Sunday, 11 March 2018

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam a lot to buy it for me & she traded in her Jones treadle to buy it. I wish I had offered to pay for to keep it but I suppose that's the thoughtlessness of youth.

I learned to sew from about 5 years old with my Nana's Jones treadle, my Mam had learned to sew on it too & so did my sister. In the days before telly we spent hours sewing & knitting together. I remembered watching with horror the time my Mam got the sewing machine needle through her finger nail! Don't know how it didn't put me off.

I decided I didn't want a gold watch for my 21st as most people did I preferred a sewing machine. I loved it! Such a gorgeous colour and my how it stitched! It could zig zag & embroider and it has made hundreds of things from my mini dresses, wedding & bridesmaids' dresses in the sixties, curtains, cushions, dresses & trousers for me & my children in the seventies & in the eighties I did a City & Guilds Fashion & Design 3 year course. My the machine got some hammer during that course.  

Apart from when the electric foot control broke the machine never flackered until I got it out about a year ago & discovered there was a screw missing from the stitch lever. Just a tiny screw but it stopped the stitch setting working properly although you could still sew with it.

Well I started a quilting class a couple of months ago & wondered whether I should treat myself to a new lightweight machine to carry to the classes as mine is quite heavy with the case on it.

Next I spent hours looking at reviews on the Internet (as you do) & it looked as though most of the cheaper ones weren't worth the money. I didn't want to spend too much on one so I looked into getting the part for the machine. Well that was another hunt that took hours! Although the machine was made in Scotland it's hard to find replacement parts in the UK. I found one on a website in the US but it was going to cost a heck of a lot just for a tiny part so I gave up. I thought about buying an old 338 just to get the part but they all looked in poor condition on ebay & they weren't cheap either. So I was back to square one.

I started looking at vintage sewing machine websites, by this time I was hooked on them, finding out more about them & how they were built to last unlike the pastic stuff being sold now. Well I found one UK website, it belongs to Helen Howes, a lady who is really into restoring these fabulous machines. Well she has some beauties which she has lovingly restored for sale here & I drooled over the Jones treadle machine I learned to sew on as well a most of the others here

So I started browsing the rest of the site & found she also has parts for sale. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the exact part I needed for the princely sum of £1! I rang her, she posted it to me & last night I fitted it & voila! It restored the machine to working order perfectly, now the stitch lever works like a dream. Hard to believe I could be so delighted, more delighted than if I had won the lottery. 

Can you believe a machine doesn't work properly, all for the sake of a tiny screw you can see here.

So now I can start quilting properly! The sewing saga continues & I think it will have to go into the box with me when I go. Hard to believe you can get so attached to something mechanical but I am, I love it probably because I know it cost my Mam a lot to buy it for me back then. Then I think of all the things I have made or repaired with it, such memories. I hope Mam knows it was been worth every penny!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Snow in Venice?

When I think of Venice I tend to think of blue skies & sunshine, most times I've visited that's how it's been. 

Although I have been there when it has rained but it still looks beautiful under grey skies.

A rainbow over the lagoon looked really lovely.

My husband has never been to Venice so I booked a few days there for us later this month. However at the moment it's snowing there! St Mark's Square is covered apparently so the expensive coffee shops are empty and gondolas must be having a hard time. Who wants to freeze in a gondola!

Now photographs of Venice in the snow will be very interesting, I'd love to take some but I'm not sure my husband will appreciate more snow. We've had enough of it already this week!

I don't like breaking copyright & pasting photos that are not mine but there are some beauties of snow in Venice here 

Thursday, 22 February 2018


After I lost Oscar I didn't want to replace him for a long time but I do miss having a cat. 

My daughter was the same after her cat Zara had to be put to sleep. However she decided she would get two rescue kittens and here they are, Ginny the tortoiseshell & George the ginger tom.

Claire bought a sort of  tree house for them & below George is coiffuring his tail in the top section. The cushion needed to be covered so I made a cover & then crocheted another multi coloured one to go on top. George laid claim to the top of the tree!

It has a lower crescent shaped section & Ginny seemed to be relegated to it. I made a cotton cover but shrunk from doing a crochet one.

Eventually I gave in & made a crescent shaped one. Not exactly perfect, I had no pattern. 

As you can see below it was an instant success & was much appreciated by Ginny!

 Mostly I have been knitting & crocheting with the charity craft group. I like knitting these as they can be made so quickly & look so sweet.

It's hard to believe but this wool we have been using is really cheap and it's lovely quality. We've been getting it from Poundworld I think, I always get mixed up but I think Poundland do wool too. It's only £2 for 3 balls, amazing quality.

I'm still struggling on with the gansey I'm ashamed to say. I'm blaming the bad light as it's very difficult to knit navy wool in artificial light. I make too many mistakes! Also the fact I hate doing circular knitting. I'm on to the sleeves now & have had to abandon the circular needle & go for a set of aluminium couble pointed needles which I can manage a little better but I still don't like thid type of knitting. Would have been much quicker to just knit the pieces separately & have seams, I never mind sewing things up. Also you can hide the ends of the wool in seams much easier! 
Now the days are getting longer I'm going to have to do more or pardon the pun I'll miss the boat!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Roy Orbison

When I was a teenager I had lots of lovely LPs with their beautiful covers and one of my favourite singers was Roy Orbison. I was lucky enough to see him a few times and probably the most memorable time was October 1963 at the City Hall in Newcastle when he appeared with the Beatles. We had bought the tickets to see Roy Orbison but by the time the concert came around the Beatles had risen to great fame.

I loved the Beatles & their performance was great, well what you could hear of it. The girls were screaming and jumping on their seats but still I enjoyed the experience.  However when Roy Orbison sang you could a pin drop. The audience just sat throughout his performance watching & listening. It was on that tour that he struck up the friendship with The Beatles which lasted & he eventually joined the Travelling Wilbury's with George Harrison.

Well I bought a Roy Orbison CD quite a long time ago which I have enjoyed but recently I haven't been listening to much music other than on the car radio. A few weeks before Christmas I was driving along listening to Radio 2 (I abandoned Radio 1 a long time ago, you do as you get older) and I heard Roy Orbison singing I Drove All Night but there was something different about the recording. The magnificent voice was the same but there was a longer orchestral introduction and the background music was much better than I remembered. It was from a new recording of Roy Orbison songs on a CD, A Love So Beautiful, produced with Roy Orbison's sons and featuring the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra. I remembered they had made a record last year with Elvis' songs which was really good. They've made a brilliant job of this one too with all my favourite songs. Strangely enough I Drove All Night wasn't one of my favourites but it is now.

So the CD was my Christmas present and a fantastic one it is too. The orchestra doesn't overpower the wonderful singing it just adds another layer to it and really enhances all the songs. I love it and I bet Roy Orbison would have too.

What I'm not so sure about is the holographic tour they are doing. I think it would be lovely to see him again performing with the orchestra but I'm not so sure how I would feel afterwards knowing it wasn't real. It's thirty years since he died and maybe it would be quite upsetting, almost like going back in time to when you were a teenager and then suddenly you're back to the present and ancient!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Blue Planet 2

What a fantastic series Blue Planet II has been. 

The beautiful photography and wonderful presentation by David Attenborough has resulted in a fantastic series that entertains, educates and saddens us seeing what's happening to our world with the changes to the oceans.

There are some amazing clips of strange things that happen in the sea. One memorable one is the poor king penguins tripping through & trying not to wake the sleeping giants. Another was of a fish that shocked me, it was the bird eating fish just leaping into the air and its mouth opening to swallow birds. Awful! You can see all the clips here. 

The final programme tonight was raising awareness of what's happening to our oceans and the effects on us all. Colossal amounts of rubbish including plastic is being dumped in the sea and being digested by fish so we will be eating the plastic they have digested. Sea temperatures are rising which is not just killing the life in the oceans but will lead to raised sea levels which by the end of the century will put huge areas of countries under the sea.  

It's our everyday choices that can make a difference. I knew about this but watching a programme like this brings the horror home. Yet simple things like choosing cotton buds with cardboard sticks not the plastic ones, eat sustainably caught fish and if you live near the sea volunteering to help with a beach clean up can make a difference. That's something I plan to do in the New Year, I don't make New Year resolutions but I do make some plans & that's one.

Another thing I currently do is being a bit more political and signing petitions. I get lots now from organisations like, and At least you feel like you have a voice and some petitions have been really successful. This is one good thing that you can do with the Internet in contrast to the awful things that it's used for.

If you haven't seen the Blue Planet II series it's well worth watching.

The future of our world depends on us & we can make a difference. On that pretentious sounding statement I'll finish!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance Sunday


By Special Collections Toronto Public Library from Toronto, Canada (In Flanders' Fields)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. 
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, 
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae (1915)

During the early days of the second battle of Ypres, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer a young Canadian artillery officer was killed when a German shell exploded at his feet. A close friend of his was Major John McCrae, a Canadian military doctor and artillery commander who officiated at his burial. The next morning John McCrae wrote the poem which is one of the most famous war poems ever written which inspired the use of the poppy as a symbol of rememberance.

Sadly he died in January 1918 of pneumonia and meningitis in Wimeraux, France. He was 45 years old.

You can read more about John McCrae's life here. There are some wonderful photographs of him, his dog & also his horse. 

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...