Articles tagged: craft

LUV Beginners Workshop, Scratch & crochet

3044 days ago

This arvo I went along to the Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Beginners Workshop and had an enjoyable afternoon playing with shiny toys. The Beginners Workshop has been running for a year now and by all accounts is a success. It’s quite easy going and a great place to share advice and tips on all things Linux.

Scratch on the OLPC. Photo by Wayan Vota, licensed CC-BY-NC.

I didn’t bring my laptop today as it was rather hot, and I knew there would be some OLPCs there. So I spent some time trying most of the OLPC applications, TamTam being the most engaging but I couldn’t figure out how to put together my own sound sequence. Finally I turned to Scratch, which I have been intrigued by since seeing Tony Forster’s talk on it at Software Freedom Day 2009.

And thus I was able to create this:

Scratch Project

(Oddly enough, I can’t view this directly on my own laptop, as (A) my distro is so out of date I can’t easily install Scratch, and (B) getting Java applets to actually work seems to be a task more difficult than… virtually everything else on Linux. Note to self: really REALLY need to update my OS. Now I’ve given up and installed it under Wine.)

So here is the “code” to make this:



The “Share” function will lets you easily upload your project to the Scratch website, as above, is very very cool. It’s integrated very well.

After that I set to crocheting. (See Revisiting craft for the backstory.) Last week while I was waiting for MXUG to start, I wandered around in Clegs and started my stash (you will need a Ravelry account to see that I think). Last weekend Emma Jane gave me my first crochet lesson at KiwiFoo, and I wanted to get started before I forgot that tactile memory completely.


These are my first, second and third (in-progress) pieces. The second piece looks like a triangle, although it was intended to be square. I guess I kept dropping stitches. The natural colour pattern in the multi-colour wool is interesting. Maybe it is more noticable in small pieces. I will keep them because I guess later they can be tacked onto bigger pieces as decoration.

The third shows a distinct improvement in consistency. I will see if I can keep the stitches up for a few more rows before attempting anything “real”.

It was a fun afternoon of tinkering.

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Revisiting craft

3067 days ago

I have recently developed a dabbling interest in what might be termed craftivism. Crafty things for surprising, unusual or subversive purposes.

It kinda started when my housemate wielded her hand-me-down sewing machine to do a shorter hem on some pants for me, and then made a Christmas hat out of the leftover material. I thought, “Hm, creating things from pure thought-stuff (and the odd bit of material)…that’s rather what I love about the power of programming! Except with sewing, you can hold something in your hand, or wear it.”

I’ve also had in the back of my mind, for quite a few months now, a vague idea that “learning how to do Arduino stuff would be cool.” Every time I see Andy around Melbourne tech events I am also reminded of this, as he is a keen Arduino evangelist, you could say. But not in an overbearing way. :)

Then I was reading Frankie, which is a crafty/fashiony magazine (a girl I went to high school with works for them now! just sayin’), and they mentioned a book called Yarn Bombing. I immediately saw that it was a cross between street art and craft, and it’s such a sweet, surprising, colourful idea that I immediately fell in love with it. It’s just so… wonderful. I love those little details in public places that make you smile and suddenly improve your day, and by extension I wanna hang out with the people who make those details exist, and be cool like them.

BinaryApe / Trees / CC-BY.

So I bought Yarn Bombing and just started reading it yesterday. And I was thinking, I’m sure I’ve seen Skud mention knitting... why were all these things off my radar? Why do I feel like there’s so much more “cred” to be had with Arduinos than sewing, even though they’re all maker activities?

Why have I felt the urge to shun or pooh-pooh traditional/stereotypical women’s hobbies? Why do I feel so perversely pleased in pursuing traditionally male-dominated things, like mathematics, programming and football?

Partly it’s that I have fumble fingers, and partly it’s that the women who pursue male-dominated activities are virtually without exception really freaking cool, but mostly it’s that… I have obviously internalised the value judgements that say Men’s Things are Important and Worthy, while women’s things are trivial, trifling, silly, harmless diversions.

Now it’s kind of annoying to consider yourself a feminist for some 10 odd years before realising that, but there you go. Better late than never I suppose. Succeeding at the status quo is a certain kind of success, but it’s not as good as broadening the idea of what success can look like. So, you know, is designing and building an Arduino so different to creating and making a knitting item?

In fact, one of the most fascinating Arduino products to me is the Lilypad range, which is designed to be sewn into clothing. Imagine the explosions of awesome to come when sewers and coders are united!

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