Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

I have a new toy

I’ve already gotten the “Experimental Tool” from lesliewind.


I think it looks even better than the Etsy picture.  It’s a lovely piece.

This is one of Leslie’s early takes on a combination knitting pin/cable tool.  She has a number of styles of knitting jewelry, which are all really elegant but out of my price range at the moment.   I’m not very experienced in Portuguese (or Andean, or Egyptian) style knitting  (where you tension the yarn in front of the work, by wrapping it around your neck or on a hook suspended on a pin or necklace), but it’s been on my list of techniques to master for a while.  When I saw that Leslie had an experimental tool at a reduced price I thought it would be a good time to give it a go.


Aidez seemed like a good candidate, as it has areas of reverse stockinette ground for cables.

There were no directions with the necklace, so I tried slipping the yarn through in several ways for the pin knitting.  There were several workable ways, but I think I liked ‘underhand’ with the yarn through the large loop best.  I found it much easier than the last time I tried this method.  It’s comfortable and I was soon able to zip along even faster than Norwegian purling.

Leslie has it listed as the equivalent to a size 0, so I wasn’t sure how it would work as a cable needle for aran weight yarn, but I gave it a go, and I find it easier (and smoother) than the KnitPicks needle I was using.  Of course, this project just has a 2×1 cable, I wouldn’t want to try it for something much larger.  I also found it awkward to work a back cable while wearing the necklace (though it was fine when I removed it).  Still, it is a pleasure to use and attractive to wear.

The necklace was well packaged, and came with a nice note and a very generous selection of thank you gifts.



There’s an attractive gift bag, a ‘care’ tag which pays homage to handmade gifts, and a shawl pin (which was similar to, but distinct from, what she had in her shop at the time I placed my order).


It’s a simple and elegant design which holds securely.

I am very pleased with my purchase, and impressed with this Etsy shop, it’s an excellent source for premium knitting supplies.  Go take a look, and let me know what you think.


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All the Fluff

I started spinning a little bit, a few years ago, but it never became a habit.  I eventually destroyed my old spindle, but I kept coming across my fiber stash.  I used up a fair amount of it when I made my “Thrums of Doom” mittens.

Thrums in progress

These were such a success that Abby claimed them for herself.  I’m sure she didn’t take them to Senegal, but I don’t know where they ended up.

but I still have a fair amount of alpaca fiber and jacob/alpaca blended fiber left over.  Every so often I’ve thought about starting it up again, but I was worried about destroying another spindle.  I really do tend to do better with keeping ‘nice things’ than I do with ‘perfectly servicable’ ones.  But still, start up costs for (essentially) a new craft are high, and hard to justify.  Every so often I’d look.

Oh, my, the pretty!


A while ago I happened upon Alphyn Trading on Etsy.  Seeing all the pretty things in this shop got me thinking (semi) seriously about spinning again.

OK, the spindle is pretty enough with my inexpert product picture, but just take a look at it in decent light (photo below downloaded from the shop)

Alphyn Geode

She had it listed as “Agate Geode Slice Sandalwood”.  Visit her shop for a lot of gorgeous and amazingly well priced spindles.  Many of them are under $20.  She has top  whorl, bottom whorl and supported spindles for sale.

My skills are not good enough to really know a ‘good’ spindle from the action, but with the minimal experience I had (from a few years back) I was able to produce reasonably fine and even singles in no time.  That’s even with the visible irregularities of the whorl, it’s balanced very well.

If you’re at all curious about spinning this shop is more than worth checking out.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered a “Name the Pattern” contest for Michelle’s Assortment (6 December).  The prize is a copy of the pattern in question.

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The Mighty (Small) Pen

I have always loved stationery stores.

It’s not the smell,exactly  I think I loved the stores first, then loved the smell by association.  It’s a dry, subtle smell, really rather neutral if you stripped away the memories, but it still makes me happy nonetheless.  I don’t expect everyone I meet to be equally happy in stationery stores, or all that interested in pen reviews.  I plan to return to my more usual fare in the next post.

Recently I’ve been putting together a collection of pens to carry with me in various small pouches and bags (notions and other.  Here’s what I’ve got at the moment, plus one which is on the way.

Implements of Destruction Writing

Five Pens

Pilot Varsity

Varsity Open 500 Varsity closedIt’s an inexpensive, disposable fountain pen.  At under $5 it was the perfect pen to pick up and cart around as a way to explore whether or not I could manage to run a pen dry before I lost it.  The reservoir is noticeably lower now, so the experiment seems to be working.

This is the only full sized pen I’m discussing today.  It’s about 5 1/2″ long capped, 5 3/4″ when ‘posted’ (with the cap positioned on the non writing end of the pen).

I’ve used fountain pens in the past, and was worried that this one might leak.  It doesn’t, possibly because it doesn’t have a removable cartridge to install badly.  Nor does it have that ‘scratchy’ feeling I had half expected.  I like this pen a lot, but will probably replace it with something more permanent when it does run dry.

Fisher Space Pen Stowaway

fisher closedfisher open 499px fisher posted Yup, it’s a space pen!  Pressurized refill cartridge, writes upside down or underwater or in space or wherever.  It is 4″ when closed, 5 1/4″ posted, it’s the smallest and least expensive space pen I’ve found. The Bullet is about the same length, and possibly prettier, but it’s also much wider and about twice as much.  The Stowaway is $10 at REI.

This was the first ‘mini pen’ I got, and it convinced me that it was possible to do them right.  It writes much more smoothly than most ball point pens do, and feels like a full sized pen in the hand.

FedEx Keychain Pen/Stylus

Fedex closedFedex open 440I don’t know that this little glittery pen has a name, I found it at the counter of the FexEx/Kinko’s store.  It came with a keychain attached, but I removed that so that it would fit in a small notions pouch.

Small is right, here.  It’s 3 1/4″ long.  Since it’s made to go on a keychain it does not post.  The stylus works on some touch screens but not on all of them.  I don’t know what the glitter is all about, and there’s no obvious way to refill the pen.

Not too unreasonable, considering that I got it for $2.75.  I got it to fit in a tiny notions case, and I’ve found pens I like more which are small enough, so I’ll probably replace it with something a bit larger when it runs dry.

Ohto Petit-B

ohto posted 654ohto closed ohto open 377Another tiny pen for under $10.  I was a little disappointed with the ‘ball point’ grittiness when I first got this one, but either I got used to it quickly or it worked out with use.

This one is almost as slender as the Stowaway, but is only 3″ long when capped.  It posts at 5 1/4″, so is a pretty good length for hand feel.  Ohto manufactures refill cartridges for it.  It’s the perfect length for the Lantern Moon knit-kit notions pouch.

Xonex Piccolo

xonex refill xonex open xonex postedFor $12 this pen set me back more than any other on this list.  It’s crazy small, about 2 1/4″ long capped, 2 3/4″ posted.  I can write with it OK, but it wouldn’t be comfortable as a serious letter writing or journalling pen.  On the other hand, it fits beautifully into my Nancy’s Knit-Nacks case.

Do you have a favorite pen?  Do you like cheap disposables or something more substantial?  How about some of the new, super modern pens out there, anyone use those?

I’d love to hear what you think, but I’ll probably be back to blogging about knitting soon.

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Coffee is the Precious Juice

Hello, my name is Lise, and I am a caffeine addict.

When I go into caffeine withdrawal, I (sometimes) get migraines.  Sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes, when I get a migraine, it doesn’t occur to me to drink coffee to cure it (because when I get migraines, my mental processes don’t work as well).

My friends, Joe and Jill, have enabled introduced me to this:

Death WishDeath Wish claims to be the world’s strongest coffee.  I don’t pretend to know whether it’s true or not, but it is a very strong, and very smooth coffee.  It’s a great, bold flavor without being totally overboard on the roast.  If your blood pressure isn’t an issue, I highly recommend it.



I finished the stereo cuffs from Laura Nelkin’s Etsy Shop.  The kit includes snaps, but I opted to make the cuff a little bit smaller and add a magnetic clasp instead.  I’m very happy with the effect.

Not so happy with the progress on the Picotty socks.  I started the mesh portion on one, and last night, after 13 repeats (out of 15 realized that I’d decreased a *lot* of stitches.  I blame the migraine.  Had to take a scissors to the work in order to rip back.  So, yeah, something to watch out for.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the pattern from Fiber Dreams.  I entered the KnitScene 10th Anniversary giveaway.  (1 September), the Mooglyblog giveaway for a copy of Beaded Lace Knitting (2 July)

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R is for…

R is for Ratings and Reviews

I really enjoy writing ratings and reviews on websites.  That’s probably why I do so few reviews here. When I review something, I try to identify it’s strengths and weaknesses, and who it will appeal to, rather than just saying ‘it’s great’ or ‘it sucks’.  That’s what star ratings are for, after all.

For your reading pleasure, here I will review a handful of review sites (in alphabetical order) on a scale of 1 to 5.


Reviews: everything it sells

As a writer: 2

As a reader: 3

I’ve written a couple of Amazon reviews, and occasionally read their reviews, but it’s always been sort of an afterthought.  It’s not that it’s set up badly, but I go to Amazon to buy, not to research, and there are too many people who use it for me to feel a sense of connection to other reviewers. Also, since there’s no focus at all, I don’t know who the audience for the reviews is supposed to be.  I do like the way it’s laid out, and it’s easy enough to use.


Reviews: books

As a writer: 5

As a reader: 4

I am kind of addicted to Goodreads at this point.  I try to review every book I’ve written there, and I’ve added books to the database so that I can review them.  I like the way that reviews can spark conversations.  I’ve met people through the reviews and the books.  I have to admit I was a bit worried when I learned that Amazon had bought Goodreads, and I still wonder if there is some effect to that, but so far it hasn’t been intrusive.


Reviews: movies

As a writer: 3

As a reader: 4

I occasionally review movies on IMDB, but I’m much more likely to use them as a consumer.  I think that the reviews there tend to the extreme good/bad ends, and the two are probably related.  You kind of have to look for the review link, so only people who feel strongly are likely to write one – the ratings seem to be more accurate.


Reviews: TV series

As a writer: 5

As a reader: 4

Another one I’m addicted to.  I will literally find series to check out just so that I can review them.  If I write 12 more reviews I will get another badge.  I like that it’s possible to follow other reviewers, even though there’s no direct contact or conversation (at least, not yet, they’re rapidly adding new features).  Very well deployed site.

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N is for…

N is for Nightvale

NightvaleMy darling husband and I went to one of the DC performances of the Welcome to Nightvale 2015 tour.  It was an absolutely wonderful performance. The Weather was perfect, inside, at least.  Outside was way too chilly for March.

We met with lots of friends, both new and old.  The new friends were mostly attracted by my Welcome to Nightvale bag and my husband’s binary scarf.   The old friends happened to have seats near ours, and lots of hug were exchanged by all.

Going to a Nightvale show is a lot like going to a science fiction convention.  There will be many many people who you’ve never met before, but you will instantly recognize many of them.  You will speak the same language, and be united by sharing something you love.  It’s just that kind of fandom.

The show has a kind of surreal, secular humanist, nihilist, Elder God optimist vibe to it.  Think of A Prarie Home Companion if it were based in a small town created by Steven King or H.P. Lovecraft, but set out in desert somewhere very far from mountains.  But don’t think of it too hard, because if you think of it too hard it might come and get you.  Fun, right?

If you’re not a podcast listener you’ll just have to wait until October, when the book comes out.

If you are a podcast listener, you might want to skip the rest of this.  Spoilers lurk just around the corner… (more…)

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H is for…

H is for Hero

I had a dream about Nathan Fillion a couple of nights ago (no, not that kind of a dream), so I thought I’d talk about some of the heroic (and antiheroic) roles he’s played and how they do, and don’t appeal to me.  In chronological order:

Mal Reynolds from Firefly

For an antihero, Mal shows some pretty classic ‘big damn hero’ stuff.  He’s brave, when it’s called for.  He tries to avoid fights.  He’s totally devoted to his crew, even if he doesn’t necessarily trust (or like) them.  He has a sense of humor.  He also looks pretty good in those tight pants of his.  Sure, he’s a criminal, but the authority structure is so corrupt that that’s almost heroic in and of itself.  He’s a really fun character, and it says a lot about Nathans career that he’s the least fun of these three characters.   I can admire him.  I would depend on him in an emergency.  I could hang out with him, but I don’t think he’d want to hang out with me.  I suppose I could fall in love with him, but I know he’d break my heart.

Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog

He’s more of an antivillain here, and the perfect foil for the eponymous Doctor.  He’s a classic comic book style superhero, and he does fight actual criminals who are doing various nefarious things.  He’s also a real jerk on a personal level.  I have to admit that he doesn’t look nearly as yummy in tights as Mal does in his tight pants, but he certainly has a plethora of admirers.  He’s a shallow, self obsessed, musclebound oaf and it’s easy to see why poor Dr. Horrible hates him, but it’s just so much fun watching him chew up the scenery.    I can’t admire him.  I could depend on him in an emergency.  I could hang out with him (in small doses) and laugh.  Love would never come into the picture.

Richard Castle

He’s not at all a classic hero.  He’s just this guy.  After the first season, when he’s a bit of a playboy and a jerk (with a surprisingly loving relationship with his daughter, and a mixed but loving relationship with his mother) he’s a classic aging fanboy, but still good looking (yes, he is ‘ruggedly handsome’).  We know he’s bright, but through the course of the show he (and we in turn) learn that he is brave, and loyal, and moral, and loving, and really very heroic.  This is the only one of the three where it’s his romantic interest that you’d count on in a fight.  I can admire him.  I could depend on him in an emergency.  I would totally hang out with him.  I am in love with him.

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