Shetland knitters, embroidery stitches and a slow and sleepy Sunday……..

sound asleep


Sunday is nearly over and I’m not sure where the weekend has gone…..though one of us has spent the time sleeping and recovering from a trip at the start of the week to the cat dentist!  (4 teeth removed and a de-scale and polish….sadly no “look at my smile” sticker on the side of his basket when I went to collect him)….he’s still somewhat drowsy and a bit slow moving, but his appetite is back and he’s making fast work of emptying his food bowl.


lavender embroidery up close


I seem to have spent a lot of the weekend un-picking embroidery that wasn’t really working out as well as it looked in my head…sadly the reality didn’t match up to my glorious imaginings …to begin with I tried to be all frugal and un-pick what I’d sewn but then I just got all fed up, so out came the embroidery scissors and snipped out the stitches…..I’m embroidering a cafetiere cover for a commission and the design has been left up to me which you’d think would make it easier but not so.  A lot of tea has been drunk in trying to get the design to work, so far to no avail.

While I’ve been sewing and un-picking, I’ve had the chance to listen to a lovely series that was on Radio Scotland, it’s called Our Story, part six is all about Shetland knitting.  I read about it on Ella Gordon’s blog (she’s one of the knitters interviewed for the program).  It was great to listen to, learning a little about the history of knitting in that region and the importance it had for people’s livelihoods….but also how important it still is today…one of the nicest parts for me was to just listen to the actual voices….the love and joy of knitting and wool came through so much on the the program. Everyone was so enthusiastic, I couldn’t help smiling listening to it.

One of the ladies on the program was knitting using a leather knitting belt, and it made me think back to the start of last year when me and a friend went to The Time and Tide Museum in Gt Yarmouth…’s a local museum which really centres on the fishing community of Gt Yarmouth.  One of the exhibitions had a case in it with items relating to whale fishing and near to that there was a small piece about the women and girls who used to gut and sort the herrings.  In their case was a selection of old knitting needles and some of these knitting belts, it may be my memory playing tricks on me but I’m pretty sure it said that many of the women used to travel down from Scotland to do the herrings.  Anyway, the radio program is available to listen to for another 29 days and it really is well worth it, even if you aren’t a knitter it’s still very interesting…..I ended up listening to a couple of other episodes and the one about the draper’s van was so heartfelt and sad, it reminded me so much of growing up in my village, when we had a bread van and the fish man, the coal man and the Corona man….


nine joined blocks


I’ve also been trying out new combinations for “dear ethel”……. one of my friends came round for a catch up on Friday and she hadn’t seen the patchwork blocks, so out they all came and they were then spread out over the carpet as well as they could be (they kind of take up a lot of space when they are all laid out)….I was explaining that I didn’t really know what to do with regards to sashing or not, I sort of want to sew the blocks all together but at the same time I think that might not work so well, not because the colour combinations might be too much (hmmm it would look rather colourful and then some besides) but more because the blocks themselves might not look so defined…..


mrs miller


One of my initial ideas for sashing was to sew 1/2 an inch of different coloured fabric round each block but I now think that might be too messy and that perhaps sashing of one colour would be best (with tiny inch squares using the different fabrics in the patchwork where the sashing meets at the corners)…but then which colour to use….

I don’t really care for anything like white or cream (knowing Bernard he’d soon make it all puggy and mucky) and am thinking about a pale grey….hmmmmm I know I’ll just have to bundle up the blocks and take them with me to my local quilt shop next time I go to Bungay and test them out.

I still want to make a border of flying geese to edge the patchwork with.  I can’t believe I actually thought I was a good halfway through the quilt, but with sashing to sew and a border to make, and then the quilting, I can see it will still be a good while before this goes on our bed.


mrs bryan and others 015


I don’t ever begrudge the time spent sewing patchwork though, I’m all for slow sewing…..whether it’s the constant repetition of small stitches in quilting, or the movements in wrapping the thread round the needle for fancy embroidery stitches, there is something so relaxing and satisfying in these small details that form most of my work.  I don’t mind if something takes a while to make, though obviously if it’s being made to sell it’s difficult to cost accordingly…… but inevitable the way I prefer or which I find gives the nicest result is the way that takes up a lot of time….slow is the way I tend to do most things, even the way I make bread now takes the best part of the day (though I can use the proving and rising time to do other things).


stretchy kitty


This brings me in part a little to my grannies paperweight blanket…it’s now coming up to it’s second birthday and it’s not finished yet……there are still umpteen woolly tails to sew in, even more than before now I’ve made and joined in the half hexagons along the top and bottom……but even though it’s not finished we are able to have it on the bed (the tails being on the back so they don’t show)…

This isn’t a blanket that you make in a weekend and whenever I’ve read about anyone else making one they also mention the time factor with this pattern…but rather than seeing the time involved as a bad thing, as a negative, maybe it should be celebrated……..”slow crochet” could become it’s own movement like “slow sewing”.

Making this slowly I’ve been able to buy and add wool as and when I was able to afford it (using tapestry wool bought from jumble sales, charity shops, car boots etc made this much more affordable….the wool for the blanket top is well under £100, and yes that is more than if I had used acrylic but I really don’t like using that, and I like the softer feel of wool).  But I’m also happy to put it away when it’s too warm to work on and pick up patchwork for “dear ethel” instead…….


second segment


I know the thought of sewing in the woolly tails of some thousand (4200 and counting thank you for asking…) ends of coloured wool is a bit of a turn off to any right minded thinking person, but please don’t let that put you off making one of these beauties…..if you join clusters of 7 hexagons flowers together as you make them, and then sew the tails in when each cluster is made you’ll find it a lot less daunting…..and I know there are a few ways where you work the tails in as you crochet so you don’t have tails to sew in at the end (though whenever I’ve tried doing this I end up with a big fat sausage side to my work…however it may just be me doing something very wrong)


dresden plates 014


It used to be, when trying to finish something, all the reasons of why I was making it seemed to go out the window, all in the idea of getting it made as quickly as possible, and then on to the next thing…….and before I knew it I had a pile of half finished things that I really didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm to ever finish.  Over the past few years I’ve tried harder to not start new things just to do new things, to appreciate more the making and why I’m making rather than buying…..half finished things that were just making me feel miserable that the enthusiasm for had died (and which I knew I’d never get round to completing) have gone to the charity shop and I’ve left myself maybe half a dozen smaller projects along with the blanket and some patchwork pieces that I really love and know will see the light of day.

To finish our slow Sunday, we’ve got a butter bean and squash casserole for supper, the squash was slowly roasted in the oven yesterday and the rest of the casserole has slowly been cooking this afternoon o the top of the stove…the kitchen smells lovely, warm and comforting, bread is baking in the oven.  So even though I’ve not ticked off half the chores and want to do’s on my list I feel quite content.


9 thoughts on “Shetland knitters, embroidery stitches and a slow and sleepy Sunday……..

  1. mmmm, I’m certainly guilty of having too many wip’s. My crochet blanket always seems to be put aside to make way for something else!! The hexagons are certainly lovely, I don’t envy you the ends though!! I hope you cat is soon back to normal. xx

    1. Lol, oh yes he’s feeling much better thank you, my hands and arms have been thoroughly mauled trying to retrieve some tempting wool from his little paws!
      Regarding wip’s, I just have to be more strict with myself in only making things that give me the greatest pleasure in making (or getting to use….when I knit it’s almost painful for people to watch as I’m so slow and have to write down which row I’m on all the time…but I love using dish cloths I’m made myself so I figure it’s always worth the effort)…watching Colin Firth in Georgian leggings always seems to help the tails sew in more pleasurably.

      1. aagh knitting… I can do simple things but it is just way too slow for me, or I am too slow for it! give me crochet any day! I have been wondering about crocheting both dish and wash cloths, I’ve got the yarn and pinned plenty of patterns but haven’t got any further. Too many wip’s !!! xx

  2. I came across your patchwork by coincidence and completely smitten with your charming delightful use of colors and fabrics. Beautiful kitty and equally lovely Crochet blanket 🙂

  3. Your Sunday sounds like a lovely day. I do like the slow sewing and crocheting concept, although I do find I have to keep going with a project once I start because if I lose momentum I struggle to finish. I’m hoping to get a reasonable way with my paperweights in the next few months, with the idea of getting to a small throw size and then being able to ‘use’ it and gradually enlarge around the edges! I’m very much enjoying all your colourful creations – your Dear Ethel is coming on beautifully and I always love Dresdens. I shall certainly listen to the radio program too. Thank you for the link 🙂

    1. I generally have a couple of projects on the go at any one time, partly so if I get achy hands sewing I can switch over to crochet, and some things need to be made upstairs and other things I can work on while watching a film downstairs (too many pins get dropped near the sofa apparently so for a quiet life I tend to save the sewing for upstairs…or at least when he’s at work)…..The majority of my sewing is what would be considered “slow sewing” though really that’s a fancy name for how I just sew naturally…when I try to sew faster the seams are wobbly and I end up having to unpick everything. Hope you liked the radio program, the other episodes in that series are lovely to listen to as well….local accents are always great to hear.

  4. Oh,, I do love that blanket… I don’t mind sewing in those ends. Like you, I’m a “slow-crochet” person, working on a project when it calls me. I always leave a few tails to sew in, so that when I pick up a project after a long time, I can sew them in and get re-acquainted with the feel of the colours of the project.

    1. Normally I don’t mind sewing them in, but these are just taking me the longest time….it doesn’t help that when I’m trying to sew the tails in Bernard gets on the blanket for a nap then gets all grouchy when I try to move him off x

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