At quite a young age I fell in love with Thomas Hardy's novel, Tess of the D'urbervilles. It was possibly the first book that had so vividly and completely filled my mind's eye with another harder, but very romantic lifetime. Tess, a beautiful and strong character, so hard working, and so hard done by! Wouldn't we all have changed her fortune if we could have?
I was already knitting, sewing simple clothes and selling soft toys, etc, for Christmas money. I also spent a lot of time in the countryside and on my smallholding with my beloved milking goats. My wardrobe morphed into pretty but practical, and I suppose a personal style evolved. Trying to find clothes on the high street, that I actually enjoyed wearing, became more and more frustrating.
Layers of cotton petticoats, under my gathered skirts and dresses, kept me warm and feminine. I thought the look was perfected when the petticoats were laced with mud and worn with wellies. My skirt wearing led to a need for long socks. For women? What grown up girl wears long socks? But I had no respect for what grown ups 'should' be wearing. Instead, I honoured druidry, a love of nature, stories and myth, history and ancestors, body and wild beauty. With this in mind, I wanted to wear what made me feel good.
Occasional internet searches would bring me some luck when it came to over-the-knee socks, but they tended to not be very pretty. As for petticoats... or BLOOMERS, even....I had to make my own or go without. So, between you and me, I frequently made the choice of wearing what I liked..or going without! You see, underwear is...underwear, and who but ourselves know what is under there?
I started to follow some of the designers of exquisite undies, like Jane Woolrich, or Liliana Casanova, and I tried a few styles on my sewing machine (the simpler ones, I might add!). This gave me the idea of sourcing stockings and thigh high socks in a similar way.
I found a Japanese 'vending machine' that spewed out a sock every 20 seconds. There really wasn't much magic in that! If you're going to have lovely undies, you need to have them made with a measure of magic, too.
Then, the wonderful day happened that I discovered the Circular Sock Machine. Not as fast as the vending machine, but far more beautiful (and, I've since suspected, far more temperamental). With surprisingly little practice, I soon had stockings as well as bloomers and petticoats. All I needed now was the mud, and a name. I'd convinced myself that I wasn't the only woman who had a 'thing' about this style of undergarment. Okay, there might not be too many of us about (never wanted to go with the crowd, anyway), but I have the skill and the Awen to provide a nice little service for those sorely deprived women, and maybe it wasn't just the women who would benefit, either. I'm sure many men can relate to the added suspense of negotiating a mass of layers, drawstrings, and frills. (This negotiation should happen, where possible, in a sweet smelling haybarn....sighs wistfully).
Talking of sorely deprived women, my bread and butter job is midwifery. As my britches are moving in a joyful direction, NHS maternity care is moving in the opposite one. I'm not going to save it, and I don't want to spend my precious life in anger and head-banging frustration trying to. Midwives are too often no different to obstetric nurses, and are not allowed (yup, That word again, fellow midwives!) the time and respect to use their 'art'. I love birth and being 'with woman', and the sad and stupid thing is that if I work less hours as an NHS midwife, I'll be better placed to offer women my midwifery. A little home industry will hopefully bring the satisfaction, flexibility and finance I'm after to experiment with this.
And so, my little business was born. How to bring all of this background together, and find a name that embraces it all? I thrashed a few options around in my head, and then I asked the help of friends. Tony suggested 'Witch's Britches', and he struck gold for me (Thank you, Tony). The witch's britches is here to stay!