Sewing 1911 style

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I have been looking for a treadle cabinet for my Singer 201K for a while. The electric motor is perfectly fine, but I was curious to see what it would be like to power it entirely with my feet. A cabinet or table would also mean that I could store the machine in the table, and when using it, the bed of the machine would be flush with the table surface, which is ergonomically much better, and means you have more control over the fabric as it goes under the presser foot. I have a dual-purpose machine/cutting table for my modern Janome machine, which fits in a cutout in the table with a perspex insert. I have found that flush-mounting the machine in this way has made my sewing more accurate. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found a beauty of a cabinet and a lovely vintage machine into the bargain. Read on for all the details!

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The joy of The Repair Shop

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I’ve become obsessed with a wonderful series on BBC Two called The Repair Shop. The rationale behind the series is simple: members of the public bring their worn or broken treasured items to the team of restoration experts based at the Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex, and the team repairs and returns the item. They accept a huge variety of different items, from clocks and furniture to teddy bears, barber poles, typewriters and even antique pinball machines. There’s a core of experts, but they also bring in specialists to deal with particular items. The items tend not to have much monetary value (this is not The Antiques Roadshow), but they have immense personal or emotional value to the people who bring them in. The programme airs early on weekday afternoons, so we have to record it, but I can’t tell you what a wholesome, life-affirming tonic I find it. The more episodes you watch, the more fascinating it becomes.

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All change on the fonts front

You might notice a bit of a change to the appearance of the pages around here. I’ve changed the way that I define how the fonts are rendered, and in the process I have switched the fonts that I use. I had used Typekit for about five years, which enabled me to select from a range of fonts and then easily include them in my CSS file with a bit of Javascript boilerplate. It was a nice system, though it did generate a bit of overhead on page loading. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with it. Then Adobe acquired Typekit and doubled the annual subscription rate. There’s now no limitation on how many fonts you use, but given that I only need a handful at most, that doesn’t work in my favour. So I decided to ditch Typekit/Adobe Fonts and load some webfonts myself.

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Rethinking my dotfiles setup

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I’ve recently had another go at organising my settings files (‘dotfiles’) and the way that I install command line applications and tools. It started out highly sophisticated (Nixpkgs and Home Manager), and then reverted to much simpler but more maintainable system (Homebrew and Stow). It has been an interesting and intermittently frustrating process, but I’ve ended up with a system that I like and understand.

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Back to Doom Emacs

The inevitable wheel of Emacs life has circled back again, and — as the title suggests — I have moved back to Doom Emacs. When I last wrote about my Emacs configuration, I was trying to move away from frameworks (including Doom), and to set up my own configuration from scratch. It was a really fun process, and I think a necessary one for me to really understand how to configure and use Emacs, and the way that all the moving parts fitted together. However, I have recently overhauled my whole command line setup (again… more on this later), so I got curious to try out Doom again. It was always a great project, but in the time since I last used it Henrik Lissner has polished and improved it even more to the point where it is a really fast, slick and easy to use framework.

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Persephone Sailor trousers

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I might not have written much about sewing recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. I’ve made a few things that I haven’t got around to blogging about, but a few weeks ago, I finished a pair of Persephone Sailor Pants (a pattern by Anna Allen) which I’m really pleased with. However, the making was not without incident. Part of my reason for writing this is so that I might remember not to be such a blithering idiot in future.

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Juggling projects with org-mode

It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to realise that I am bad at juggling multiple projects. And when I say ‘bad’, I mean, really bad. My natural mode of working is to focus intensely on a single project at a time. This is unfortunate, because academic life mostly consists of juggling a large number of different projects simultaneously. I love (almost) everything else about academia, and I’m generally good at my job (I think), but I struggle constantly when having to switch between projects. Last year, I read about Shawn Blanc’s 8-week work cycles and was jealous. His ‘monk mode’ sounds like heaven to me. I do what I can with the wiggle room I have to carve out blocks of focused time on particular projects, but I still needed some way to — if you’ll forgive me for extending the juggling metaphor — avoid dropping any balls in the process. Since I’ve been using Emac’s org-mode a lot recently, I decided to see if I could help me.

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Trying out Commento

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been looking around for a replacement to Disqus for handling the comments on my blog. It’s a tricky thing to manage because I’ve got a bit archive of comments that I want to preserve. The system obviously needs to handle this static site, but also enable commenters to comment easily, without needing an account if they don’t want to create one. I ended up coming across Commento, which seemed to fulfil all of those conditions.

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Keeping track with Fathom

For much of the time that I’ve had a blog, I’ve kept a vague eye on its visitor numbers in one way or another. I’ve used a variety of different tracking methods from the no-longer-supported Mint, to Matomo (formerly Piwik), and the usual Google Analytics that everyone uses. I’ve always favoured simpler web analytics, as my needs are very simple, but those have been increasingly difficult to find. Since it opened to beta testers, I have been using Fathom Analytics, and I have been really happy with how it works.

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