antique textiles handspinning

Fortune Favours The Spinster

Soon I will be working on a project replicating some Roman linen, found in a stone sarcophagus a metre from my childhood garden. Turns out, a lost Roman road ran along the width of our old orchard and high status burials were found along it. Thereby hangs a fascinating tale but I’ll tell it sometime […]

antique textiles

The Colour Green

” Apparently, whenever the council painted something – whether it was a tenant’s door, a park bench or a lamp-post, they were flooded with complaints if they painted it green. Most complaints came from Hull’s elderly residents, and after a while it slowly dawned on the council that ‘it was something to do with trawling.’…”

antique textiles Their Darkest Materials

Their Darkest Materials Update

We’re in the very final stages now with the next book, ‘Their Darkest Materials’. It’s a kind of ‘Horrible History’ for grown-ups and explores the darkest side of textile history.  If you want people falling into machinery; murderous but mesmerising soldiers; murders solved by stocking locations; cunning thefts of worsted and wool embezzlement;  bewitched spinning […]

antique textiles Their Darkest Materials

“Their Darkest Materials”

I knew all along I wanted to publish this one myself. It represents a lot of hard work and research, started around 2011 and is my (admittedly rather scary) baby that I didn’t want to entrust to anyone else.  My favourite writers in this field publish themselves, presumably for similar reasons, as all of us are widely published elsewhere, by others, for articles, etc.  But this book?  I want to do this myself.

antique textiles West

The Donner Party and the Doll – podcast

In 1846, a wagon train left Illinois, on the trail to California and Oregon. It was to be a disastrous journey, doomed by in-fighting, delays and one catastrophically poor decision to follow an untested ‘short cut’, ‘the Hastings Cut Off’. Within 100 miles of their destination, the Donner-Reed Party was trapped in deep snow in […]

antique textiles History Textile Arts wool

“Don’t know where the snow falls from”

Let’s step outside the 1940s stuff, today and talk about something else. Am about to raise some money to publish the new book (I will go on about it here and on social media,  when the Kickstarter is live, hopefully in the next week). If reaction at the barnstorming talk about it we did last […]

antique textiles dolls and dolls' houses


  Today, we’re back in 1942, with eight year old Brenda, who lived in Surrey. She seems to have been in hospital and was now convalescing after a small operation and to cheer her up, her father – an upholsterer by trade but currently in the RAF – made her curtains for her dolls’ house.  […]

antique textiles world war two

Back Inside the Paracosm

Re-publishing an old post as I meant to do a series of these several years back, then got distracted. I know I have some newer followers who may have missed this. A few years back, I got an old dolls’ house on eBay.  It was a simple, orange-crate homemade dolls’ house but it came with […]

antique textiles Historical Dolls

The Small Woman

Just out, my article in ‘PieceWork’, Fall 2019:

A piece about the Donner Party’s smallest and most unlikely survivor…

antique textiles band weaving Uncategorized

Weaving Silk Ribbons – and the Curious Phenomenon of Late Eighteenth Century Automata

A while back, I was researching late 18thC/early 19thC automata, after coming across an advert in a Georgian issue of one of the York newspapers, for an exhibition of them – there will be more on this in my upcoming book. The idea of some room in a cramped Georgian house, by the city walls, […]