Saturday, 22 October 2011


A few years ago I sang with the band Shoormal.  The music doesn't really fit neatly into any genre, it tends to go under "contemporary folk", but has many influences including from folk, country and jazz with harmony vocals being a major part in each song.  You can hear the music on Shoormal's myspace page.

Gregg Arthur (keyboard, accordian, hammond organ, bascially anything with keys); Jonathan Ritch (bass); Freda Leask (vocals); Archer Kemp (drums); Trevor Smith (guitar); Me (vocals); Gordon Tulloch (guitar); Joyce Wark (vocals)
Photo: Heidi Pearson

We recorded 3 CDs, Indigo Skies, Migrant and Turning Tide.  The first, Indigo Skies was nominated for best newcomer in Mike Harding's Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2001.  You can buy Migrant and Turning Tide from various places including Amazon, and you can download various tracks from there too - it sems strange to think when we first started we used tapes to record new songs and ideas!  The first album Indigo Skies sold out but is due to be rereleased soon.

We travelled a little bit during our time as a band, the photo below shows us in the Hilton Hotel in Austin, Texas.

                                          Photo: Davie Gardner

We had many band practices and many laughs along the way.  Here are some of us at Gregg's before he revamped his sitting room.

Due to pressures of business combined with the fact I am not a bit fan of performing (not a good trait if you are in a band) I "retired".  The band has continued to play in a scaled down format and with one or two different members, and played at events this summer under the name of "Freda Leask and the Shoormal Band".  A facebook page has been set up so you can find out where they are playing, updates on re-releases and other music related news.  Hop over there and have a look! 

Shoormal: A Shetland dialect word meaning where the shore meets the sea.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Project - Peerie Breeks for Peerie Breeks

While England is baking in sun, in Shetland we are experiencing wind and rain (it is October after all), what better way to spend an afternoon like that than doing a bit of sewing while staying cosy inside.

A few days ago I made a peerie pair of breeks (a little pair of trousers) for Joseph. To explain the title in Shetland we would affectionately call a little person "Peerie Breeks" (little trousers).

I had a scrap of light denim left over from a coat I cut out but never got around to sewing (one of my UFOs, I must look for it) and used a pattern I downloaded from Make Baby  The pattern is free and can be printed on 2 sheets of A4 paper.

I added a couple of inches at the bottom of the pattern and straightened out the bottom so I could create turnups which could be turned down as Joseph grows.  Only 2 pieces are needed as the pattern is placed on the fold:

To add a bit of interest I added fabric stars to the knees by ironing some bondaweb onto a piece of scrap grey fabric, cutting out two stars then ironing them onto the denim.  I stitched around the edges of the stars with a zig zag sttich to finish them off and to stop the edges peeling off.

I thought I would attempt to sew the trousers with french seams, I have never tried this before but it worked out very well.

Firstly you place the wrong sides of the fabric together, stitch along the seam half the width of the seam allowance, turn the pieces outside in then stitch the seam again the width of half the seam allowance.  I found I needed to trim the first seam.  I turned up about a centimetre along the bottom then stitched them, once the rest of the trousers were finished I turned up about an inch and handstitched along the edge to create the turnups.

I wasn't sure what to do between the legs but it was obvious once I got there (although too difficult to explain!)

Once the seams were all sewn together I turned the waistband over twice and stitched along both folded edges leaving a gap of a couple of cm so the elastic could be threaded through using a safety pin.

Once the bottom hems were done I needed a lttle model.

He seems quite happy with them.  Altogether they only took a couple of hours, sometimes the planning and gathering the sewing equipment together takes the longest, so I hope to make a few more pairs during the rainy afternoons.  I hope I have inspired you to do a bit of sewing.

It is still lashing rain and howling a gale out there, so I am off to look out that cashmerino yarn I ordered to start the next project while drinking copious amounts of tea and I might just have to eat that bit of millionaire shortbread that has been staring me out all afternoon. 

Well, it is one of those nights!