Book #8 “Munich” by Robert Harris

This book is set in 4 days in 1938 when Chamberlain is negotiating with Hitler in an effort to avoid war. The characters the book concentrates on are fictional but many of the minor characters are real people who were involved in the negotiations. The main characters are a German and Briton who are trying to maintain the peace, even if the cost is treachery. The book is well written and difficult to put down.

At the time of reading it we are going through BREXIT – I do wonder if Robert Harris will write fiction based around this in the future.

Book #32 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence by Wolfgang Ertel

I have had an interest in Artificial Intelligence for a long time, and over the years I have used bits of it in projects, but never really studied it.  At the moment, along with others, I am toying with project  ideas that use Artificial Intelligence. I borrowed this book from Richard to brush up my understanding.

This book is too much of a text book (aimed at Computer Science undergraduates) to be very readable, but skimming through helped remind me of topics.  The book was originally written in German, and the translation to English left examples with German roots. The individual chapters can be approached with limited dependence on earlier material.

The topics covered include: Propositional Logic, Predicate Logic, PROLOG, Problem Solving, Uncertainty, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Neural Networks.

I think this book is VERY niche, it is unsuitable for anyone who wants a general introduction to AI. It is ok as a text book, it is has a lot of details that would be covered in an undergraduate course, and would be good to supplement  lectures.

Book #3 Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

I was lent this book, and the quotes on the front suggested it would be gripping, but I have not got in to it. The blurb tells us that the book is about 5 lives colliding (literally in a car crash). I have read the first 136 pages and the lives (so far) of two of these characters seem to have been developed, but the book isn’t calling me back, so I have decided to leave it unread.

I asked the friend who lent me it if he had found it heavy going, he hadn’t but he had read it on holiday and so maybe I should try again when I have uninterrupted time?

Weighing yarn for a scarf

Yarn is usually sold by  weight and length.

A 100g ball of Stylecraft DK Special has a length of 295 m (322 yards), patterns will often tell you how much yarn you need as a weight or length. But if you are making your own pattern then you don’t have this information.

If we want to know if we have enough yarn for a scarf, work the first 10 cms


  • Take out any stitch markers, and pull the working loop through far enough that the work does not unravel without the hook in place.
  • Put the worked crochet in the bowl of the scales, and the yarn ball at the side on the side (we are only weighing the work so far).
  • Note down the weight of the worked crochet ( W for example 12g)
  • Add the yarn ball (and any other balls for this project) to the worked crochet.
  • Note down the total weight of yarn (Y for example 150g)

If we want our scarf to be 100cms long we will use W * 10 g of yarn (for example 12 * 10 = 120 g yarn), as long as this is less than Y (in this example 150g) we have enough!

Counting Foundation Chains

It is difficult to accurately count hundreds of stitches, so we usually put a stitch counter every 20th stitch, so it is easy to check each group of 20 actually has 20 stitches, and that there are sufficient groups, plus odd stitches to give the correct total.

Alternatively we make more chains than we need and then when we have completed the first row, carefully unpick the initial slip stitch and any other excess stitches, this is much easier if  the initial slip stitch isn’t pulled tight and there is a needle to hand to loosen the stitch.

Bag making and MORSBAGS

Yesterday I met with a few friends to do some sewing. Our plan over the next month is to make quilted bags, but at the moment I don’t want to start a new major project so I decided to make a basic bag (an alternative to a carrier bag). I leafed through a few patterns, but didn’t see anything that grabbed my attention, so I looked at an existing bag and worked out the pattern myself. The result is this:

Owl bag


Subsequently I discovered a project MORSBAGS which promotes the making of similar bags and then giving them away. They have a pattern which is very similar to the one I invented, except I had a seam at the bottom, otherwise half my owls would be upside down! And I made boxed corners using a method described in lots of places, including Method 1 here.

I like the idea of the MORSBAG project and think I will have a go at making some bags to give away, so I’ve sent for a hundred labels and try and make some over the year.