Head Case, Head Torch

Thank you all so much for your enthusiastic response to yesterday’s post on the topic of hand sewing. One of the things I find most fascinating about blogging is that you never can predict which post readers are going to swoop on. That’s why I think blogging is the ultimate in reader/writer connection – there’s no one person telling the story.

As the above photo proves, there’s another advantage to hand sewing. When the weather’s good, you can take it outside. And readers, yesterday we in the UK actually had a day of summer. Don’t mock. This is the wettest British summer since records began in 1910. The worst weather in 102 years!!! And, guys, we are known for our wet summers.

If you can’t access acres of natural light, I have a really big recommendation for you when  peering at tiny sewing details. Head torches. I first remember having a torch strapped to my skull whilst attending the Green Man Festival. Head gear was essential for night time excursions to the camp site portaloos, wearing pyjamas and wellingtons.  I mean, when you’re reaching for the toilet roll, how do you hold a torch at the same time? Shudder.

Actually, I don’t mind being down with the mud. By the end of that weekend I stank! My sister and I spent our festival days drinking tepid wine in leftover cardboard coffee cups with grinds swilling around at the bottom. I know, I’m disgusting! I wallow in my own disgusting-ness sometimes.

So, from music festival to cross-legged on the sofa, peering at hand stitching. I recommend it! But I’m not showing you photographic evidence. There are some limits and, you know, I don’t want to lose a whole load of readers.

What about you? Do you have any special lighting equipment? I see adverts for those lamps that you clamp on to the edge of tables. Any good?

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34 Responses to Head Case, Head Torch

  1. ozviking says:

    Great idea! I have a head torch which I used on my long distance hiking and biking tours. I just never thought about it being useful at home. I am going to give it try. Apart from reading and finding my way through the bush to the loo etc I also found the head torch very useful when doing Sudoku puzzles.

  2. Marianna says:

    Apparently, you need twice the light when sewing black otherwise your eyesight starts to suffer. I do like black so will need to invest in something. Head torches look cute but are cumbersome and those reading/sewing lamps just don’t go with the decor…

    Yes, I know eyesight is more important than decor 🙂

  3. Pella says:

    What a great idea. My daughter left one of these in our house, I can see it being very useful when sewing whilst everyone is watching tv. Thanks for passing this tip along!

  4. I loved the idea of the headlamp but thus ar have forgotten it when I had he need.

    That’s why I think blogging is the ultimate in reader/writer connection – there’s no one person telling the story
    So true. I’ve just started my blog and it’s a bit boring with not many comments…

  5. Chris says:

    What a good idea , the weather in Brittany has been much the same as the UK and I have been struggling with the light levels , now where did hubby put that head torch .

  6. Sam says:

    I definitely struggle to handsew / knit in dark (summer!) evenings. I did buy a small table halogen table lamp, but it was so bright it nearly blinded me! I’m thinking of investing in an adjustable lamp with a daylight bulb, I’ve heard those are very good.

  7. Regarding those great ‘bright daylight’ styles lights. I use a Fluor light that was bought & intended as an aquarium light. It’s the same style of lighting but heaps cheaper. Mounting is a bit of challenge but not impossible. Mine currently just lays sideways facing the area I’m working but I will be mounting it with double sided tape soon. It cost $30.

  8. PendleStitches says:

    Great idea. And if the weather with you is the same as it is here in Lancashire today, boy you’ll need it. British Summer Time is back with a vengeance!! Bye bye sun.

  9. Fab idea! My dad has one of those head torches. He bought it because he found a really big hole underneath a road and he wanted to explore in it. Yeah, a really big hole. Not a cave. A hole. He bought the gear but then lost enthusiasm (surprisingly) and now he uses it when he’s going out to feed the dogs at night.

    Um, yes. On another note, I’ve been considering investing in a daylight lamp – this murky weather is giving me SAD, and some actual daylight would be good, and excellent for sewing by, I think.

    • Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! You couldn’t make this stuff up. I hope that one day you will sit down and write your family’s memoirs. This is too rich to waste! A variation on ‘My Family and Other Animals’?!

  10. Kerry says:

    I’ve used my head torch when sewing with black thread on black fabric (by machine) and it was really helpful. It was a tip from Tilly ages ago, and it really works! Though you do look a bit silly if anyone else comes into the room and sees you 🙂

  11. The head lamp is a good idea but I use a headset all day and truly couldn’t bear the thought of anything on my head for longer than that! I have an anglepoise desk lamp with an energy-saver globe that’s good because I can get it close to whatever I’m trying to sew. It’s not really sufficient for sewing dark fabrics at night, however (or knitting ditto).

  12. Anne W says:

    I don’t have a head torch – I may need to steal the one husband uses when he works on his cars… I do have a daylight lamp, but not one I clamp to the table. It is invaluable for working in the evening and when sewing dark colours. I wouldn’t be without it!

  13. sewbusylizzy says:

    I have my old desk lamp on a long lead. I move it between the sewing machine & ironing board as I work. A head lamp would be great, my fishing husband has many!

  14. Summerflies says:

    That is a good idea! I notice you are using entomology pins! Why (because they are very fine?) and where would you get them?

  15. Andrea says:

    I bought an OttLite natural daylight bulb to put in a regular reading floor lamp that sits next to my sewing table. Cheaper than buying the whole adjustable lamp. I bought it with the intention of being able to take blog photos at night — but the light is too localized to make it look as good as actual naturally-lit photos. For general sewing, though, I think it’s great for increasing visibility. I have to leave it off when I’m not crafting — otherwise the bright white light in the corner of an otherwise cozy and warm living room is kinda creepy.

    • That’s a great idea, those lights are just so expensive. I cant understand why when the aquarium ones are more reasonable. And now I wonder why when you can put the bulb in an ordinary lamp??? I also have a desk lamp in the lounge room I will get a bulb and see how it goes.
      Thanks for this idea Andrea.

  16. poppykettle says:

    Head lamps? Genius. Especially because the comfy spot on the couch doesn’t have the best lighting!

  17. LinB says:

    I own a headband to help hand sewing, but I rarely wear it. A. No lamp on it, only magnifying lenses. B. Have to remove eyeglasses to use it for close work, at which point I just chuck everything and hold the work an inch from my eyes — myopia actually helpful in this situation! C. Dizzying to change focus among bifocal eyeglass lenses and magnifier while also concentrating on not stabbing self with sharp pointy thing. D. It frightens the cat.

  18. Jenn-NY says:

    After struggling in my poorly lit apartment, I purchased an Ikea goose-neck lamp that I move around to wherever I need it. For hand-sewing on black I’ve also found it helpful to remove my glasses or contact lenses. Of course, that only works for the severely myopic like me, but there is less glare and I really can see my work better. Great idea bout the head-torch–it would be a good option for travel-sewing.
    P.S. I would gladly trade some of your rain for some of the heat here in New York!

    • Thanks you Jen, I’m fairly new to needing glasses and I do struggle with glare and focus when sewing. I am going to try taking my glasses off next time.

      • Jenn-NY says:

        I hope it helps. It was an accidental discovery for me. I sometimes take my glasses off for detailed machine sewing now too, and for threading the machine needle especially.

  19. Mrs M says:

    I find sewing by hand difficult in artificial light and find I need more than just a room light. I have a lap tray that had an led light on it which I use for smaller projects. It’s a cheapy (£6) but get when I want directed light on something small.
    Using a head torch is a good idea. I had one by the bed for when Mr M wanted the lights off and I wanted to read. It’s great for that, but he wasn’t keen on me looking towards him at any point as it was a bit blinding!

  20. Lynn says:

    The only thing I would say about sewing outdoors is ‘Beware of the birds!’- a friend was hand-sewing her daughter’s wedding dress in the garden when a bird decided to drop a message on her fabric! Alls well that ends well -the wedding was on Midsummer’s day and the dress looked lovely sans bird poo!!

  21. Katrina says:

    Rather than a headlight, I’d rather something over the shoulder…like a pirate with a parrot!

  22. oonaballoona says:

    but karen! YOU ARE NOT WORKING ON THE FLAT!!!!!

    (which, by the way, i hear in my head every time i lift my fabric up to pin it or whatnot now.)

    yes to head torches, i have a shot of ruggy fixing my kenny with one on. hawt.

  23. Siga says:

    Well at least UK gets that much needed water, hey?

  24. Sewist from across the Pond. says:

    I drool over these lamps and magnifiers from Lacis:


  25. pizzamom says:

    Great ideas! I use a book reading light clamped to the front of my shirt-great for details and comfortable.

  26. Rehanon says:

    Karen you are so hardcore! You use the apparatus of a miner to get the job done. I for one salute you *doths cap* My legendary Uncle gave me a snake light a few years ago and I’m now thinking this can be employed to good use with the hand sewing of garms 🙂

    PS I can’t blinking wait to see your suit it looks beaut.

  27. sylkotwist says:

    Karen I too used my headlamp at the Green Man Festival last year (those loos are lethal)! Will you be using yours again at this years? Given the weather you are probably better off sewing on your comfy, dry, warm sofa. I’ll be there, headlamp at the ready!

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