Plus Layout Builder App

And now for something completely different – not exactly paperbased, but I guess you could use it for designing tiled collage layouts … maybe ūüėČ

UPDATE: Web version available now too! Plus Layout Builder Web Version.

After four frustrating days¬†battling a bad headache it finally lifted today and left me with a yearning to cut some code. I’d been¬†playing around with an idea for a new crochet afghan. I wanted it to be solid colour granny squares laid out in an interlocking plus or cross pattern. The hassle was working out a suitably random layout.

And so this little app was born.


It’s super simple. Just put in the number of rows and columns required (maximum of 40 rows and 30 columns) and how many colours you’d like to use (minimum of 5, maximum of 15). Hit the Go button and it will generate a random layout for you.

This version is very very very very very basic. Just enough to generate the layout. There’s no way to save a layout, or print at present – although you can take a screen capture when you come across a layout you like.

Download the Plus Layout Builder zip file here РWindows application, tested on Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

UPDATE: Web version available now too, and you can print your layout directly from the webpage (you might need to fiddle with the print dialog settings to show background images so that it will print the colours, otherwise you get a nice b&w numbered grid). Check it out here: Plus Layout Builder Web Version.

App is provided as-is for personal use only. Please don’t link directly to the download file, link to this webpage instead. And please don’t download to sell or distribute elsewhere.


Homemade Traveler’s Notebook

I’ve been intrigued by all the images of Midori Traveler’s Notebooks on Pinterest and Instagram. Intrigued enough to look into buying one, but then a little scared off by the price. It’s a lot of money to pay for something I wasn’t sure that I would use.

So then this happened: a homemade travelers notebook from mostly recycled materials.

First up I checked out the brilliant video tutorial by Ray Blake – Making your own Midori-style Traveler’s Notebook. This video walks you through the whole process – cutting the leather, punching holes, threading the elastic, and more.

I gathered my supplies – a grotty, dusty, folded piece of leather that came off an old lounge chair, some elastic for the bands (the only item I purchased), paper from a couple of half-used notebooks, colourful pages from an old childrens book, embroidery thread remnants to bind the notebooks.

I spent a day scrubbing the leather clean (it really was disgusting!) and stretching it out to dry flat. It cleaned up beautifully. Once it had dried I whipped up the leather cover as per the video instructions above and then used the paper and thread to make some inserts. It turned out reasonably well. Certainly well enough to give this style of notebook a whirl and see if I like using it.

Homemade traveler's notebook coverThe photo doesn’t show the colour up accurately. It’s not brown, it’s actually a lovely deep maroon colour with a red interior.

Tasks list insert - coverTask list insert - inside viewThe Task List insert has pages I printed onto scrap white paper.

Task list insert - back cover, and grid notes insert - front cover

Notebook inserts back-to-back. I love the colours.

Grid notes insert - inside front coverI couldn’t avoid including the punched holes in the grid paper, but figured that’s what using recycled materials is all about :-)

Lessons learned

  • The scrap leather I used wasn’t the best choice for something that needs to take a fold. It’s showing signs of tiny cracks along the spine. Not a problem for a first attempt though.
  • The elastic could have been a fraction thinner.
  • The inserts are easier to bind first and then cut to size with the guillotine.
  • The inserts I made are only 20 pages. They could easily have been 40 to 60 pages. Thicker inserts would also give the notebook more rigidity.

Do you use this style of notebook? Did you purchase yours, or did you “roll your own” as I did?

Potato Printing

Did some potato printing with Master Five as a school holiday activity. Here are some of the writing paper and envelopes we decorated.


Most of the potato prints we made using cookie cutters – just cut the potato in half, press the cookie cutter about 4mm into one of the flat surfaces and trim around the edge with a sharp knife. Remove the cookie cutter and a nice crisp, clean stamp is ready to go.

The house print above we carved freehand into the potato to create a simple negative print design.

We used bright acrylic paint on a kitchen sponge to make our stamp pad.