Fabric Bags

This weekend I decided it would be good to spend some time away from the computer, but the weather wasn't really good enough to get out and do much, so I needed a "rainy day" project. I remembered that I'd signed up for a free introductory Craftsy class a few weeks ago, so I logged in to take a look at what was involved. Continue reading

Christmas Kitchen

It's Christmas and we're at home this year, which means I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen! This post combines Christmas planning thoughts, a craft project, and some recipes we enjoyed this year - and delivers a surprise to anyone subscribed to the main blog feed expecting only technical content. Continue reading

New Netbook Feet

I have a small netbook that I use for events, which I've had for a few years and keep upgrading with various bits and pieces. This year, all the little rubber feet had dropped off so if you put it on a surface, it kind of slid around, which was annoying. It occurred to me that I'd bought some sugru at Maker Faire this year, so I broke it out and made new feet for my netbook (and a little keyboard where the same thing had happened)

Sugru Feet for Netbook

Sugru is like slightly toxic plasticene when you first get it out of the box, but it sets like strong rubber. In fact it was perfect for this, the finished feet feel securely attached and they're slightly squishy so they absorb the shock of me typing or the issues of a slightly uneven surface. Perfect!

Blanket for Reuben

Some very good friends of ours recently had their first child, a son named Reuben, and this is the blanket I made for him:

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It's a very traditional granny square crochet blanket, I love these because I can take a ball of wool and a hook with me to anywhere and just make another square or two when nothing else is happening, but I never have to carry around the full project until I'm assembling it right at the end. The border is one round of trebles and another of double crochet - as simple as anything!

Two-Strand Crochet Ripple

If you're reading my main blog feed, this post may take you by surprise - however at one time I enjoyed crafting and blogged about it often. Recently I've been finding more time for this, helped by the inspiring news of pregnant friends, so hopefully this is the first in a resurgence of craft-related articles. There are category-specific feeds if you'd rather only read the tech and/or php content.

So, I crocheted a blanket for my friend's baby (welcome, Benjamin!)

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Continue reading

Big Bed Cushions

This week I finally got around to making the big cushions for our bed. We do have some but they were cheap and are now old - and I reallocated Kevin's onto my office chair about a year ago. Since we do often read or use the laptops in bed, cushions would be a good thing to have, but I just didn't have the time to make them! Work was less crazy in February and I found I had the mental space to think of these things, so I bought two big fluffy cushions, and dug out the fabric I had left from making the curtains so that the cushions would match, and here they are:

New Bed Cushions

The cushions were 66cm so I cut two rectangles that were (66cm plus seam allowance) wide and ((2.5 * 66cm) plus seam allowance) long. Then I hemmed across the short sides (this was really fraying fabric, I should have overstitched everything before I started but I was too impatient!). They are simple envelope-backed cushions so I lay them on the floor with the right side up, folded the long sides at 33cm and then 99cm, basically you have a short end folded up and then the long end folded over that, with the seams showing. Then you sew up the sides and when you turn it the right way out - the short bit of the envelope is on the outside.

Dead simple but they match the curtains and they are lovely and soft - the fabric is plain sheeting too so nice and comfortable even in bed!

Charlie Bag from Burdastyle

About a year ago I discovered the BurdaStyle site - where they have open source patterns. And then over the summer I saw an event organised in NYC where they were making these Charlie Bags - foldable fabric bags for putting shopping in. The pattern is free, and came as a PDF. You print the PDF, and then you cut and stick to make the paper pattern - the bag is bigger than A4.

Once I'd made the pattern, I cut out the bag and followed the instructions. They have good instructions, step by step with pictures. The Charlie bag is really simple so you just zig-zag round the shape and leave the handles like that, just unfinished, which is about the only way someone with my sewing abilities is going to make anything with curvy handles :)

I'm really pleased with the result:

Charlie Bag

This was pretty simple and now I've assembled the paper pattern, I might make a few more :)

Cobweb Wrap

After around 15 months of ongoing work, I've finally finished my cobweb wrap which I initially started (original blog post here, complete with links to yarn sources) to make a good travel project. Well it was certainly that - small and lightweight, I took it on three transatlantic trips all told and am now so attached to it that I'm not sure when I'll wear it!

For once I (loosely) followed a pattern to make something, which is pretty unusual for me. Another unusual feature of this project is that it is actually for me, I mostly make things for other people, not sure why! The pattern is the "Beaded Cobweb Wrap" from Erika Knight's Essential Crochet, I have a few of her books and love them. This was a brilliant project, it was tiny to pack and with a 6mm hook it grew despite having rows as long as I am tall! Here's a couple of pictures of the finished product (thanks Kevin for photographing me):

And to show off the beads:

Stash-Busting Striped Ripple Crochet Baby Blanket

For a few month I've been working on a handmade blanket for a baby expected by a couple of my friends - and I've finally been to visit and deliver it so here's some details of the project. (OK so baby Ethan is about a month old and I only just made it round but, meh, life's been busy! On the plus side, he's big enough to be alert and kick about on his mat and look at us so that was really cute!!)

Its a basic ripple pattern, I have the 7 Day Afghans book and I reduced one of the patterns in there to baby-size with fewer repeats. It was a 6ml hook and the wool was taken entirely from my existing stash, basically it was a stripe or two of each of the DK weight wool I had lying around. So it's colourful, and it helped make space in my life for more wool, and it was very inexpensive (i.e. free!), so on the whole the perfect project. Here's the finished article:

Ethan's Blanket

And a close-up of those ripples:

Ethan's Blanket closeup

I've made a round ripple before but never a straight one, although I kept looking at patterns for them. When I heard about Deb's pregnancy, I knew this was exactly the blanket I wanted to make! So, welcome Ethan, and good health to all the family.

Creating a Banner Bag

Often at PHP Conferences, the organisers are good enough to give PHPWomen a table, and we have a banner we use on these occasions.

PHPWomen stand

Its kind of an annoying thing to lug around with me - its about a metre high and usually travels in a cardboard tube. I've been all over the place with it, had to shorten the tube to get it in my suitcase for going to London this year, and then when you get to a place you still have to carry it and its awkward. So, I made a bag for it, ready for this week's trip to DPC in Amsterdam.

One Banner Bag

Its along the same lines as the yoga mat bags that I keep seeing patterns for - just a tube with a circle at the bottom to make it a cylinder, some webbing sewn into the seam to make a strap and a cord to pull tight at the neck, I took some pictures as I went along.

Bag Template Cord Sleeve
Bag Tube with Handle Radial Pins

First I cut out a rectangle, longer than the tube by about 4 inches and wide enough to go round (very easily round). Then I made the little pocket at the top for the cord to go through (best to do this first as otherwise you'll probably sew it shut later - thanks mum!). Once you've made the pocket then you have a right side and a wrong side, this next bit is easy to get wrong so pay attention! Lay out the rectangle with the right side up. Lay the strap ends against an edge, then fold the other edge over to meet and make the seam - you should have the hem of the cord sleeve on the outside, and a tube with the strap hanging in the middle of it, now pin straps and seam and sew. I went back and forth a couple of times over where the straps were attached.

Time for some maths!

First measure across the tube with it flat. Double that number and you have the circumfrence of the shape you need for the bottom of the bag. So, divide that by 2 times pi (6.283 ish) to get the radius of the circle to cut out. Don't forget to add seam allowance to this. I had a compass to make my circle but a piece of thread and a pencil would do in a pinch. Once you have cut out the circle, put loads of pins in facing outwards, and then sew round the outside, over the pins. Turn bag the right way out, thread cord through sleeve, and you're done :)

I just hope it hangs together for a while, got a few conferences to get to this year!