Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Squirrel Tube

I had a cheapo USB webcam lying around, and I was waiting at home for the half-wit maintenance men to come by and screw around with my stuff, so I could tell them what I really think, but realized what a waste of time that is (they never show up when normal working people would be on a job).

To allow myself time to actually go to work, I decided it would be convenient to be able to see what was going on in the backyard, via webcam.  I was searching for solutions online (of the free, easy variety), and not getting much.  Additionally, I found recommendations, for an application like mine, along lines of a motion sensing image capture instead of video streaming.

The first one I tired wasn't very good, called Dorgem.  It was good in that it captured motion, but it would trigger on any little thing, like a leaf, or an actual squirrel.  There was no sensitivity setting ability, so I moved on.

The software I ended up using is called Tebocam, which provides sensitivity settings, region of interest definition, calibration, and built in alerts through e-mail messages.  Additionally, you can set regular, repeating image capture for time-lapse movie making.  Awesome!

I have the SquirrelTube setup to allow e-mail posts, so Tebocam can send the images once it's been triggered by a significant enough change in the image and they get posted up right away.  Additionally, I have SquirrelTube send me an e-mail when a new post arrives, so now I have *nearly* real-time updated images about anything interesting going on in the backyard.

It's also fun to make a time-lapse of what the yard looked like each day.  I've done that in MS Movie Maker, a POS software that installed windows spy-ware on my computer, which I've had to spend significant time getting rid of.  BALLS.  All for a little fun w/ movie making.

Anyway, if you see any squirrels in the webcam, let me know!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pocket Scarf - The Swiss Army Knife of Neckwear

It's getting colder, with winter approaching, and I was reflecting on my favorite beanie, an earflap number that's lined with fleece.  I like the hat because it's fashion forward and keeps my head warm.  I notice, though, as I bike to work, that the wind is beginning to feel bitingly cool on my neck.  I have a collection of scarves, woolly guys that do the trick, but nothing with the warmth and comfort of my fave beanie.

We have a box full of fabric, most of which Marny buys for her projects, but a few pieces I pick up out of the odds'n'ends bin whenever I've tagged along and ended up in the fabric store.  There's a bit of the blue felt I lined the beanie with left, and I was going to see about building a scarf from that, but alas, it was insufficient, requiring a store run.

I got a bargain on some light blue fleece and picked up a yard of gray fleece too, in case I want to make something respectable looking. 

As I pondered the thought of a scarf, and walking to the grocery co-op without gloves on, I stumbled upon the realization that a scarf with pockets would be sweet.  How to make pockets?  Two ways: 1) fold the end back up and sew the sides together, leaving the entry perpendicular to the scarf length, or 2) make a doubled up scarf and leave a section of seam open to access the inside.

I made one scarf a-la option 2, and it came out nice, only stylistically challenged due to some questionable decision making about where stripes would be appropriate.  My sister works in an office that's aggressively air conditioned, and she thought the scarf was pretty sweet, so she inherited it.  She did have some requests, should a round two of scarves be produced:  be able to put whole arms in; glove ends instead of pockets.

To that end, I "designed" by my usual hack-n-fix methodology, what I feel can legitimately be called a Swiss Army Scarf.  It has pockets.  It has arm holes.  It can be worn as a hat.  It is fashion challenged in the best of circumstances, but when all the other meeples are shivering in the snow, it'll keep me as warm as a convection toaster oven.

I'll be selling them for $30.  The Snuggie people may want to contact me for licensing rights.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Crochet Beanie - Engineering Guidelines, for Awesome

Crochet: traditionally an art form practiced by women on long winter days in front of the fire-place (also knitting), is something that every person a) is capable of doing, and b) should learn to do, especially the man-folk.  Here's why:
  • You will make an awesome hat
  • If you're a single man-folk, women are irresistibly drawn toward men who crochet
  • It's awesome for killing time if you're at holidays with the family, stuck somewhere without electronics, or watching tv/movie that you're not that into.
I won't go into the basics of crocheting, because there are MANY internet sites dedicated to teaching you the technique.  Instead, I will offer up some of my awesome patterns and tell you how to make one of your own...

Here's a short list of other websites that will teach you to crochet:
Now, on to the good stuff

Crochet Beanie

Start at the top of the beanie and work down.  Start with an initial loop, then each row is numbered as follows:
  1. 8 single stitches (sc) into the initial loop
  2. double sc into each stitch of row 1 (16 sc total)
  3. {double sc, single sc} x8 (24 sc total)
  4. {double sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (32 sc total)
  5. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (40 sc total)
  6. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (48 sc total)
  7. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (56 sc total)
  8. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (64 sc total)
  9. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (72 sc total)
  10. {double sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc, single sc} x8 (80 sc total)
  11. Now you've expanded all the way out, you'll do 20 rows of 1 sc per stitch in the previous row.    {single sc} x80
  12. {single sc} x80
  13. ....
   30.  {single sc} x80
And you're done!

That's it for the basic beanie.  If you find it is too large, give it to a friend with a huge melon, then decrease the number of expanding rows (stop after expanding 8-9 times, rather than 10).  If you find it too tight, give it to some pin-head you know, then increase your expanding rows to 11-12.

Some variations on the theme:

Two Color Hat -
Start the first row with one color, start the second row with the second color.  If you work in a spiral (rather than "complete" a row and then bump up, just keep stitching over the transition), go as far as you can with one yarn, then switch and repeat.

Earflaps -
You'll make decreasing triangles each 1/8th the circumference of the hat, with 1/2 the circumference open in the front and 1/4 of the circumference open in the back.  Example:  Say you made the basic beanie above which has 80 stitches at the end.  If you have an ugly seam, that should be centered in the back.  Start the left decreasing triangle 10 stitches from the seam and stop at stitch 20, turn, drop a stitch by your favorite method and go back, turn, drop, go, turn, drop, go.... until you have gotten to the bottom of your triangle.  Repeat on the right hand side.  I like to go once or twice around the whole hat after I've added earflaps with a sc row to tidy up the edges of the earflaps and visually tie them in with the basic beanie.

Poofball -
Take your ball of yarn and wrap 20 times around the thickest part of you hand, starting at your thumb and ending at your thumb.  Get someone to help you pull this wrap off your hand without letting it all go, my favorite way is to have a friend stick their fingers in at the palm side and back of the hand and grab ALL the loops, then they need to hold those loops while you A) tie a string very tightly around the middle of the loop (leave long ends on this string), and B) cut through the loops where your friends fingers are holding them VERY CAREFUL NOT TO CUT YOUR FRIENDS FINGERS.  Viola, use the long strings to tie the poof onto your beanie!  More loops around the hand makes a thicker poof.

Also of interest:  Smurf Hats

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Smurf Hat - DIY Awesome

I previously wrote about making Smurf Hats, but looking back at what I wrote, I realize that there are A) no pictures of the smurf hats, and B) no descriptions of how I made them, just a link to a website with tons of pop-ups.  Hmmm...  That should be rectified!

Since I don't have any photos of the hats, I'll add them later on, but they are darn good looking!

Here's the play-by-play for making the hats:

1) Find your favorite beanie (or measure the circumference of your melon, if you don't have a beanie)

 2) Cut open a paper shopping bag, squish your hat down flat on the bag and trace it with a pen or pencil.
3) Draw an extra knob on the top, aso:
4) Now draw another line outside previous line by about 1/2 inch.  This new outer line is your cutting pattern.  The inner line is your sewing pattern.
5) Cut out the cutting pattern
6) Pin your pattern onto a piece of felt and cut carefully along the pattern.  Repeat.  You'll need two of these pieces of felt for each hat.

7) Pin the two pieces of felt together and sew about 1/2 inch in from the edge on the top curve only (LEAVE THE BOTTOM OPEN SO IT STILL FITS ON YOUR HEAD)
8) Fold the bottom edge up 1/2 inch and pin in place, then sew around to fix that "hem" in place.
9) Turn the hat inside out!  Viola, Smuf Hat in 10 easy steps.