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…

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!

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

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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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 "git pull" while fire comes out of its butt.

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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 "git remote" "-u" and "--track"

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!