My name is Terri, and I'm a maker, a security researcher, an open source developer, a knitter and crocheter, a musician, a reader, a writer, a teacher, a baker, a naturalist, a photographer, and I actually do have a PhD in horribleness, as long as we can all agree that web security is kind of horrible.

Terri's latest updates

March 24, 2016

Yarn of the Month Club, January 2015

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


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!


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…

by Dr. Terri at March 24, 2016 03:00 PM

March 21, 2016

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, January 2016

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.


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.

by Dr. Terri at March 21, 2016 03:00 PM

March 17, 2016

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, December 2015

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!

by Dr. Terri at March 17, 2016 03:00 PM

March 15, 2016

Pi day swap!

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

by Dr. Terri at March 15, 2016 01:06 AM

March 13, 2016

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

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!

by Dr. Terri at March 13, 2016 02:50 AM

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

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!

by Dr. Terri at March 13, 2016 02:35 AM

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

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!

by Dr. Terri at March 13, 2016 01:42 AM

March 03, 2016

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

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?

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!

by Dr. Terri at March 03, 2016 08:37 AM

February 21, 2016

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 1 and 2)

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:


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!

by Dr. Terri at February 21, 2016 03:45 AM

February 15, 2016

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-longs (Clue 1 and 2)

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!

by Dr. Terri at February 15, 2016 03:00 PM

Catch a Falling Star MKAL Clue 3

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!

by Dr. Terri at February 15, 2016 12:05 AM

February 01, 2016

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 2015

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:

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.


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!

by Dr. Terri at February 01, 2016 03:00 PM

January 25, 2016

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

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.


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

“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.


Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

“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!


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!

by Dr. Terri at January 25, 2016 03:00 PM

January 21, 2016

Catch a Falling Star MKAL week 2

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!

by Dr. Terri at January 21, 2016 03:00 PM

January 18, 2016

Catch a Falling Star MKAL

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!

by Dr. Terri at January 18, 2016 03:00 PM

January 15, 2016

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

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


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


El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
“This warm and ethereal yarn is excellent for large lace patterns.”
4 sts/in on US 8
89% superfine alpaca 11% Nylon
579.6 yds color 04

This is so soft and light! I always love alpaca, but this turns alpaca into something like mohair, and it’s amazing. It’s also teensy-tiny if you don’t count the fluff — it took me way longer than I expected to knit that tiny swatch!


The stitch pattern gets a bit lost in the halo of this yarn, but with a bit of light or white behind it, it becomes a subtler, fuzzier version of lacework that I quite enjoy.


Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi


Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
“This superwash yarn is soft and snazzy and super fun to knit up”
3.25 sts/inch on US 11
69% superwash 30% polyamide 1% polyester
79 yds color 89

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

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.


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?

by Dr. Terri at January 15, 2016 02:15 AM

January 11, 2016

Celtic Shawl for M

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.

by Dr. Terri at January 11, 2016 03:00 PM

January 07, 2016

Alpaca Pome Hat for Mom

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!

by Dr. Terri at January 07, 2016 03:00 PM

January 05, 2016

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

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!

by Dr. Terri at January 05, 2016 08:31 AM

December 15, 2015

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

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…

by Dr. Terri at December 15, 2015 03:00 PM

December 13, 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

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!


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.


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


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

by Dr. Terri at December 13, 2015 09:42 PM

December 09, 2015

Building the best bacon cookies (Recipe: Spiced Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with a hint of Sriracha)

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!


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

by Dr. Terri at December 09, 2015 04:00 PM

December 05, 2015

Things I always forget about setting up git

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.
  • 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
  • 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:mailman/mailman-website.git

  • If I want to get changes from upstream, I then do
    git fetch upstream
    git merge upstream/master

    *** see note below
  • 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.

    *** Edited to add: my friend e suggests that merge here might be another source of fire wasps depending on what you want to do. git rebase may be the better choice.

    A wasp saying

    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.

  • Check in my files
    git commit -m "Useful commit message goes here"
  • I also rarely forgot this one, because it’s basically unchanged from the first version control systems I used. yeay!

  • The first time I want to push my branch to gitlab or github, I do
    git push -u origin $branchname
  • The -u part sets the magic for the branch so that in theory in the future I can just use

    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

    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!

    by Dr. Terri at December 05, 2015 03:00 PM

    November 30, 2015

    Easy Kitty Hat

    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.


    Link to this pattern on Ravelry in case you want to add it to your queue!

    Super short version of the pattern
    1. Cast on 126 stitches and join in the round
    2. { k2 p2 } repeat until you have around 1″ of brim
    3. knit in stockinette for another 6″
    4. Divide stitches evenly on two needles, (63 stitches on each) and graft closed with kitchener stitch.

    That will get you a 21″ hat assuming a gauge of 6 sts/inch in your yarn. But if you want to use different yarn or have a different sized head, read on for more detailed instructions!

    Yarn: Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca.
    Any yarn would do, though, just do the calculation for your head circumference.
    What’s the gauge? 6 st/inch on US 7 (4.5mm)
    What’s my head circumference? Around 21 inches
    Since I didn’t want much negative ease (i.e. stretch), that meant 21 inches x 6 stitches/inch = cast on 126 stitches

    Brim ribbing (1 inch/2.5 cm): Cast on 126 stitches and join for knitting in the round
    {k3, p1, k1, p1} repeat 21 times (or as many times as you have inches of head circumference)
    Repeat brim rows until you reach an inch or so then switch to stockinette

    Main hat (6 inches/15 cm): knit in stockinette (e.g. knit all stitches in the round) until hat measures a total of 7 inches (17.5cm), including the brim.

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


    This can be done with any yarn, although the ears may not look as ear-like in a really bulky one. Just do the calculations for your head circumference!

    If I were doing this again, I’d do a simpler brim ribbing. You can’t really tell this from a k2p2 ribbing unless you’re looking for it.

    I went the knit in the round + kitchener route because I like knitting in the round and having a seamless hat. If knitting in the round or kitchener stitch is not for you, you could knit flat and sew up the sides.

    If you want, you could also put a few sewed stitches in to keep the ears in place. I actually like them as they are because they’re a bit moldable for expressiveness if I want to be more sad kitty. Or I can tuck them in so they don’t lay weirdly under my bike helmet.

    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!

    by Dr. Terri at November 30, 2015 03:00 PM

    November 19, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

    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.

    Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

    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.


    Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

    “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?


    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!

    by Dr. Terri at November 19, 2015 03:00 PM

    November 16, 2015

    Clapotis Wrap for S

    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


    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

    by Dr. Terri at November 16, 2015 03:00 PM

    November 13, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club, August 2015

    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.


    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?


    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.


    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

    by Dr. Terri at November 13, 2015 03:00 PM

    November 11, 2015

    November 2015 yarn subscription preview

    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. (August and September’s YOTM posts are queued and October’s swatches are on the needles, though!)

    A brief comparison

    YOTM is $9.50. BeanieBags is $10.00

    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.


    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!

    by Dr. Terri at November 11, 2015 06:40 AM

    November 10, 2015

    Camp Erin Teddy Bear Cardigan Variation

    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.


    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

    by Dr. Terri at November 10, 2015 01:37 AM

    October 19, 2015

    Yarn of the Month club review, July 2015

    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.


    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!

    by Dr. Terri at October 19, 2015 03:00 PM

    October 14, 2015

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

    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.

    by Dr. Terri at October 14, 2015 04:00 PM

    October 12, 2015

    Homemade Heartbleed pillow

    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!

    by Dr. Terri at October 12, 2015 02:00 PM

    October 07, 2015

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

    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!

    by Dr. Terri at October 07, 2015 04:00 PM

    October 05, 2015

    A simple hat in progress

    Most of my energies have gone into the new 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
    (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

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

    by Dr. Terri at October 05, 2015 06:58 AM

    July 11, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club review, June 2015

    I knit all these samples right away, got them blocking… then had houseguests, bought a house, and generally didn’t write this blog post. But the package for July arrived today, so I guess it’s time!

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    June’s theme seemed to be “Linen” which seems like a decent summer theme. I hadn’t really felt linen until recently, only heard about it in stories, and it sounded soft and light there. But linen yarn, when you first get it, is usually sort of stiff and hard. I gather it gets soft with age, and I know it has lots of great properties, but I haven’t gotten over this faint feeling of disappointment every time reality clashes with the imaginary linen in my head. Maybe working with it more will help, though!

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Note: I’m using the new flickr sharing code, which uses javascript to add a header/footer after the image is loaded. I can’t decide if I like it aesthetically or not, and it seems to leave the page loader spinning forever, which I definitely don’t like. But I figure I’ll try it for this post anyhow. Comments welcome!

    The pattern: Garden Party Headband

    Ooh, a crochet pattern! It’s a cute little scalloped thing and something I might actually try, but I haven’t tried it yet.


    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Berroco Linus
    “Delicate and textured fabric for breezy garments”
    5 sts/inch on US 8
    50% Acrylic 20% Linen 18% Nylon 12% Rayon
    159 yds color: 6812

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    So right after telling you that linen is stiff, I’ve got to say that this totally isn’t. It’s a delicate little ribbon of fabric that knits up into something that feels strangely like a kitchen curtain to me, light and yellow and letting lots of light through.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    I enjoyed working with this, even though you have to be careful where you put your needles so as not to tear the delicate threads in the center of the ribbon.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    The pattern chosen is definitely not square, and doesn’t stay square even after blocking. The photo above is after blocking, the photo below is in-progress, and you can see that there’s a definite lilt in both. I’m sure it won’t matter for a blanket square, but worth noting if you were making a breezy summer scarf with this swatch pattern. Although honestly, a little tilt would probably just make a scarf look more modern, anyhow.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Overall, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and I think this experiment has made me feel more interested in trying other ribbon yarns or lighter linen blends that aren’t just the typical linen/cotton.


    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    S.Charles Collezione Audra
    “Indulgent and silky with strong stitch definition”
    5.25 sts/inch on US 4
    76% Linen 12% Silk 12% Viscose
    205 yds color: 04

    This is a really weird yarn, with that core of stiff linen combined with silk and viscose. I’m not sure about the colourway, which is 3 separate strands of grey, off-white, and peach wrapped together.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    That said, it was kind of fun to knit with. The stitch definition is amazing and the swatch interesting enough to showcase it. Although I was worried about it initially, it wound up blocking pretty close to a 5×5 square.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Verdict? I would be happy to work with this yarn again as long as I could get another colourway. But I’m honestly not sure what I’d make with it, given how stiff it is. Maybe if I trust in it softening up it would make a great summer lacy overlayer thing — it certainly holds a pattern pretty nicely.

    Creative Linen

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Rowan Creative Linen
    “Undemanding work horse of a yarn which is easy to wear”
    5.25 sts/inch on US 7
    50% Linen 50% Cotton
    219 yds color: 643

    This is a hefty linen/cotton blend where I feel that the cotton feel dominates, so it feels sturdy but not quite as stiff as some. It was lovely to work with, and really shows off the swatch pattern.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    I’d say that their assessment of it as a wearable work horse yarn seems reasonable.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    I’d consider this as a possibility for lighter toddler knits and for amigurumi toys for kids where you know there’s a good chance they’re going to get chewed on a lot. I’d probably wear it myself, although I think given the climate where I live, it’s unlikely that I’ll be knitting too many cotton sweaters. I could see doing dishtowels with it, which is more likely to happen. Especially with the swatch pattern included.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    I really love that swatch pattern, although the reverse side is pretty boring.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    In summary, this is a cotton/linen blend that I’d consider adding to my arsenal.


    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    These swatches took some serious blocking to try to get them to 5×5 squares, and they didn’t even quite make it. I was glad I’d finally invested in some blocking mats so I had a more sturdy surface for pinning them!

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    They were all different experiences and showcased a pretty wide range of linen options, which was pretty neat to me as someone who hasn’t worked with linen much. Plus, I quite liked a couple of the stitch patterns which were also new to me.

    Yarn of the Month Club, June 2015

    Overall, quite happy with this month’s mailing!

    PS – I took a lot more photos than usual for this month’s mailing and didn’t use them all. If you’d like to see the swatches pre-blocking with rulers and such, here’s a link to the full yarn of the month collection.

    by Dr. Terri at July 11, 2015 06:06 PM

    June 18, 2015

    Definitely a right-brained brain hat

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

    Definitely right-brained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The pattern

    Brain Hat (KNITTING PATTERN, not actual hat)
    by Alana Noritake
    ($5 on Ravelry)

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

    My notes

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

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

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

    by Dr. Terri at June 18, 2015 04:00 PM

    June 15, 2015

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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

    The pattern

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

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

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


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

    Body only:

    Violet Pony for Katie

    I do love that she’s a bit posable….

    Violet Pony for Katie

    Those legs are surprisingly bendable!

    Violet Pony for Katie

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

    Violet Pony for Katie

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

    Violet Pony for Katie

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

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

    Did you notice what book it is?

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

    Or at least one for myself!

    Twilight Sparkle for Katie

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

    by Dr. Terri at June 15, 2015 04:00 PM

    June 11, 2015

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

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

    Pattern: Fern Lace Shawlette

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

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

    Week 3 photos

    February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 3)

    Week 4 photos

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

    Week 5 photos… with the designer!

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

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

    Finished Object!

    February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

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

    February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

    And finally, a wingspan shot:

    February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

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


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

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

    by Dr. Terri at June 11, 2015 04:00 PM

    June 08, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club review, May 2015

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

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

    Very pretty yarns, all told!

    The Pattern: Seaside Tee by Sarah Lucas

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

    Here’s a picture of the pattern page:
    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

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

    Eco Baby Prints

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

    Debbie Bliss Eco Baby Prints
    “With these beautiful liquid colours you can practically smell the beach”
    6.25 sts/inch on US 3
    100% Cotton
    135 yds color 56010

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

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

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

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

    Eco Baby Prints swatch from the YOTM website

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

    Prima Kuri

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

    Mirasol Prima Kuri
    “A solid worsted summer cotton”
    5 sts/in on US 6
    100% Cotton
    208 yds Color: 18

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

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

    Cotton Soft

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

    Mondial Cotton Soft
    “Soft and funky colours”
    7 sts/in on US 2
    196 yds Color: 0876

    First, a few more shots to show you the colours in this ball:
    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015
    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

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


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

    Yarn of the Month Club, May 2015

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

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

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

    by Dr. Terri at June 08, 2015 04:00 PM

    June 04, 2015

    Rippy and Chompy the Gators

    Rippy and Chompy

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

    Billy and his family went on a holiday
    They went down to Florida to laugh and dance and play
    Bill went in for a swim, he didn’t see the harm
    But when he came back out again, he was short an arm
    ‘Cause Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!
    Rippy the Gator went chomp, chomp, chomp!
    Passing the time by ending children’s lives
    Down in the bottom of the swamp, swamp, swamp!

    and so on.

    The Pattern

    Rippy and Chompy

    [Baby Gators on Ravelry]
    [Baby Gators pattern on Mochimochi land]

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

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

    My Notes

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

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

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

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

    Rippy and Chompy

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

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

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

    Rippy and Chompy


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

    by Dr. Terri at June 04, 2015 04:45 AM

    June 01, 2015

    Small Starry Sweater / Baby Astronomy Sweater

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

    Baby Astronomy Sweater

    The Yarn

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

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

    Rose City Yarn Haul

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

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

    Starry Sweater Sleeve

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

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

    The Pattern: Offest Wraplan

    Offest Wraplan pattern link on ravelry

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

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

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

    Slightly lopsided starry sweater

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

    The details: Buttons!

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

    Baby Astronomy Sweater

    How cute are those?

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

    The details: Appliqué

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

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

    Baby Astronomy Sweater

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

    Baby Astronomy Sweater

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

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

    The details: fait avec amour

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

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

    Baby Astronomy Sweater



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


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


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

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

    by Dr. Terri at June 01, 2015 04:30 PM

    May 14, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club review, April 2015

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

    The samples for April 2015:
    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

    Pattern: Spring Showers Hood

    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

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


    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

    “This is a great blend. The merino gives it bounce and the yak adds just a little haze.”
    6.25 sts/inch on US 3-4
    85% Merino Wool 15% Yak
    153 yds Color: 13

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

    Look at it, even before it was blocked:
    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

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

    And here it is blocked:
    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

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


    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

    “Soft and strong cotton”
    5.5 sts/inch on US 6
    100% Printed Cotton
    262 yds Color: 207 Monet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

    by Dr. Terri at May 14, 2015 04:00 PM

    May 05, 2015

    Summer Sweater for S (Bell-sleeved version of The Cherry Variations)

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

    S's Cotton Sweater

    [Summer Sweater for S on Ravelry]

    The Yarn

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

    The pattern

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

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


    So what happened?

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

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

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

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

    S's Cotton Sweater

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

    S's Cotton Sweater

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

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


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

    by Dr. Terri at May 05, 2015 04:00 PM

    April 07, 2015

    Yarn of the Month Club review, March 2015

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

    Here’s the two samples:

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

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

    Pattern: Beanie Cap

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

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

    Let’s talk about the white one first…


    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

    “Fun and funky fur”
    7 sts/in on US 5
    100% Polyester
    98 yds Color 471 or 470

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

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

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


    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

    “Soft and superwash – a workhorse of a yarn”
    4.25 sts/inch on US 7
    20% Wool and 80% Acrylic
    447 yds Color 57 or 73

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

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

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

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

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

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

    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

    And here’s both of them so you can see it unblocked:
    Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

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


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

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

    by Dr. Terri at April 07, 2015 04:30 PM