A fresh start

Note book

New Year is like a new notebook, a fresh start, with limitless possibilities. I no longer make new year’s resolutions; they rarely last and just serve to make you feel bad when you fail to meet the unrealistic expectations you have in the heady last few hours of the previous year. I have long been at peace with the fact that I am a starter, not a finisher – well, if not at peace, a resigned acceptance. While self improvement is no bad thing, there is no point trying to be something that you are not.

So, where have I been for the past two years? Well, I completed a Master’s Degree in Occupational Psychology (I can finish some things…), more on that in due course no doubt. Then after two years of relentless work, reading only text books and journals, I gave myself a year of doing not very much. Well, not very much includes working, looking after the kids, getting a new job, and reading lots of trashy novels. But there have been no big projects or commitments.

And so 1st January rolls around again and I find myself with an itch. No, not that sort of itch – a metaphorical one. I feel the need to write again, to exercise my brain, and articulate my thoughts. What better way to start the new year than with a new blog. I was going to set up a brand new one (my third attempt at such in the past 12 months), but I have always struggled with a lack of theme, or a niche. I just can’t commit to any one thing. I don’t have nearly enough knowledge about any one topic to sustain a blog on any of my varied interests. And then I remembered this old faithful; the whole premise of this blog originally was to write about various things, a Jack of all trades, master of none (well, Master of Science twice over, thank you very much!). So, here I am, back for a while. It’ll be like I never left.

 

Gone but not forgotten…

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…just for a while anyway. Oh, hey there. Can’t believe you are still stopping by, especially since I’ve been rather neglectful of my little blog.

It’s not laziness, you understand. Quite the opposite. You may know that I am in the middle of studying for a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology. What with that and my job and the kids, life has been pretty busy. So, I just wanted to put a sort of placeholder in to say I’m still here, well, not here, but around, and I haven’t forgotten. I just have a new outlet for my writing, one that includes a bit more talk of “procedures”, “dual encoding”, and “heads up visual display unit” than I care for. But, it’s a means to an end. And if anyone wants to employee a trainee Occupational Psychologist, I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be a thumpin’ good’n…

So my lovelies, until a less manic time, hasta la vista, baby. I’ll be back. And so should you.

I can’t resist a new notepad…

I loathe going into town on a Saturday, but today I needed to get a present for my niece, so we popped in via the library where DH works. I wanted to get some crafty things for my niece and decided to try Wilkos. I love the shop, and for crafting stuff for kids it’s far cheaper than places like Hobbycraft. In store I found were some lovely stationery ranges, and I just wanted to share what I found as I love a bit of stationery!

This pad (£1), folder (80p) and pen (£1.25) are for my nieceMoustache padThis craft paper is also for my niece. A big stack of lovely patterns for £3. You can use it for origami, although it is a bit thicker than origami paper. I also have some that I bought for myself a while back.

Origami paperEver on the quest for ways to get myself and the household organised, I fell upon this pad with glee. Doesn’t look much from the outside…

To do padBut look at the lovely list section, squared paper and diary inside! I love it, and all for a bargain £1.60!

Inside the to do padThis one is for my college work. There were lots of lovely pads and exercise books with funky designs, but I wanted a hardback one for doing my work. This one was £2.50 with a matching pen for £1.25.

A funky book for collegeAnd finally this word puzzle pad will keep Betty’s brain ticking over this holiday, and the mini one is for Iris. Who doesn’t love a new notebook?!

Puzzle bookThere were loads more lovely designs, with pen sets and stickers; I wanted to buy it all! If you’ve got children going back to school in September – or just want to get yourself in the Back To School mood (can’t come soon enough!) then take a trip and fill your basket! Hmm this all sounds like a bit of a sponsored post by Wilkos doesn’t it? It’s not I promise! I’m just a stationery evangelist!

The Armchair Activist’s Handbook

Armchair activist book

So, I’ve been on the radio, been in the paper (national and local I might add), so my next step on my path to yarn bombing fame is…”Dilly Tante The Movie”! Well, no actually, it’s not. But I am in a book. Released this week, The Armchair Activist’s Handbook is Ruth Stokes’s journey to find ways that she can make a difference in the world “without getting dirty and cold, without getting a criminal record and without hurting herself or anyone else”.

You might remember at the end of last year Ruth came to visit me and I took her out on a yarn bombing mission. We brightened up some fenced of derelict land, and then popped to a cafe for lunch and a chat. Obviously the first thing I did when I downloaded the book was to search for the mention of me, and I was pleased to see I made the final cut! The book is available on Kindle for a bargainous £1.59. If you want to change the world, and do more than sign an online petition, but less than Occupy Wall Street, this book is a must read.

Crochet friends forever

With Georgia off to the States in a couple of days I’ve decided to smuggle myself in her suitcase. I won’t take up much room, I promise…

Crochet Amigrumi Mini-Me
Now you can finally see what I look like -stunning hey?

And to stop me getting lonely I made a mini-Georgia too:

Crochet Amigurumi Mini Georgia
If only I could really clone her…

The pattern was from Crochet Is For Lovers and it’s definitely a pattern I will keep on using.

Lovely DH whittled the mini crochet hooks for me from wooden skewers.

Wooden crochet hook

And now Mini Dilly and Mini Georgia can happily crochet together for eternity *sniff*

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Flower to the people

So I said I would write up my yarn bombing properly, didn’t I? This one was planned (in the loosest sense of the word) a few months ago. Georgia is leaving in two days <sob> and this was to be our swan song. With about a week and a half to go I made a plea on this blog for donations of flowers (hmmm, organisation not my strong point – can I put it down to denial at Georgia leaving?). I got reply from Haekelmonster in Germany promising me some flowers but concerned they wouldn’t get here in time. I promised that if they didn’t I would add them to the yarn bomb anyway. Anyway, a few days later a box appeared at my door. Goodness knows how she did it but this wonderful lady (with a little help from her son) had made 100 flowers for my yarn bomb, as many as I had made in a few months! The power of the internet!

Donated crochet flowers
A box of blooms

HQ this time was the Exmouth Arms, and this time I had accrued a posse! Two people I knew from Twitter but have been bumping into at a local craft night (one of whom came to my yarn bombing workshop) were game enough to join in. Emma (who blogged about it here) and Ally. Also with us was trusty yarn bombing partner Stitch This. We furiously finished flowers and strung them on chains while supping on wine and cider.

Yarn bomb HQ
In our underground HQ. Well, at the pub.

In typical fashion we had picked a target but not really scouted it out. I we had decided that the hospital would be a worthy target, and on the night we rocked up to find the best place for our creations. It became immediately obvious that the pedestrian entrance would be our best bet and we set to work, cable ties and scissors aplenty.

Yarn bomb

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Hospital yarn bomb
No it’s not the same picture as above reversed – it’s the other side!

We were watched suspiciously by a car park attendant who looked like he wanted to intervene and we prepared our defense, the main argument being who could have a problem with flowers at a hospital? (It would totally stand up in court…)

Hospital yarn bomb
We were being watched from the porta cabin

As well as crochet flowers, Stitch This decided to mix it up a little bit with Gnome bunting, doily flower bunting and flower pots. Don’t they look awesome?

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Hospital yarn bomb
Haekelmonster’s sone made this so we had to make sure it had pride of place:)

Satisfied we our work we took our customary shoe photo (I don’t know why either – I was Stitch This who started it!). Emma was most disappointed that she hadn’t worn her favourite shoes for the photo so I made sure to get a snap when I saw her wearing them!

My posse
My posse – we’re a hard bunch, can you tell?
Lovely purple shoes!
Lovely purple shoes!

A couple of days later we made the local press! But fame, or even notoriety isn’t our goal, we just want to crochet, make people smile and have a laugh, all achieved with this one I think:)

 

Thanks to Georgia <sob>, Stitch This, Emma, Ally, and Hakelmonster for all being so game and good fun. I’m thinking of starting a yarn bombing mailing list so I can keep track of people who want to join in. So if you are in the Gloucestershire area want to have a go (no pressure to do so), or aren’t in the area but would like to see your creations adorning our fair county email me at dillytanteblog@gmail.com and I will keep you up to date.

Hypothesis testing and how to remember the difference between a Type I and Type II error

If you are doing research in the social sciences, or even if you’re not but like a bit of geek-based Indie music then this post is for you. If neither of those apply then I will forgive you for not reading the rest of this post (though it is worth checking out the very bad but catchy song at the end!), but in an effort to maintain my love of blogging along with my Masters Degree I am going to try and post a bit more psychology related stuff. Unfortunately for all my current module is statistics and research methods, so that is today’s topic.

A quick summary for those who don’t know, when we perform research in psychology we use a method called hypothesis testing, where we set a null and alternate hypotheses. The alternative hypothesis is always our prediction that there will be an effect of what we are measuring. The null hypothesis is always that there is no effect, and basically we are testing the assumption that there is no effect or difference in what we are measuring. Let’s give an example; I think doing crochet is more relaxing than watching football. I could design an experiment where I had a group of people watch football for an hour and a group of people do crochet for an hour, and then I could give them a test that measures relaxation and see if there is a difference. Now, this is an experiment at it’s simplest level, and there are many potential problems with it, feel free to comment on what they are, think of it as a crash course in Research Methods! Anyway, for that experiment our null hypothesis is “there is no difference in the level of relaxation attained by watching football or by doing crochet”, and the alternative would be “doing crochet makes you more relaxed than watching football”.

The reason we have the null is that we can never prove anything with statistics, we can only reject the null which supports our alternative hypothesis. We calculate the probability of our observation occurring if the null hypothesis is true, that is, what are the chances of getting this effect if there is really no difference in the things we are measure. This method is actually often criticised, as in real life if we take two measures of anything there is almost never no difference between them. We still do it this way though, but it highlights the importance in understanding the mechanisms underlying statistics and not just blindly accepting numbers that a computer spits out.

So, in psychology we determine the probability of obtaining a result at least as big as the one we obtained if the null hypothesis is true and use that to decide if we have a significant effect of not. We use the figure p=.05 as our cut off. Basically, if the statistics say there is a less than 5% chance of getting our observation if there is no effect we are comfortable enough to say “yep, guys, we have a significant effect here”. So if in our experiment above our p value for the differences between our groups (as calculated by a delightful programme called SPSS) is .02 it is basically saying “Look, if there really was no difference between the two groups you’ve got 2% chance of getting this result; that’s pretty low so probably there is a significant difference – reject the null hypothesis, reject I say!”. Anything up to 5% and we are comfortable that the difference is significant (yes, that figure is pretty arbitrary, and yes, there are many things wrong with it. What is the p value was 0.056? Well, it would be classed as non-significant for most academic journals).

However, even with our 5% p value there is still obviously 5% chance we could get our observation that makes it look like crochet is more relaxing than football, when really it isn’t. Maybe we just managed to find for our study the few people in the world who find crochet really relaxing, but the majority don’t. This idea that we might falsely reject the null hypothesis is called a Type I error. Or course, we may have got results that exceed our hallowed %5 probability thus causing us to accept the null hypothesis as true, there is no difference between the relaxing properties of crochet and football, when in fact there is a difference, we just didn’t pick it up in our study (maybe we didn’t look at enough people, or we didn’t make them do enough crochet…). This failure to reject the null hypothesis is known as a Type II error.

Now, why are these things important? Well mainly because I have an exam on such notions in a couple of weeks…but really because this is the basis of all social science research. Why am I writing a blog post on this? Well, those of you who have read and understood this probably already know it anyway from a basic research methods course. If you didn’t already know it then you can’t possibly have any reason to need to know it so I am impressed you persevered this far!m(Or maybe you are a student who does need to know but hasn’t understood it from your course, nor discovered a decent stats book like Discovering Statistics Using SPSS -seriously, this is a cracking stats book). Anyway, typing this all up has been great revision for me, which is mainly why I did it, and, well it’s my blog and I can write what I like! But what I really wanted to share was an “oh so bad it’s really good” song which someone, in the crusade to remember which way round Type I and Type II errors are, has written. Trying to remember which is why is a real pain, even after all these years (I first learned this stuff at A level) and is clearly an issue that plagues students the world over. For those who can’t make out the lyrics they are as follows:

If the null is zero
And it’s really zero
But you think it’s bull
And reject the null
Type I

If the null is zero
And it’s really not
And you accept the null
That’s off the spot
Type II

Isn’t it ace? I’m going to be singing this in my exam next month!

Do you have flower power?

Crochet flower
Crochet flower from this month’s Simply Crochet Magazine

In July my lovely friend and partner in crime Georgia is returning to her native land. I am desperately sad that she is going. In the 2.5 years since we randomly latched on to each other at a local sling meet she has introduced me to the delights of mac’n’cheese and white cake, and I have taught her to crochet and introduced her to yarn bombing.

In honour of her departure and to mark our friendship we are of course planning a yarn bomb. Flowers are the theme. We are going to coat a nearby deserving location with as many flowers as we can hook. And we are hoping for input from others too. Whether you are local to the Gloucestershire area and fancy helping us tie hundreds of flowers to railings or just want to contribute your own knit or crochet flora and fauna we’d love to hear from you. Big, small, any colour, we want your flowers! If you do want to be part of this yarn bomb (estimated date 3rd July) then email me at dillytanteblog@gmail.com or @dillytante on Twitter.

There are loads of flower patterns online, and I posted about some here. Many such as this one are super quick to make. Or the above flower was one I made this morning from my new Simply Crochet Magazine.

I haven’t given much notice, in my usual disorganised way. In my defence I have been preparing for my college residential which was last week, and my stats exam (97%, thank you very much!). Anyway, we’ll be grateful to have anyone join in and will keep you updated.