– Including an introduction to Pearl the (28K hand crank) Singer.

singer sewing machine, ukqu blog

Pearl the Singer is a new to me 28K hand crank Singer of 1910 vintage made in Clydebank, Scotland. She isn’t the most glamorous machine, with worn decals and dull metalwork, but works a treat after a good clean. I’ve had to resort to reading instructions, but somehow it was worth it to get her going.

Let’s get this clear. I don’t read instructions. At best, I look at the pictures, glance at the first few lines of text, and then just go for it. Growing up in New Zealand, where the Kiwi DIYer is legendary (if it can’t be mended with No.8 fencing wire and string, then it’s not worth fixing), and being old enough to remember the days when you couldn’t buy anything from outside New Zealand without having overseas funds, I really did develop a great “have a go”, do-it-yourself mentality.

It has therefore come as a bit of a surprise to me that recently I have been learning quite a lot of new techniques and skills in patchwork and quilting…and quite painlessly too.

I can’t resist a quilt-along (QAL), a free block of the month (BOM), or a free online class, and there are plenty of these around. What has interested me is that the ones I am most drawn to are the ones where the tutor is good at introducing new techniques.

The UKQU Continuing Development facebook group is also amazing. I confess that initially I thought this might not be for me, because I had assumed it was just about advertising or finding workshops, few of which would be accessible to me, living on one of the smaller isles of Orkney. What I’ve discovered is that there is so much more learning to be picked up in the themed discussions.   It was from this group that I heard about Kathy Shaw’s free Basic Crazy Quilting Classes. A free class? Online so I don’t have to go anywhere?  I’m in!

Sample crazy quilt block, part way through the online Basic Crazy Quilt Course

That crazy quilting class has taught me so much. I thought I could embroider OK, but now I understand techniques for neat stem stitch and almost perfect French knots. It was also my first try at ribbon embroidery. Kathy’s course allows you to work at your own pace, has excellent instructions, and you get one small chunk of learning at a time, so it doesn’t overwhelm.

I’m now hooked on crazy quilting. Embroidery, scrappy patchwork, hand-sewing and beading – four of my favourite things all rolled into one. And that is where Pearl the Singer comes in. Her first task has been helping me assemble some base blocks for my next crazy quilting explorations.

Learning isn’t such a hard job after all, when you have a wealth of great tutors available at the click of a mouse, and when you can learn while doing something you really enjoy.


  1. Jeanne Carlin

    I am so pleased I have stumbled on your blog. I have been collecting old hankies with some embroidery on them for the last few months – with the idea of doing a crazy patchwork piece. Also I am one of the Admin people for the Continuing Development page I missed the info about the on-line course. Sounds just what I need as I don’t know where to start. Please do blog some more on your crazy patchwork and how you went about it – would love to hear about that.

  2. Ruth Garner

    Pleased you have been inspired by the UKQU Continuing Development group and looking forward to reading your blog over the next year. Love Crazy Patchwork but haven’t done very much. Maybe this is the year I start!