Crochet Tutorial: Granny Square Round 1

New crochet lesson, and today it really gets interesting! I decided to film the whole row to show you but flickr only allows 90 seconds playback so its in 2 halves :)

Any questions, please feel free to comment here or contact me for help! It does go by quite quickly so do pause and re-watch as needed. And don't be discouraged if the end result is a bit lop-sided - the aim is to have the foundation ring you started with in the middle, and 4 distinct holes around it. Anything better is a bonus but entirely optional :)

The Wool Shop, Leeds

There's been a wool shop on Tong Road in Leeds for years, and its always been pretty good. Last year I heard it was closing, the lady who ran it was retiring. To cut a very long story short, it hasn't closed!!

I've been in to inspect and its had a real clean-up, new paint, carpet, better lighting - but its got the same good choice of wools and vast quantities of things being produced from the back room :) Its the same "go and ask at the counter" format but the new owners are nice and enthusiastic and quickly becoming experienced knitters themselves. I dropped in for something and was there for easily 20 minutes! The details are:

The Wool Shop
Whingate Junction
Tong Road
Leeds
LS12 4NQ

Tel: 0113 263 8383

Its on the main bus route, and is easy to park.

Opening hours:
10:30am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday - but they run another mail order business from the premises and are often there much later on, so give them a ring if you want to pop in after 5pm.

Acer Aspire One (and cosy)

I can't remember another post which was in both the "tech" and "craft" categories - so no complaints from either camp please! Last week I became the new owner of an acer aspire one netbook/ultra mobile PC. Its little, blue, and very cute! If you want to skip the tech bit and read about the cosy I made, click here.

aspire startup screen

The hardware isn't the best in its class, but it isn't the most expensive machine either. It has 512MB RAM, 8GB hard drive (solid state drive), it measures 8.9 inches and weighs just 971g.

acer aspire on scales

The default OS for the linux version is something called "Linpus Lite", which is a kind of toddler fedora as far as I can tell. I'm a long-term linux user and I found the locked-down-ness and the limited interface quite difficult to get started with. However with some help from this nice walkthrough plus some tips from the aspireoneuser.com forums I managed to get root access, turn on the xfce right-click menu and add a menu to the panel, install Opera and Skype and customise the main menu screens. Oh and have multiple desktops, which I like.

Its great for reading feeds, email, chat, and so on, and that's probably all I'll use it for. Since I often develop on a dev machine over vim + ssh, I might develop from this machine but I don't think I'll develop on it very often. I have already been tripped up by not having particular programs and not knowing what to use instead. Konqueror is leaving a big gap in my life, I do use it a lot. I haven't done much with fedora before, I'm sure yum is great but it isn't aptitude. Also the weird "the default user logs in automatically, needs no password, and has instant sudo rights" setup makes me twitch. We tried turning off the sudo rights but bits of the desktop stopped showing up so I've left that as is.

There are some definite disappointments. The multi card reader claims to read XD cards - this is a big selling point for me as I have reason to be on the road with camera and laptop soon and I have a fujipix camera which takes an XD card. Well, XD cards do not work with the acer aspire ones so far as I can tell. We've dug through the drivers and it looks like it just isn't set up to do it at all. I'm logged a support email with Acer but no response just yet. I bought the machine through PC World which seems to reduce the amount of support Acer gives, which is a bit disappointing as I didn't know that before I did it (nobody else seemed to have supply, and they are local if entirely unfriendly. I know I don't look like a proper geeky business user, but that doesn't mean you can ignore or patronise me). The wireless won't resume if it was turned on and the machine hibernates, you have to turn off the wireless before you do that, which seems like a little niggle but when you have lots of tabs active and you have to reboot to get your connection back ... its really annoying.

All in all, I would usually have waited for a second generation machine but this is cute, it seems pretty robust, and withouth being very expensive it does everything I need. And at less than 1 kg, I can actually carry it without getting shorter in the process, which is more than I can say for my laptop! There is online evidence of people successfully getting proper ubuntu installations onto these machines and I'm very tempted by that idea.

I have been busy installing the new toy, but I have also been busy making it a cosy!
finished product, outside finished product, inside

Its canvas on the outside, microfibre cloth on the inside (its really shiny and gets fingerprint-y, its good to have the soft inside) and it has rigid panels (made from a plastic placemat that got too close to me while I was feeling inspired). I made two simple envelope-type bags, put them inside one another, and stitched the lining into the outer. The fastenings are sticky dots of velcro (which I shoudl have sewn in because it doesn't stick well to fabric, oops), and the beads are ones I've had in my stash for ... more than ten years, scarily enough. They were just waiting for this project! I made the case to be a loose fit, knowing that I'll try to get A5 paper in there as well as the machine itself as its sort of a convenient size!

Circuitboard Cake

There's a birthday in my household this week so I have been making a surprise cake, which I do every year. Apart from the year where all our stuff was in storage and I only had fairy cake tins, where I made surprise fairy cakes instead! This year I went slightly overboard and created a circuitboard cake! In fact it was an astable multivibrator circuit, in case you're interested - see http://www.play-hookey.com/digital/experiments/rtl_astable.html.

First I made the cake, and dyed a whole load of white roll-out icing green. I also dyed myself green which you would think would give away my secret mission but happily he is less observant than I feared. Then I iced the cake - this was my first mistake because I forgot to put something over the cake to make the roll-out icing stick! Usually either watered-down icing or jam is good.

sponge cake iced sponge cake

I had a whole stack of packets of sweets to use to create the components from. I needed transistors (round liquorice with a flat bit sliced out of them), LEDs (jelly dolly mixtures), capacitors (round dolly mixtures), and resistors. The resistors were easily as complicated as the whole of the rest of the components put together and next time I will just buy as many colours of write-on icing as I need to do the stripes! In the event I made the stripes out of various things wrapped round marshmallows, including red laces, the offcuts of the green icing, bits of liquorice chopped really small, and (for the orange and brown) coloured bits of dolly mixture, separated from the white bits of sweet, mashed together, rolled out, and then cut into strips.

raw materials edible components

So, here's the finished article (and a closeup of a couple of the components)

completed cake

edible component closeup

Easter Chick

Happy Easter! I’m away for a long weekend but this post was pre-recorded. I handmade my mum’s easter gift and wrote about it, but can’t publish until she’ll have got it!

Its a duckling from this pattern – knitted with fluffy wool on four needles. I used Snowflake DK and 5mm needles but I suspect it would have been better with 4mm ones as stated in the pattern however I only have one set of double-pointed needles.

Here he is anyway:

His beak and feet are made from orange pipe-cleaners. The beak was bent into shape and then the excess clipped off. The feet were shaped and then just pushed into the chicken through his woolly exterior and into the toy stuffing inside.

Happy Easter, mum :)