What are you obsessed by right now? Do you have any secret obsessions?
Yes, I’m in the grip of a new obsession and it’s a good one, because it gets me away from the computer, brings my blood pressure down and there are 7 series totalling 26 episodes in all.
I’m in heaven.
It’s almost as good as when you discover a new favourite author and you discover they have written 20 books!
Have you developed any new obsessions during lockdown, I wonder?
During the last year and a half I’ve had various obsessions come and go. I tried bread making but it was far too messy (I didn’t know you could mix it in a bowl – my recipe said to mix it all on the worktop and it was carnage).
Choosing & cooking different style dinners via Hellofresh is one that’s lasted. Both Phoebe and I enjoy the change in spices and herbs it forces you into using. If I had my way, we’d use garlic and chilli on everything and if she had hers, everything would be pasta and it would just be covered in cheese. (Enjoy £20 off your first order of HelloFresh here.)
I was already mildly interested in woodcraft and survival videos on YouTube, you know, the ones where a lone bloke goes out into the wilderness and makes a shelter and a fire, cooks something, sleeps overnight and then goes home.
I’d graduated to blokes in Canada with canoes, then lone blokes with dogs, then a bloke with a canoe and two dogs…where would this end? I was learning new survival skills all the time and I know which 10 items you would grab from a camping store in the event of the apocalypse to be able to survive in the woods. Not that I anticipated needing them any time soon, I was not planning to leave a nice warm flat and camp out, but you never know.
My favourites are, in order of discovery, Joe Robinet, then Matthew Posa with his two gorgeous dogs of a breed I’ve not seen since the 1970’s. I then stumbled upon the mighty Shawn James who has one dog, the gorgeous golden retriever Cali, but two channels, the eponymous Shawn James and the original My Self Reliance. He talks more on his Shawn James channel and much less on My Self Reliance.
Then I got into the survival show ‘Alone: The Arctic’ on the History Channel where 10 or so people go into the Arctic, are dropped by helicotper and then have to survive as long as they can. Zachary Fowler won last years (2020) and he made it to 87 days.
(Now you know just how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone with the survival stuff!)
I’ve also had brief flirtations with sailing videos, especially people who live on their boats full time. ‘Gone With The Wynns’ and ‘Sailing Zatara’ are just a couple of my favourites. I think I’ll do that in my next life, if I get another go-round. I follow a lovely couple doing up a farmhouse in Portugal called Bee and Theo of The Indie Projects, who are working so hard to complete this project I can’t believe my eyes!
But now, I have finally found ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ on the BBC and I absolutely love it. There are several series and each week has a different theme, with the amateur needle people tackling three sewing projects.
I don’t know if you know but I was sewing from the age of about 4-5 till my mid-twenties and even went to art college to study Fashion Design. I can cut my own patterns and have tackled many complex projects, even creating and making vintage waistcoats for a local design shop Hunter and Puff Ball Skirts for all my friends in the 80’s.
So I know how hard some of the techniques are that they are trying to do in way too little time. I absolutely love the retro weeks or where they use modern materials to make retro outfits. I was always looking back in the history books to find inspiration and the Victoria & Albert Museum was a ‘must visit’ for me when in London.
My favourite part is when they are given an item of clothing and have to transform it in 90 minutes – that’s a cracker.
I’m obviously trying to resist buying a sewing machine and overlocker now, I only sold my last overlocker when I went to Greece in 2016 and I hadn’t used it for years. But this programme has got me remembering the thrill of looking through patterns in John Lewis, tumbling buttons through my fingers in the John Lewis and Liberty Haberdashery departments, handling beautiful fabrics in tiny dark shops in the East End and Soho. Not to mention the satisfaction of assembling random cut out shapes into something that could be worn by someone.
It keeps me off Twitter in the evenings anyway, so that’s got to be a good thing. The Great British Sewing Bee lowers my blood pressure!
Here is just one of the amazing bridal / evening wear outfits you could be making with the aid of a Vogue Pattern, on the rather wonderful Sew Essential website.