I orginially trained as a professional embroiderer at the Royal School of Needlework and then gained a degree in Archaeology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Afterwards I trained as a teacher and spent ten years as a classroom teacher and head of the Design Technology Department at a school for young people aged 11-19 who have special educational needs. Part way through the ten years I started my PhD, 'Embroidery and its context in the British Isles and Ireland during the early medieval period (AD 450-1100)', at the University of Manchester, which I left teaching to complete. I have published in a number of edited volumes. My first book, 'The Lost Art of the Anglo-Saxon World: the sacred and secular power of embroidery', was published in Oxbow Books Ancient Textiles Series in September 2019.
At the moment I'm working on a re-creation of the early medieval maniple discovered in the tomb of St Cuthbert, Durham, UK. This project is being funded by a Janet Arnold Grant from the Society of Antiquaries, London. I am also working on an edited volume exploring how textile archaeologists, scholars, curators, makers and reenactors can work together to forward the study of archaeological textiles. I am also a consultant for a number of museums and historical projects, and undertake archaeological analysis.
I run the, 'Early Medieval (mostly) Textiles' blog, which posts monthly about the study, making, curating and use of recreated early medieval textiles, and interesting pieces from other periods. I also give talks to academic and general interest audiences and I write articles for academic and more popular publications and websites . I am interested in exploring how embroidery was created, particularly during the early medieval period, the tools and workers, and embroidery's place and meaning within society.