A New Member of My Extended Family!

As some of you may know, my son Nick and his partner Jen have just got a new puppy.  A collie from working stock, who is 7 weeks old, and is called Melan.

I went over to see him on Thursday (his first visitor) and yesterday afternoon Nick and Jen brought him here.  It was the first time he had gone out into the big wide world, so their other two collies stayed at home.

My two were very interested in him.  To start with, one of us held Melan while one of my two had a nose at him.  Eilidh was fascinated, and Magnus very excited.

After a while Nick took Melan and Eilidh outside and put Melan on the ground.  Eilidh was very good, and obeyed the instructions to keep her distance until he became more confident. 

Then he became interested in her and they interacted well.  Eilidh licked his face which didn’t bother him. 

Then began to play, but Eilidh is a bit strong and rough for him at the moment.  Give him a few weeks and they will be able to wear each other out!

Meanwhile, back inside, Magnus was enjoying a cuddle with Ben!

Back inside Jen took Melan for a bit and the three dogs looked at each other and got bored with each other.

Just before they left, Ben had Melan, who loved his long hair! This will not be the last post about the dogs…!!


A Quick Photo Shoot

Elly and I had already arranged to meet for lunch this week.  When the day proved to be glorious we decided to do some pix for the Orkney book.

Those of you who follow any of my online doings will know the Peedie Sea from my dog walks.  This was the perfect setting for a fairisle skirt I have recently finished.  The pattern was taken from a sweater worn by a bloke in one of the Archive’s photos.

The skirt is knitted in DK yarn, using a dark mix for the background and a gradience set for the pattern.

Next we went along The Street (proper name Albert Street) to one of Kirkwall’s ‘monuments’, the Big Tree, which won Scottish Tree if the Year in 2017.  This 200 year old sycamore has lost the inside of its trunk, and is shored up by an iron post.  It was here I wanted to photograph a shawl knitted in a gansey pattern called Betty Martin.

Then it was on to Broad Street to St Magnus Cathedral to photograph a couple of wraps.  The front of the Cathedral has a main door flanked by two side doors, and it was here I sat Elly for pix of a wrap.

Then finally round the corner to the side of the Cathedral for some photos of the Ness of Brodgar wrap. 

The knit/purl patterns are based on the engravings on a stone found at the Ness of Brodgar archeological site.  I am also hoping to take pix of this at the dig later in the summer.  Watch this space!

This is a Holding Page!!

We were all set to launch the new website this week, but then in the final 0.001% of trouble shooting we found that all our problems were caused by an un-updated theme.

So, instead of launching this week we are starting again… SO, as a place-holder, here is a video of four of us snow mobiling last February in Norway!

The Lurdy Blanket

When I was still living on Flotta, the island heritage centre was being planned.  It consists of a typical Orkney house and byre, and the plan was to make the house as it would have been during WWII, when there were so many servicemen stationed on the island.  The byre was to be a museum.

The house still had box beds, and the craft group decided it would be nice to make squares for a blanket for one of the beds.  At one time most beds had this sort of cover, made from either scraps of fabric or from ends of wool. 

It was decided that our blanket would be made up from 4″ squares, in all shades of blue and green.  The knitted square was done diagonally so that tension or yearn weight would not matter.  The yarns used were all Shetland wool, 4 ply and DK from both Jamison’s and J&S.

I put a box in the Flotta shop with wool to take away and were worked squares could be dropped off.  It was my job to collect them and join them together.

Finally, after several years in a bag, I got round to doing this last week.  I had 216 squares, some knitted, some crocheted.  I put them all in a box and muddled them all up.  I then started joining them, taking squares randomly.  The only cheating I did was if I picked up exactly the same colour square I put it back and found another.

I worked in this way until I have 4 rows left to do.

I then sorted the remaining squares in to 4 piles, one for each row.

At this point the squares were all joined in one direction.

The next job was to join them in the other direction.

The final job was weaving in all the ends.  That took a while!  The blanket is now finished, just waiting to be washed once we get a day when it can be dried outside.

The pattern for the blanket, and more details of the working, will be in my book on Orkney knitting.  This will either be out for this Christmas, or the next!

Muddisdale Trees

The area of trees on the banks of the Muddisdale burn was planted as a Millennium project involving all the schools in Orkney.  A variety of young trees which are known to survive in sheltered conditions here were planted and nearly 20 years on the area is a well-loved, easily accessible place to walk and cycle.

I have followed with interest the winter and spring life of these trees.  Here are some piccies of some of them.

These are Ash trees, and their tight, black buds are still not out.

One tree, or bush, that grows very well here is the Willow.  It loves wet roots and stands up well to the winds.

There are a few Beech trees.  Like the Ash, Birch and Alder, they do not grow very high, because of the winds.

Much planning went in to the creation of the woodland.  The path twists and turns, and you get many mini vistas.

One of the great colonisers in Orkney is the Rosa rugosa.  This proliferates by suckers, and soon fills up space.  Some hate it, but I love it!  Flowers all summer and beautiful big hips in autumn.

The end of the area abuts the golf course – you can see a blue flag in the centre of the photo.  The grass and reeds here are not cut, and in winter the orange stems give a lovely contrast to green grass. 

There are several varieties of birch all over the area, often providing shelter for less hardy species!  I love the Silver Birches, and often find I am humming Land of the Silver Birch as I go past.  (No beaver here though!)

In amongst the various Birches are some Hazel bushes.  They are sheltered by the birch and seem to be growing well.

Finally, a couple of photos of the Alder trees.  The first shows the small ‘cones’, the fruiting bodies, and the second shows some leaves on their way out, taken the other day.

A Very Happy Easter

This year I decided to follow the German-speaking tradition and have an Easter tree.  I have been in Switzerland around Easter several times, and love the little scenes they set up in shop windows, cable car stations and everywhere else.

The decorations for my tree, the wreath and lights have come from many countries, from Latvia to China and back to the UK!  So enjoy some photos of them on this happy day.

Painting Yarn Bowls

There is a shop on The Street in Kirkwall, called Aa’ Fired Up, where you can paint pottery blanks and they fire it for you.  (There is one in Lerwick, Shetland too.)  One of the many blanks they have available is a large yarn bowl, so three of us went together to paint our own bowls.

The place is very well organised, with tables set out with the various paints and brushes.  We were told how best to proceed, and shown the reference plate with the finished paint colours, often quite different from the colour in the bottle.

We all decided to paint the inside first.  Sharon and Jackie chose a pinky-lilac colour and I chose a greeny turquoise.  We had been told to give it three coats to get the intensity shown on the plate.  The paint dried very quickly so we didn’t have to wait between coats.

Sharon and Jackie used a purple for the outside of their bowls, and both chose to screen print things on.  I used the pinky-lilac with two coats only, and then painted on some stylised lavender. 

Then we went away with instructions to come back a week later to pick up the fired pieces.

Sharon’s bowl:

Jackie’s bowl:

My bowl:

We were all very pleased with how they had turned out!