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10 Creative and Clever Crochet Crafts

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Crochet is more than just afghans made of granny squares. Modern amigurumi artists can recreate just about anything they want in yarn, with the help of a hook and an eye for detail.

1. All Eleven Doctors

Allison Hoffman at Crafty is Cool has completed a commissioned collection of Doctor Who amigurumi figures, featuring the likenesses of all eleven actors who've portrayed the Doctor on the BBC series. Pictured here is the fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison from 1981-1984. At the site, you can see all the crocheted Doctors side-by-side with the TV version. One clever detail is that the first Doctor, from the early 60s, is crocheted in black, white, and gray, except for the skin tone, as the series was broadcast in black-and-white at that time. If you'd like to try this yourself, you can pre-order the patterns from Hoffman's Etsy shop

2. Weeping Angel

Another Doctor Who character/icon/demon recreated in yarn is the Weeping Angel. This one was made by Michelle of the Etsy store Twimoon. The angel is about 8 inches tall and each one is made to order. Ordering one will confirm that you are immune to the mythos surrounding this character, or else you haven't seen that memorable episode.

3. Mythbusters

Photo credit: Flickr user Kim Tairi.

Kim Tairi makes all manner of crocheted amigurumi figures. The instantly-recognizable figures of Adam Savage and Jamie Heineman of their TV show Mythbusters stand out! You can read an interview with Tairi about her crochet characters at GeekDad and see more pictures of her works at Flickr.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation

As tiny as these figures are, each one is recognizable as a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Jana Ford made these for a friend's birthday. That's one lucky friend! See each one up close at her site.

5. Firefly

Instructables user SiraRaven crocheted the character Mal from the TV series Firefly and just kept going until the entire crew of the Serenity was present and accounted for! Some of the clothing and jackets were crocheted separately, so they are interchangeable between the figures. Some of the details of making them are posted at Instructables.

6. Mia Wallace

Shove Mink at Croshame finally saw Pulp Fiction because she was commissioned to create this scene from the movie in crochet. Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) is being revived from a heroin overdose by a huge shot of adrenaline. Impressive work, even if you haven't seen the film! See more angles and details at Croshame.

7. Nutella

Really, who doesn’t love Nutella? This crocheted version doesn't even have calories! It was originally posted to Instagram by bon_chic

8. PSY

Jessica Nevin made her very first amigurumi figures as a gift for a friend. She jumped in with both feet, choosing to recreate such a popular and familiar person as PSY, the K-pop singer behind "Gangnam Style," and it turned out quite well! To go with it, she also crocheted the IKEA monkey with a sweater that matches PSY's jacket. The result is a nice pair of internet memes in amigurumi.

9. Breaking Bad

Alison Hoffman finished up Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad last summer just in time to start working on the Doctor Who collection. These amigurumi figures are smaller, about 4 inches tall, and come with the proper accessories from the TV show, such as yellow hazmat suits and tiny yarn bags of blue meth.

10. Restroom

Artist Liisa Hietanen assembled this bathroom as an art installation at a gallery in Finland. The toilet, sink, drain, toilet paper, cleaner, waste basket, towel dispenser, and even the tiles are made of yarn! This 2011 project was a combination of knit and crochet. See more pictures of the details

See also:
10 Clever and Creative Crochet Creations

10 Cute and Creepy Crochet Creations

10 Crocheted Science Fiction Figures

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]