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Manchester Maker Faire

I visited my second Mini Maker Faire on Saturday. This time it was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. I didn’t get to see the Faire in its entirity because we were knackered after a day walking around the city but here a few of the highlights.


This used to be a G5 Mac. It’s now an internet enabled fish tank.

Just as well the goldfish inside is a fan of Mac OS…


The tank can be controlled either over the web or by an iOS app. The bubbles can be increased or stopped, the lights turned up or down. You can write messages and have them displayed on the board. The board is behind the tank in case you wondered!

I love sunflowers and there were several raised beds filled with them just outside the MOSI buildings.


Some of Turing’s Sunflowers

They’re Turing’s Sunflowers named after the codebreaker Alan Turing. He was studying the occurrence of the Fibonacci Sequence in sunflowers trying to find out more about the plants grow but died before he could finish his research.


I do love robots and this little plywood walking robot was very cute.


Bots walking

There was quite a lot of knitting at the Faire but I didn’t make it over to that section to it as I was too tired. I was shattered!

While we were in the city we looked at some of the Pre-Raphaelites in the Manchester Art Gallery. But before we got to see them we saw these pins on the gallery staircase.


Pins at the Manchester Art Gallery

While in Cardiff the weather was blisteringly hot, it was a different case in the North of England. But after the rain came this double rainbow.

In my last blog I wrote about digital mags. I hadn’t realised that there was a new kid on the block – Knit Edge.


Knit Edge issue 0 on my lovely new Nexus 7 tablet

It’s from Co-Operative Press and if you’re interested in taking out a subscription the first issue is published in September. My Nexus shows the special Issue 0 which is available to buy now for $3.99.

Making Monday – Building a PC

Doug’s main PC blew up last week

Smoking is bad for your PC health

So I built him a new one on Saturday.

He’d ordered some parts from Scan (the “it’s a no brainer” bundle) which were packed in an enormous box


With Erebus the cat for scale



Case, motherboard, memory, power supply, hard disk and processor unboxed


This is a lot less scary than it looks.

And the motherboard in progress. You can see that I’ve already fitted the processor and the fan that keeps it from overheating. I had been a bit nervous about installing the processor but it was easy

In fact the hardest part of the whole build was getting the damn metal panel that frames the connectors into the PC case. It’s always the worst job.


Ooh 6 USBs! 😉 (or is it 8?)

There was no pesky software installation to contend with either as the solid state drive with Windows 7 on it from the burnt PC was undamaged.

However, I’m now really jealous of Doug’s new PC. I can’t justify building a new one for myself until next year but I’m already planning what elements I might put in it.

After the PC was built we went to a local Vintage Fair where I bought a sewing pattern. It’s too dark to photograph now so it’ll have to wait until the next post 🙂

Making Monday – Plant Sensor

There are several ways that you can tell if a plant needs water, touching the soil to see if it’s dry or looking to see if the leaves are drooping are just a couple. Or you can look at your Plant Monitor and see if it’s flashing!

It’s an electronic sensor that can tell if the soil requires moisture and I built one from a kit from Maplin yesterday. The kit included a circuit board and components which needed to be soldered together.


The circuit board with some resistors placed


The back of the board showing some of the soldering

I’ve soldered kits before like the Crab Bot which I would link to here but I can’t find the post where I first mentioned it! D’oh!


Soldering in progress

Soldering can appear scary but it really isn’t. Doug taught me how to solder but if you have a HackSpace near you, you may be able to learn there.

And here’s  the Plant Sensor in situ.


Sensor in plant pot

Derby Mini Maker Faire

Sunday, Doug and I decided to go to the Mini Maker Faire in Derby. It was held in the Derby Silk Mill which was built on the site of the world’s first factory.

There was some stunning yarn bombing outside the Silk Mill.

Yarn bombing


It was so pretty! It was such a shame that it was pouring with rain and it was a bit soggy

Beautiful Lady Bird yarn bombing


Some of the other things that caught my eye inside –

Stag Beetle Violin Case by Jake How


crochet set in glass by Anna Krystyna Casey

I loved this cardboard box robot

I especially liked his eyes. Would love to make one sometime.

There was also a Dalek patroling the Faire



he had a human to help steer him around the mill. Perhaps it was a roboman? 😉


Blurry shot of big Scaletrix track by Derby H:O Racing Club

I also had a chat with the creator of a site called Pics to Knits – wish I’d got his name since it’s not on his site. But Pics to Knits is a free website that allows you to upload any image and turn it into a knitting pattern for dk or 4 ply yarns. Basically you upload an image file and it removes some of the details to make it easier to knit. You can set it to 4 colours up to 32 colours and get a pdf of the final stocking stitch pattern. Check it out, it’s a great idea and very generous of them to make it available free of charge.

Really enjoyed the Maker Faire and hope to go to another soon. I particularly love the message that it doesn’t matter what methods we use to create, be it a soldering iron or a crochet hook, we’re all makers.

Thanks for the lovely messages following my shingles attack. I’m now on the mend and feeling a lot better although I’m still taking pain killers.

Project wise I’ve finished off Edinburgh Rock, although have yet to photograph it, and have yet another Leethal knit on the needles, Wild is the Wind, in addtion to her Twitter Mystery pattern plus Woolley Wormhead’s Meret, too. Lots of smaller projects because I seem to have more luck with them than larger ones at the moment.

I’ve not knit any socks for a while but there’s a new online kniting magazine called The Sock Report dedicated to all things sock yarn related. I haven’t looked through the whole mag yet but so far I love Chris deLongpre’s Pocket Pals – cute woodland creatures knit from sock yarn. Fans of Rachael Herron’s Cypress Hollow novels should definately check it out because Rachel’s put up a free short story there called Socks for Alex.

Making Monday – Knitting a Phone Case

A short post because I got a new phone today and after charging it, which took a few hours, I spent the rest of the time playing with it 🙂

It’s the HTC One X and sadly, it didn’t come with a case. To stop it getting scratched  I started knitting a phone sock for it tonight. I’m knitting it on 5mm needles so it shouldn’t take long to finish. The case is more form fitting than it appears in the photo.


Knitted One X case in self striping yarn


I may post the pattern here in case anyone wants to knit their own case for the One X. It’s knit in the round on two circular needles and I’m using an odd ball of Wendy Fusion that I had lying around.

Oh, I’m also finding the free cloud storage service Drop Box really useful. I now have all of my  knitting pattern pdfs and music etc. synced with the new phone and my mac and tablets. Drop Box provides 2gig of cloud storage fee of charge and if you click on the link here you’ll get an extra 500meg to add to that 🙂



Such A Bad Blogger…

I haven’t blogged in over two months! Oh lots of reasons why, mainly due to lack of time, and that’s also why KnitCast is late. The Welsh general election has kept me busy at work and sorting through my various hoardings, desperately trying to downsize has kept me a little busy too.

Last weekend I sorted through twenty years worth of clothes. Yes. TWENTY YEARS! I actually had stuff from far back as 14. Hannah helped me and joked that she could see the various stages I’d been through in life, including the extended Goth period. Which never really went away entirely. I gave 99.9 per cent of it away to charity, Hannah and others had some too. I feel really good about it because now I can buy more clothes with impunity. Ummmm….can’t I?! 🙂

Now onto KnitCast. That’s mainly been delayed because I haven’t quite made the switch from editing audio on a PC to editing audio on a Mac. It’s a bit ironic considering that I am Mac mad and rather evangelical about them! A certain Mac friend of mine is probably laughing at this! Although Macs are superior to PCs, don’t crash as often, don’t really get viruses etc. they also don’t have as many software programs written for them. So my main bug bare is that Nero Wave Editor which I used to use to edit is not available for the Mac. I can’t edit quite as finely with Audacity as I’d like and anyone who’s listened to Knitcast will know how I love my editing. I think though that I may have to worry less about editing since I would like to get a podcast out before the end of the month.

And speaking of podcasting, I’m hoping to record some interviews when I go on holiday to New York in July. I’ll be there for the first week of July and I have some ideas for interviews and I’ll be contacting people soon about those. However I do want to leave the majority of my trip for shopping! It’ll be my third visit to NYC and my second trip to the Garment District. I’m really looking forward to it! Let’s hope I don’t go over my baggage weight allowance on the way home!

I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was going to blog about today but Jeni has tagged me so I’m going to finish with the Seven Random Things About Me…warning they are very random!

* I love Woody Allen films, although I tend to prefer his earlier, funnier ones! (in joke!) My favourites are Manhattan and Annie Hall. I can never choose between the two and have watched both far too many times to count.

* I’ve wanted to live in America since I was a kid. I intend to fulfill this dream one day 🙂

* Madonna – I’ve been a fan of hers for nearly twenty two years! I still have lace gloves from my teenage years!

* Spring is my favourite season. I love seeing the bulbs come up and trees blossom after a cold winter.

* Nature makes me feel very spiritual. There’s something godlike almost in growing things from seed and I also have a quiet fascination with how numbers appear in nature. However I’m crap at maths!

* I love order but somehow always end up in chaos. I’m incredibly untidy!

* I’m really into astrology. Well ok, I do read several horoscopes each day and pick and choose which bits I like, but I do think there’s more than an element of truth in them.

Now I have to decide whom to tag…I’ll have to think about that and update this later