A History of Rain

It has been one of those really difficult weeks. A good friend of Tom’s has just died (an expected death, but very sad circumstances); I have been laid low with labyrinthitis (truly terrifying) and even poor Bruce is suffering (he’s been in the cone for four weeks now due to a horrible infection on his… Read More


We have been out walking along the West Highland Way near Inversnaid today, and I was put in mind of this landscape’s many famous visitors. Because of its fine views and beautiful surroundings, this was a spot much beloved of the Victorians, and particularly of literary travellers to Scotland. William Wordsworth wrote “to a Highland… Read More


In Scots, “to flit” means to move house. Scots is full of great words that were once common in many English dialects, and thinking about flitting – the process and the word – brought to mind John Clare’s great poem of the same name today. This is a poem that perfectly captures the strangeness of… Read More

Washing Day

I’ve really enjoyed reading your comments about Steamies. So many interesting snapshots of women’s lives – so different, but all connected by the necessary business of laundry! I was very struck by how so many of your comments were written from a child’s perspective: an outsider, while the bustling work of women went on around… Read More

winter afternoons

There’s a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons – That oppresses, like the Heft Of Cathedral Tunes – Heavenly Hurt, it gives us – We can find no scar, But internal difference – Where the Meanings, are – None may teach it – Any – ‘Tis the seal Despair – An imperial affliction Sent us… Read More

braid claith

Since I wrote that piece about the Yorkshire woollen trade for The Knitter a while ago, I’ve had broadcloth on my mind. Broadcloth is a traditionally woollen, and and quintessentially British fabric. As the woven wool trade developed through the Sixteenth- and Seventeenth Centuries, broadcloth, in its several grades, kinds, and colours was popularly produced… Read More


When thinking about process, there is nothing more instructive than unpicking someone else’s stitches. I found a beautiful hand-embroidered cloth on ebay. I have plans for it. The plans involve deconstructing and transforming it into something else. I began by undoing the slip stitches of its heavy, worn cord edging. Then I started to unpick… Read More