Desert Bus Rides Again

Two years ago I wrote about Desert Bus, a week-ish long nerdy fundraiser on Twitch.  Since then I’ve found that they’ve done a cool little “What is Desert Bus” video that explains it a whole lot better than I could…


In 2016 I made some place mats for their craft-along, which raised $444.44 for the Child’s Play charity.


(Photo by the Desert Bus team)

I did submit something for the 2017 Desert Bus but they were inundated with submissions and mine didn’t get accepted.  This year though!  This year my submission was accepted and I spent a good couple of months earlier this year making this (badly photographed) TARDIS pixel quilt.

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It was supposed to have been a bit wider, but something went wrong with my math somewhere along the line.  But I’m really pleased with it, and I’m excited to see how much it’ll raise.

Here’s the description I wrote to go along with it – complete with multiple themed puns…

This Tardis won’t take you travelling through time and space, but it will keep you cosy and warm, not to mention that it will look absolutely FANTASTIC in your home.

The “Treasured (future)-Antique Represented Delicately In Stitches” is made from 100% premium acrylic yarn, and the fabric (of time) is warm and cosy.

It measures approximately 50 x 81 inches, which is plenty big enough to curl up and regenerate underneath with your companion. It could also be used to decorate the sofa in your local Torchwood office.

Now, we all know that the Tardis can get dirty. Sometimes you’ll spill your fish fingers and custard, sometimes you get bits of exploded Slitheen everywhere. No matter what gunk you get on this Tardis, it can easily be washed in the machine and tumbled dried at a cool temperature.

The Chameleon Circuit is broken, unfortunately, but the Tardis was made by hand in the Gallifreyan outpost of Hampshire, England. It took more than 120 hours to make and its construction was lovingly watched by three fluffy suPURRvisors.

In 2016 my friend Sam made a couple of things for the craft-along too and raised much much money.  The dice tower was a donation drive – people donated in multiples of a certain amount to go into a draw.  That raised a LOT.  And The Thorn gun thing (I don’t really know what it is but I’m told it’s from Destiny, which I’m told is a video game) raised $2200 in silent auction.  Sam tells me it was the second highest raising silent auction of the year.  The highest was the “donation of a keg for the Desert Bus wrap up party” that always raises a LOT of money, so it doesn’t count really.




He’s sent another massive parcel over to Canada this year containing one of these…

Here’s the equally punny description that he wrote…

There’s donations coming outta’ the bus-damned walls! If you want to have a chance to claim this film-accurate replica of the M41A Pulse Rifle from the 1986 sci-fi classic Aliens then you’d better drop a donation-nuke on it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure!

This 1:1 scale prop is made from 3D printed PLA plastic, plaster, and acrylic and measures 76x27x8cm. Electronics are powered by a PicAxe 20m2 microcontroller that lights up the working ammo counter and plays sound effects taken straight from the movie. Not only that, but the microcontroller is fully re-programmable thanks to a download port on the reverse side. Put your own code and/or sound effects onto it and make it do whatever you like! (Source code and wiring diagrams included)

Just remember, the donators mostly come out at night, mostly.

You can see more pictures of this masterpiece here, and while you’re there have a look at the rest of Sam’s brilliant work.

Desert Bus for Hope 2018 starts at 6pm GMT tonight, and will last for approximately a week. You can find all the details, including the schedule and the wonderful things in the craft-along at their website here, and you can watch the fun and games (and complete insanity) on Twitch here.

My quilt will be a donation drive, sometime between 10pm GMT November 14th and 2am GMT November 15th.  Sam’s pulse rifle will also be a donation drive, sometime between 6pm GMT and 10pm GMT November 10th.

Chainmail Starburst

Back in December I mentioned my piffling experience with chainmail, and I showed you a horrendous picture of my first attempt back in 2010…

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…and my failed translation of this picture…


…into this wonky looking tree.


After that I invested in a couple of kits, figuring that proper instructions provided with the right supplies was probably a good way to go.

I started with this kit, available from

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The BeadSisters kits are absolutely fantastic. They come with everything you need apart from the pliers.

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Including all the teeny tiny findings.

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I think this particular one was a good one to start with.  It didn’t have a million different types of ring…

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…and was fairly easy to get started.

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In fact, I didn’t have any problems at all.

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That’s a lie, there was a stage near the end that was a complete pain in the butt. It wasn’t that I was doing it wrong, it was just very very fiddly.

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But it was a joy when I finally got the hang of it.

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And when I finally finished the piece, I was very chuffed.  I’m looking forward to the many other kits I have 🙂  And to buying a few more.



More About Desert Bus

Remember I told you about Desert Bus?   It was my first time watching, as well as crafting for them, and I have to say it was AMAZING.  159 hours of utter madness and nerdness.  As a human being, I was unable to watch ALL of it, but I’m catching up on the bits I missed on their YouTube channel.

I donated quite a bit of money during the week, although not as much as I’d like to have done.  Now I know why the friends who introduced me to it save all year.  I’ll be doing the same for next year.  Not only is Child’s Play an extraordinary charity and completely worthy of every dollar they receive, but there were some fabulous pieces up for auction and given away on donation drives.

My placemats…


(picture taken by the Desert Bus team)

… were auctioned off towards the end of the run, in an eBay style silent auction that ran for 8 hours.  I watched most of those 8 hours quite closely, refreshing the page over and over again.  I was absolutely ecstatic to see how much they raised.  $444.44    (There was a lot of number-nerdity in Desert Bus).

I’m really proud that someone out there is  (or will soon be) in possession of my work, and I’m ridiculously proud that I raised so much money for Desert Bus and Child’s Play.

Within the first few hours of the run, I started getting ideas for next year’s craftalong.  By the end, I had a hundred ideas and was itching to get started.  I’ll keep you posted 🙂


Desert Bus

In approximately 4 hours, an internet-based fundraiser called Desert Bus for Hope begins its 10th year.  I’ll let them explain it to you in detail, but the upshot is that for several days (the more money they raise, the longer they play) a bunch of volunteers play the world’s most boring computer game whilst simultaneously entertaining those with nerdish tendencies all over the world to raise money for a charity called Child’s Play.  The game in question is called Desert Bus, from an unreleased Sega game created by Penn & Teller where the player has to “drive a listing, unreliable, virtual bus on an endless, eight-hour-long strip of highway between Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada.”

One of the things they do to entertain all the nerds during this week-ish long marathon is to auction off goodies they receive from donors.  In the last few years, some of those donors have been participants of the craft-along.  And this year, I am one of those people!!


At some as-yet-undetermined time during the Desert Bus 10 run, they will be running a silent auction with these wonderful Hama place mats that depict the various shift logos.


That much-better-than-I-could-take picture was taken by the Desert Bus team for the prize page.. they got the blue one upside down.  But still – how cool do they look?

Here are the other fabulous pictures they took:

The photography isn’t quite as good, but I did create some time-lapse gifs of me making them.

Here’s the yellow one – also known as Dawn Guard, who control the bus between 6am and noon.


Here’s the red one – also known as Alpha Flight (noon – 6pm).  (Spot the bonus kitty tail).


After I had this one just ready to iron I decided (with help from some friends) that the colour contrast wasn’t quite right, so I remade a bit and did some cutting and pasting.

Next up is Night Watch (6pm – midnight)


And finally Zeta Shift (midnight – 6pm).  I kinda forgot to take a lot of pictures of this one, sorry.


I’m really proud of these pieces, and hopefully they’ll raise a bit of money for a good cause.

Note: one of my good friends, Sam, also sent in some things.  This absolutely phenomenal Thorn Hand Cannon replica…


…and this beautiful Shift Banners Dice Tower that I will most certainly be bidding for.


You can see more of Sam’s astounding work at his website, Sam’s Skunkworks, and watch this space for a special guest post from him sometime soon.


Make It Exhibition

On Friday 26th February, my good friend Cayden and I attended the Make It show in Farnborough.  This show is actually two fantastic shows in one.  As well as the Make It show – advertised as “the inspiring exhibition for card makers and paper crafters” – there is also the Knit & Stitch It show – “the exhibition for Southern needle crafters and stitchers”.

The show is located in the exhibition centre in Farnborough, which is conveniently where Cayden lives.  So it’s a fairly easy one for us to get to.  We went to it last year, but neither of us were feeling particularly well.  We had a brilliant time though and especially enjoyed the beading workshop:

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We decided that we definitely needed to go again, and I’m so glad we did 🙂

Last year we made a note to bring more money.  This year we’ve made notes to bring even more money, as well as a shopping trolley!  There was a lot of shopping done – look for a Craft Haul blog post soon to find in detail what I bought – and lots of new ideas for crafts.

But, for once, we had a modicum of restraint.  We had a plan.  Workshop first, since it was at one end of the room, then zig zag up the aisles and see what caught our eye, lunch at the other end of the room, then shopping!

We did the workshop first – a wonderful bottle making workshop run by a company called Powertex.

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There’ll be a blog post all about that workshop soon I hope.

And then we did the zig zagging bit.  We managed to not spend money!  Which is a major success for me, if not for Cayden.  We have learned that we need to make a note of which stands we want to revisit though, because when we did get around to shopping, we’d lost at least one beading stand.

It’s easy to lose… there are a lot of stands.

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Lots of very nice things to look at.  Some stands that are a little confusing.  We’re still not sure how some of them fit the theme of the show – a stall selling hair clips, a handbag stall and a whisky stall for example.  But there were more than enough crafty goodies for us to look at, so we really didn’t mind.  And we definitely didn’t mind the inclusion of a fudge stand.

Lunch was delicious – bbq pulled pork with some fried potato bits.  A little over priced, but that wasn’t the fault of the exhibition runners.  It was the catering company they’d brought in.  No matter.  Next year we’ll remember to bring even more money for food.

The shopping was delightful!  So many goodies, at such good prices.  We’d both gone in with a shopping list and I think we managed to get a good chunk of those lists completed.  And then of course there were all the spur-of-the-moment I-must-have-it purchases.  More of those for me than for Cayden.  He has more restraint than I do.

We saw dozens of people with shopping trolleys, and I have to say they were absolutely genius!  I bought quite a few books of craft paper, and within just a few stands my shoulders were hurting from carting things around.  Definitely need a shopping trolley next year.

As I said, I will probably be doing a craft haul blog post some time soon, but here’s a sneak peak of my purchases:



Cayden and I had a great time, and we’ll definitely be going back next year 🙂

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Fleshing Out an Idea

When an inkling of an idea inserts itself into your consciousness, sometimes it comes fully formed: I want to make a pompom garland.

In this case the next step is clear.  There are questions to be answered.  What method of making pompoms shall I use?  What size?  What colour?  How am I going to string them?  Will I add ribbons?  Bells?

Sometimes your inkling is less formed.  You may wake up one morning with the word “pompoms” emblazoned across your brain, with no clue where to go next.

Whether your inkling is a word or an idea, the next step is common to most crafters.  Research.  And this can come in many forms.  You could root through your own craft supplies.  You could take a stroll to your local craft store.  There are a multitude of books and magazines available for nearly all crafting endeavours.  But, if you’re anything like me, your first port of call will be this wonderful world wide web.

I LOVE the internet.  It is responsible for 99.99% of my hobbies, and for the many scrapbooks of ideas I have floating around waiting for me to work on.  And my first port of call when I have an inkling of an idea is Pinterest.


Pinterest is a wonderfully ingenious, horribly addictive website.  Be warned – it is a bit of a rabbit hole.  Click one link too many and you’ll find yourself emerging 3 days later with a to do list a mile long.

I personally don’t pin things, but millions of other people do.  So when you search for something you’re presented with so many options you’ll have your idea fleshed out in no time.  Just searching “pompoms” presented a plethora of ideas.

Like this multi-coloured pompom, from the Minieco website.  The idea was pinned by 22 different Pinterest users.


And this idea for making pompoms in bulk, from Flax & Twine.  Pinned by 43 people.


Then there’s these adorable little sheep, by Mum in the Madhouse.  Pinned by 28 people.


And these cute little Valentines bugs, from the Hobbycraft blog.  Pinned by 89 people.


And that’s just a sample.  I now have a nice long list of things I want to try.  Keep your eyes peeled for the results.