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convicts

Work For Idle Hands

Coming up to the final stretch, so to speak, writing the next book – which is going to be about the darker side of textile history.  At the moment, I have pieces coming out about the early writers of knitting manuals, which is slightly more cheerful territory. But I’m currently researching something much darker and […]

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antique textiles convicts Knitting York

“Some Knitted Nightcaps of the Debtors”

1821 Thursday, 18th October [York] Went over the bridge at 11 ¼. Went shopping with my aunt… Walked with my aunt around the castle yard (she wanted some knitted nightcaps of the debtors)…” [Anne Lister’s Diary, p. 175 ‘The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister” (Virago, ed. Helena Whitbread)].   Reading Anne Lister’s diaries was […]

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convicts Knitting

Knitting As Punishment

MARY Bowler, a young woman and an inmate of the Faringdon Union [workhouse], was on the 5th inst., brought before the Rev. J.F.Cleaver and Sir R.G. Throckmorton, charged by the Governor with having refused to perform the work assigned her, namely, knitting socks; she was committed to Reading Gaol for 21 days’ hard labour. Jackson’s […]

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convicts History Re-enactment

Mountebank Doctors, Ladies of Easy Access and Runaway Apprentices

In June, we are travelling back in time to 1800. At Dove Cottage, in Grasmere, during Woolfest weekend, a small group of us are descending on Mr. Wordsworth’s neighbour, Mr. Fisher, and we hope to spin on the Great Wheel and knit, 1800-style. There may be some undesirable beggars a-calling, as Miss Dorothy Wordsworth describes […]

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Castles n stuff convicts Genealogy History local history

Night Poaching Exploits of George Debnam

Apologies to descendents of George Debnam, who may stumble on this.   Not sure how I’d feel if this was my ancestor – yet it is one intriguing aspect to genealogy.You never really know what you’re going to find. I wanted to find out more about the man my ancestor John Fisher was (allegedly) assaulted by, […]

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Castles n stuff convicts Genealogy History local history

Fisticuffs, 1833 Style.

My favourite ancestor, John Fisher, has just done it again, and given me another glimpse into his life, and personality. And what a personality. I thought I had found everything there was to find, on John. After all, few 19thC farm labourers left much of a paper trail. I counted myself lucky to find his […]

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convicts handspinning History Knitting

Stonebreaking, Picking Oakum or… Knitting?

For those of you looking forward to the forthcoming TV drama,  based on Kate Summerscale’s brilliant book, ‘The Suspicions of Mr Whicher’, here’s a little something I stumbled upon. Knitting hasn’t always been a genteel, calming pursuit for nice ladies round the fireside. At one time, it was considered punishment. At York House of Correction: […]