Wednesday, 30 November 2011


  If you saw this sign above a shop, could you guess what they sold inside??  Well, come to Silver Street in Bradford on Avon and explore this great new shop - I almost wrote emporium, because as you trawl through its stock you realise that it is one of the most useful places you could find to source everything to do with knitting and sewing - the range is wide and interesting and right up to date - in the last week I have found pale silky ribbons, sewing machine needles for sewing jeans and denim, and monster reels of thread in every colour - while there I was tempted by so many novel and useful ideas for trimming and finishing sewing works,  braids of cut-out jumping reindeer asking to be fixed to cakes, crackers and knitted hats and gloves,
buttons, hooks, eyes, zips and all haberdashery.  The welcome was charming and these girls know what they are selling and doing and they have lots of workshops for would -be sewing students of all ages - good fun and a good way to make new friends in the town.  This is saving me long and expensive shopping trips to Bath so I am really grateful for this new addition to the many  snall speciality shops we are lucky to have here in Bradford on Avon, all with helpful and friendly owners.Ring 01225 866 033 for more info. Jumble Jelly,10 Silver Street, BonA .BA15 1JY

Monday, 28 November 2011


This picture, reproduced in a thumbnail size on a back page of W.of  I. was my introduction to buyers in the U.S.  I knew they were all very keen on the original tickings that their ancestors had brought with them when they colonized America, but I had no idea that they were hungry for new patterns that they had never imagined or seen before and were anxious to copy as soon as they could, before their rivals got hold of them.   I was very gratified to have visits from all the top decorators you might have heard of; Lauren, Klein, Brunschwig and many others.  They were all very charming and seemed to enjoy a visit away from London 'and down in the sticks' and  they all asked me for little samples of as many as I would give them - but by this time I had become a canny dealer and would only let them have the whole piece - no messing about with little samples!   I, myself, was so surprised to discover much later, that there was still a wealth of much more elaborate multicoloured tickings in Germany - beyond my reach at the time.  These were really wonderful shaded stripes with up to 17 different shades in them, really skilled weavers' work and with immense possibilities for decorating in new ways.  I found them in a recycling feather factory, (imported into France from  dealers who scoured the charity shops in Germany),  where the feathers were sterilised and re-used for ski wear and bedding, but the stripey covers were just chucked out and sold as rags for cleaning heavy machinery. It was a real treasure-trove find, but another Blog will recount the rather dreadful work of presenting them in  good selling condition.   You would not want to handle them without gloves and definitely not mix with ordinary washday linens! and so they were all carted home in black dustbin plastic liners with a string round the sack-neck in the back of our car, to await disinfection and sanitary treatment at home.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


The Book of Fine Linen by Francoise de Bonneville
     The up-market, bi-monthly magazine SELVEDGE has a good offer this week of £5 off my favourite linen book:  The Book of Fine Linen by Francoise de Bonneville.  Originally published in France, and normally costing £35,  it  is a most beautiful compendium of pictures, photos and articles about every facet of the subject Linen.  Every time I dip into it I find fascinating facts about trousseaux, a mass of useful examples to study, early origins, customs, history and much more,  all written in a very elegant style, and a pleasure to look at.  Offer available until April 2012. The luscious linen sheets are a sample of the excellent photography.    If anyone is interested, I have a spare, secondhand copy of this valuable tome, in brand new condition, for sale -NOW SOLD to a reader in Australia  .  A good present for a linen lover.

Thursday, 17 November 2011


  A wonderful example of stumpwork or Restoration raised-work embroidery showing Solomon greeting the Queen of Sheba.  The mermaid and kingfisher bird are particularly charming and the wealth of detail of the costumes, the flowers, creepy-crawlies, beasts and trees (note the bunches of acorns) are there to delight us all, and for us to admire the skill of the needlewoman who created this scene so many centuries ago and which is still in such brilliant condition (shown by Witney Antiques at a recent Fair).  Click on this to see the full picture (a beautifully dressed lady), stag (naked) lady in waiting (charming) castle (magnificent) and owl and squirrel in feather and fur.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


My previous Blog shows my Irish Housekeeper's cupboard, or linen cupboard, with all its shelves full of French linen torchons (tea towels and household cloths)  That was three years ago and it is now down to bare shelves.  It has worked hard for me and my buyers have always admired the regular piles of linen, folded into little groups of similar stripes and checks and showing every type of domestic drying, cleaning and covering cloth treasured by the diligent housewife (which I am not).  It measures   12" deep by 6ft.6" height by 8'6" wide, so needs a good wall space to back it.
The cupboard is all in pine, circa 1810 with panelled doors, with locks and one old key, and the central doors fold back on themselves so you can see the whole array in one go.  It has ventilation openings covered in decorative wirework panels.   I bought it in Bath about 20 years ago, it moved with me from Freshford to Bradford on Avon, where it may be viewed, and it is now past its date by 200 years,  We have had a lovely new bathroom tacked on to this room where I keep all my best linen and that will be my new spare bedroom - toile curtains already up, wallpaper hung, and I need the wall space for a toile double bed to complete my Jouy rasberry pinky-red scheme and that will be the end of my linen store which is de-moted to a lower floor!  Is this up- or down-sizeing?   Contact  for further info.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Where did I put that Towel?

   The French housewife of pre-war years was a very methodical worker who followed the traditions and customs of her mother and grandmother. Her wedding dowry, if her parents were rich, could consist of dozens of sheets and all the other bed and table linen required for a large family, masses of all kinds of torchons, the ubiquitous coarse cloths used for cooking, baking, butchery, dairy work, etc., and a great pile of tea towels for drying different vessels after washing up; for pots and pans, for cutlery, for china, and extra fine for glass (woven with red check pattern). Tea towels all had stripes running through them and most had neat red initials embroidered on one corner. Some (especially from the Basque region), have very glossy, elaborate weave patterns, and many of my customers have used them to make kitchen curtains, cushions and bench seating as they obviously stand up to hard wear and lots of washing. All are unused and often still tied up in their original string packs from the convents and small cloth mills where they were woven and hand-finished.  I am showing them here in my capacious Irish Regency pine housekeeper's cupboard which was designed to hold all the linen of a large household, all kept under lock and key.  The cupboard is now surplus and for sale, as I am converting the room into a spare bedroom.    It's a pretty wonderful piece of 'household' furnishing, genuine and useful in any large room.All details from me at .

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


THIS WAS THE IMAGE THAT LAUNCHED A THOUSAND VISITORS to the American Museum and who visited our Textile Fair there on Sept. 1st.  I have such a lovely collection of thank you's and compliments for a wonderful day and the adjectives/comments  are  'gorgeous day, smiles all round., special event,
extremely enjoyable and profitable, jolly near perfect day, a delight, superb venue, beautifully organised, incredibly impressed by numbers of buyers, meticulous organisation, wonderful fair, lovely day in a super venue, much appreciated,  a great show, many of my customers turned up, one all the way from France, and so on.  Fitting everyone in diverse spaces was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and it was difficult to make them equal in size with various architectural features making the rooms irregular, but my general impression was that most dealers had plenty of interested customers and the customers were overjoyed with the amazing selection on sale and the very high quality of all the merchandise.  It was an inspiring day for many to make use of the superb facilities of the Museum, its buildings and the beautifully kept gardens and grounds. My thanks to all those who made such a splendid effort and were so helpful and cheerful all through a very long day.  We hope to be invited back to the Museum next year and as usual would be by invitation from my office.    

Friday, 4 November 2011

My Blue Heaven

Though a lot of French fabrics have red in them (the dye was called Rose Madder), there is also a tremendous lot of indigo blue. They learnt how to use the dye from the Far East, particularly Siam, and it was quite a complicated business to get the different shades - it all depended on the quantity of dye and the amount of 'dips' in the vat as well as exposure to sunlight which changed the muddy greens to the brilliant blue we know. Blue was used for many household linens like these tickings which were feather bed and mattress covers, pillows, bolsters and household cloths. They always look crisp and clean and appeal to most of us for kitchen, nursery and holiday house decoration. In particular, most men find them very smart and attractive. You know how they like blue striped shirts, socks and ties!
A doctor once told me that this is because men's eyes are not good at perceiving blue and they therefore have a great need for it in their colour spectrum.