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 […]



“The Pen Knib Is a Bit Funny”

More wartime letters found with a dolls’ house, abandoned on the pavement outside a charity shop. The letters came from an eight year old to her father, who was in the RAF and stationed many miles from home.  Children’s wartime letters are not easy to find and give us a fascinating glimpse into lives historians […]

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…


Tom Tit Tot

For #FolkloreThursday  although this doesn’t fit in with this week’s watery theme.  Maybe it does a little, though. As spinners know, flax has to be wet to be spun effectively…  Archaeologists often recognise a characteristic groove in the teeth of flax spinners’ skulls. Here’s a small extract from my forthcoming book, ‘Their Darkest Materials’.  The […]

world war two

Tiresome Girls

We’ll be talking about some of the hidden gems to be found in the Women’s and Army archive at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, tomorrow.  We start at 2PM, Upper Dales Family History Group, Harmby Village Hall, nr Leyburn. Whilst working on the talk, we found in the archive, two rather interesting letters.  One, apparently […]


More Respectable Than Formerly

Monday 16th May, 1836 A large assortment of Pots at the Market today… but all was pretty quiet, there is no such uproar as there used to be with the Blackguards who attended. I think the Potters are rather more respectable than formerly…   [The Diary of Robert Sharp of South Cave, Life in a […]


She Prevailed

International Women’s Day today, so I thought I’d write a little about a pioneer woman in my family tree, Jane Moses Wood Roodhouse. Few letters home or journals survive from women pioneers – so it is interesting to know anything  about the day to day lives of those women who upped sticks, crossed oceans, then […]