Sunday, 1 January 2017

So I started the year as I plan to go on, being woken every 15 minutes from 11pm because I was going to miss it.

So the first big event of the year has come and gone. New Years Eve. The fella and I spent it in catching up on the telly of the year and eating a rather fine fishy smorgasbord that I prepared for us. We wore matching Christmas jammies and put the cats (briefly) in Christmas jumpers.

I did debate doing the dark haired visitor carrying a coin to keep wealth in the home, salt to keep food in the home and coal to keep heat in the home. As the fella is ginger I would be the closest thing to this as I do have (very fair) brown hair and some of my references only say a person visitors and doesn't specify it has to be a man. When it came to it though I was nodding off by 11pm and when 12am came I was willing the fireworks to just get on with it so decided to just go to bed. We also didn't sing Auld Lang Syne so frankly we just weren't taking it seriously. I have had it stuck in my head all day though.

I know there is a fashion for skipping the resolutions due to the cliche that they just get broken before the month is out. Accepting you're doing your best is admirable and I would advise it at any opportunity but I do like a resolution. I found this quote which I think sums it up and what is a resolution but a point of focus?

Every positive change in your life begins with a clear, unequivocal decision that you are going to either do something or stop doing something.

If I don't do it then I just need to resolve again, and again, and again. I'll keep doing it til where I want to be pays off. It's all we can do really.


  • Take care of yourself, dammit woman. There are situations in your life that are making you miserable. Do everything you can to change them. Even if some of them strike you as a bit wanky. Switch self conscious for self care.
  • Stop mucking about on Instagram/Buzzfeed/Simpsons Tapped Out/ Facebook etc etc etc. You said this to yourself last year and you're saying it again now. This is why you don't achieve half of what you could. 
  • Finish your book. Don't care if it's crap. Finish it. You turn 30 this year and you've been telling yourself this story for the last 15 years. Get. It. Finished. Then do the next one.
  • Take care of your surroundings. You are chaotic and cluttered little toad. You don't have to be. Keep your home tidy. Make that vegetable patch work as a kitchen garden. You also told yourself this last year but you didn't do it. Probably cause you were mucking about on Facebook. 
  • Try to be a bit kinder

I woke up this morning and got the first one started. I also cut out all the fabric for my two flower girl dresses as it occured to me that my wedding is no longer next year but now is next month. Turns out floor length, four tier dresses in guaze are a chuff load of pieces. Who knew? 

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Remember me?

Hi there

I've gone a bit quiet over the past months. Not really followed through on ideas I've had. Mostly this is because I have the attention span of a toddler but I've also been knee deep in the planning of a wedding. 

You should be able to make a fresh start every moment of every day, that's the gift we have as people. There is however the very seductive lure of thresholds and I am sucker for them. A new year, a new start. So I thought I'd use the change of year to explore an idea I had a while ago.

Observing the year.

I'll explain what I mean by this and what I don't. First off if I don't mean 'living seasonally' as to me it conjures up pictures of celebrity chefs stood in a field enthusing about root vegetables while a farmer stands by with an expression that says 'we'll see how enthused you are when you're the one up at 5am picking the sodding things'. Obviously it's important to try to eat to seasons as much as possible in terms of our carbon footprint and that will be an element of how I go ahead but I won't throw myself off the nearest cliff if I have a strawberry in March. 

I suppose what I'm thinking is partially looking at traditions and keeping those while also trying to link back up with the occasions as the year progresses. I love traditions and I'd like to take time to practice them while also exploring why it is we do what we do. I'm going to be entirely scattergun in terms of which ones I include and the inclusion criteria is purely based on what I feel like. I'll of course accept suggestions but I'm not going to break my back trying to include everything. Some will have religious origins (some as it often goes from more than one faith) and some won't but that definitely isn't the focus of my attention. Some will be traditions held by my family and some will be something new I fancied a go at. 

I'm also wanting to look at how my year progresses personally. What am I making, cooking, growing or reading? I initially intended this blog to be a record of the things I make and that went somewhat to pot so the plan is to be a more thorough chronicler. 

 Just noticed my sidebar with the 25 books for the year. Whoops, yeah that might need a re do...

Monday, 2 May 2016

Make Something of Yourself May

How do.

Your brain on sewing

Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt which is about 60% complete
I'm going to put it right out there and put myself forward for the post of Queen Procrastinator. If there's slacking to be done I'm all for it. Buzzfeed is my bestie. This however means you pass whole months feeling like you were sleep walking thorough and have nothing to show for it. 

This is starting to bother me. 

I justify this to myself on the grounds that my day job is hectic so  when I come home I want to stare vacantly at things that are meaningless. This is all well and good in small doses however too much and you end up starting to feel like your days are get up, work, home, bed, rinse, repeat. 

With this in mind I decided to get back in with Me Made May. I have also signed up to Outrun May where I'm planning to run between 30 and 80 miles over the course of May for Macmillan. My justgiving page is here if you fancy chucking in some pennies for the good people at Macmillan 

Cookie Blouson Jacket
 Basically I'm up for anything that is an incentive for me to actually do something. I know I was supposed to sign up to MMMay16 before the 1st of May but meh. I'm doing it now. I will not be taking daily proper photographs. I will do slightly crappy ones on my phone to be posted on instagram. This feels much more achievable and frankly it's only to document for myself anyway.

So without further ado, here is my pledge. 

'I, Handmade Humbug, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavor to wear a handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2016. A handmade accessory will only be allowed as an addition to a handmade garment and not to act as the garment in of itself. I will put up what I'm wearing daily on Instagram. I will blog at least once a week though this does not have to be related to MMMay16. I will complete the 3x garments I have had cut out and ready to go for months(!) and one 
crochet garment.'

       My crochet Un Finished Object (UFO)

Sencha Blouse view 3

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Baby on Board


npl -seaux or -seaus (-səʊz)
the clothes, linen, etc, collected by a bride for her marriage
[C19: from Old French, literally: a little bundle, from trusse a bundle; see truss]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

I decided when my best friend told me she was pregnant that I would make a baby trousseau. As you can see by the above definition that I'm using the term wrongly. Don't much care to be honest.
I had a whole raft of projects in mind however due to my previously mentioned difficulties with the concept of time and being a painfully slow knitter I didn't manage to get half of what I wanted to do done. 
By the time of her baby shower I'd only four items made (one took me six months to make to be fair). Some I have in the cut up and ready to be constructed stage so they will just have to be birthing gifts for when the little man finally comes to meet the world. 
Shout out to Baby Denman's grandmother's contributions. A raft of handmade jumpers that means that this lady must knit like the wind! and grandma on the otherside who came up with the brilliant idea of bags sorted by age. So clever. 
So without any further ado here are my minion's baby shower pressies.

Tin Can Knits- Fly Away Blanket

Love sewing issue 15- Very hungry caterpillar baby towel

Simon Francis- Baby Moccasins

Vanessa Moonice- Puffer fish 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

I wanna hold your hand

It causes me a great deal of irritation when other sewists refer to a sew along or particularly in depth instructions as 'hand holding'. There are some very seasoned sewists who only give instructions a cursory glance before using the techniques their experience tells them will result in the finish they want. Others however are new to this game and need you to be a bit more thorough in the explanation, preferably with step by step photography for those that struggle to translate the words into the objects in front of you.

I consider myself an advanced beginner. I can add in a few steps that the instructions might not mention because my experience tells me that it will improve the fit, form or longevity of my garment. I however am still relatively new and sometimes need a little extra help to make sense of what is in front of me. I also have a great loathing of being 'wrong' so dammit I want to know I'm doing it right. 
My pockets came out a bit awry, but if it's wool surely it can just be blocked?

This leads me on to my latest make which I had to give myself a little bit of time before blogging about so I can be constructive rather than descending into childish name calling. Especially as the one who deserves the name calling is me. I have mentioned previously that I have a tendency towards baseless optimism and an almost Whovian approach to the nature of time. This often leaves me in the position of trying a complex new skill to an impossibly tight timeline. 

This was something lovely that hadn't occurred to me but really helped. Tacking the lining in place so it doesn't show when you stitch it down properly.
I had decided for Christmas to make the fella a new winter coat. I had repaired his old one several times and it was starting to look very threadbare and ropey. Enter the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat. I made him another of their patterns the Newcastle Cardigan for Christmas last year and really love the aesthetic they have. 
Bit of old quilt cover to act as a pocket stay giving the area strength.

He'd picked some lovely Brown wool and a Red and Green shot Viscose and Acetate Twill Lining  which depending on which way you look is either red or green both from Stone fabrics. He then picked some gorgeous buttons at Abakhans and frankly I was quite proud of the fella's taste. 

Now the problems come. 

I gave myself four days to do this. This might have worked out ok if I'd just followed the instructions but as there was a set of instructions for tailoring I though heck the Fella is worth that degree of work, why not. If I hadn't I would probably be much happier with the finished result. 

Wah la no pocket lining on show
The problem I feel is that the tailoring instructions are done by a lady called Dana who is evidently very skilled in her craft and writes as such. It reminds me though of the challenges on Bake Off where they're given deliberately sparse instructions to test the bakers knowledge. In this case instead of 'make a custard'  you get 'make a welt pocket'. Which I imagine if you've done a few before is simple pimple however my difficulty is even if I looked up instructions (of which Crafty does an excellent set ) I'm not familiar enough with the technique to see how it could be applied here. Now to be totally fair she doesn't instruct you to make a welt pocket, she just says that's what she did and considering it looks so beautiful why wouldn't you want to do that?!?! 
Cheeky flash of the lining

It's also difficult as it's not overly clear which of the pattern's instructions you need to skip and which to follow when following the tailoring instructions leaving me unpicking things that I stitched from the pattern instructions and then found shouldn't be done until later in the tailoring instructions. I also found I needed more pictures which were of a wider angle to help me work out how things fitted together. 

Even though I had no idea what I was doing all the tailor tacks did make me feel proper
This brings me on to the Peacoat kit you can purchase from Thread Theory. Another place where the instructions are very very few. The kit you get is obviously of very high quality but there isn't even an indication of which piece is which. The coat fronts are easy to work out, as are the shoulder pads but the sleeve head and collar took some noodle scratching. There's also absolutely no indication of how to use them.

 It would be really helpful if the kit is being sold for this particular pattern that there were instructions for how to use them. I had no idea where to place the pieces or which way up to place them. I tried googling it but ended up on a professional coat makers forum where, for reasons I don't really understand, they descended into a heated discussion of Punch and Judy??? 

New skill that I was quite pleased with. Catch stitching. See there was so much to love in these instructions. Just a tiny bit more of the larger detail would have made them perfect.
I had to do some just winging it which as mentioned previously I really didn't like to do especially with expensive  materials that are intended as a gift. In the end I just didn't use the undercollar or sleeve heads. I was too fed up of googling fruitlessly for anything that might be of assistance. Obviously I was annoyed at myself for not giving myself time but really really frustrated with the instructions. I can imagine that if you know what you're doing you can make sense of it all and come up with a really lovely piece. Although the peacoat is intended as being at its most basic to accommodate a beginner the tailoring instructions don't appear to account for the person who is trying to push themselves in terms of skills and therefore will need things explaining that the writer may consider obvious.

The idea of the tailoring instructions is lovely I just think it needs the input of a rank amateur such as myself to be able to ask all the stupid questions and therefore make them a little bit more accessible. 

I had however winged it so that the hood was attached permanently to the coat as per the fellas instructions. I wish I had interfaced the hood as it is so floppy it's a tiny bit Jedi. I've had to come back to it to sort out the buttons which I did too quickly and therefore stitched on wonky. 

Final piece photographed by the lovely Mr James Denman.
I am told from the recipient however that I am nit picking and that he loves it which is the main thing.  I do love the style and the combination of the lining and shell fabric so maybe with some time I might come to love it too. Hopefully once the feeling of being irretrievably out of my depth passes.

The lining. I'm crouched behind this holding it up

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.

It's important when blogging to be really clear what your subject area is and to stick to this. Don't be jumping all over the place. Keep your focus.

With that in mind as a person who set up her blog to talk about things that I've made sewn, knitted or crocheted, today I'm going to talk about books.

Sewing books?


Anyway I was browsing some old stuff and came across a challenge I took part in from back in 2008 to read 50 books in a year. The second time I managed 65 books but I've come no where close to this since (I tried twice after that, one I only got to four though I suspect that was because I lost interest in documenting it rather than I stopped reading).

Fair enough at that point I was a student but I was a student nurse. If I wasn't on placement I was working bank shifts or studying so I wouldn't have had more spare time than I do now. The biggest change is I've started filling my spare time with handicrafts. This got me to thinking that although I love these hobbies I miss being bookish.

So I'm taking another shot at it but in a slightly more realistic form for me. I'm scaling it down to 25 books in a year. Now as I say that it saddens me that this is all the feels realistic to me but better that than nothing and hell sometimes life happens.

So the rules still stand: the criteria is that it has to be any book that I finished in 2016, so if I start it this year but don't finish it then it won't count. On the other hand, if I started it in 2015 and finish it this year then it counts. 

Join in if you'd like. Let me know what you're reading and if we're reading the same thing I'd love to know what you think. 

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happy New Year

Hope your New Years Eve was full of friends and family and fun. I was the designated driver so woke up with a relatively clear head. I write this now in a quiet house as my parents have just left from staying with us for New Years and the fella is at the football.

Last year one of my resolutions had been to start a blog which I have and although at times there have been extended gaps I have continued it. I said last year that I had not been going at it long enough to be able to do a review. I think this year I have much more to show in terms of what I've made so I think my next post will be a review of hits and misses.

This post however I want to focus in a wider sense on resolutions for the year and what I'd like the year to be. I've come across the idea of reducing this down to a word which I think a good idea if not a little tricky to try an encompass all the things I want to look at in one word.

So I've been deliberately vague and gone with Change. Of course I realise that all resolutions when you boil them down are just the intention to change but this is what felt most appropriate to me.

I realised that last year sped by and that this was mostly as there were great chunks of time where I was just trying to drag myself through to some future point. My most common thought was 'Just got to get through today, that's all you've got to do. Get through today'. Now I realise that makes it sound like I've been quite depressed but I assure you I haven't. I do however need to have a good think about my situation and what it is that causes me to feel like this.

Of course to quote Captain Sparrow 'The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.' At this time however I think some of the obstacles are too great for a positive mental attitude alone to overcome.  

So what to change? A few plans are already in motion and the irrational part of my brain can't talk about them until they're more substantial in case too much scrutiny causes them to disappear like spooked deer.

So these are the areas I'm looking to change.

    • Change the way I manage my time. If procrastination is the thief of time then I am in for some serious prison time. There are so many productive things that I should be doing however I spend an unreasonable amount of time in loops of online slide shows. There's much more I'd like to achieve this year. I just need to free myself up to do it. This includes not taking on vast amounts of activity so every task becomes a pressured chore. Do less, well rather than more, poorly. 
    • Change the way I approach the vegetable patch in the garden. So far really I've just been playing at it. Chuck a bunch of seeds in and harvest whatever if anything that turns up. I'd like for it to be a working patch that we can eat from through the year. This then puts you in touch with the change of the seasons.
    • Change my approach to my physical and mental health. Actually bother to take care of myself. Increase exercise and lower calorie intake for no other purpose than for me to feel better. I like to run and feel better when I do. Maybe switching the motivation from 'you're a tubby cow who needs to move' to ' wooooo look at me go!!!!!' may help me along with this.
    •  Change my perspective on my skills. Stop beating myself up when I make a mistake. It's ok. It really is. You're the only one who notices you perfectionist nut job.