chebe: (DarkStare)
In sad news, it appears my new sewing machine and I will not be immediate bffs just yet. I am rather appalled at how it has handled stretch knit fabric and elastics.

I finally got around to making up a test of the panties to go with the Butterick 6031 slip. The last part of the sew-along is here.

The pattern is very simple and straight forward. A good fit and style. (Clearly much better than my attempt at the Kwik Sew 2100 panties.) But as this is just a test I swapped the waist stretch lace for folded-over elastic, and just hemmed the legs without any elastic.

Underwear underneath )

Simply Stylish Bag

2015-Jan-25, Sunday 11:51 pm
chebe: (Sewing Machine)
I made up this bag from a blank (no fabric) bag kit by U-Handbag. It provides everything you'll need; the hardware (snap, handle), interfacing, wadding, just without the actual fabrics. Which gives you great scope for personalising.

No, this isn't a knit. It's fancy (quilting?) cotton, the kind that you aren't really supposed to make bags with. But I don't have much experience with matching patterned fabrics, so wanted to play around a bit.

Front outside view of finished bag, sitting on a chair

Finished bag
Photo by chebe

The Usual Details )
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
I'd be surprised if this hasn't been done before, but as wearables, or at least the knowledge of them existing, becomes more mainstream I find myself increasingly having to explain why I think this or that device won't be a runaway success. I have come up with a taxonomy of sorts, for personal tech.

1) The fad. These are typically novelties, interesting ideas that may lead somewhere, but after an initial burst of interest the current form just doesn't seem to work well for most people. Things like the Segway.

2) Labour-saving. These are the classical improvement in work processes (computers instead of typewriters and filing systems, robotic arms in manufacturing plants), or that free up time domestically (washing machines, dishwashers). These make peoples lives easier, and succeed if relient, and affordable.

3) Filling emotional needs. This is probably one of the harder ones to guess at. Things that often seem like toys end up meeting a need in people that they often didn't know they had. Prime examples are gaming consoles, personal/portable music systems, and cameras. People can get very attached to these devices.

4) Connecting people. Anything that connects people in a practical, meaningful way seems to do well. Perfect examples are the phone, and the mobile phone. Mobile adoption went a bit like this;
"What do you need that for?"
"Okay, use this for emergencies."
"Now, just let me know where you are and when you'll be home."
"I will call you every five minutes."
Smartphones took this successful model and loaded it with emotionally fulfilling functionality like music players, cameras, and games. Make it affordable and how can it not work?

There have always been limits to our tech usage though. Even if we forget it often, we are social creatures. Deeply ingrained in us is that survival itself depends on being part of the group. We end up with a great many social norms, that don't necessarily welcome tech.

Perhaps an example will explain better. The smartphone. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, telling friends and family (and strangers) all over the world about the lunch you just had. Good. Head buried in phone while the person you are having lunch with is largely ignored. Bad. It says, you're less important/less worth talking to than the people on the other end of this device. When the tech becomes an actual barrier between communication, social norms act against it. This is why headphones, saviours from the noisy creep behind you on public transport systems, are not acceptable headwear at the dinner table. Whereas spectacles are perfectly acceptable, even encouraged.

And it's this gulf I think many of the new wearables are falling down. Everyones favourite kicking horse, Google Glass, is the best example. It literally puts a computer between your eyeline and other people. Quite apart from the privacy aspects, this puts you at the same social disadvantage as always checking your watch, and being head-down in phone. I'm not sure if it's the tech, or the social norms, that need to change, long-term. But I do know which one is easier to change short-term.

One of the interesting features of this whole wearables/IoT/big data world is that I may need to add a fifth category; healthcare. While there have been great advances in medicine, surgery, and hospital care, very little of it was consumerable (perhaps spectacles, hearing aids, walking aids, wheelchairs). But will it continue to be a specialised market, or will everyone have a few devices hanging around?

There are a great many questions right now, but it's still largely predictable. I look forward to the next unforeseen development.

Another new re-beginning

2015-Jan-15, Thursday 07:56 pm
chebe: (Default)
Hello. I'm going to blame the lack of posts recently on three things. 1) Being much too busy. 2) Being overly exhausted. And 3) the fact that my phone broke again. I had become overly reliant on it, and so it took all my plans/notes and photos with it.

Well, it's a new year, so there's nothing to be done now but try and learn my lessons from the last twelve months. My number one goal is to stop doing too much. I've spent my spare time the last three-four weeks lying on the sofa, simply unable to do anything. It's not enjoyable.

I'm going to reacquaint myself with my camera, and refuse to be wooed by any future phone that comes into my life.

Otherwise; I'm determined to sew properly this year. I miss it. Making plans doesn't really work out for me, so this year I'm just going to concentrate on knits, and see where it takes me.

Selection of knit sewing patterns strewn about

Selection of knit patterns
Photo by chebe

I've been half following the posts on defining your style. At least, it has gotten me thinking about what I wear, and what I want to wear. I wear separates. I like separates. And layers, many layers. It's a combination of the climate here, and that many moving parts makes it easier to personalise, to mix-and-match for more options. Jeans, tshirts, jumpers (aka sweaters), and an ever increasing number of cardigans, make up my daily staple. And they are all knit (or stretch woven). Comfort is paramount, because no matter how beautiful a gown, if it cuts and pinches I'm never going to wear it.

Art and fashion books open on images with lines and colour palettes I find particularly appealing

Inspirational photos
Photo by chebe

And as far as colour is concerned it's black, black, and even more black. Accented with strong, deep, jewel colours (purple, blue, red, green). Although lately I'm also being drawn towards neon/flourescent shades as well. I suspect wearables/scifi/futurism is taking its toll. Which is an interesting intersection with knits, and comfort fabrics in general. I'm itching to get my hands on some of the newer high-tech (typically sports) fabrics. I do believe clothing can be comfortable and sleek.

So yeah, happy new year.

SciHackDay side project

2014-Nov-19, Wednesday 09:34 am
chebe: (Default)
Set the scene; it's midnight, I'm just back from (sci-fi) book club, SciHackDay kicks off in the morning, and I want a project; something sciencey. I decide I want a radio telescope. But, well, I don't have the parts. So I scale back my idea into something I can iterate up into a radio telescope.

I shifted my focus on the electro-magnetic spectrum up to visible light, hoping to use my new colour sensor. It will really only give me one reading from one point of space, like a single pixel. To scan an area I'll need something to move it along. But I don't have any servos, and I've never played with motors before. Luckily I have a robot arm handy. And then the rest should just be Arduinos.

That's the thing about poorly researched hacks, they're never as straight-forward as they seem.

Down the rabbit hole )

Also, photos are up!

SciHackDay 2014

2014-Nov-17, Monday 12:47 pm
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
Science Hack Day is an all-day-all-night hackathon; covering software to hardware, but with a project emphasis on science. It's in its third year running in Dublin, but this is the first one I've been able to attend (November is a much more civilised month than March).

It started Saturday morning (15th Nov), and finished Sunday evening (16th Nov). In thirty-two hours of incredibly intense focus, I got a mere thirty minutes of sleep. But ate a lot of pizza! It was fantastic the way the SciHackDay crew set things up. Large quantities of food would just appear every so often, and there was a steady supply of snacks throughout. Eliminating one very common, and annoying, disruption to work; that of hunting, gathering, preparing food. Sleep as well! Although many people went home to rest, and some managed a few hours on sofas and floors, my brain was just getting settled into focusing on some software work in the wee small hours, and not being forced to leave and miss that period meant I was much more productive than I would have been otherwise. But I am very glad it wasn't any longer. As soon as I got home I fell asleep for sixteen straight hours.

There were some really great project ideas, and even more great project implementations. (A fantastic number of wearables and etextiles too.) But I was wary of the too-many-cooks problem, so I helped out where I wasn't in the way, and worked on my own small project.

Chording Glove project )

Gléasta tote bag kit

2014-Nov-11, Tuesday 07:54 pm
chebe: (Sewing Machine)
The Knitting'n'Stitching Show has come and gone. I was only there briefly, but still managed to achieve my goal: acquire a new sewing machine. I also picked up a tote bag kit from Gléasta (they had a much greater range of fabrics and colours at the Show than are currently on their website. Hopefully they'll update it soon.) You know, to put my new machine through its paces. It did admirably, and now I have a new sewing bag!

A tote bag hanging on back of a chair. Bottom is purple cotton, rest is white vinyl with images of thread and buttons all over it

Finished Bag
Photo by chebe

Some brief details )


2014-Oct-31, Friday 04:00 pm
chebe: (DarkStare)
Let's talk about why I'm a keen believer (and participant) in tech outreach. It has nothing to do with pipelines of any kind. I resent accusations to the contrary. I'm a believer in education for educations sake, in not altering college courses based on current employers expectations. I'm not that practical. Tech is all around people nowadays, and it will benefit them to understand how it works.

I'm not trying to induct people into a career where there are lots of empty vacancies. I'm trying to show them that they don't need to be afraid of technology, that computers are tools you can master, and to demystify the process of creating software. I simply want people to feel comfortable using technology.

As a bonus, I particularly want to show young women that tech is an option, if they are at all inclined in that direction. That they're not weird/strange to have such interests, that women do work (and play) in this area, and enjoy it. There's a huge difference between saying "hey, this can be fun!" and saying "you will become a programmer/techie, start now". Just because you learn to read, doesn't mean you'll pursue a career as a novelist.

I don't operate under the banner of any of my employers, and being at events sponsored by companies makes me uncomfortable. It means we can have bigger, and better events. But don't mistake that as being a shill for anyone.

In the end I don't (can't) teach, I just try and share my interests. And hope that that's enough.
chebe: (StarryNight)
I think that's right, yeah. There's a festival this weekend called Prototype, which focuses on play and interaction. There are some interesting talks and performances ranging from games, to analogue human interaction, and even some wearable tech. Niki and I are running a workshop tomorrow morning, teaching the basics of soft circuits.

We're going to be making pet stars. Now, we all know that stars like to shine, but they have to feel safe and loved (go watch/read Stardust). And pets like being petted and cuddled. So when you pet your pet star it shines brighter! If you poke too hard the lights go off. If you do a good job the star will purr! (Turns out a star purring is a lot like lights twinkling.)

Here's the prototype I did up. The real ones will be much nicer, have proper felt, and be more cushiony.

A blue felt star, with a silver star in the middle with a trail of white LEDs

Pet Star - prototype
Photo by chebe

insider details )

I'll take some photos of the proper finished pieces at the workshop. And if the workshop goes well I'll do up detailed instructions on how to make your own.
chebe: (Default)
As we learn, we grow. We're iterating on the existing projects, to make them better, stronger, more reliable.

One piece that definitely needed improvement was the Talking Torque. An over-abundance of technical issues meant we were left using a microcontroller to control a malfunctioning specialised microcontroller. So version two has just the one (functional) LilyPad MP3 Player, a microphone, and we replaced the tilt switch with an accelerometer (for finer control with less dependency on placement). Niki also wanted to make it much bigger, and give it a back. See it from the front on display here.

Back/inside of version two of the cough torque; just a LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, and accelerometer

Version two; LilyPad MP3 player, microphone, accelerometer
Photo by chebe

The Kelp then was more subtle; we changed the LEDs from blue to green, reinforced the connections more, and varied the appearance of the felt.

Version two of the humidity neckpiece; electronics just added and wired, using green LEDs this time

Version two; humidity sensing neckpiece freshly wired up, with green LEDs
Photo by chebe

There will probably be at least one more iteration of the Kelp (and perhaps an instructable on it), but we're looking forward to coming up with new pieces, new explorations and adventures.
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