Friday, 27 March 2009


I have not posted for a few days, as I have been fighting a particularly nasty virus. I have had it for four weeks, and it does not want to leave.

I did start a new sewing project this week (naughty, naughty!), but can't seem to concentrate, to do it well enough, so it will have to wait till I feel better.

Last year I was offered a place on a spinning workshop. The ladies organising it were going to hold workshop holidays on the island and wanted to try out their lessons on spinning newcomers. The bonus was that we got the instruction free! I will admit, I am not really keen on knitting. I will knit the occasional thing, but I much prefer a sewing needle in my hand. I went, therefor, thinking it would be a pleasant thing to learn, but that I probably would not use the skill again. How wrong can you be!! I was hooked. Spinning is so relaxing! We learned to spin on a CD spindle, and I managed to spin a reasonable length of fibre. We plied, saw a fleece and also carded some fleece. I had a great time. From there, I went to another course on Shetland lace and dyeing, and then I bought a wheel from New Zealand. It is beautiful, and I call her Tilly Tudeldum, Tilly for short.

People on the island are very kind, and when they heard I was spinning, I was given some fleeces to card and spin. I am not a good spinner, as I tend to over spin. I need to practice, but as there are so many other things I like to do as well, Tilly has been neglected of late. Soon!!

Till the next time.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Just a very quick post to tell you about an amazing Giveaway by Ginny in Washington, for her 41st birthday. She is giving away more than $150 dollars worth of quilting related goods. Should I give you the link? It will mean I will have less of a chance to win the goodies? Oh, all right, the giveaways are on As I am new to this, I think I have linked properly, but on the other hand ...

Greetings from the wet Orkney Isles!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Tea Loaf

My husband and I are typical Scots. We like sweet things to eat. My husband is particularly fond of home made cakes, so I bake a lot. One of his favourites is tea loaf. It is very easy to do, tastes good and, more so, can't go wrong. My kind of baking! You can add, change a lot of the ingredients, and it doesn't affect the loaf. I will add notes after the recipe, so keep reading! My baking cup that I use for this recipe is not quite as big as an American cup (I checked!), but I don't think it will make a difference!

3 cups dried fruit (* see below)
2 cups brown sugar(*)
2 cups strong tea (steep 3 tea bags in boiling water and give it a good stir till strong!)

Leave the above ingredients to steep overnight.
Next day add -

4 cups self-raising flour
2 beaten eggs.

Mix all ingredients together and divide between 2 x 2lb greased and lined (bottom only) loaf tins. I cook my loaves on the top shelf of the oven @ 150 degF for 45 mins +. I have a very hot oven and it depends how sloppy the mixture is, so you might need to cook it longer or less. The loaves come out with a crusty top, but if they are put in a tin, they become soft overnight. (We like the crusty top)

*Dried Fruit - you can have a mixture of currants, raisins, sultanas. My favourite is a mix of raisins and jumbo raisins. You can also add up to half a cup extra of sweetened cranberries, glace pineapple or glace mixed peel. If you do this, take out about 2 tablespoons of sugar, as this would make it terribly sweet.
*Sugar - Sugar can be dark brown, medium, light, white, or any combination of what you have in the house. The dark is our favourite.
If you are in a panic, you can put the first three ingredients in the microwave and cook for a few minutes, cool the mix and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. This does not produce such a tasty cake. You will notice in the picture, that there is only half a loaf left! I only had one slice! Who ate the rest??
Any questions, feel free to leave a comment with email address, or email me direct.
Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Walking along the Beach

Yesterday was such a nice day we took our border terrier for a walk along a beach, which is about a mile away from us. This is a picture of it last year in the summer. Really crowded, isn't it? When the tide is out, we can reach this beach by walking across the bay in front of our house and then over the sand dunes. Yesterday we went the long way round by road. The beach was empty, as usual, and my husband and I spent a glorious time walking along the sand and laughing at Penny running in and out the water. It was not cold, and we did a bit of beach combing. It s amazing what is brought in with the tide. Yesterday I found a hard hat in perfect condition. We walked back over the bay, and had fun jumping over some of the wider streams of water, which were beginning to fill the bay. I try to remember days like this one, little special memory jewels to brighten up other, less special days.

I did not get much done on the sewing front yesterday. I was still recording the stitches on the machine, when my husband asked if I wanted to nip down to the shops for anything. An hour and a half later we got back. We saw a rope on one of the beaches and thought it be good for the boat. It was tangled with barbed wire and other rope. We tried to untangle it, but it is now in the garden, waiting to be released. Back to the machine this afternoon.
Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Bernina 2

Bernina 2
Sorry I did not post yesterday as promised. Two, very charming gentlemen from India came to the island on business. The person they came to see was off island, so we were asked to entertain them and show them round the island. It was a beautiful, calm day, so they saw the island at its best. A really enjoyable day, but I was tired by night time.
Back to the Bernina. I have had lots of tension problems with this Bernina, with the top thread showing through to the back, or vice versa with the bobbin thread. I was quite concerned, as I wanted to quilt with the straight and fancy stitches and did not want intrusive stitches showing on either side. I bought a straight stitch plate, a variety of threads, an extra bobbin case to fiddle with the tension and started the trials.
I have sewn for years, and I always keep a note of my samples, along with how I have made the articles, threads and even some personal notes on family life! I decided, that even although I had already made two lap quilts, bags, aprons, pencil rolls etc on the machine, that I would start at the beginning again. I cut out two pieces of material, seamed them together, turned them inside out and started recording the stitches on the machine. (see photo). When I am playing, I always record my samples in the same way - Stitch No., (Top)Tension, Stitch Length, St. Width, Foot No. and record threads used, problems etc. I did not deviate in any way from the default for the stitches, but some of the stitches do need the Stitch Length to be played with. That is for another day. When I have finished these stitches, I will be able to pick out with ease particular stitches for projects and any variations needed.
I also play with certain threads and stitches, make little samples and take notes for future reference. (see photo). When I finish an article, I take a photo and again make some notes. The other photo is a needle case I made for my tatting needles. These photos were put in another notebook, but will now be amalgamated into a loose-leaf notebook. I will now have a future reference for everything I have tried on the machine at hand, and hopefully this will help my sewing. Sorry about the terrible layout of the photos. Blogspot would not allow me to put the pictures within the post. It has also changed the order of the photos. I had them numbered, but had to edit the contents after I posted! Something else to learn!
Hope this shows you how I work.
tich from sunny Orkney

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Bernina Aurora 440QE

I was delighted when my husband bought me a Bernina sewing machine. My Pfaff was twenty years old. It was still sewing great, but I always yearned for a Bernina. I had heard so much about them, how great they were, how well they sewed.
I could not get my new machine to sew! I would turn it on, it would sew a few stitches and then stop dead. I would pump the foot control, it would do a few more stitches and then stop again. I got onto the dealer, and the assistant said the machine was too cold. This was a severe blow, as my husband had converted a byre into a very modern studio for me. I did check the manual, and it did say the machine did not like cold (neither do I!), so I tried running the heater for one hour before I sewed, for two hours, all night, all day and night, but eventually the machine gave up an error message 'STOP', which the dealer had never seen, and refused to sew another stitch. I got a new machine from Bernina.
The new machine sews. Do I like it? The jury is still out on that. I have had a lot of problems with tension, and I definitely do not like the BSR. I will show you tomorrow what I am doing to get more comfortable with the machine.
Till then, enjoy what is left of the weekend.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


We have only four small shops on the island, more like old-fashioned corner shops, where you can buy a variety of things. The nearest supermarket is one and a half hours away on the ferry to mainland Orkney. During January to March we have a refit timetable for the ferries, so the hours on the mainland are severely curtailed, and often we are unable to book on the ferry for a particular day. This is part of island living, and we have become accustomed to going to the mainland and rushing around like scalded cats, trying to work our way through an extended shopping list. We usually go every six to eight weeks to stock up the cupboards.
Kirkwall has four charity shops, and I usually try to include at least two of these shops on my list. The last time we were over, I found a really pretty,small sugar bowl, which I could not resist. I do not like a lot of ornaments, (too much dusting, no time sewing!), but I knew I had to buy this one. I made a little pincushion to fit the top of it, using an idea from -
Whipup is a great site! I get so many ideas from it. I usually go on it every day, just to see what is happening.
I used the circular attachment for my machine to make the embroidery, but you can easily use a drawing pin and a bit of masking tape just as effectively. Seemingly you can use the letters on your machine to embroider circular words. Is this the next project?? Anyway, the nice thing about my sugar-bowl pincushion is that I can 'hide' my thimble, small piece of wax and a bobbin of thread under the pincushion, and they are all there ready for me to hand sew, when the notion takes me.
Hope you are having as nice a day as I am - from the gloriously sunny Island Hame.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Potato Cakes
Potato Cake recipe as promised!

  • 7-8 oz mashed potatoes
  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 2 oz butter
Boil potatoes until soft and no more. (If you make them too soft you will have soggy potato cakes!) Rub butter into flour, until it resembles bread crumbs. Add potatoes to flour mix and mash well with a fork. Form the mix into flat cakes with your hand. Fry in olive oil or butter till brown on both sides.

We had these for lunch with fried eggs, fresh laid from our two hens! Absolutely delicious. Another favourite is mashed potatoes spread out in a pan to form a large potato cake. This is fried on both sides, with the minimum of oil, till it is crusty on both sides. My stepfather's mother came from the Highlands, and she called this a shevock (don't know spelling!) We fight over the crusty bits!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

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Crayon and Pencil Roll

My camera is playing up, so you will have to wait for another day, before you can see what I was playing with today.
A few weeks ago I made a crayon roll and a pencil roll (see above) for my granddaughters, using the tutorial from this site The girls loved them. They took them on holiday, and their Mum organised activity bags for them, for using on the plane. The rolls kept all the crayons and pencils together, and it was easy to see if one was missing. Thanks Rachel!
I tried a new recipe today - Irish potato cakes. They were scrumptious. I will post the recipe later this week.
Enjoy what is left of the weekend.

Friday, 6 March 2009

My First Post.
I live in front of this bay in Orkney, so every day I wake to this view. It is hard to be depressed, when you see this every morning or night. I try to do something creative every day - embroidery, patchwork, quilting, beading. Today I created this blog to help me stay focussed, (I do have a lot of UFOs lurking in the cupboards!) and to meet old and new friends on the Net. I will not be blogging every day, but hope to keep in touch with my new or older friends. Till then, enjoy the view!
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