This time six years ago I did a six-month stint as an assistant curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I sat with two other young curators in a tiny office overlooking the central courtyard, where we were occasionally joined by a tiny mouse with extraordinary escapology skills. He came, no doubt, for our ever-copious supplies of cake and gossip. These, and the experience of handling diamond-encrusted snuff boxes on a daily basis (it’s very motivating, regular exposure to diamonds; tends to bring one’s ambitions into sharper focus…), left me with an enduring fondness for the big old place.
But my fondness aside, the V&A is in fact a quite extraordinary resource for those of us interested in design, fashion, fabric and craft. We’re all probably vaguely aware that it holds the UK’s national collection of Fashion and Textiles, some of which are on permanent display, but I thought I’d write a little blog post to flag up some of the resources that you might not be aware of, especially if you’re not UK-based. For example, did you know that the V&A website contains a selection of vintage knitting patterns, free to download? Or lists of recommended books on everything from care of textiles and dress to the history of mourning clothing? Continue reading