Jane Dallaway

Jane Dallaway

Often found in front of a computer, loom or sewing machine.

Software developer by trade. Weaver and photographer by hobby. Dog owner by design. This blog has elements of them all.

Maintainer of 30yearsagotoday.com and brightonbloggers.com


Email: jane @ dallaway.com
Twitter: @janedallaway
Flickr: janed
Instagram: janed

  • WP58: First attempt at Doni's Deli bag 


    Towards the end of last year Meg posted that she'd made a Doni's Deli bag. This was the first time I'd seen it and I loved the idea. It took me a while to get brave enough to give it a try but in early June I got planning. I measured my current work bag and decided that would be a good guide. And it pretty much matched Doni's own calculations so I knew I was on the right track. I'd enjoyed doing pick-up stick weaving so decided to do some more of that. I wanted the bag to be mainly black. But with highlight colours. I decided to use more of the Rico Creative Cotton Aran yarn as it is nice and chunky. And so picked out turquoise and fuchsia from the colours available. I picked a pattern from my blanket that I knew would result in a dense fabric and show the colours off well.

    On the warping board

    I used my warping board to sort the warp threads out. And it is a good job I did because I doubt there is a room in my house long enough to have managed otherwise. I slotted in the pick up stick using the 3/1 floats alternating with plain-weave picks pattern from the Weaver's Idea book. And off I went. I immediately loved the colours and pattern.

    In progress

    It took me quite a few weekends to weave but I was in no rush. It all went to plan but I did have to thread some weights on to my selvedge threads to keep tension as they were starting to sag a bit. It came off the loom well and after an inspection I found one flaw which was easily mendable.

    Off the loom, pre wet finish

    I wet finished it by putting it in the washing machine at a 95 degrees C wash and a 600 spin cycle. I needed it to be a robust fabric. I air dried it without blocking.

    The following weekend I started the assembly process. I machine stitched the hems and chopped off the fringe. And then started folding things together. I got myself into a bit of a mess at once stage when I realised I'd twisted the strap element and so had to unstitch. Annoying and a bit scary. I think I was so anxious I forgot to think. But I restitched it and following the idea I spotted on someone else's blog stitched the strap underneath to get a clean finish.

    Lining and key cord

    The last phase was sewing in the lining. I looked in my fabric stash and found enough plain black cotton. Having sketched a few ideas down I thought I could do a sewn-in-pocket idea. A bit like a craft roll idea. So I went to my local fabric shop and found some great pink fabric to use as the pocket fabric. I followed this inner constructing tutorial again. I decided that for my keys I'd make a cord and clip and sew it into the lining. Out came the fringe twister again. I think I've only used it twice to fringe twist but I've used it lots of times to make cord. I measured pockets for keys, two pens, my phone and then left the rest. I ladder stitched the assembled inner to the bag itself. And took it outside for a photo shoot.

    I've been using it as my work bag for the last week or so. The only change I've made is to buy a set of magnetic clips so that the bag has a closure. I need to follow the zip tutorial soon and get over my fear. I've been saying this all year but there seems to be always something else that needs doing.

    Hanging open

    It isn't the perfect bag by any means. But it has been a great learning project.

    Things I'm pleased I did:

    • tried it using aran
    • used such a thick pick up pattern
    • used those colours
    • sewed the strap together in the middle
    • used the sizing I did

    Things I'd change:

    • use less pattern to make the joins less noticeable
    • use the colours more as a central stripe. Again this should make the join less noticeable
    • sew it up right handed. I've made a left handed bag
    • make the key pocket a little bit bigger. It is quite a tight squeeze
    • have enough fabric to sew up the bottom of the inner. I only had enough to fold the black fabric together so there is nothing holding the pink pocket closed at the bottom

    Weaving project 60 is set up on the loom next to me as I write. It is set up to make another one of these. This time using a 4 ply yarn and patterns and colours only in the centre. I should be able to see what difference those make to the finished article. And because the weaving element will be slow I'll be able to see how this bag ages before assembling the next one.

    A fun project and I'm enjoying being able to use something I made from scratch as my work bag.

  • Mildly disturbing product messaging 

    Just a couple of examples of marketing messaging that I've noticed, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

    Firstly, my apple juice was a bit over friendly. I'm not sure I want my apple juice to speak to me. It's a bit Restaurant at the end of the universe.

    My apple juice is a bit over-friendly

    and then I bought a bag of dog treats for the dog which encourages me to call them and bark at them. Kinky!


  • Kindle helper scripts now in ruby 

    In recent months the length of time it was taking to run my applescript version of the Kindle Helper Scripts was getting out of hand. It was upwards of 3 hours. Time for a refactor. As I wrote at the time my knowledge of applescript was basic so this wasn't a great suprise. I decided to rewrite using ruby as I'm doing some ruby scripting at work. And as it is vaguely related to my day job I got to spend a couple of hours doing it as part of a hack afternoon. It is always good to have a real project to practice new languages in after all.

    The new script takes seconds to run instead of hours. So is much more usable. It runs from the command line. It has 3 parameters, the first 2 of which are essential:

    • Parameter 1: path to the My Clippings.txt file
    • Parameter 2: path to the folder where the output is to go
    • Parameter 3: (optional) an indicator that the location should be output (i.e. page number, line number etc)

    Here's how I call it:

    ruby parse_my_clippings.rb "/Users/jane/Dropbox/My Clippings.txt" "/Users/jane/Dropbox/Clippings"

    I've tested it using ruby 2.1.2 on a mac. And a different 2.0+ version on a pc. It works using the format of My Clippings.txt from my kindle (which is in English). If you have a different set up to this then YMMV.

  • Grandpas photos 

    Family around 1968 in Bridlington

    A newsletter I subscribe to sent me a link to Grandpa's photos this morning. It is almost a crowd sourced version of the storyline/timeline stuff I've done for Mum. It allows people to look at the photos and share their ideas about where and sometimes when Grandpa took the photograph. I'm lucky that Mum had written on the back of so many of our family photographs so I didn't need to do this. Like the one above. But it is great that so many people are helping Grandpa reconnect with his travels. Such a heart warming use of the web.

  • On robot carers 

    I have had a blog post brewing about robot carers for the elderly for a while. Two projects that they showcased on the BBCs Horizon Longitude prize programme were dementia related assistive technologies. One was a robot carer. The other was a sensor driven kitchen which guided and reassured. I found it concerning that we were willing to let our weakest citizens try out new methods of automated care. Not to mention that it sounded neglectful. Like we didn't value our older citizens and just wanted the easiest way to cope with them. That was the trigger and I've mulling it over since then.

    Before I continue it is important to state my contextual shifts. I was thinking about it in the context of my Mum and how she would have adjusted to a robot's presence. Now I'm thinking about myself, and my future as well. I was also comparing a robot carer against a friendly and familiar carer. I'm now considering the other alternatives - no carer, abusive carer or exhausted carer. This article made me reassess my position. You should read it in full, but I've quoted from it below.

    When talking about one of her patients Louise Aronson says:

    I have little to offer for the two conditions that dominate her days: loneliness and disability. She has a well-meaning, troubled daughter in a faraway state, a caregiver who comes twice a week, a friend who checks in on her periodically, and she gets regular calls from volunteers with the Friendship Line.

    It's not enough. Like most older adults, she doesn't want to be "locked up in one of those homes." What she needs is someone who is always there, who can help with everyday tasks, who will listen and smile.

    What she needs is a robot caregiver.

    That may sound like an oxymoron. In an ideal world, it would be: Each of us would have at least one kind and fully capable human caregiver to meet our physical and emotional needs as we age. But most of us do not live in an ideal world, and a reliable robot may be better than an unreliable or abusive person, or than no one at all.

    And that's the thing. Ideal care isn't available to everyone. So I think I'd rather be safe and in a familiar environment. I'm not thinking of it as a complete replacement for human care and interaction. But an addition. Something to help keep the person engaged and stimulated. It shouldn't be too hard to program the caring robot with knowledge about the person behind the disease. What did they enjoy doing? Do they like to do crosswords and could it help them with one? Could it talk through photographs, or discuss art with them? And even in that ideal world, it could that free up a carer to focus on something else for a time.

    And then, because my patient loves to read but her eyesight is failing, the caregiver robot would offer to read to her. Or maybe it would provide her with a large-print electronic display of a book, the lighting just right for her weakened eyes. After a while the robot would say, "I wonder whether we should take a break from reading now and get you dressed. Your daughter's coming to visit today."

    Somehow, it doesn't feel quite so neglectful in this context.