria-filled tubes of mascara around. Plus, I like the points system. I'll make a decision when the subscription comes due, though.

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February 09, 2016 07:49 AM

February 01, 2016

Terri

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 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.

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


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

20151110-IMG_9149.jpg


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

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015


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

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015


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


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


Shibui Pebble and Cima


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


Shibui Cima and Pebble

Shibui CimaShibui Pebble


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


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


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


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


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


Shibui Maai and Staccato


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


Shibui Maai and Staccato

Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato


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


Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015


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


Conclusion


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


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


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



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February 01, 2016 03:02 PM

January 25, 2016

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, December 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.

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


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


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


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


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


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


The pattern


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


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


Soavia


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


Soavia

“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”

5.5 sts/inch on US 7

65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk

164 yds Color: 60


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


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


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


Roslyn


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


Roslyn

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

5.25 sts/inch on US 6

65% Wool 35% Silk

382.76 yds color: 06


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


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


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


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015


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


Summary


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



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January 25, 2016 03:00 PM

January 22, 2016

Anne

Fun with regular expressions

Regular Expression Too Complicated Error MessageI’m working on transforming html files containing full Shakespeare plays, cleaning up the tags and adding some semantic content we need to have for a customer project. I’ve been prototyping with the nice Perl-based regular expression in good old UltraEdit, my editor-of-choice for a long time now.

In the course of referring to the UE web site for syntax and other tips, I discovered that UE has a scripting feature I just never paid any attention to. So now I’m gluing together my regEx transforms with javascript and running them in batches as I figure things out.

But I just blew my poor editor’s mind and got one of the better error messages.

I had thought that a few were getting a bit hard to understand. As in:

 strFind = '(?s)(go-scene-)(.*)(</h3>)(.*)(<a )(.*)(line-)(.*)1""';
 strReplace = '\\1\\2\\3\\r\\n<a id="go-\\80" name="line-\\80"></a><br />\\4\\5\\6\\7\\81';

BTW, when I told my daughter Becky a couple of weeks ago that I was embarking on a little regular expression project, she immediately shot back with an XKCD oldie-but-goodie that was new to me:

xkcd regex cartoon

 

by ag at January 22, 2016 10:09 PM

January 21, 2016

Terri

Catch a Falling Star MKAL week 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.

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


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)


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


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)


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



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January 21, 2016 03:04 PM

January 18, 2016

Terri

Catch a Falling Star MKAL

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

I 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!


Catch a falling star MKAL


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)

Yards: 230

Grams: 50

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.


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)


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.


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)


But it’s so pretty! And it is super soft with the cashmere blend yarn and those plush bobble-like POP sections.


Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)


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!



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January 18, 2016 03:09 PM

January 15, 2016

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, November 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.

Not sure what I’d say what November’s theme was, but it certainly resulted in some pretty yarns arriving on my doorstep!


20151110-IMG_9143.jpg


The Pattern


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


20151110-IMG_9144.jpg



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!


20151214-IMG_9608.jpg


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.


20151214-IMG_9607.jpg


Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi


20151110-IMG_9146.jpg



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


This is basically two yarns sewn together: a slow variegated superwash and a shiny metallic ribbon:

20151110-IMG_9148.jpg


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015


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.


Summary


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?



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January 15, 2016 02:15 AM

January 11, 2016

Terri

Celtic Shawl for M

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.

Made this one for my friend M. But apparently this is the only picture that turned out!


Celtic Shawl


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.



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January 11, 2016 03:00 PM

January 10, 2016

Terri

Birchbox December 2015

Birchbox December 2015

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!


Birchbox December 2015

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.

Birchbox December 2015

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?

Birchbox December 2015

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?

Birchbox December 2015

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.


Birchbox December 2015

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.

Birchbox December 2015

(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!

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January 10, 2016 08:42 PM

January 07, 2016

Terri

Alpaca Pome Hat for Mom

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 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.


Alpaca Hat for Mom


(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!


Alpaca Hat for Mom


(No, really, SLR selfies are hard…)


Hat selfies are hard with an SLR.


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.)


Alpaca hat detail


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!



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January 07, 2016 03:02 PM

January 05, 2016

Terri

Why are there so many knit-a-longs starting in January?

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.

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:


Hobo Mitts in Progress

Hobo Mitts in Progress


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!



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January 05, 2016 08:31 AM

December 15, 2015

Terri

Yarn Subscription preview, December 2015 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

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.

Quick peek at my yarn subscriptions for December 2015:


Yarn subscriptions December 2015


On the left is Yarn of the Month Club, on the right is Jimmy Beans’ Beanie Bags.


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…



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December 15, 2015 03:00 PM

December 13, 2015

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, October 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.

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!


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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!


Pattern


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


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015



Classica by Silvia

“This washable yarn is soft and shows strong stitch definition”

4.5 sts on US 8

100% Acrylic

229 yds colour: 121


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


Big Hug


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015



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!


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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.


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


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!


Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015


Summary


Pleasant yarns to try, and I loved Big Hug enough that it got me excited about doing some more stuff with giant fluffy yarns!



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December 13, 2015 09:42 PM

December 10, 2015

Terri

Recipe: Spiced Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with a hint of Sriracha

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

I’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.


Chopped bacon on cutting board.  I actually cut all these pieces smaller before putting them in the cookies.  I figured they'd be best if the bacon chunks were similar in size to the chocolate chips.

Chopped bacon on cutting board. I actually cut all these pieces smaller before putting them in the cookies. I figured they’d be best if the bacon chunks were similar in size to the chocolate chips.


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.


Spiced bacon chocolate chip cookie dough

Spiced bacon chocolate chip cookie dough


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 ready to be baked

Spiced bacon chocolate chip cookies ready to be baked


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 egg

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.


Spiced bacon chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven!

Spiced bacon chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven!


Notes


You can totally make big cookies with this recipe if you want, but I don’t recommend it for two reasons:



  1. The chilled dough is really solid (all that cold bacon grease?), so small balls easier to make.

  2. 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:



  1. The substitution of bacon grease for butter/lard/shortening. It works!

  2. The cinnamon. I think you need this to make the flavour meld work. It might not be the only spice that could do this.

  3. 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!


Single Spiced Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie, waiting to be baked

Single Spiced Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie, waiting to be baked



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December 10, 2015 10:02 AM

December 05, 2015

Terri

Things I always forget about setting up git

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

You may have seen xkcd’s comic about git:


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



  1. Fork

    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.

  2. Clone my fork on my local machine

    This makes a nice local copy I can poke at and grep through and whatever.

    git clone git@gitlab.com:terriko/mailman-website.git

  3. 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.

    cd mailman-website

    git remote add upstream git@gitlab.com:terriko/mailman-website.git



  4. 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.


A wasp saying "git pull" while fire comes out of its butt.


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



  1. 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


    git status


    Note to self: I never forget how to add, but I often try to use git diff instead of git status so that’s why this is here.


  2. 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!


  3. 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


    git push


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.


A unicorn saying "git remote" "-u" and "--track"


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.


A series of checkin messages with all but the first one crossed out and a magic git wand leaving sparkles across the screen


That’s the most common ones I can think of off the top of my head!



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December 05, 2015 03:04 PM

November 30, 2015

Terri

Easy Kitty Hat

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

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:


Easy Kitty Hat Collage

Easy Kitty Hat Collage


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:


Kitty hat in flat, rectagular mode.


I put the pattern in the last post, but here it is a bit more fleshed out.


Pattern


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

Calculating…

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.


Finishing:

Arrange on two needles with equal numbers of stitches (63 for my hat) and graft using kitchener stitch.


Notes


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.


Kitty Hat

Kitty Hat


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:


Maple path


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!



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November 30, 2015 03:02 PM

One thoughtful thing

The house is finally shaping up to someplace I'm happy to live, and our renovation choices are paying off.

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. ;)

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November 30, 2015 08:23 AM

November 19, 2015

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, September 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.

September was blue for Yarn of the Month.


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


The Pattern


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!


Amitola Grande


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015



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.


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


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.


Front:

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


Back:

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


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.


Sisa


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015



Sisa

“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.


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015, Sisa yarn


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.


Here it is front-lit:

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


And back-lit so you can see the holes:


Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015


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?


Summary


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!



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November 19, 2015 03:02 PM

November 16, 2015

Terri

Clapotis Wrap for S

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

I 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.


Shawl for S


The Pattern


Clapotis on Ravelry (so you can add it to your queue and see other people’s versions)

Clapotis on Knitty (so you can actually see the pattern)


Shawl for S


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.


Shawl for S


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.


Shawl for S


The construction of this one is a bit unusual. Can you tell that the early pictures are of the same shawl?


Shawl for S


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!


Shawl for S


The Yarn


Shawl for S


This particular yarn was very silky and it’s got lovely drape. Just look at it knit up!


Shawl for S


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!)


Shawl for SShawl for S


One skein made a nearly full-sized Clapotis (I had to leave off the last repeat, but honestly it was big enough!).


Shawl for S


Conclusions


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.


Shawl for S


I may have to make one of these for myself!


Shawl for S


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!


Shawl for S



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November 16, 2015 03:01 PM

November 13, 2015

Terri

Yarn of the Month Club, August 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.

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.


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015


The pattern


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.


Maya


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015


Berroco Maya

“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.


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015


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?


Captiva


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015


Berroco Captiva

“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.


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015


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.


Summary


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!


Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015



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November 13, 2015 03:07 PM

November 12, 2015

Terri

Cultural differences

November 11 is one of those things that superficially seems the same in Canada and the US but really isn't

In Canada, it's called Remembrance Day, and the focus is about remembering the horrors of war, thinking about peace, and honouring those who have sacrificed their lives as well as our living veterans, although in a very somber way. Honestly, for most of my public school days the focus was 2nd world war because we could invite living veterans to come and talk. (My grandfather, slightly too young for ww2 service but a veteran of the cold war, used to go to local schools too; I presume someone else has taken up that torch.)

In the US, November 11 is Veteran's Day, so it's less about the dead and more about the living in some hard to describe way. It's definitely not about remembering the way it is in Canada. Which means work was trying to break a world record in most number of people doing pushups in an event with a hashtag and a line about "give 'em 20."

Just another small moment of culture shock in the neverending sea of them.

I do wish the US actually celebrated peace, 'cause I miss that part of Canada's pomp and circumstance, and I find the US attitude towards its military very hard to wrap my head around. But I do like work's reminder that veterans are our colleagues and that there's life after military service, even if asking a bunch of nerds to do pushups seems like an odd event choice.

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November 12, 2015 08:29 AM

November 11, 2015

Terri

November 2015 yarn subscription preview

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.

There’s a new small yarn subscription service in town! Jimmy Beans Wool has a new subscription service they call “Beanie Bags” which is fairly similar to my existing Yarn of the Month Club subscription.


Here’s the yarn portion of both of them for November:


Yarn of the Month yarn compared with Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bag yarn (November 2015)


I’m excited about my mail, so you get a preview today that jumps my posting queue. (September’s YOTM post is queued and October’s swatches are on the needles, though!)


A brief comparison


Price:

YOTM is $9.50. BeanieBags is $10.00


Contents:

YOTM is 2 (or sometimes 3( samples of yarn, with a paper including a pattern and swatch suggestions.


BeanieBags is 4 much smaller samples of yarn, some small notions or other includes, a bag, and a postcard with sample info and some links to their website. (Also this cute Small Yardage group on Ravelry for more ideas of how to use your teensy samples!)


(You’ll have to wait ’till my full review for pictures of the full Beanie Bag kit.)


First impressions


The Beanie Bag is much more polished, with the pretty printed postcard and the bag. If I were gifting a subscription to someone else, this is definitely the one! (That’s part of why I justified trying out this subscription, actually.) The little extras are a nice touch, and I like bags. I particularly like that these are white cotton canvas type material, so if I keep up the subscription and tire of having similar bags, I can always dye them.


I *was* kind of sad to get all the same colour yarns in my Beanie Bag, but having actually gone to their website that was an intentional choice specific to this month’s yarns: the yarns are meant to be mixed and knit together. So that makes more sense now, and it’s a neat new thing to try!


I’m still pretty fond of Yarn of the Month, though. I’ve gotten interesting samples from them and I *really* like their approach of “make some 5×5 swatches every month and by the end of the year you’ll have a blanket” which is a pretty practical way to enjoy all those yarns. (My Beanie Bag doesn’t appear to include explicit swatch patterns, just blending suggestions this month. I’ll figure something out from my library, I think.)


Even if you aren’t doing the swatch blanket thing, I do think YOTM still gives you a more useful amount of yarn to play with and get to know. Generally speaking, I get enough for an edging on a hat or scarf or similar project accent, so even if I wasn’t swatching I feel like this is enough yarn to use as part of the types of projects I do. (These teensy balls look good for small colourwork, but my stash doesn’t really have enough to support that yet.)


And, of course, YOTM is somewhat local to me, and a small business to boot, so I feel good about supporting it.


Summary


So far, I like both but for different reasons. YOTM walks the line of novelty and practicality so I don’t feel like I have random teensy yarn projects piling up around the house, while Beanie Bag has a polished product with more to coo over.


The plan is to do a 3 month stint with Beanie Bags and then decide if I want to choose one or continue with both, or think about it for another 3 months. We shall see!



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November 11, 2015 06:41 AM

November 10, 2015

Terri

Camp Erin Teddy Bear Cardigan Variation

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

I’m not big on charity knitting because often it’s much more sensible to donate money that can be used to support more tangible aid (witness the story of the penguin sweaters). But Knitting Bee, one of my local yarn shops (there are so many in the Portland area!) was doing a drive for teddy bear sweaters at the same time that a friend of mine was trying to get rid of a bag of free wool, so I decided I’d participate!


Here’s the finished sweater on the bear who went to Camp Erin, on display in the shop:


Camp Erin Bear


About this pattern


This is a variation on Mr. Bear’s Top Down Cardigan, Hat & Scarf from Knitting Bee (Mr Bear’s Cardigan on Ravelry). I just made the modifications as I was knitting a sweater for Knitting Bee’s charity drive. The variation is nothing too fancy, but I thought I’d write it down in case I ever want to duplicate it.


Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin


I’m happy to have you use this variant sweater in any way you want, but do note that the original has a line at the bottom saying it was made to support Camp Erin, not for commercial purposes, so you go according to your feelings on the matter.


Yarn


I used 4 colours, two blues, one grey and one black.

I’ll call the light blue one the edge colour or EC in the pattern below.


Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin


Teddy Bear Cardigan


Cast on 58 sts in EC to begin neckband.

Row 1: (k1, p1) repeat.

Rows 2-5: continue in seed stitch


Now we’ll be begin the first stripe.

I used 3 strands of yarn, two in the edge colour and one for the stripe colour, twisting them together where the colour changes but not breaking the yarn until the stripe colour change.


Row 6 (Right side): In edge colour (K1, P1) twice (to continue neckband)

Change to stripe color, K5, place marker, K11, pm, K18, pm, K11, pm, K5

Switch back to edge colour and (K1, P1) twice.


Row 7 (wrong side): (P1, K1) twice for edge in EC then switch to stripe colour

In stripe colour, purl, slipping markers, until the last 4 stitches.

Switch back to MC for other edge then (p1, k1) twice


Row 8 (Right Side): (k1, p1) twice, then K to one stitch before marker. Increase by knitting front and back in stitches before and after each marker, knit other stitches up until last 4, (k1, p1) twice. (increase by 8 stitches)


repeat rows 7-8, changing colour every 5 rows, until you have 5 stripes.

(Work should measure around 4.5″)


Slip sleeve stitches onto holders or waste yarn. (Those are the stitches between the 1st and 2nd markers, then the ones between the 3rd and 4th markers.)


Continue to knit body as established only without increasing. I added two more stripes (~1.5″). Shorter bears probably only need one.


Switch entirely to edge colour for final edge.

k across for one row.

Last 5 rows: (K1, P1) repeat (or vice versa) for seed stitch. If you missed an increase somewhere, you may need to k2tog so that the front bands line up with the bottom seed stitches.


Bind off loosely. I use the following bind off, but any loose one would do:

k2tog, slip bound stitch back to 1st needle, repeat until all stitches are bound off then pull through the last one.


Transfer held sleeve sts to double pointed needles or magic loop. Attach yarn and knit all sts; join for knitting in the round.

I knit two more stripes at this point, but a shorter teddy probably only needs one.


Switch to edging colour and work edge in seed stitch:

k around once

then (k1, p1) around until you have 5 more rows. You’ll need to k2tog at the end of the first round to make the seed spiral around nicely.


Bind off loosely.


Weave in all ends.


Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin


The Hat


Same deal with the stripes applied to the original hat pattern. (I didn’t take detailed notes, but you can probably figure it out from the pictures. If you’re trying to duplicate this and need help, please feel free to ask!)


Some more pictures


Here’s a few more snaps of the sweater, modeled by one of J’s stuffed toys:


Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin



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November 10, 2015 01:38 AM

Birchbox October 2015

October's Birchbox was pink in recognition of breast cancer.

Birchbox October 2015

I've become suspicious of pink things in recognition of breast cancer, since it's come out that often very little or no money goes to cancer research. Thankfully, this "awareness" does indeed come with a more tangible donation: $104k to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) which will apparently fund a year's work in a lab. I presume that's for a single person and materials, not the whole lab, given what I know of the costs of breast cancer research from a friend who used to work in the field.

So maybe not earth-shattering, but at least it's tangible!

Birchbox October 2015

Let's talk about what's inside:

Birchbox October 2015

CLEAN White Woods



This perfume didn't trigger a migraine and smells vaguely like babies and not at all like woods. I actually like it despite myself, although it's not something I plan to buy as I cannot wear perfume at work or in much of my private life.

It still irks me that even when I tell birchbox I don't do perfume, the option is "no more than 6 times a year" which means half of my boxes contain perfume. But at least I can pass it on to someone who might like it.

Birchbox October 2015

Lollia by Margot Elena Shea Butter Handcreme



I love shea butter, and this is no exception -- it leaves my hands feeling super soft for ages. The name is "sugarared pastille" (a candy or throat lozenge) but I think it smells more like generic hand lotion to me. The scent isn't too heavy or noticeable, anyhow.

Birchbox October 2015

I do particularly like the retro packaging and little metal tube with the bees in the design. It's a little thing, but in the sea of hand cremes I've tried since I started birchbox, it's hard to stand out, and I think this one will just because it's got this classic pretty vibe going.

Of course, it also stands out in that it's got macadamia nut in it, which means it's an allergen for my boyfriend. It won't kill him if I use it, but he definitely shouldn't use it himself, and I can't really buy more once this sample runs out. Good thing Birchbox has basically removed any need for me to buy hand creme again anyhow. ;)

Birchbox October 2015

Acure Organics Cell Stimulating Facial Mask



Directions: Apply evenly over the face until you look like a green sea-monster.


Now these are the kind of directions I want to see on products I sample! ;) This comes out dark green, and you smell like a sea monster (with a hint of mint) as you put it on. I know you all want to know exactly what it looks like, so here's what I look like with half a tube of the sample on my face:

Birchbox October 2015

Sea monster indeed! Might also double for zombie makeup. Made me want to put on an episode of Arrow while I matched the green theme of the superhero.

It doesn't harden too much as it dries so I wasn't itching (literally or figuratively) to get it off. I was surprised to discover that when you attack it with a warm wet washcloth, it actually foams up. It doesn't *look* like it has permanently stained my washcloth either, although I suspect I should dump it in with tonight's laundry to be sure.

It left my face feeling clean and soft but perhaps a bit dry, so I followed up with a bit of moisturizer. I found it amusing and pleasant even with the seaweed-mint smell.

Incidentally, I think the whole stem cell and growth factor stuff is probably crap pseudoscience, because most things about makeup seem to be, but I haven't bothered to look up the details yet. If anyone knows, comments welcomed!

Birchbox October 2015

Number 4™ Texture Styling Crème



Why does this have a bunny on it? Is it cruelty-free, or specifically tested on bunnies? Do bunnies have styling cream secrets I need to know about? I do wish they'd said something about it on the sample.

I'm not a big user of styling creme on account of my default hair style being basically "long flowing hippie folk singer-songwriter" but I *had* wanted to try a waterfall braid and failed because after messing up a few times my hair had become so static-y that I couldn't get it to stay sectioned. So this arrived at the right time! I don't love the smell and it basically makes my hair feel a teensy bit slimy, but it *does* make styling easier, and I finally managed the motions to make the waterfall braid work.

I wish this product came in an unscented version, but it does do what it purports to do, and I'll probably make use of it again as I learn to perfect the waterfall braid!

Birchbox October 2015

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara



I was kind of disappointed to receive this, because it wasn't the sample that I'd chosen for this month's box! Thankfully, Birchbox customer support was apologetic and supposedly the correct sample is in the mail (I'll probably review it with some future box).

That said, this is a very nice mascara. Significant length, not too clumpy or thickening. It makes my eyelashes absurdly long without making them thicker or particularly heavier. Here's a photo (sorry about the weird angle, but it was the best way to show the lashes):

Birchbox October 2015

You can compare with the sea monster pic above if you're not sure what my lashes look like normally. But yeah, it works nicely, and I'm not sad to have gotten it after all!

Birchbox October 2015

Summary



This was one of the most consistently good boxes I've had in a while! I liked all the products. (Shockingly, even the perfume) My birchbox subscription keeps me stocked in all these product categories so I don't think I'll buy more when these samples run out, but I'll use all of these myself except for the perfume, and at least I know someone who will likely enjoy the perfume sample!

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November 10, 2015 12:42 AM

October 19, 2015

Terri

Yarn of the Month club review, July 2015

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

Apparently purple and fuzzy was the theme for July:


Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015


The pattern: Breezy Shawl


This is a cute little shawl with some little criss-cross cable going across the back in an otherwise mesh-like fabric, all see through. I might make it, but probably not with the recommended yarn.


Mongolian Cashmere


Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015



Mongolian Cashmere

“So soft and silky and lux”

6 sts/inch on US 1

100% Cashmere

400 yds color: Iris


This was my first time knitting 100% cashmere and wow. So Very Soft. This is silky soft with a little haze of fuzz and it’s a treat to work with. I’m starting to see why my friend M was so obsessed with finding 100% cashmere on the yarn crawl instead of a blend, now. At $45/2 oz, it’s pricey for a sweater, but oh, what a sweater it would make.


Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015


I’m not as big a fan of the swatch pattern on this one: it’s chunky and seems like a waste for this luxurious yarn. Plus, I had a lot leftover as you can see, so it’s really tempting to frog (unravel) it and try something that will showcase it better. I just haven’t figured out what that might be yet!


Jaggerspun Heather 2/8


Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015



Jaggerspun Heather 2/8

“Strong with an aura of fluff”

7sts/inch on US 2

100% wool

280 yds Color: Columbine


This feels nice in the ball, but I don’t like the scratchiness of it in the swatch. It’s super fluffy as promised, and probably pretty warm, though, and there’s lots of colours in the heather which makes it pretty neat up close.


Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015


This might be nicer in a stockinette or cable pattern, but with so many yarns in the world to choose from “a little scratchy” is enough reason for me not to revisit this one. Still, it was good to try it out and pleasant to work with.


Conclusion


The amazing cashmere yarn is enough to make this YOTM sample selection for me, and the other yarn isn’t bad it’s just hard for it to shine in comparison. I do wish this month’s mailing had come with better swatch suggestions, though!



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October 19, 2015 03:05 PM

October 14, 2015

Terri

OSB 2015 - Internet of Things Militia: Paramilitary Training for your IoT devices (Video & Slides)

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.

As previously mentioned, I gave two talks at Open Source Bridge this year, and they’ve recently put the videos online. Here’s the more frivolous and silly of the two:


Internet of Things Militia: Paramilitary Training for your IoT devices


Abstract: Security folk generally talk about how the Internet of Things is bad for security, but it also brings new sensors and connected devices that could co-operate in new and interesting ways. Could we use internet things to enhance security?


Video embedded below:


[Confreaks.tv video link] [Youtube video link]


I was honestly pretty surprised that open source bridge accepted two talks (especially when I found many colleagues who are pretty decent speakers didn’t get in!). This was a bit of a joke talk, meant to poke fun at how security people talk doom and gloom about internet of things, but also a way to talk sideways about how internet things are both terrible and terrific if you think like a hacker. I’m not sure I would have pitched this talk if I’d known that OSB audiences are notoriously quiet and not big on participation, but I was lucky enough to get a crowd who was willing to get into it and come up with some fun suggestions on how to “better” use internet things.


Remember, don’t try this at home!


[Internet of Things Militia: Paramilitary Training for your IoT devices (Slides)] To be honest, there’s not much in these other than pictures to get people talking, but you can see my notes underneath each slide to see what I was planning on saying. The slides are also in the video.


Again, one day I hope to transcribe this and put up a nice blog post with the slides for those who don’t love video, but I the perfect is the enemy of the good and all, so I’m sharing what I have instead of pining for what I don’t have done yet.



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October 14, 2015 04:00 PM

October 12, 2015

Terri

Homemade Heartbleed pillow

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.

Perhaps the most well-known of open source bugs this year is heartbleed, notable as much for its marketing as technical merit.


There’s a tradition at work of decorating people’s cubes when they’re on sabbatical, and while I wasn’t the one who came up with the idea to decorate our fearless leader’s cube with things representing the many well-marketed open source bugs, I was the person who brought in the first piece:


Heartbleed Pillow for R


There wasn’t exactly a pattern for this:

Step 1 Draw half a big heart (to make sure it’s symmetrical) and cut out two of them.

Step 2 Cut a long strip with tapered ends to go over the top (to give the pillow some extra width at the top — you can’t see it in the photo but it’s about the width of my palm).

Step 3 Cut various thinner strips to be the bleeding drips.

Step 4 Sew each side of top to tapered strip

Step 5 Carefully sew bottom of two hearts together, placing drips at appropriate intervals.

Step 6 Curse and pull out drips and re-sew so they actually hang correctly. Several times.

Step 7 Leave a hole so you can flip the thing right-side out and stuff, then curse because you have no red thread and spawn another search of the house because it’s much too late to go out and buy thread.


Since my office (and indeed, half of the house) had no floor, there was a lot of frantic searching for the sewing machine. I don’t mind free-handing a pattern, but sewing through 3 layers of polar fleece by hand isn’t my favourite activity! Thankfully, we did find the sewing machine, but in the end, the only red thread I could find came from a promotional sewing kit I got from Raytheon at some Grace Hopper Celebration past. Seems sort of hilariously appropriate.


End result: one very one-of-a-kind throw pillow.


I’m sort of surprised that no one has started marketing open source bug merchandise, to be honest. I’ll bet there’s a market!



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October 12, 2015 02:05 PM

October 11, 2015

Terri

Birchbox August 15

The Birchbox for August started with disappointment:

Birchbox August 2015

One of the samples, the Laqa lip pencil, had come uncapped and gotten all over the box. Yuck. Apparently I was so underwhelmed with this that I didn't take pictures of the outside of the box after it arrived, which is a shame 'cause it's actually one of the nicer ones, so I took a couple today:
Birchbox August 2015

I like the "dive in!" detail on the side:
Birchbox August 2015

Anyhow, on to the products. My apologies for the sort of mediocre photo quality; these were taken shortly after the move and the experiment I tried with the light and sparkly backdrop since I didn't have my usual setups available really didn't work out.

Air Repair Complexion Boosting Moisturizer


Birchbox August 2015

This is a nice moisturizer that smells kind of fresh and herbal. I don't think it does anything for my complexion that isn't done by other moisturizers, but it's pleasant. I've stuck it into my travel kit to be used on the road.

Balance Me Congested Skin Serum


Birchbox August 2015

Another plant-y moisturizer thing. Maybe the theme for August was recovering from too much sun? This one's stronger scented, I think the eucalyptus dominates but there's a lot of scents in there. I enjoy using it because it's kind of soothing so it's still out on my counter, but it didn't seem to actually help with the bit of acne I had on my chin.

R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo


Birchbox August 2015

Like most dry shampoos, I found this one didn't do enough to make my hair feel clean, so instead I felt like I had 80's hair, a bit too covered in product for my tastes. It does change the texture of the hair, so I can see how it would be used in styling. Overall, it's pretty nice for a dry shampoo, with a decent scent and nicer packaging, and I'm glad to have tried it, but I probably won't buy more.

Supergoop!® Forever Young Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40


Birchbox August 2015

Three moisturizer-things in a single box, Birchbox? You should be ashamed. This one smells the prettiest, sort of like berries, and it's probably the most useful with the SPF taken into account. Pity the sample is so tiny that you can barely use it for anything.

LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit


Birchbox August 2015

This was just fail: it gooped all over my box, the colour looks atrocious on me, and the formula somehow highlights every line on my lips to give kind of a horrible dehydrated zombie effect. I can't see using this except for a zombie costume on my lips. It might get some use as a cheek colour, but I certainly won't be buying more of this.


In summary...


Birchbox August 2015

This was a pleasant but uninteresting box other than the lip colour disaster. I did enjoy all the moisturizer-y things, but I would have liked a box with some more variety!

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October 11, 2015 12:10 AM

October 10, 2015

Terri

Birchbox September 2015

I somehow missed reviewing August's box; I blame moving. But September's reviews are due today, so I tried out the last couple of samples!

Birchbox September 2015

The box was designed based on reader suggestions, and the result reminds me sort of an 80's sophisticate look.

Of course, what's more important is what's inside:
Birchbox September 2015

They accidentally included two 20% off coupons. I can't imagine I'll use both, so first person to ask here gets my spare one!

And now, into the products:

Rene Furterer ABSOLUE KÉRATINE Sublime Renewal Leave-in Cream


Birchbox September 2015

Love the packaging (the photo doesn't look as luxe as it does in person), and the stuff does seem to be pretty effective on the dry ends of my long hair. Unfortunately, the scent is (a) strong and (b) not for me. It smells old to me, like something that belongs on someone my grandmother's age, or like old cosmetics? And unfortunately, the smell really lingers in my hair, enough that I think I might have to wash it out if I'm going to a board game night tonight.


L'Artisan Mûre et Musc Eau de Toilette


Birchbox September 2015

I'm super excited to tell you that this didn't cause me to sneeze or make my eyes water! That's so rare in a perfume that it's worth celebrating. Now if only I was as excited about the actual scent. It smells like a more mature scent than many of the samples I get, in a good way, but it still doesn't suit me, and it's not like I wear perfume anyhow out of consideration for other people's reactions.

The one good thing is that I found out that J's mom is interested in having some scent samples for when she's visiting so she doesn't have to bring stuff on the plane, so I'll be able to pass this on to her and maybe it'll be something she enjoys, or at least enjoys trying once?

TOCCA Esfoliante da Corpo - Nourishing Body Scrub


Birchbox September 2015

This is a big thick sugar scrub. It works, smells nice, and dissolves into nothingness when you wet your face to rinse it off, so no remaining grit (which is kind of the appeal of sugar scrubs, I presume). I like it!

Birchbox September 2015: Tocca Sugar Scrub

Also, I'm amused that sugar chunks look so huge on my face after having tried all those micro-scrub things. Still works ok, just not as smooth as the finer grit. Just like sandpaper in that way.

trèStiQue Correct & Cover Concealer Crayon


Birchbox September 2015

This goes on super smooth and seems easy to blend in to your skin... but it also doesn't seem think enough to conceal much. I took some pictures but I can barely tell if it's even on:

Birchbox September 2015

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil


Birchbox September 2015

I know generally speaking that you want a brow pencil to be subtle and not noticeable, but I'm not sure if I can even tell that I tried to use it:

Birchbox September 2015

Maybe I'm doing it wrong or the colour just isn't dark enough for my brows, but I can't say I'm excited about this product. Oh well, at least the packaging was pretty?

In summary...


Birchbox September 2015

A nice sugar scrub, but the rest of this just wasn't for me. Oh well! At least I have someone I can offer my perfume samples to now!

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October 10, 2015 10:58 PM

October 07, 2015

Terri

OSB 2015 - Bringing Security to Your Open Source Project (Video & Slides)

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

I gave two talks at Open Source Bridge this year, and they’ve recently put the videos online. Here’s the more serious and informative of the two:


Bringing Security to Your Open Source Project


Abstract: With high profile breaches in open source projects, the issue of security has become one of great import to many people. But many projects, especially smaller ones, are intimidated by the idea of a security audit. This talk will discuss ways for smaller projects to experiment, learn, and even have fun improving their security. No PhDs in security required!


Video embedded below:


[Confreaks.tv video Link] [youtube link]


I’m a bit sad that they cut out the introduction I got; it was pretty hilarious.


The motivation behind this talk is that when I tell people in open source communities that I do security for open source projects, I get a lot of interest but people always say they don’t know where to start and quite a lot of them buy into the idea that somehow just being open source makes you secure. That can be a big push towards security for some projects, but it’s not a panacea, so this talk is an intro to how to do a security hackathon and be welcoming to folk who want to help with your security.


[Bringing Security to Your Open Source Project (Slides)] The slides are in the video as well, but sometimes this is easier! If you look at the slides, you can also see a rough version of what I’d planned to say in the notes section.


One of these days I’ll transcribe the talk and set up a blog post with slides as images for folk who don’t aren’t into videos for whatever reason (I know I don’t watch very many myself unless I’m multitasking), but I thought I’d share the video first rather than wait. Hope you like it!



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October 07, 2015 04:13 PM

October 05, 2015

Terri

A simple hat in progress

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.

Most of my energies have gone into the house lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making things too, just that I haven’t had as much time for writing up of late. So here’s what’s currently on the needles while I start sorting through the backlog of photos and creations:


A simple hat in progress


This is from a little ball of Misti Alpaca that I picked up on the last day of my tatting class (more on that later!) as a treat. And it *is* a treat. I wish I could justify the cost and time of a sweater made out of this stuff — its light, soft, and seems pretty warm. Maybe someday.


The plan, half-executed, is to make a little tiny soft hat that can be stuffed in a jacket pocket. A thin tuque, I guess. Since it’s dark, it currently reminds me of what my sister and I called “crime hats” on Buffy (due to her penchant for putting on a tuque before doing anything vaguely criminal in a several episodes).


Pattern so far:


Yarn? Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca.

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 21×6 = cast on 126 stitches


Brim ribbing: k3, p1, k1, p1 repeat 21 times

Repeat brim rows until you reach an inch or so then switch to stockinette


My plan is to continue the stockinette without decreases to make slight kitty ears. We’ll see how it works out!



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October 05, 2015 06:59 AM

October 04, 2015

Terri

Current state of the house/me

Sorry about the crummy and poorly written update, but since people keep asking me:
  1. Hardwood floors are in and don't stink so much any more from the finishing (it was really bad for a week or so)
  2. Tile floors are started, but the decorative tile bit is apparently slow-going. No ETA.
  3. Still no baseboards, but they'll happen after the tile is done.
  4. I still want to do one more coat on the laundry room but ugh, so tired of it all.
  5. Still some touch-ups where we got wall paint on the ceiling but I need John for some of them so they'll keep 'till after he's back.
  6. I think we're probably hiring pros for the rest.  Definitely for the tall parts, but we've been so wiped out lately that I think paying pros is the right compromise.
  7. Unpacking has started, but it's slow because I can't carry that much on my own and we don't want to put up all the shelving until the baseboards are in.
  8. There's still a *lot* of cleanup needed from the construction and reno; there's drywall and sawdust everywhere and tape and paint buckets and ladders in random locations around the house.
I'm without support this week to deal with cleanup and minor unpacking.  Let's be honest, I was without very much support last week too because he had demos to prep, and the week before that because he was getting artemis ready, and there was the week where J's parents were visiting (which was a nice break!) and there was some travel before that too.  J's doing the best he can given his travel schedule but between his travel and mine we're looking at only a handful of days of overlap where we're both in the same city for all of October.

We got some living room furniture up while we were both here so I can sit and read in my big comfy chair, and that's nice.  And now when I clean things they don't immediately get covered in sawdust or drywall, which is an amazing luxury that has not been true for all of September and some of August. Hopefully we'll be able to find a new cleaning service, but there's not much point at the moment.

I did get my desktop up and running so I can play video games for some escapism.  Still haven't found most of the cables or my keyboard and mouse, so it's kind of cobbled together and has no sound, but we made do last night.

Did some digital cleanup today too.  Reviewed a couple of ebooks that I won't repost here because frankly, they were both in need of editing (The down side to getting free books off the internet in exchange for fair review, I guess), but you can read them at that link if deeply flawed larpers and psycho-magical crime-fighting lesbian vs lovecraftian horrors are your kind of thing.  You'll be disappointed, though; I was.  Answered some emails that had been sitting in my inbox; if you were expecting an answer from me on the subject of something or other, re-send because I'm pretty sure I answered anything that still needed answering but I might have been heavy-handed with the archive button.  Declined some job interview related requests.  Unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists, probably should unsubscribe from more since I'm not really reading them.

I've got a bunch of of posts I need to write and queue up on my maker blog, but not sure if I'll get started on those tonight.  Want to hit up the farmer's market and I'm betting once I'm outside coming back in to sit at a computer for hours won't seem so appealing!



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October 04, 2015 06:40 PM

September 14, 2015

Terri

Painting continues

Painting is much more fun now that we're past the annoying part of the ceiling. Because of all the holes the ceiling was retextured, and slightly off-white and stupidly obnoxious to get paint in all the nooks and crannies but impossible to see when it wasn't daylight. So yeah. Crankypants T and J. After 3 coats, it is looking ok, but I still kind of want to spray paint the ceiling downstairs rather than do this again.

Anyhow, main floor is starting to look good.
1. Hallway is now light blue (but needs another coat).

2. My office is mostly done in a lovey medium blue that turned out exactly like I'd hoped. We'll take the tape off tomorrow and do some touch up (mostly to cover a few blue spots on the ceiling).

3. The powder room is now a lovely teal that, as I hoped, goes pretty nicely with the wood in there. It also needs tape removal and touchup.

4. The laundry room and pantry ceilings are done (white, because the floor in there will be terracotta coloured tile and I didn't want to push J's colour palette too far) but only one wall of the laundry has a coat of paint on it, because we were rather eager to have a washing machine again (and the new machines are great! They even sing a little song when they're done, which is adorable.)

5. There's a couple of closets that need doing. I prepped one last night and J's dad gave it a first coat, but the other two aren't prepped.

That's all we're planning to do on that floor right now. I'm going to do the kitchen after I refinish the cabinets and know what colour they will be, and we're going to pay pros to do the two-storey parts of the house (living room, dining room, upper portion of the stairs and probably the hallway up there too because the walls connect). We're taking a break after this floor because coming home and painting every night is exhausting, and because the basement is full of stuff and it'll be easier when the main floors are done. Hopefully the flooring guys will be able to come in shortly after we get the painting done!

Other than that, got some stuff going on in lives that intersect my own that's going to make this a hard week, but please don't ask about it because it's not mine to share, just don't be surprised if I'm quiet at a time when you might think I'd be showcasing photos of the newly painted house.

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September 14, 2015 06:33 AM

September 10, 2015

Terri

Painting has begun

We got some minor dents and holes filled yesterday, and taped a lot of things today.

I have learend that scotch brand blue tape is inferior to 3m "original" blue tape (despite being made by the same people), because the former has "scotch blue" written all over it in yellow, making it much more annoying to see if you've got a nice straight edge.

We have a first coat of ceiling paint on my office, the hallway, and the powder room. The laundry and pantry are on the todo list and I actually got them taped but not painted. I hate textured ceilings a lot and look forwards to making paid professionals handle the 2-storey rooms, but I am trying to remind myself that the ceilings are the worst and it will be more fun when I get to the walls. Paid professionals likely can't show up 'till october and I am eager to be done with some of this before the flooring guys come back to finish.

Anyone who requests pics can click here.

(Actually, that's true any time. I'm a photographer, and I like taking pictures of things. So when I don't supply a picture, there is typically a reason. Seriously, I got asked for pictures of an entirely theoretical concept project that I had just invented while in the airport and I was not pleased.)

The plumber is coming tomorrow so there will at least be laundry again soon. I'm wishing John hadn't ripped out the laundry sink; it would be really useful right about now. (He plans to replace it but hasn't done so yet)

But yeah, exhausted, cranky, and do not want to hear about the bright side of anything from anyone unless you are willing to show up at my house for the next 4 days and paint.

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September 10, 2015 08:45 AM

September 08, 2015

Anne

#SheridanCommute: Morning hot air

Balloon LandingBack when we lived in Vermont, hot air balloons flying over the house and even landing in our field, were a fairly regular event for us due to our proximity to the tiny Post Mills airport. But they are rare here in Sheridan, or have been. I’ve heard this guy outside the house a few times lately and caught a glimpse or two. But Labor Day morning, we had a good view as it floated in low and slow to a landing across the gulch from us.

by ag at September 08, 2015 08:52 PM

September 04, 2015

Terri

In which I finally give up and put out some bloody chairs

We've had the house for 2 months, and I finally couldn't take it any more and put out some bloody chairs and a table that's actually inside. (previously I had to sit on the deck for breakfast)

Not *literally* bloody chairs, although I did smash up my pinkie finger pretty badly today, the only blood shed by me this evening came from a scratch on my ear and didn't reach any chairs. (Although there was a close call with a mosquito...)

So, yeah.

But more precisely, here's the state of renovations:

- The wiring inside the walls is done, but not everything has a terminator and cover panel. J is doing that so we'll be paying the low-voltage wiring guy tomorrow and letting him be done. Yeay!

- The drywall folk have closed all the holes, but there appears to be sanding and texture work to be done. I am hopeful that we will be painting this weekend but won't know for sure until J talks to them tomorrow.

- The plumber didn't want to put the connectors in for the washer/dryer hookups until the drywall was done, so we have had no laundry since we moved. Hopefully the plumber will be in next week, but J didn't want to call until he's talked to the drywall team.

- The flooring is on hold until the drywall mess is cleaned up, which is quite sensible...

....but OMG I've been living in a single bedroom for 2 months because the rest of the house either has no floor or is filled with boxes we can't unpack and I'm sick of it.

So in summary:

I HATE RENOVATIONS AND THERE ARE WEEKS LEFT, BUT MAYBE SOME OF IT WILL END SOON?

Seriously, I know no one loves renovations and having contractors tromp all over their house, but I think it's significantly worse for me than it ought to be. I haven't had any predictable quiet solo time since more than 5 months ago when J's dad moved in with us and I need to introvert so hard that some days I don't even want to deal with J, let alone a bunch of smelly strangers who make everything filthy. But then on top of that (and that would have been more than enough), I'm finding that my lingering PTSD from the breakin two years ago is making the constant stream of strangers an actively terrifying experience in little ways that I can't always anticipate and prepare for. I'm also on day 3 of post-travel headaches so I'm a bit generally cranky.

So yeah, hating on the reno with a passion that I don't think the average person can even understand.

One kind of awesome spot, though:

Our low-volage wiring guy is so passionate about this work and such a good friend to J that he's been pretty much acting like a general contractor for us while we were out of town this weekend, going way above and beyond in making sure the drywall guys didn't slack off. What a nice guy! I've told J we really need to give him a bonus!

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September 04, 2015 07:24 AM

August 25, 2015

Anne

#SheridanCommute: Baby turtles on the move

SnappingTurtleBaby
The wind was so strong the last time I rode my bike to work that I came down the hill on the Holly Ponds pathway, which is the most sheltered of my options. As I came across the bridge right behind the hospital, I dodged a decent-sized pebble on the pathway, then another. Then I realized the pebbles were moving!

Baby turtles, snappers I think, were working their way down the pathway towards the ponds, making pretty good time on their stubby little legs. If you look carefully, you should be able to spot five of the six in the photo below. The closeup is of #6 who was trailing far behind the others and looking a bit weary.
HollyPondsTurtles

by ag at August 25, 2015 05:31 PM

August 19, 2015

Terri

Albuquerque scars

Sometimes I am reminded of the scars Albuquerque left upon my mind.
As I remind my boyfriend that when he closes a window he must latch it
because that one time, a man saw me alone in the house and tried all the windows until one opened.

Sometimes I am reminded of the scars Albuquerque left upon my mind.
As I hear a car slow behind me and brace myself for the catcall,
thinking "I should have put in earphones" so that they might believe I cannot hear them.
So they won't honk or swerve in front of me, because they think they deserve my attention.

But here the car turns without anyone rolling down the window and I breathe a sign of relief.

Sometimes I am reminded of the scars Albuquerque left upon my heart.
As I listen to a story about an unknown device a coworker found,
and I think "that would be a great whatsit for the 2600 meeting"
only to remember I don't go to those since I moved. They wouldn't be the same.

Sometimes I am reminded of the scars Albuquerque left upon my heart.
As I sign the paperwork to donate part of my salary to my old library there,
and think about how poor my neighbourhood was and how many of those kids could use more books.

Sometimes I am reminded of the scars Albuquerque left upon my heart.
As I gather parts for my latest project and wish I had a Sunday hacknight coming up
so I could show it off even though it's not working, and people would still be excited.

Sometimes I am reminded that it is micro tears that make muscles strong.
And the heart is a muscle.

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August 19, 2015 08:37 AM

August 17, 2015

Terri

Birchbox July 2015

July's birchbox is an eye searing art deco piece:

Birchbox July 2015

I actually love the idea, but I think they could have used better colours. (It actually looks better in the edited photo than it does in real life)

Birchbox July 2015

But enough about the box, let's talk about what's inside...

Birchbox July 2015

amika Un.Done Texture Spray

I didn't love the smell of the last amika product I got, so I wasn't too excited to receive this one. Even more so when I found out it was a "texture spray" which is completely not a thing I use or even want, since I associate "texture" with the way my hair felt when I used to wash it in hard water. Thicker and heavier are not things I want with hair whose predominant styling influence is gravity.

So perhaps I didn't give this product much of a chance. I used it lightly because it stinks and I don't love this type of product, and perhaps as a result not only does it smell but it also didn't seem to have any effect at all. (But again, the pull of gravity on my hair is rather hard to resist.)

Regardless, not a product I'm going to ever use again. I'm never sure what to do with these, so it'll likely languish in my guest bathroom. Maybe I'll get a nice bin with a note saying "free" on it to put in the bathroom and hope that visitors will take it off my hands?

Birchbox July 2015


COOLA® Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face

I do think it's a bit crappy of Birchbox to put this sample in after we just had a coola moisturizer last month, but I suppose summer is only so long. It's a product I liked enough that I wasn't too sad, anyhow. Just like last month's mango-scented offering, this manages to be light enough on the scent that it's a nice alternative to generic sunscreen. This scent is probably even easier on the nose than the mango, which I guess might make sense as it's a facial moisturizer. Given the choice, I'd probably go with the mango one, but I really like mango.

Birchbox July 2015

dr. brandt® microdermabrasion skin exfoliant

This is a fine-grained skin exfoliant that seems to work really well on my skin. I've now had a few chemical exfoliants that felt more like snake oil than effective products, but this one left my face very much scrubbed clean. It's of the variety that feels like super fine sand in moisturizer, which I guess seem to be the physical ones that work best on me. It has a very light fresh scent, maybe a little citrus-y or mint-y?

I even tried it on my lips, which were pretty chapped from being in Las Vegas (neither deserts nor air conditioning are easy on skin) and it seemed to help without actually pulling chunks of skin off. (I imagine lip balms are a better solution, but it's been days since we left and I'm tired of them being chapped so I thought I'd try a quicker method.)

I like this enough that I'd probably consider buying some when my supplies run out, but I use so little exfoliant per use, and exfoliate so irregularly now that I don't live in the desert that I anticipate that all my exfoliant needs will likely be met by birchbox samples. Probably just as well, since at nearly $80/2oz, this is a pricey one.

Birchbox July 2015

Juice Beauty® STEM CELLULAR™ CC Cream

As far as cc creams go, this is a reasonably nice once, and I am pleased that "desert glow" the colour I recieved, seems to match up well enough with my skin tone. It uses zinc oxide, so it's more of a physical sunscreen, and it leaves a little bit of a sparkle.

Unfortunately, the big down side is that I don't love the smell, which smells like like old sunscreen mixed with maybe a hint of spilled juice. Disappointing given the company name.

Happy to use it and it seems like an effective product, but the smell is off-putting enough that I'll stick to other products in the class of cc/bb/moisturizer/sunscreen.

Birchbox July 2015

stila look at me liquid lipstick trio

I chose the colour "Venezia" which is a coral colour, because I already owned "Beso" (the red) and have a decent number of lip sticks in pink.

Unfortunately, I think I chose poorly. I like my red version of this product, but the coral colour doesn't suit me, and with it being such a bold product, it's kind of awful. I have pictures somewhere, but again, I don't know where my little camera is at the moment. They're awful, anyhow.

As far as the formula goes... "stay all day" is definitely an exaggeration, since it doens't make it through a meal with me, but very few lipsticks do so I don't think it's fair to expect that of it. I'm starting to suspect that there's some art to eating in some ladylike manner that I've never learned, since only lip stains tend to make it through a meal with me. It doesn't tend to smudge on my face, though, so it stays at least in one very important respect.

It is completely unforgiving on chapped lips, highlighting any line of dry skin. They recommend you plump up with a lip balm first, which does help some, but still not a great option if you're in need of some lip repair. There's a reason I keep sticky lip balms around: they're forgiving.

I'm very sad I didn't choose the pink, as I love the little tube and get a kick out of the opaque effect, but I'm probably going to have to do some experimentation to modify this colour if I'm going to wear it. Thankfully I don't mind experimenting with lip products so this could be fun, or perhaps I'll give up and offer it up to someone with a different complexion. Or maybe I'll use it as a cheek tint?


Summary



Nothing too stand-out in this box. Liked the exfoliant and the sunscreen, turned off by the scent of the cc creme and the hair texturizer (although the latter was probably doomed to fail), and totally got the wrong colour of lipstick. Alas!

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August 17, 2015 08:01 AM

Birchbox June 2015

Summer being what it is, only more so because of the move, I haven't really kept up on reviewing stuff here, so my apologies that there's going to be a bit of a review dump this evening as I see what photos I took and what hasn't gone up yet.

So, June's birchbox had a few possible options, and I got the "say yes" version:

Birchbox June 2015

I admit to disappointment with the box part of things: "say yes" is not a motto that I appreciate in the context of the overwhelming number of things I'm asked to volunteer for. Don't even get me start on the feminist critiques of this push to have women say yes to more things. Frankly, it's gotten to be one of those vapid pieces of advice that I could do without. I thought both other boxes were better, since they were on more of an adventure theme.

Crankiness about the box it came in aside, though, I was pretty pleased with the samples.

Birchbox June 2015

COOLA® SPF 50 Sport - Mango

When I heard about this product, I thought "like the world needed more obnoxious scented products you're supposed to slather on." Do you know how much sunscreen you're supposed to wear for maximal effectiveness? Adding scent to that is a landmine.

But this product won me over. The scent is light, on par intensity-wise with the usual smells that exude from my sunscreen, but way more pleasant because it's reminiscent of a delicious fruity drink rather than something I associate with sweat in my eyes and sunstroke. But beyond that, it's just a really nice sunscreen. Not too greasy, seems to work. I'd still prefer unscented when possible, but this is a nice way to change things up and make sunscreen feel like a treat rather than a chore. That actually might be enough reason to add some to my collection of go-to products.

Birchbox June 2015

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner

The shampoo of this set is so-so for me: it's too gentle for my hair (as in, it leaves it more oily than I prefer), and there's something about the scent that I didn't fall in love with. They claim it smells like ylang ylang, eucalyptus and patchouli. I think maybe it's the patchouli that isn't for me, but I don't know ylang ylang that well.

The conditioner, on the other hand, I absolutely love. It's much more effective for my hair than its counterpart, and the smell of peppermint, rosemary, orange and lavender smells refreshing and awesome to me.

I'm not much for buying higher end shampoos since it gets pricey with my long hair and frankly, easier to get supermarket brands like Herbal Essences or Garnier generally do me fine in both the smell and effectiveness categories.

But a bottle of conditioner lasts me a *long* time and this smell is enough of a treat that I might consider picking some up. Of course, that would mean I'd have to actually use up the many products I found languishing in corners during the move...

Birchbox June 2015

L. Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony

I had a good laugh when I read the accompanying card that said this would be a "bold pop of colour" -- that hair tie is pretty much exactly the colour of my hair. I guess maybe some of the colour options had more, uh, colour.

Generally speaking, I don't see the point of overpriced hair ties. I lose a lot of them, and paying more than a few cents each would just make me more sad about losing them. That said, this is a really nice hair tie. The bead doesn't catch on things, it's wide enough to wear around my wrist comfortably, and the texturing seems to help it stay in my hair without being so tight that I sigh with relief when the thing is taken out. This became my go-to hair tie as our weather turned hot, although I'm not sure where it's gotten since the move and I am, of course, actually sad about that.

Is it wrong that I kind of want more of them? They're more than a buck each even in the larger pack, but I still might spend some birchbox points on them anyhow.

Birchbox June 2015

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels

Somewhere I have pictures of myself wearing these, but I'm not sure where my other camera has gotten to right now so you'll have to do without. They look silly as these things generally do, but they're very nice and cool and relaxing. One set is not enough for me to decide if they're actually effective, but they were pleasant and I enjoyed using them!

Birchbox June 2015

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner

Again, I may have pictures of me wearing this, but they must be on the other camera. Sorry!

This is my first real foray into wearing coloured eyeliner and I'm sold on the concept. As someone with fairly deepset eyes (the Japanese heritage helped with those), I find that getting eyeshadow to stay put is a pain and no one can see it at all when my eyes are open. I have some nice primer so I can play with looks when I've got time (which, honestly, is usually Saturday morning before I go to the library or Sunday before I go to the farmer's market. I live a glamorous life, let me tell you), but it's not a thing I wear daily because it's very low reward for high investment.

This blue eyeliner is rather the opposite: a few strokes of this creamy pencil along my lash line and I've got brilliant colour that people can actually see even when my eyes are open. It's fun, easy, and creates a look I was happy to wear at DEFCON or even in my office, where most technical women are pretty light on the makeup and it's only the marketing and manager types who wear much. (Dress like the career you want, and all, but I tell people makeup is part of my social engineering skills and I love hilarious face colours more than I love conformity anyhow.)

The colours are great, the effect striking but not off-putting, and my only complaint is that under some circumstances, the formula doesn't entirely stay put, so I do have to be careful about checking my eyes for little blue smears. I want to buy the little set from Marcelle that birchbox has available, and since they've got a nice offer with the Marcelle eye-makeup remover in August's box I may just go for it. But I do feel like maybe I should try offerings from other companies with different formulae too.

Conclusions



I guess you can't judge a box by its cover: despite my distaste for the packaging, this box had a lot of really great samples in it. I loved the eyeliner, the sunscreen, the hair tie and the conditioner enough to consider buying more, thoroughly enjoyed the eye mask even though I probably won't get any more of them, and only the shampoo really wasn't a product for me. Pretty good!

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August 17, 2015 06:40 AM

August 16, 2015

Terri

Concrud in the eye?

Came home from Defcon and promptly got another eye infection.

Yup, peri-orbital cellulitus, again. Last time was January, so at least they didn't have to give me different antibiotics. If I catch it again, they're going to CT scan my head to see if there's something wrong with my sinuses.

Between the exhaustion from moving, the exhaustion from con, exhaustion from renovating the house, the exhaustion from the infection and now the exhaustion from the antibiotics (which are much stronger than regular ones so they destroy my gut biome)... let's just say I'm having a lot of trouble being civil. Or doing much beyond sleeping and wanting to murder things.

Here's hoping the coming weeks are better.

Rather than going on about everything sucks, here's a few good things:
  1. The antibiotics are working, so I don't have to run to the ER for antibiotics via IV.
  2. J figured out why the laundry room smelled funny and fixed it.
    • (When he took out the sink, he didn't think about filling the sink trap to stop sewer gas from coming in.)
  3. I got a departmental award!
    • This is especially impressive as security folk rarely get these, so it was super cool of the team I worked with to include me.
  4. I bought a bike today!
    • It's not an impressive one, just a cruiser-style putzing around town kind of deal, so it doesn't really replace my road bike.  But it *does* mean I'm not horribly trapped when J takes the car without warning me first, and it does mean I can go back to taking my sweet time on finding a road bike that fits me perfectly.  (This has been a struggle; I'm both small and reasonably picky, and thus I haven't had much luck test riding things.)  I should get it tomorrow; they're going to put the fenders and rack on for me.




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August 16, 2015 04:39 AM

August 13, 2015

Anne

#SheridanCommute: The fun and beauty of Rodeo Week linger on

20150725_100515Before and during Rodeo Week this year, several teepees were raised around town, the most prominent being this one still up at the historic Sheridan Inn. The bike and I made a detour on the way into work, the other day, to catch a picture in the clear morning light.

by ag at August 13, 2015 03:38 PM