Making things in isolation

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Well. I don’t want to dwell, but I can’t avoid the elephant in the room. This wasn’t — to put it simply — the 50th birthday I would have imagined only a few weeks ago. I’ve had Happy Birthday sung to me on a WhatsApp voice recording, lots of lovely messages and phone calls from friends and family, and I’ve had the fun of finishing sewing this chunk of riotous colour: a Granville shirt by Sewaholic.

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DEVONthink Pro 3

I have been a DEVONthink user for a long time. I’m not sure exactly when I started using it, but my records suggest that it was at least as far back as 2006. For many years, it held all my documents, notes, links, manuals, receipts and other random snippets. However, at some point, I needed to sync at least some of my databases between computers and to my phone for mobile use. The early iterations of syncing were a bit clunky and eventually I threw in the towel and looked around for something else. I told myself that I didn’t need all the bells and whistles of DEVONthink, and that anything into which I could throw my documents and which would sync them quickly and reliably would do the job. For a while, I used KeepIt (formerly, Together) which is a great and easy to use application, but (for whatever reason) I didn’t add items to it very often, and was increasingly finding myself in a situation where I couldn’t remember where I had put that snippet of information I needed. To cut a long story short, I’m back with DEVONthink Pro 3, and couldn’t be happier about it.

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Further adventures in org-mode

Emacs is really the gift that keeps giving. It has now been about 4 months since I started using org-mode to manage all my todos, and it has been working terrifically well for me. Despite having lots of different projects to juggle at the moment, I continue to feel more or less on top of things — or at least, I know how much stuff I haven’t been able to get to yet! The best thing about Emacs and org-mode is that you can expand and develop your system as your needs change. You don’t need to set up a complex system at the start, nor do you need to make the whole system complex if only one part of it needs extra structure. It’s all very flexible. I’ve made a couple of tweaks recently, and also started adapting my system of keeping notes which I thought might be interesting for other Emacs users and the Emacs-curious.

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Tweed waistcoat

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A while ago, I bought a length of lovely charcoal herringbone wool tweed fabric from ClothSpot. At the time, I was vaguely thinking about making the longer version of the Arielle Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons, which I have already made successfully in denim. As I thought more about it, I reflected that I am not really a tweed skirt kinda gal, at least not in a sober colour like grey. I have long harboured an ambition to make something a bit unexpected like a biker jacket out of one of the very vibrant colours of Harris tweed, but this was not that occasion. Eventually I settled on making a proper tweed waistcoat.

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Listening for the return of spring

Do you ever experience that thing where an inability to tackle something new and difficult means that you become able to tackle something else which was the previous thing you were unable to deal with? Perhaps that’s just me. I just can’t put my thoughts together about the recent General Election result in the UK yet, but this has somehow unblocked my previous inability to write about how I felt in the early months of this year when I feared that we might never hear birdsong again. So here goes…

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Emergency hats and other knitting

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I’ve been on a bit of a knitting rampage recently, which all started when I needed an emergency hat. A work project means that I’m working outside a lot more than I used to, which is great, but also means that I get rather cold. I’m standing more or less still outside for several hours a day, and the cold, wet snap we had here in November left me overly chilly at the end of the day. So during the week I bought a skein of West Yorkshire Spinners’ Croft Aran Tweed yarn, and over a weekend, knitted a free pattern: Jason’s cashmere hat by Melissa Thomson.

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All in with org-mode

After I posted about using org-mode, Jack Baty wondered (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) how I managed with keeping only some of my tasks in org-mode. Actually, it wasn’t really a problem copying tasks across from OmniFocus to enter into my journal entry for the day. However, I inevitably started wondering whether I might be able to go the whole hog and use only org-mode for tasks. Would I lose track of things? Could I capture tasks efficiently when away from my computer before I forgot about them? Would the world explode into chaos? Well, if you don’t feel like reading further, the answers to those questions are No, Yes, and Quite Probably, But Not Because I’m Using org-mode.

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Silk noil Kalle shirt

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While I was on holiday, I made another Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt. It’s fair to say that this pattern is becoming what sewists refer to as a ‘TNT (tried ‘n’ true) pattern’. This shirt is now the fourth Kalle I have made. However, the various pattern variations (length, button placket or tunic, collar or collarless, and so on), combined with the way that garments made from the same pattern can look completely different in different fabric means that my obsession with this pattern is not immediately obvious to the casual observer.

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My standing desk setup

When there’s a problem to be solved, I often try to improvise a solution. Generally, I think that’s a good thing: better to try to make something yourself with resources you already have than to go out and buy something new. However, sometimes it leads to wasting time setting something up and then living with a solution that comes with too many compromises. I’ve been trying to sort out a compact, ergonomic desk arrangement for my home office for quite some time. I started with an Ergotron WorkFit arm (5 years ago), which worked well for me for some time. It allowed me to sit or stand to work, changing quickly between them. It bounced a bit, as I mentioned in my article, but I more or less got used to that. However, over time, things changed. My ‘home office’ is a small room which has to serve many purposes. As my sewing hobby has grown, my desk has to share the space with sewing machines and a fold-up cutting table, and the Ergotron WorkFit jutted out enough to cause an awkward obstruction. More importantly, the arrangement meant that I couldn’t write (with a notebook and pen) comfortably at the desk, as the arm covered most of the desk surface, and using the metal base meant leaning uncomfortably over the keyboard support. Finally, a variety of other changes to my working evironment meant that I started to think about whether I could improvise something else myself.

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Watching ravens

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Mr. Bsag and I have just got back from our holiday in Pembrokeshire. We’ve had a blissful time disconnecting from online stuff, walking (a lot), and feeling our shoulders drop and relax as we looked at the sea and watched the wildlife. Our idea of a perfect holiday is to be somewhere very quiet with easy access to the coast, with bonus marks for a wood burning stove for cosy evenings. The place we stay in western Pembrokeshire ticks all those boxes and — unusually for Wales — we even had great weather while we were away. I have had an incredibly busy year so far, so I felt ready for a break. I’m happy to be home (and very glad to be reunited with the cats) but I’m already missing the wildness. I’m trying to remember some of the beautiful things we saw in as much detail as I can. I want to be able to take those memories off my mental shelves to look at and console myself with when I inevitably start feeling hemmed in by all the concrete again.

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