Thursday, 28 August 2014

DIY Links roundup {1}

DIY Copper bar earrings
DIY woven wall hanging

The Golden Crown (translated from Russian)

DIY String art tutorial

Here are a few DIY projects I've been really impressed with in the last couple weeks. I really really want to adapt the method from that string art tutorial to my own style for my new flat I'll be moving into soon - I think black string on white corkboard could look really cool! The tutorial for that beautiful beaded crown is in Russian, but I think with some careful google translate and paying close attention to the photos you could manage it. I'm obsessed with that wall hanging, but even if you didn't want to recreate it exactly the tutorial is so detailed and informative I want to get some nails and a frame and make my own little loom right now! The copper bar earrings are so simple and classy; I think wearing them would get you so many compliments. Can you tell I'm pretty ready to be done with this vacation and reunited with all my crafty supplies? Have you been inspired by any projects you want to try lately?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Read, Reading, Want to Read {2}

The Philip K. Dick Megapack: 15 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Philip K. Dick | 3/5

This is a very good selection of Dick short stories, perfect for someone who wasn't sure if they liked Philip K. Dick (like me!). I enjoyed and found fascinating a lot of the concepts, but out of the fifteen stories probably 13 or 14 were about futuristic warfare, exemplifying the Cold War mindset many of these writers were working within. Also, he falls into the trap of considering the straight white male the default, unmarked perspective from which to tell stories, but I found the lack of variation uninspiring. Do women exist to Dick outside of wives and mothers? Are we permitted to be important?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot | 5/5
A fascinating account of the history of the HeLa line, a type of immortal human cell used in scientific research. This book was especially interesting to me because both of my parents have themselves used the line in their work, and my mother was the one who insisted I finally read this. This is a story of scientific progress, but also of Henrietta Lacks, the poor Black woman whose cervical cancer created these cells, and who was never treated with the respect she was deserved - neither by the hospital nor the scientists who distributed and later sold her cells without any recognition or compensation. It also tells the story of the Lacks family from the 1800s to the modern day, and how the more recent recognition of Henrietta's contribution has lead to a great amount of upheaval and stress in their lives. This book is an important read, especially for those interested in science or the shady history of how American medicine treated Black individuals.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton | 3/5
Deep sigh. I wanted to like this book, I really did! I always want to support young female authors, and the description of the book as a mystery-cum-ghost story seemed right up my alley. Plot-wise, the book excells, with Catton intricately weaving together the past and future of all members of a large cast of characters, revealing more information piece by piece, until it all comes together at the very last moment of the book. It's a very satisfying and intriguing story and I was enthralled as it progressed. However. As I said, the massive cast of characters means things move forward at a glacial pace, where we have to hear about everything every man was doing at every point - it's a good 360 pages into the book before we even reach the 'present day'. Notice also I said every man: there are a total of three speaking women in the book: the prostitute, the evil and conniving widow, and the cowed and timid wife; and not to go on about it too much, but the way they are treated by the author makes me uncomfortable. Let's just say that I think they could have been used better.

The Moomins series by Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson's Moomin books have delighted generations of children. These magical stories take readers into the fantasy world of Moominvalley, and introduce the Moomins, a family of friendly white trolls, as well as charming characters like Sniff, Snufkin, and Fillyjonk. The series includes novels for middle-grade readers, as well as picture books for younger children. [I've wanted to read this for the longest time because the art is so delightful!]

Schoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St. George's, befriends her. But even as their relationship develops, so too does another: Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student. When the scandal turns into a media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend's defense—and ends up revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Interview at Alice's Studio!

Hey everyone! Recently Alice at Alice's Studio approached me and asked if I would be willing to do an interview that she could post on her blog, and of course I jumped at the change! I was so honoured to be asked and she was incredibly lovely with great questions. If you'd like to read it, you can check it out right over here. Thank you again for giving me this opportunity, Alice!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

On manicures and nail health

I've been a nail- and cuticle-picker my entire life. Until I was fifteen or sixteen, my nails were always jagged, bitten down to the quick, and often made writing, typing, or even eating painful. There are a few tricks I've learned that can help me stop biting, number one of them being a good manicure! The top left circle is what I'm wearing right now, and from there on it goes in a roughly chronological order of the last few months. Mine aren't perfect now, and I certainly am guilty of occasionally nervously biting, even going so far as to make myself bleed, but here are some methods I have used to help stop biting my nails:

  1. Keep them painted perfectly, with no chips or edge wear. If they're perfect, you'll want to avoid messing up the manicure by chewing. (Try a very thick coat too, then pick at and peel off the nail polish - it's something to do with your hands that isn't destructive.)
  2. If you don't feel comfortable with coloured polish, even a clear coat will make them unpleasant to have near your mouth.
  3. Keep a nail file and clippers with you - picking is often triggered by noticing imperfections, and if you can nip them in the bud cleanly with the right tools it won't get out of hand.
  4. Keep your hands occupied if you can. Fiddling with something, doodling, or knitting are all great ways to keep yourself from the urge to pick.
  5. Using nail glue, apply short, natural fake nails over your bitten ones for a week or so, until it's healthy again. I use this trick now when a nail has broken and it's difficult for me to start regrowing it. Note - I personally recommend against long-term acrylic false nails, as when removed the nail underneath is often weak and soft or brittle, leaving you back where you started.
  6. Maintain healthy nails! If they're well-shaped, smooth, and healthy, you won't want to mess them up. Carry hand cream or cuticle oil with you to apply when you notice dryness or something that makes you want to pick.
  7. If you have specific nail problems that you want to manage, there's probably a serum for it! Sally Hansen has a wide variety of treatments for weak nails, peeling nails, brittle nails and more. Diet can also affect nail health, so if you think your nails just can't grow the way you want them to, do a bit of reading into it and I'm sure you can figure out a plan that works for you.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Teddy bear all-in-one - Sirdar 1774

I have been knitting away like crazy over the last two weeks, trying to make sure I finished this onesie before Allan has to leave; he returns to Scotland on Saturday and this project is going with him! It's a present for some friends' of his baby who's turning one in a few days. I'm so sad I won't be at the party to give the present, but I'm making Allan guarantee I'll see pictures of this being actually worn, at some point! 

The pattern I used was the Teddy bear all-in-one, published in the Sirday 1774 knitting pamphlet. I've had this favourited on Ravelry for quite a while,  so when Allan asked me if I would be willing to knit something for a present I almost literally jumped at the chance to make this. It's so cute! It's so fluffy! It has little ears! ! I didn't have any problems with the pattern, although the yarn was a bit hard to get used to. I made some slight changes that you can read about on my Ravelry project page here; the main way I deviated from the pattern was by fairly winging it when it came time to sew it together. I'm very pleased with how it came out, and think it's just the cutest thing in the world. Just look at those little feet! I hope the recipients love it as much as I do :)