Saturday, May 21, 2016

Avast Email Footer Signature Invasion

A few days ago, I started seeing Avast here and there. I use Avast anti virus on my computer and I rarely notice it except when it asks me to update or buy something. Anyway, I started to wonder if I was seeing things until today when I realised that stupid Avast had inserted a link into every email I send out.

Apparently if you are using a 2016 version of Avast and you use a web based gmail/yahoo mail/outlook mail/live mail on Chrome, Firefox or IE, the auto insertion of the avast link is done. This is so f&%$# up! Who the hell does Avast think he is? This is not right. It's totally invasive and I'm not going to be a friend of Avast anymore. Sigh. This is what happens when you use free stuff.

If I have another free anti-virus, I would remove Avast from my computer right away. But my computer is close to dying already so...

Anyway, there's a way to remove the link if you're one of those people affected. Here.

To those of you who have received emails from me with the avast link, my apology.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Threading a needle

If you do a lot of hand sewing, you probably thread a lot of needles. Do you struggle with threading needles? If you do, maybe this post might help you.

This is how I thread my needles when I was younger. I trim the tip of the thread, give it a good licking and with as much accuracy as possible, I push (will) the thread into the eye of the needle. Sometimes it takes a few tries but it works. If I'm not wrong, this is how many people thread their needles.

Several years ago, I attended my first beadweaving class and you may not know this but beading needles have very tiny eyes and after watching me struggle with threading the needle, the teacher taught me her way. It's not a secret way of threading a needle and I'm sure many people already use this method but in case you've been out of the loop, this is how it's done.

The trick to this method is to hold the thead with your LEFT hand (for right handed people). And you should pinch the thread as close to the tip as possible.

Next, with your left hand holding the tip of thread steady, use your RIGHT hand to bring eye of needle to the thread.

See the difference? Needle to thread instead of thread to needle.

p.s. I know the pose in the image above looks weird. It's because I'm photographing both my hands myself and this was the best I could do.

Next question most people would ask is. Before threading, do I trim the tread horizontally or at a 45 degree angle. Honestly, I don't know the answer. What I think is this. If you cut it at a 45 degree angle, you need to either wet the tip of the thread (with water or your saliva) or condition it with beeswax/thread conditioner. The idea is to keep the thread together because since it's at an angle, chances are you could have one strand going through the eye of the needle while the rest are still stuck at the other side. For me, I cut at an angle when the eye of the needle is very small. Otherwise, I cut horizontally.

For people who struggle with threading needles, I suggest you use a needle threader. This one I have is very cheap. Sometimes this comes in a sewing kit.

Insert the loop of wire through the eye of the needle. Put your thread through the loop.

Pull thread through eye of needle. Remove needle threader and your needle is threaded.

The limitation of this method is the loop of wire might not be thin enough to go through very fine needles.

If you don't have a needle threader you can make your own. I forgot who taught me this method but it's really awesome.

Cut a strip of paper, the width slightly smaller than the eye of needle. Fold strip in half across the length and insert into eye of needle. Put your thread into the folded end of paper strip.

Pull paper with thread through eye of needle. Remove paper and your needle is threaded. Is this cool or what? Again, this method has its limitation. Doesn't work with very fine needles.

Finally, the big question. Are you a licker? I am a licker. I lick all my sewing thread and embroidery thread. I only wet the tip so I don't think it's gross. Plus I cut off the wet tip once I've threaded the needle. One time on Project Runway, there was a designer who doesn't use chalk to mark her patterns. Instead she spits on her fabric. Now, THAT'S gross.

Well, if you're not a fan of your own spit, you can apply beeswax or thread conditioner to the tip of your thread. Beeswax and thread conditioner can also be used on the entire thread if you want to prevent fraying and tangling. But I absolutely never use them on sewing thread or embroidery thread. Never. It's because I like my thread to feel like thread.

However, when I work with beads, I always use Thread Heaven. Beads cause thread to fray and shred easily and Thread Heaven helps somewhat. I never use beeswax because beeswax smells. And crumbles and flakes.

Coming back to spittle. Some people are worried that it might cause the eye of needles to rust. For me, I don't worry about that at all because I live in a very humid country. Sometimes unopened packs of needles become rusty. On the other hand, there are well used needles which never seem to rust!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Separating Embroidery Floss

Do you use stranded embroidery floss? When I first started using stranded embroidery floss, I was seven and my teacher would separate the floss for me. She had a method to separate each strand but no matter how I tried, I couldn't do it right without getting my thread all tangled up.

The method to separate each strand is actually quite simple and I think quite widely used. And yes, I managed to do it myself as soon as I reached the age of 13. Anyway, just in case you are still struggling with separating, here's a step by step.

First, as you do, cut around 20" of embroidery thread. I have very long arms so I use 25".

Next, holding one end of the floss close to the tip, use your fingers to separate them.You can tap on it or as I prefer, I lightly rub the thread and they come apart.

Pull ONE strand in a upward direction. The fingers holding on to the tip of the thread - you must never let go. Keep pulling until the entire strand is removed.

You will notice the thread bunching up. It is perfectly normal. Once the strand you are pulling is completely off, the bunching will disappear.

You need to separate each strand, one at a time. Even if you are using 6 strands, you have to separate them individually. Next, bunch them up together again before you use the thread.

When you bunch the required number of strands together, it is a very good idea to smoothen the thread. With one end of the thread held by your thumb and finger, use your other hand to grip the thread with other thumb and finger and move (still gripping firmly) all the way to the end of the thread. Kinda like smoothening it out. Do it twice. This way, your thread is less likely to tangle up.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Performance Series Race #1

Hello May!

Earlier this year hubs and I signed up for a 5-run race - The Performance Series. Each race will be held at different parts of Singapore and a medal is given after each race. If you put all the 5 medals together, they form the island Singapore. As always, I signed up for the 5km run while hubs signed up for the 10km run.

This morning we woke up at 6am to travel to the north eastern part of Singapore for the first run. It was held at Punggol Waterway and the 10km runners get to run across Coney Island via a bridge. So sad I never got to do it.

We had to take a taxi to Punggol because to get there by train we would have to change a couple of train lines and then get on a light rail train. That's why we don't go to Punggol. It's like travelling to another country. You would think getting a taxi early in the morning would be easy. But this is Singapore where taxi drivers love to hide from customers. We ended up using Grab Taxi...

While in the taxi we saw the sunrise and I got really excited because I haven't seen the sunrise for decades. Where I live, the tall buildings block the sunrise.

For a while I got obsessed with chasing the sun.

I guess the scenic attraction of this run is the waterway (it's just a stream of water) and Coney Island (which you remember I didn't get to set foot on).

Before picture, all clean and dry.

Before picture, face not yet red. I didn't wear the Orange is the new Black runner's tee because I had tried it out before and I almost had heatstroke. Instead I opted to wear my very cooling Puma tee and shorts. I paired it with my Adidas shoes. Don't worry, I read that Puma and Adidas sort of buried the hatchet years ago.

My 5km flag off was supposed to be 8am. But it was late. The MC said we were waiting for a VIP who wanted to join us in the race to put on his shoes/gear. I was thinking, how long does it take to put on your gear? Ordinarily I wouldn't have minded waiting a couple of minutes. But it was hot and muggy and very crowded because the lane was small and the latecomers (10km runners with poor runner's etiquette) kept pushing their way through to the start line thinking they would be allowed to go through. They were stopped. So some of us (me) were plastered together. Finally the VIP showed up and did his handshaking thing with a few people. Then a photo taking. But he had not put on his bib so we waited some more. First safety pin, second safety pin... Grr. Finally the flag-off at 8:17am.

I was very happy with the actual run. I did my usual slow in the beginning and faster at the end thing. Most of the runners were faster than me which is normal. But there were no bottle necks and I never had to resort to walking.

The only thing that annoyed me was a kid. Yep, this boy (see image above). He was obviously doing it wrong. He kept drinking water from a bottle every 100m. Then he would sprint ahead, elbowing his way forward, darting in and out. He would get tired and walked. Another swig from the bottle and the madness continued. Because I kept catching up with him, he would keep elbowing me out of the way and this got so tiresome. Eventually, I managed to outrun him forever.

My timing was not bad: 38:50 min for 5.3km. I don't have a photo of me finishing because I finished earlier than hubs!

We got Lucozade instead of 100+. Lucozade is very, very sweet and not nice to drink. It gave me a tiny headache. There were no bananas either.

After pic. Face red.

After pic. Dripping with sweat. He continued to drip with sweat all the way home, an hour later. (p.s. he's sucking in his stomach)

Our first run in 2016.

1 medal down. 4 more to go.

p.s. We took a LRT mini train to transfer to the MRT train and in the LRT mini train I saw this warning sign: The power rails on both sides of the tracks carry high voltage. When evacuating, do not touch power rails.

Happy to report we did not have to evacuate.
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