Obsession Thursdays

Obsession Thursday: Freaking out over 3D printing

I am, without question, an early adopter. But I’m also a skeptic. So I’m not the earliest adopter. I need to see how something makes sense to me before I want it. Twitter, Instagram, even the Internet. I knew about them for at least a year before I joined in.

3D printing is another of these amazing things that is just starting to make sense to me, and of course the gateway drug was bling.

I’d been following NervousSystem for years, but didn’t realize they’d come up with software that allowed you to design your own ring or bracelet.  If you’re like me, you’re lost in this brilliant toy already and have stopped reading. Just clicking on that last link allows for some mesmerizing time wasting.

Voro Ring No. 1

Voro Ring No. 1

But what if you want to wear something you’ve created? Do you trust your skills to make something wearable? I imagined making something so bulky I wouldn’t be able to close my fingers. So I went looking, and found Shapeways.

This is the Voro Ring No. 1 by 90grad@gmx.ch. Who clearly knows what she or he is doing. It’s a rendering of what it might look like in stainless steel, and it’s priced at a ridiculous $19. How could I not order it? It was an affordable gamble. Since I know what 3D printing looks like in plastic, I wanted to see how a metal object would come out.

They’re printing designs in stainless and even silver and gold. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE?

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

My in-the-flesh 3D-printed Voro Ring No 1.

A few weeks later, my ring arrived at my doorstep. I am fascinated!

Yes, it’s a little yellower than I expected. But it’s solid and strong (I tried to crush it…it won’t crush). It’s rough and it’s super light. And it’s really comfortable to wear.

And it was spewed out of a printer. Does that not make your head explode?

Well, not exactly spewed. The printer emits a thin layer of metal powder in the shape of the design, and then a laser fuses it. Another layer of powder, and then the laser again. Eventually, the design is complete.

Here’s a video of the process, sort of. They’re not showing much. Is that on purpose? Dunno.

I wonder if it’s the bronze they infuse (like they show in the video) that’s made my ring slightly yellow. Dunno.

I do know that I love this thing and may have it plated in something shiny — otherwise, it looks like heavily tarnished sterling silver. Mostly, I’m just really impressed that this exists.

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Obsession Thursday: Conquering slipperyness

Who puts a window INSIDE a shower? Well, it's mine and I'm gonna keep it clean, dangit.

Who puts a window INSIDE a shower? Well, it’s mine and I’m gonna keep it clean, dangit.

You may think this post is about knitting. It is not. It is about sticking things to a tiled surface.

Said tiled surface, in this case, is the wall of my shower. And everyone knows you knit happier when you’re clean. Whatever. Work with me here, people.

So I have a completely tiled shower with a big inset window. And everyone in the building puts their shampoos and stuff on that window ledge. I don’t like. It’s messy and unsightly and a breeding ground for mold.

Instead, I wanted to hang up my shower-stuff rack. Maybe it could hang from the shower head, but I don’t find that logical. Don’t want to reach through a stream of water to get at my stuff. The opposite wall is where it belongs. But with a fully tiled wall — HOW?

Stupid stupid stupid things. Great when they work. But they often don't.

Stupid stupid stupid things. Great when they work. But they often don’t.

Attempt 1 (and 2 and 3): Command hooks. Prepped the surface properly, let it cure for a few days and was thrilled to see it work, for 6 months. Then it failed at 3 am. CRASH BOOM BANG.

Unimpressed.

Prepped attempts 2 and 3 properly as well (including cleaning the wall fully and letting the hook tape set for more than 48 hours before putting weight on the hook). Same thing. Command hooks, you have betrayed me one time too many. You are dead to me.

Then I remembered something I’d seen on a recent shopping trip. A ridiculously over-engineered bit of brilliance. Look at this thing:

Meet Immeln. Which, as far as can tell, means absolutely nothing in Swedish but seems to have its etymological roots in the word for "fog". Which is kind of appropriate. This is another really long caption, isn't it?

Meet Immeln. Which, as far as can tell, means absolutely nothing in Swedish but seems to have its etymological roots in the word for “fog”. Which is kind of appropriate.
This is another really long caption, isn’t it?

What you have here is Immeln, a line of suction-cup-based hooks by IKEA. What you can’t see is that it works like this:

1. Unscrew the white knob thingy in the front.

2. You will have 3 pieces. A suction cup with a big metal washer and screw in the center, the long white plastic hooky thing and the front white knob thingy that you screwed off in the first place.

3. Clean the surface. (Duh.)

4. Press the suction cup thingy on the wall. Pressy pressy pressy all around the edge of the suction cup thingy to fully adhere it. It’s already a little sticky, too.

5. Cover with the long white plastic hooky thing.

6. Screw the white knob thingy back on. Tightly.

What’s happening? Is that as you screw the thing together, the suction cup is being activated big time as its center is pulled away from the wall. But the outside stays stuckified.

It’s genius. And it’s working.

There’s a whole line of Immeln bathroom stuff, with attached baskets, mirrors and towel rods — but the hooky part they’re currently selling looks very little like the pictures on the IKEA website. I think they’ve done some redesign of the over-designed thingy into its current state, which is fine with me. I’ll gladly pay $9.99CDN for two hooks that actually, really work (that was the price I paid yesterday — not sure why the website is outdated. How very un-IKEA of them!).

Anyway, back to my triumphant success. Wanna see?

Ta-daaaa! Yes, now  you can see my bath products. I don't think that's a huge invasion of privacy. It's not like there's a bottle of Joe's Anti-Foot-and-Mouth disease cream on there or nuthing.

Ta-daaaa! Yes, now you can see my bath products. I don’t think that’s a huge invasion of privacy. It’s not like there’s a bottle of Joe’s Anti-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease body wash on there or nuthing.

Signed,
Your clean and non-frustrated Editor.

P.S. Jillian says I don’t have to write such long blog posts. I keep trying. I’m not doing very well at the brevity part yet.

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Obsession Thursday: passing it on

An occasional friend died last year — someone I knew because she was friends with my close friend. I really liked her but we never saw each other much just because…life, you know? Except the one time she wrote me out of the blue and asked to stay in my guest room.

Her favorite musician, Greg Brown, was coming to my town. I’d never heard of him. She came, stayed with me, took me to the concert. I got to enjoy her giddiness at seeing her favorite musician up close, and really enjoyed the concert. I’ve been listening to his music ever since.

Now when one of his songs comes on my iPod, I think of D and wish she were still here. And thank her silently for passing on her love of this man’s music to me.

Here’s my favorite song of his:

And now D has shared him with you, too.

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Obsession Thursday: There is no substitute for intelligent, human copy editing and proofreading

A quick glance at this lazily worded headline might alarm my fellow geeks

A quick glance at this lazily worded headline might alarm my fellow geeks

As a recovering proofreader and editor (20 years in the advertising business), the hairs on the back of my neck go way up when I see something like the news headline at left that I spotted this morning.

No, Doctor Who didn’t survive Ebola. He didn’t get it. Keep reading. But our internet-trained brains scan text for key phrases, and when we see “hero” a few words later, it only serves to extend the period of confusion.

It’s actually a simple news story. But a little more attention to the headline probably was warranted.

When services like Grammarly claim to be “automated proofreaders”, I want to wave my hands in the air and flail about like a deranged muppet.  There is no such thing. We all know how fallible spellcheck is without a human to watch over it and choose which changes to allow. Nothing yet invented can replicate the skill of a properly trained (and caffeinated) proofreader or copy editor. See, Grammarly recently published a scathing (ha) critique of the lame writing in that 50 Shades novel based on the “errors” its service found. I’m sure you’ve seen it all over the place. Except what they wrote is wrong. This thoughtful rebuttal by a mystery writer explains why. If you can’t trust the article, not sure how you can trust the service.

Proofreaders and Copy Editors are often first against the wall when the revolution comes. (They’re the first to be laid off when the budget is cut or money suddenly becomes tight because so many companies see them as a luxury.) It’s a crime against language. If we don’t defend our words, who will?

Note: I don’t claim that Knitty is error free. We do our best, but we don’t have a dedicated proofreader. That’s why I’m so glad we’re online…we can fix typos after a launch without requiring new film, a new press run and a huge loss of revenue. 20 years of stress over typos that went to print was enough for me. We do our best, and we fix the rest.

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Obsession Thursday: DIY surf spray and body oil mist

When I went from short and flippy hair to past my chin and wavy, I started to need surf spray to make the hairstyle work. Stuff costs $20 a bottle and is MAGIC. You know how your hair is after you come out of the ocean? (Not a lake…has to be salt water.) This stuff does that, but is better for your hair and cheaper than airfare.

Enough ingredients to make countless bottles of Surf Spray and Body Oil Mist

Enough ingredients to make countless bottles of Surf Spray and Body Oil Mist

Guess what? All the ingredients to make many, many, MANY bottles of this stuff costs about the same as one bottle of the name-brand stuff. I’ve made and used up several batches and it always works. Spritz it into damp hair, scrunch and when it’s dry, finger combing gives me the wavy hair I always wanted.

I started out with some of the recipes on this page, and tweaked. This is about what I do now.

Amy’s magic hair scrunch spray:

  • 1/2 cup warmed distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon Epsom salts
  • 1 teaspoon hair gel
  • ½ tablespoon leave-in hair conditioner
  • 4-5 drops of coconut oil or Argan oil

Warm water helps dissolve the rest of the ingredients. I use less water than other recipes recommend, because the water is just there to carry the rest. It just slows down the drying time of your hair so why add more than you need? Choose your conditioner carefully — it seems to be most fragranced of everything and if you’re fussy about smells, that’s where you can control it best.

Next up, winter skin crawlies. All body oil mists I found had some kind of fragrance and they all have preservatives I didn’t want. Plus $$$. So now I make my own based on this recipe, and it’s amazing. It has no scent by choice — check out the recipe link above if you want to fragrance it.

Unscented body oil mist:

  • ¼ cup distilled or filtered water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vegetable glycerine
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • 4-5 drops Vitamin E oil

I spray this on my arms, back and legs after every shower and I no longer want to rip my skin off.

I got most of the supplies at my local drugstore. You don’t need to buy huge amounts. It lasts a long time, and takes up just a little space in my closet until it’s time to make a new batch.

 

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The new love of my life

Eureka, I love you.

Eureka, I love you.

It’s almost embarrassing, but I am in love with my vacuum.

It’s not a Dyson. (I can hear the gasps.) No really. It’s a Eureka. It cost me $59 at my local vacuum store (who I love supporting because he only has good stuff and gives me solid recommendations every time I need something) and it’s possibly the most wonderful thing ever to enter the apartment of a woman who was stupid enough to buy a black fabric couch.

Why do I love it so?

It’s corded, so there is none of that “the battery life sucks”, like I read in every online comment of every cordless vac I researched.

It’s bagless.

It sucks like you would not believe and has a rotating brush for fabric/carpet/upholstery.

Mostly, it WORKS. I live with two mini-rex rabbits (well, actually one mini-rex and one rex, but that’s another blog post). Their fur is finer than baby hair and clings tougher than any pet hair you will ever encounter. I had a cushion that I hadn’t cleaned since before the move. COVERED in an embarrassing amount of clumpy super-fine fur. This thing cleaned it like new in less than a minute. LIKE NEW. And then I popped the plastic dust cover off (that clear thing in the pic above), and the super-fine fur was neatly gathered in the filter. Which is washable, btw.

I wish I had a before and after pic to show you, but I was so excited to test this thing, I completely forgot.  I did the couch, too.

Yeah, it’s heavy. I can deal with that. The thing WORKS.

Appliance love, ftw.

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Knitty’s 2014…what a year!

Darling Knitty readers, this post is a week late thanks to whatever  horrific bug has been travelling around my home town, striking down innocent editors and chaining them to their beds. What would I have done without knitting and Netflix?

So we’re into the brand-new year. 2015. What will it bring? Not even the Amazing Kreskin knows. So instead, let’s look back at some of the highlights of 2014 from our perspective:

We began including crochet in Knitty, and the world didn’t end.

crochet is our friend.

Crochet is our friend.

 

We continued to see designers innovate the construction of the humble sock with patterns like Carry on Solefully and String Theory

Carry On Solefully by Betty Salpekar

Carry On Solefully by Betty Salpekar

String Theory by Anita Grahn

String Theory by Anita Grahn

And introduced you to the world’s newest sock design star, who is only FIFTEEN YEARS OLD. Josiah Bain, designer of Mirror and Tauriel (so far…)

Josiah Bain, high school student and sock designer.

Josiah Bain, high school student and sock designer.

Paid tribute to cephalopods everywhere with Opus and Octopodes

Opus the Octopus by Cate Carter-Evans

Opus the Octopus by Cate Carter-Evans

Octopodes by Jennifer Raymond

Octopodes by Jennifer Raymond

One of the things that made a big change for the three of  us, was that our Knitty principals (me, Jillian Moreno and Kate Atherley) all finally had Craftsy courses available so that we could spend time on your computer screens, sharing our favorite subjects with you…

Kate started it all with Blocking Handknits:

Blocking Handknits with Knitty's Senior Tech Editor, Kate Atherley

Blocking Handknits with Knitty’s Lead Tech Editor, Kate Atherley

I popped in with my Plug + Play class

Plug+Play Custom Scarves and Shawls with Knitty Editor Amy Singer

Plug+Play Custom Scarves and Shawls with Knitty Editor Amy Singer

And Jillian completed the triumvirate with Ply to Knit.

Ply to Knit with Knittyspin editor Jillian Moreno

Ply to Knit with Knittyspin editor Jillian Moreno

Oh, yeah — and after doing this wonderful job for 12 years, we hit our FIFTIETH issue. Which was such a big deal, I kind of got a little silly with the issue’s banner. Did you spot it?

it's fun to be your own boss. you get to do stuff like this.

it’s fun to be your own boss because you get to do stuff like this.

On a personal level, I became a single girl again and much re-adjusting of addresses and perspectives resulted. Knitty is now brought to you from the new Knitty world headquarters: a lovely little 2-bedroom apartment in Leslieville. Do not fret — the rabbits settled in quickly. I knew you would worry.

I want to thank Kate and Jillian for keeping this blog vibrant and relevant with their posts…Kate takes charge of the WWW news from every corner of the web (every Wednesday), and Jillian’s Tuesday spinning updates are a big highlight in my week. I can’t believe how she never stops creating. Behind the scenes — along with Kate Atherley — Ashley Knowlton and Ruth Garcia-Alcantud continue to make sure our patterns are knittable and follow our easy-to-understand standards. To all the designers who continue to inspire us with their creativity and innovation — we love you!

And finally, to you, our readers, our biggest thanks. Without you, there isn’t much of us. Stick around. We have big plans for 2015 and we can’t wait to share them with you.

Oh, can we ask something of you? We’ve been heavy into Twitter for ages (well, I have, here: Twitter ), and I also decided our Facebook page needed more love, so we’ve been having a blast over here:  Facebook But we’ve never made a big fuss about hashtags. Guess what? That’s silly. That’s a wasted opportunity! So we’d love you to start hashtagging everything #knittymag wherever you post your Knitty projects in any form, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any other place hashtags are sold. Because one way to help keep Knitty strong is by letting people (who might not otherwise) know that we’re here. The internet is like a gazillionty times larger than it was when we launched in 2002. Your support, as always, is what feeds us. That and a nice tuna melt.

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Yarn-bomb Follow-up

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the wonderful yarn-bombing of the Tim Horton’s coffee truck.

We often hear about these types of projects – although less often of this size – but we don’t hear about what happens afterwards.

The Lettuce Knit team told me their story.

The project was commissioned by an ad agency, and their initial proposal had been to use the least expensive yarn they could find – entirely understandably. Sylvie, the owner of the shop, convinced them to use wool. Specifically, Cascade Eco wool.Sylvie was concerned about what would happen to the panels when they were taken off the truck, and she had a plan to stop them from just being thrown in the garbage…

Once the panels had been taken off the truck, Sylvie and her partner Angela enlisted the help of regular customer and laundromat owner Ruth-Anne. They carefully unpicked the seams,

IMG_7475

Sylvie, undoing the panels

IMG_7459

Ruth-Anne and her helper dog, Lucy.

and they used one of the giant washing machines to felt the panels.

IMG_7482

Felting!

IMG_7479

Angela, with a felted blanket

The end result is a whole load of blankets that Tim Horton’s is able to donate to Convenant House, a local refuge for homeless youth.

IMG_7488

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Obsessed with: Moth Traps

Tineola bisselliella. Clothing moths: the scourge of the fiber crafter.

Traditional moth solutions are either horribly toxic or not all that effective.  (Moth balls – bad bad bad.) (Cedar, eucalyptus, weird scented soaps – they might discourage moths taking up residence, but if they’ve already moved in, they’re not going to help all that much.)

These, on the other hand, actually help.

Image borrowed from the Lee Valley Hardware site – these are their version. Others look similar.

Sticky moth traps. They use pheromones to attract the moths. They are totally without scent, and child and pet-safe. (Although they are very very sticky. I managed to get one stuck to the carpet once.)

In Canada, you can get them from Lee Valley Hardware. In the US, the ‘Safer’ brand is readily available.  They need replacing every three months or so, but they’re inexpensive, very easy to use, very safe and very effective.


Haley wrote a truly outstanding post on the Zen of Making blog about dealing with a moth infestation, and prevention.  Go read it.

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Obsessed with: resurrected gadgetry

A glorp of Nabaztags (that's the correct term because I just made it up)

A glorp of Nabaztags (that’s the correct term because I just made it up)

This happens a lot nowadays. Something gets invented, people get excited and buy it and for whatever reason, the company that made the thing gives up on it, or goes bankrupt and it’s pretty much a paperweight after that. That happened with Nabaztag, the robotic rabbit that I fell in love with back in 2006ish. Since Nabaztag rabbits relied on a central server to make them do anything at all, white plastic rabbits all over the world just stopped working around 2009. Creepy.

I recently moved into a new apartment and couldn’t bear NOT to bring my dead plastic friend with me. Instead of unpacking boxes one day, I googled. And found that a whole bunch of Nabaztag lovers had started their own server! My robotic bunny has returned from the dead! (Props to Violet, the company that went under, but was kind enough to release the code into the open so that obsessive geeks could make this happen.)

So now, at the top of the page, you see a link to “Send Amy a message”. When you fill out the two fields and click “Send it”, this is what happens:

Want a Nabaztag? Good luck. You might find one on eBay. Or you might want to take the risk on Karotz, the successor (and soon to be unsupported as well) to the Nabaztag. Nothing techy-cool can work forever.

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