Started spinning around 1984 when I stumbled into a craft shop in the Piece Hall, Halifax and bought a hand spindle.

Many years later, discovered I descend from two weavers who had a business there in the 1790s.

I started out doing 17thC living history and was a member of the UK’s (world’s?) first ever living history camp in 1980. These days I can be found doing early 19thC living history. We also do talks in full 1810-ish costume.

I spin on spindles, a chair wheel, a 19thC flax wheel from the Dales, and a great wheel. Sometimes dye and weave. I weave on reproduction 18thC tape loom and a rigid heddle loom.

Recent convert to machine knitting. Have a Griswold csm (circular sock machine) and a number of flatbed knitting machines, mainly Japanese vintage ones.

Research in archives, libraries and museum backrooms across the UK.  Check out Publications page for info about my writing.

We now run our own printing press, Pretty Baa Lambs. We live in North Yorkshire, by the river.


13 replies on “ABOUT”

I came across your blog while looking for ‘Storm gansey pattern Robin Hood Bay’ I don’t think you are too far away? I have been trying to get the yarn to make another storm gansey as the yarn I have previously used is too soft and I would like to make the traditional gansey with a gansey yarn! I have the Storm pattern from Marjorie Fewster and have made 4 for the Storm boys in the family but I had 2 sons and my elder son has 3 sons it amounts to a few more ganseys to make. Please could you advise where I may obtain the yarn – Bobbins of Whitby seem to have closed?


Re your blog on 12 June 2010 on “The knitting sheath”. Robert Humphries was my great grandfather. Thank you for drawing my attention to this: as an avid reader of “British 19th Century Newspapers online” I suppose I might have found it one day, but my main research interests lie elsewhere, beyond family history. Recently, though, I have spent quite a long time looking into my mother’s family history, and I found your blog while ideally googling while on the phone to Robert’s grand daughter, my aunt! The serendipity of the internet is a wonderful thing!


Re. Six Degrees of Separation? WARNING: convoluted (posted on the Family Tree forum of 2008)

This is long and arduous, I do apologise. But I had to reply!

I think your aforementioned post is very correct, and here is some additional proof and possibly another twist.

My family is from Australia and there is a link back to what you are addressing.

A sister of a direct ancestor of mine (Isabella Julia Lukin) married a Barnard Drummond Clarkson. His Clarkson family are from Foggathorpe in Yorkshire, related to Barnard Clarkson of Holme and Barnard Clarkson of Kelfield Hall (that you mention).

As for your supposition that Devorah Wilberfoss is a Wilberforce you are more than likely correct. A number of Clarksons that arrived in Australia from the Barnard Clarkson lineage bore the middle name ‘Wilberforce’, and furthermore when settled in Australia named their estate in York Western Australia ‘Wilberforce’. A number of the Clarkson girls were also named Deborah.

One child was even named William Wilberforce Clarkson, and another Deborah Wilberforce Clarkson.

Here’s where is gets weird. As I have stated, a sister of my direct ancestor is Isabella Julia Lukin who married Barnard Drummond Clarkson.

Barnard’s father holds the Clarkson connection, however his mother, Jane Drummond has a Sewell connection!

Barnard Drummond Clarkson’s mother is Jane Drummond. Jane’s brother is James Drummond who married Martha Ann Sewell. Martha Sewell’s family traces back to a John Sewell from England born in 1785. Could John Sewell be the brother of George Sewell?

It is interesting to note that John Sewell (1785) named one of his sons George Sewell. And also that the Sewell/ Clarkson families of Australia lived in a town called Beverley, West Australia and a town called York in West Australia (as per their location of Beverley, York in England).

Mysterious really 🙂


Wow! So we may have a tenuous Sewell connection as well! Fascinating.

I always thought Barnard must have been well aware of ‘the Dunhill gang”s existance, long before the (1813?) incident. And I have come across story that Dunhill’s wife found methodism during his first trip to Aus…. One of the Barnards at least was a keen lay preacher… Does make you wonder.

I go up to Kirkham Priory a lot with the kids and it’s weird to think one of dad’s long lost relatives once owned all that!

Re/ Deborah WIlberfoss, for a long time I thought she was my blood relative, as I came across her as Deborah Guy (my dad is related to the Guys via the Heptons, our direct line). Then someone pointed out she had been married before she wed Clarkson – to Marmaduke Guy.

The Guys also come to Kelfield around the 1790s. Weirdest coincidence of all is – my dad is generally speaking from the other end of Yorkshire. Only at one point (Bubwith, then Kelfield) do his ancestors get close to mum’s (Stillingfleet, Cawood and Kelfield) – and one of his ancestors, Robert Guy, married one of mum’s – Jane Fisher. Another marriage across the social divide too as her parents are farm labourers, later ‘pauper’ and he has Auburn Hall in Kelfield. Robert seems to also have been a methodist. Seems that methodism dissolved the social barriers!


Walter and Mary Jane lived in Filey, but Mary Jane’s family, which was Major, was from North Burton. Mary Jane’s mother remarried Robinson and was in Filey when she died. She had been a publican at the Star Inn.


Penelope, I was looking for information on Walter and Fred Fisher, more in a family tree sense, than knitting, as some of Walter’s wife Mary Jane’s family came to New Zealand 150 years ago. We, the descendants are celebrating their arrival this October and were curious to know if there are any living members of that family still in England?


I love your blog, Penelope! How can I follow/subscribe? I don’t see a link that allows me to do so.

I’ve always had the hots for Morris Dancers…any men who will dress up in traditional clothing and caper about for our entertainment – they’re all right by me!


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