Glasgow’s atelier economy: then and now

Today I thought I’d share with you the introductory words I wrote for People MAKE Glasgow . For me – a former eighteenth-century specialist – the connections between Glasgow’s eighteenth-century past and its twenty-first century present have always been apparent, and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to write about those connections here. People MAKE…

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Lunardi in Campsie

The revival of my eighteenth-century balloon-o-mania was inspired after some recent walks around Clachan of Camspie and Milton of Campsie (just north and east of where we live) during which I discovered that that balloonist, Vincent Lunardi, landed in Campsie Glen at the conclusion of his second flight from Glasgow in November 1785. After wowing…

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balloons

I’ve a long-held fascination with late eighteenth-century hot air balloons and ballooning. In fact, I’ve even knitted an eighteenth-century balloon (in a square of our International Women’s Day blanket, which references the Montgolfier balloon that appears in the final lines of Anna Laetitia Barbauld’s brilliant poem, Washing Day) In the past few weeks, my historic…

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keeping shop

As part of my research for the introduction to our People Make Glasgow book, I’ve been doing some highly enjoyable work poking about the city’s eighteenth and nineteenth-century post office directories, which provide intriguing lists of Glasgow’s merchants, manufacturing and retail businesses (much like the yellow pages). Looking at these directories across a century or…

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over again

When do you read something over again? There are crime novels to which I frequently return (those of Josephine Tey and Marjorie Allingham are particular favourites) and, when I’m ill or low, I often pick up books enjoyed in childhood (Paul Gallico, Giovanni Guareschi). My main reading for pleasure now tends to be non-fiction, and…

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Float in the wind, flicker in the breeze

Hello! It’s Michelle here. Today I’d like to share some words and images about suffrage spectacle and visual identity, a topic that recently came back to my mind through Kate’s writing in her Wheesht essay ‘Elevate’ on Ann Macbeth’s collaborative suffrage quilt. Anne Macbeth’s suffrage quilt as a suffrage banner. © Museum of London The…

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Women Who Would Not Sit Still

The Five Sisters window in York Minster is dedicated to all 1,513 women of the British Empire who lost their lives serving in the First World War. The existing 13th century window was restored and rededicated with funds raised by public appeal, and unveiled on 24 June 1925. Image: © John Scurr (WMR-30648), Imperial War…

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Mood Indigo

(top illustration: William Simpson, An Indigo Factory in Bengal (1863) I am currently completing a design project using yarn that has been dyed with natural indigo by my friends at Shilasdair. As I’ve knitted, I’ve often found myself thinking about the links between Scotland and natural indigo dye. Indigo isn’t, of course, a Scottish plant…

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Helen Robertson

If you’ve read my introduction to The Book of Haps then you’ll already have come across Helen Robertson – a Shetland artist and craftswoman whose work I deeply admire. Working with silver wire and other precious materials, Helen has developed a uniquely thoughtful aesthetic which celebrates, commemorates and reflects upon Shetland’s history and heritage –…

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Estonian Knitting I: Traditions and Techniques

Years ago, I wrote the occasional piece for Selvedge. I pitched a few ideas to them for short features which combined the history of knitted textiles with some account of how they were actually made, but was told that any sort of technical instruction was verboten “we aren’t interested in how-tos.” But why not, I…

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Journal des Dames et des Modes

Over the past few months, while working on the project that has now become The Book of Haps, I’ve examined countless images of wrappable textiles. I’ve encountered many ways to wear such textiles, and also reflected on the many different contexts for their wearing. Some of these groups of images were very useful for me,…

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In the steps of Jane Gaugain

Wow, everyone! Thankyou so very much for your comments and emails in response to my last post. I’ve been really overwhelmed (and very moved) to read the diverse experiences of so many people who have knit that pattern, or had it knitted for them. Reading all your messages reminds me just how much I love…

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