19 August 2016

A woman is like...

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt 

17 June 2016

It's summertime...

So summer in California means FREAKING HOT.  Having MS in FREAKING HOT weather = not so good.  Since we just moved from a place with central air to a place with a one room hotel style unit? And we moved a little more inland?  Yeah I'm more than a little anxious about that.  So I researched cooling towels.

There seems to be no in-between with these.  People either swear by the or swear claim they're a scam.

I decided to go with the lowest price one that I could find with what seemed to be a high number of legitimate reviews.  That ended up being the Ergodyne Chill-Its® 6602 Evaporative Cooling Towel.  I got it in orange.  It appears to be the more common material for these towels.  And that material feels pretty similar to a yoga mat.  Wearing a doll/kid sized yoga mat is around your neck is not really the most comfortable thing ever but...

Once I started using it, the fact that it was yoga mat-like  drifted away.  After following the directions and activating it with warm water?  Surprisingly cool.  I am not using it outside until I have to.  As of now I can only say that it lasted me 3 hours inside.  At that point I did re-wet it but the ends of it were still pretty cool.  I get the most benefit from it at the back of my neck so once that dried up?  It didn't matter to me that some was still cool, it was time to re-activate it.

Because this was right around $8 at Amazon I can see myself buying more of these the next time I have family coming down.  We end up at places like Disneyland or Universal Studios for hours, if not all day.  That means fighting over the water misting personal fan.  I feel like, while I wouldn't get rid of that fan, these would definitely help a lot.

I do want to, at some point, try the Mission Enduracool towel as it seems like more of a tradtional  fabric.  It's also a bit more expensive.  And the more I look at them, the more I think I might someday get the Mission Multi-cool (I like that its a solid tube so it'd be around my neck instead of hanging down + could be pulled up over my hair).  Not sure I really need it since I have the Ergodyne one.  The fabric is the only thing tempting me to buy a Mission one... We'll see.  I'm just glad this one arrived in time for the heat.  Heat is no joke for more folk.  For those of us with illnesses that are affected by the heat it's even more serious.  Stay cool this summer!

10 June 2016

Mandalas to Crochet (Book Review)

I bought Mandalas to Crochet because I was drooling over some crochet mandalas online.

What I expected: gorgeous mandalas, preferably some with the fancy overlay look.

What the book actually is: some pretty designs and some filler.

The prettiest design is one called "vintage vibes" and while not the fanciest design ever, it still definitely met my expectations. If the book were full of designs like that one, it'd be 5 stars.

Unfortunately there's more than a few that are simple flat circles. In skimming, a few times I found myself asking didn't I already see this? While it turned out there were minor stitch differences they still felt repetitive. So too, the designs using very small circles felt unnecessary - the kind of thing anyone who just learned to crochet would do on their own.

Overall: while I do feel like a few patterns were a waste of space that should have been put to better use, this is an okay book. It has both charts and written instructions for every design. They're clear and easy to read. Most should be simple enough for beginners. You wouldn't be ashamed of anything you made out of this book, though more than a few you probably don't even need a pattern for. The more open pieces (vs just flat, round, and striped) are really pretty.

This is the first mandala I created from the book.  Any goofs are mine and not the fault of the book.  Also, I have a cat helper, so... there's that.

08 April 2016

Pentel Multi 8

As mentioned in my last post, I am a bit obsessed with colored leads.  I bought the set of Pilot Color Eno pencils and a set of replacement leads.

Then I discovered the Pentel Multi 8 lead holder and ordered it.  

Here's the package the Multi 8 arrived in:

It comes with the lead holder itself already filled with one of each of the 8 colored leads, 2 replacement leads of each color, a sharpener, and the manual.

Like the Pilot Color Eno pencils, this is a Japanese import.  There is a similar product on the American market  called Pentel Arts 8 Color Automatic Pencil (some people I've seen refer to it as a Bible highlighter).  Both seem to use the exact same refills.  There are also violet leads available if you just want to swap one out for it.

Color Eno vs Pentel Multi-8:

I went ahead and wrote the names of each lead color, then colored a small section with just a bit of pressure and almost no pressure, and finally drew two lines with each color again one with a little pressure and one with no real pressure.

It should be noted that the Pilot Color Eno pencils are a .7 lead while the Pentel Multi-8 is a 2 mm lead.

The color Eno leads were a little less vibrant, but again are also smaller leads. The Eno came with violet while the Multi-8 came with brown.

The main different is definitely the fact that the Eno has a different pencil for each color.  You could obviously just buy the .7 replacement leads and use them in any .7 pencil.  You'd be swapping leads constantly if you wanted to make a multi color drawing, so it's better to just have one pencil for each color.  The Multi-8, however, fits 8 leads into one pencil.

The Multi-8 reminds me of the classic Bic 4-color pen.  It is a little more complicated than that pen.  If you have kids around you'll want to teach them how to use it so that it doesn't end up broken.

The pen clip turns.  Put it on the color you want (make sure there are no leads currently out), press the button on top and the lead will basically fall all of the way out to the little metal piece at the bottom of the lead.  Pressing the button again and tipping the pencil over will allow you leave just the amount out that you need.  The lead will not slide out thanks to the aforementioned metal piece.  To remove / change the lead you need to turn the button so that the little line is on the color you have out / are replacing.  It will now easily slide out.  To replace just leave that mark lined up with the color, slide the new lead in through the bottom of the pencil and continue as usual. I highly recommend placing the lead back up inside after each use so that you don't accidentally try ejecting another color the next time you go use it.  Like most mechanical pencils, just press the button on top of the pencil then tip the pencil upside down to ensure that the lead goes back all the up inside of the switching mechanism.

Prices at the time I bought them:

The color eno set of 8 pencils = $ 10.68
Set of replacement leads for the eno: $15.47 (10 of each color)

The Multi-8 with a sharpener and replacements for each of the 8 colors = $22.75

While I didn't buy it, the Pentel Arts 8 color (American version of the Multi-8) was $10.99 at the same time, didn't come with a sharpener or replacement leads. Replacement leads were $14.39.  So the American version with the same number of leads would have been a couple $ more and that's without the sharpener.

Which would I buy again? 
Honestly, had I found the Multi-8 first, I probably would have never bought the Color Eno set.  It's much more convenient space wise.  The 2 mm leads give a much more vibrant color.  The only real advantage to the Eno set is that you get more leads in the replacement packs (10 vs 2) but the Multi 8 has much stronger thicker leads so I am not sure that's really the advantage it seems.

04 April 2016

Colored mechanical pencils

So I was attempting to organize some of my art/craft supplies (plastic shoe boxes are my best friends right now) and I found a container of blue leads for mechanical pencils.  That got me thinking - I've seen standard leads and blue leads and red leads, where are the other colors?  I mean, I wasn't expecting varying shades as you'd find in more standard colored pencils, but there had to be more than standard lead, red, and blue.  

Turns out there are a few, though most arts and craft stores don't seem to carry them.  I found this Pilot color Eno - 8 pencil set and this set of replacement leads.  You could obviously buy just the leads (.7mm) if you already have .7 pencils but I like the idea of having their own matching colored pencils instead of constantly swapping them out of the one or two pencils I have in that size. 
The violet and blue leads are the most vibrant.  Red and orange are both a bit paler than I'd expected, but are still quite useable especially if you don't mind using some pressure (don't have too much lead out when applying extra pressure, you don't want to break it) and/or going over the color a few times.

After ordering those I also found this Pentel Pencil Lead Holder and Lead Set, which immediately made its way to my wish list.  Much like the trusty classic 4 color Bic pen, this lead holder holds 8 (2mm) leads of various colors at once and then you select which color you want to use.  Had I found this one first I probably would have ordered it instead of the Pilot Eno set and lead replacements. As it is, I did just order it even though I probably should have been good.  Couldn't resist.

21 March 2016

Graphghan WIP

I decided to go all in with crochet and make my first big project not just a blanket but a graphghan.  If you don't know what that is, it's where you take a graph pattern like those used for cross stitch or beadwork and use it and the pattern to crochet an afghan with a picture on it.

I actually don't find it very complicated except you need about a billion yarn bobbins (slight exaggeration) and the bobbins will find the way to tangle around every other bobbin, especially when your helper is a cat.

My project started out looking like this:
I realized I'd never want to work on it if I was constantly untangling that mess.  Some recommend plastic craft clips but those tend to be expensive for how many I'd need.  So I went the cheapo route and bought binder clips.  So now my project looks like this:

I finally want to work on it again!  So does my cat...

30 October 2015

Yarn Subscription boxes -

I have just started to crochet.  Yarn is expensive.  I bought some of the standard cheapie stuff to start out with (if you do anything with yarn, you can guess what kind of yarn that is - rough, but still available in some nice colors).  The prices of the nicer stuff is scary, especially as a newbie.  So I searched because there had to be some of those monthly subscription boxes for yarn.  There were.

The first one that I found was YarnBox.  They have a few different options -
- $19.99 + shipping gets you their Sock box -- a skein or two each month and a pattern
- $36.95 + shipping get you their classic option which guarantees at least 2 full skeins a box and the usual things a subscription box of this style would have - patterns, maybe some goodie extras, coupons, etc.
- $69.95 + shipping gets you their luxe box.  It seems to be every three month and doesn't really tell you what to expect beyond the luxury yarns that most people don't have in their usual budget.

Yarn box seems fine but as a newbie crocheter, I wasn't sure it was for me.  The classic seemed the   best option but $40 a month for a couple of skeins when I'm not sure what to do with most stuff yet, eh...

The next one that I found was KnitCrate.  They have a much wider range of plans from a $16.50 mini crate that includes 30 yards of fingering weight yarns to a $59 Indie hand dyed luxury package.  Theirs include shipping.  As someone who has no interest in knitting, their package that appeals to me most is the standard KnitCrate at $49 a month.  Still a bit much for something I'm not sure will work for me.  And these tend to target Knitters.  I've tried knitting.  I am not meant for it.  I want my craftiness to be fun and relaxing.  Knitting made me want to throw things, I'm just not that coordinated.

Then I stumbled upon the Darn Good Yarn Yarn Club.  Also mostly targeted at knitters but with a focus more on the yarn and less on the pattern and extras... this could work.  I was a little leery because there don't seem to be many unboxings or reviews.  But hey, it's $19.99+shipping.  I found it the day after my birthday so, what the heck I'll chance it for one box - a bday present to myself.  If I don't like it, cancel.

I just received my first package (November 2015).  They guarantee at least two full skeins though this month was a special test run of yarn, so I got 4 in my first package, yay!  Picture to the left.

Two of the skeins are a recycled silk yarn.  It reminds me of twine, if twine were made of silk and were soft instead of rough.  One skein has a much wider range of colors throughout while the other skein is a lot of what I would call a natural color and red, and you don't see a lot of other colors until you get to the center, then it too is a mix of vibrant colors.    This would be a great general craft yarn beyond knitting/crochet.  I could see it as trim on a card or in a journal.

The other two skeins, which I believe to be the bonus skeins for the month, are a a sock yarn.  They say that each skein makes one sock.  I'm no knitter so I'll take their word for it.  The colors are awesome.  I'd probably actually pick those colors for myself.  Just not sure I'm ready to brave such fine yard with crochet.  It might be awesome for a needle tatted necklace though.

So while I cannot judge KnitCrate or YarnBox, I can say that the one Darn Good Yarn Yarn Club box that I got was good enough for me to try another month.  And it's one of the cheaper options - BONUS.  Great way to build a stash when starting out.  Or at least supplementing your cheap newbie stuff with nicer yarns.

28 August 2015

Girl and cat

We had a rough day yesterday.  Soooo my kitty stayed close to me when not hiding under the bed.  She "helped" me draw this or, as I call it, she sat on the paper making it nearly impossible to draw anything.