Wednesday, 30 April 2008


This week, we are loving the Black Welsh Mountain sheep. Louise is from Wales and she drew this picture of a fully grown Black Welsh Mountain sheep, which has very tight black curls a bit like Tom Jones. In fact, these darlings have been breed for centuries by the Welsh monks to be as black as can be, and very tasty.
Louise says it rains a lot in Wales, but if the sun does shine, it turns the wool a red / brown colour, otherwise known as Cochddu (red/ black)
I have to say, the Black Welsh Mountain is the best smelling yarn in the shop, probably because it comes from the mountains where they roam free, just doing their own thing.
(We sell sherling BWM Ropey and DK for 80p / 10g. )

PS> Oh and they have black mouths and tongues too...BAAAAA!


Louise has just calculated that if she spins 13g of yarn on the drop spindle, every morning whilst having her breakfast and waiting for the bathroom, she can make enough yarn for a small cardigan in just over a month. 

Tomorrow night at the late opening of the Museum of London, Louise will be rolling the drop spindle on her thigh, and teaching the joys of the most ancient of textile crafts. We will have ' Three Bags Full And A Spindle' kits for sale. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


One of our knitters, Fleur, has a solution for our hectic haberdashery routine.
Grasshopper Instant Porridge is saving our mornings. You might think we are lazy not opening until mid day but while you are waiting for us, we dash around on bikes doing all our other jobs and sometimes miss breakfast. To stop my hunger, I put Fleur's bio-degradable pot in an old sock, pinned onto my handle bars, and armed with a spoon, I can stuff it down at the traffic lights or on quiet roads. Yum. Order porridge pots from


Thank you to Tower Hamlets Occupational Health Group for donating lovely set of patterns and old buttons. We especially love this pattern for Gonks. 
There's a different pattern for each member of the family, but they are all basically as follows.

They used Dk on 4mm needles.
MAIN PART (3 sections alike)
Cast On 6 sts. Inc 1 st. each end of first 5 rows. (16 sts.)
Inc 1 st. at beg. of every row until there are 22 sts., then inc. 1 st. each end of every 3rd row until there are 36 sts. ** work 40 rows. * Dec. 1 st each end of next and every 3rd row until 22 sts. remain. Work 2 rows. Dec 1 st. at beg. of every row until 16 sts. remain. Dec. 1 st each end of next 5 rows. (6sts) Cast Off. Join 3 pieces tog. to form a round, leaving an opening for the stuffing. Stuff firmly and close the opening.

ARMS ( 2)
Cast On 15 sts. K. 20 rows. Cast Off.  Fold arms in half and join side and cast off edges, stuff and close opening.

HANDS (4 pieces alike)
Cast On 6 sts. k.5 rows. inc. 1 st. each end of every row until there are 18 sts. K. 3 rows. Cast off 5 sts. at beg. of next 2 rows. k. 5 rows.
Next row - k. 4 turn and k. 10 rows on these sts.  Cast Off. Join yarn and k. 8 rows on rem. sts. Cast Off. Sew hands tog. in pairs, stuff lightly, stitch to arms.
FEET (4 pieces)
Cast on 2 sts.  Inc. 1 st. each end of first 3 rows  Inc 1 st. at beg. of every 6the row until there are 12 sts. K 5 rows. Next row - * k. 3, turn and k. 3 rows on these sts. Dec. 1 st. at beg. of next 2 rows. Fasten off *, rep. from * to * 3 times. Sew feet tog. in pairs, leaving an opening, Stuff lightly and close opening.

If you can knit this, then I don't need to type up the patterns for all the clothes, because you are clever and could make it up yourself. Or...just pop in the shop and we will photocopy the whole thing for you...

Monday, 28 April 2008


The Hackney Secular Singers are pleased to announce that their first gig after only two rehearsals, was a great success! 
We sang at the Victory Pub on Vyner Street in aid of FSIDS, a charity researching the prevention of cot death.
Our two songs, 'Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll', and 'Ever Fallen in Love With Someone You Shouldn't Have Fallen In Love With'  filled the pub with joyous sound, and punters sang along with us!
Well done everyone!

Rehearsals are in the church by Bethnal Green Tube on Monday's 7.30, £2 donation. For mailing list

Thank you to Douglas Cape at for the picture!


Miss Felicity Ford of Missability Radio Show, telephoned me from her hospital bed to remind us that the deadline for the Knitted WalkingStick  Competition Round 2 is on 1st May 2008.

Her website, is unique in it's attitudes to disability. Felix states that if she is going to live with pain then she will do it in style. 

A grey walking stick, inspires the question " Oh dear, what went wrong?" where as a knitting walking stick inspires "Wow, where did you get that walking stick?"
I recommend this competition, because firstly, we all know of someone who uses stick, and we could make their days a lot happier, but secondly, you might get to know the work of Felicity Ford. 

There are two competition categories, 'Fancy dress' and 'The Working World.'  Entries for the competition will be judged by The Oxford Bluestockings, and for each category there is a prize of £40 in yarn vouchers.

Felicity is bravely steering her way through extreme pain, recovering from an operation on her toes, which means she will be able to keep running and dancing for many more years to come. Visiting her in hospital is inspiring. A blaze of colour and creativity in the corner of an otherwise rather bland ward, Felix is busy, making, thinking, writing and talking about love and freedom, and how well she is healing under a beautiful blanket, made for her by her knitting circle.

 Get well soon Felix! And love from all at Prick Your Finger x


Thank you to the industrious Hyperbolic Crochet Reefers who made Saturday so enjoyable. 
The Hyperbolic Reef Project will be shown at the Royal Festival Hall over the summer. The deadline for first entries is looming, but there is still time. If you wish to make hyperbolic crochet, just ring or e-mail PYF  and we can tell you more. 
Here shows the results of Saturday's work. We have been using plastic bags and scraps of yarn which would otherwise gone to land fill. 
There were so many of us that we spilled out into the street and, whoops! into the pub! (Sorry I couldn't fit you all on this collage)
We are just one of the groups working on the reef and hoping it is going to be HUGE!

Keep up the good work, and for more info about hyperbolic space, coral reefs and the universe, go to


As you read this blog, moths are hatching. They are in your wardrobe or wool stash, and ruining everything.  I would like to share tips on how to prevent this happening.

Moths,  (I don't mean fat moths that fly around candles, but the little ones that fly slowly) live off protein fibres, such as wool or silk.  They find them tastier if they are sweaty, or have dusting of your skin.  Moth are shy to hatch, so prefer dark corners like the inside of your bottom draw.

Moth eggs look like grains of sand. They are usually laid on protein, so that the caterpillar has something to eat as it hatches. Arrow no. 2 points to some blurd moth eggs!

Once the caterpillar hatches, and makes holes in your favourite wool,  it makes a cocoon, as shown by arrow 1. It can look like a string of white/ silver fluff.

To prevent moth attack, wash woolens well before putting them back in the draw for the summer. Hoover draws and wardrobe, at least once a year, preferebly on a sunny day, and ask a friend to help you if you find it boring, swapping wardrobe's is much more interesting. 
Moths hate light so a big shake in bright sunlight, they will all drop out.

If a treasured piece does contract moth colony, shake it and put it in the freezer for a month or so, then dry clean or wash. 

Then there's old moth balls... bit smelly but can help and the same goes for cedar wood. 

Here at Prick Your Finger, we haven't had a moth attack yet. All our stock is sealed in plastic boxes and we have moth traps up. They are a bit like a fly trap, in that they attract the males, who then get stuck, HA HA!

Please look after your wool this spring....We sell cedar hearts for your draw and a moth wash made from essential oils, and if the worst comes to the worst, you can rely on our darning service and classes which start in September. 

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


Crafters of London please unite at the Thursday late at the Museum of London  1st May 6-9pm. It's FREE!
We are inviting you to drop spindle and play with the carding machine, and then those jolly folks from 'Stitch and Bitch' and 'I Knit London', will be there for knitting and chats.

Traditionally the drop spindle was used while people wondered around, so come early, because there's comedian to show you around the museum and you could borrow the spindle to go back in time....and we'll have spindle's with three bags full for sale.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Last Tuesday afternoon, a wagon parked up outside PYF, and on the driver's seat, a lovely hand knitted blanket caught my eye. 
I was struck by how homely the seat looked, and how the ice cream colours made the whole vehicle appear rather jolly.  I swiftly made the assumption that the lorry was driven by a man, and the blanket knitted by a lady who loved him, and was cooking up a plate of fish fingers in anticipation of his return...
Not trusting my assumption, and feeling cheeky I thought I'd investigate the matter further. Closing time came, and our driver did not return so I wrote him a letter and left it on the wind screen wiper. It basically said  " You are parked outside a knitting shop and we are interested in your blanket. Who knitted this for you? Why do you like it? Where did it come from and where have you taken it? I like to write about knitters on my blog. If you don't wish to answer, then I apologise and do have a safe journey home..."
And I waited.
Wednesday evening about 8pm, John posted a letter under our door. He thanked me for my saucy letter and said that his work mate's mother in law had made it and he liked it because it helped him pull the ladies. Then he left his number and offered to take me for a drink.
In my naivety, I was surprised.  The knitting mother in law had no name and was not credited. 

Maybe it is unfair of me to turn down John's offer of a drink. The story I wanted was his work mate's and he was the one driving the wagon the day a girly letter landed on his screen .  

I conclude that his assumption's were as wrong as mine, and the way he saw that blanket was again, different to mine.  I fear we might clash as much as the colours. What a thought provoking blanket. I am plucking up courage to find out more.


Thank you Lisa for the lovely photos of your new tea pot stand. Lisa came for a crochet lesson with Louise last Saturday and then went home, practiced a few circles and squares, and then launched into this fabulous creation. Lisa says she can now attempt all the glorious patterns from her 1970's 'Stitch by Stitch' magazine, and there may be a mustard crochet skirt coming soon. 


These pictures just surfaced from a forgotten file! Eighteen months ago this is what our shop looked like.

We don't know why we had so many telephone lines, but we like to think they were for a sex line, manned by the ghost that used to smoke behind where the till is now. We just put up some new wood paneling and the smoke seems to have stopped.

One one wall it said,
"Create your own Avant Guarde."

Thank you to all our lovely friends who helped us, and still help us build our shop.


Our Rosemary has been busy! In between the terrible task of making our tea and knitting our new typeface, she made a tea cup warmer from our organic cotton, which of course is washable, and covers up those embarrassing dribbles down the side of the cup.  Any day now, she'll be able to spell it all out.

Friday, 18 April 2008


'Prick Your Finger' aims to offer knitters the chance to make ANYTHING, which is why we are learning about sheep breads.  Each sheep grows a different type of yarn. The letters on the front of our shop are knitted in one of the toughest, most weather proof wools, the ROUGH FELL. 
 My Cousins Kit and Alison, farm 70 Rough Fell ewes up in Cumbria. (Fell is another word for mountain, ewe - a female sheep) Like most farms in Britian, it is possible to break even but difficult to make a comfortable living, so they juggle the farm with other jobs. Kit and Alison farm for the love of nature.
Rough Fell roam on the open and bleak fells around south Cumbria. Farmers mark their sheep by painting spots on them, or tagging their ears and although the flock is free to roam, they usually remain together, socializing with other flocks on the mountain side. When it's time to go home, the farmers will go out on the fell and round them up with the help of a sheep dog.  
The 'Rough' was probably descended along with it's cousins the Scottish Blackface and the Swaldale, from a sheep called "Black faced Heath Breed' which was a common sheep around North England and South scotland for 500 years, with black face and legs and big curly horns and white wool. Rough has also been bred from  the toughest of all sheep, the Herdwick, which gives it the hardiness needed to survive the clashy. (Wet windy weather)
Kit gave me a book "Kendal Rough Fell Sheep" and I was delighted to read that Rough Fell farmers come from a long tradition of independent spirited communities, that is reflected in historical clashes with authority. In 1536 the common folk of Sedbergh and Dent (who farm Roughs) took part in one of the earliest up-risings against the church, the aristocracy, the king, and the associated systems of land tenure. These Rough Fell communities have formed unique ways of self government and decision making, and an unusual way of sheep farming which even to day does not fit in with the standard Defra guidelines. Defra forms might ask questions like 'When did the business start?', 'What is the post code?,' "What is the bank account?" or "Who are the legally empowered representatives?.' For farmers in remote parts, these questions, can be impossible to answer. 
Rough wool can also be difficult to sell to hand knitters, but we believe it is a useful yarn, and we never under estimate the imagination of  our hand knitters.... 

Thursday, 17 April 2008


Then your local haberdashery shop is open from midday, Tuesday - Friday and from 11am on Saturdays, but CLOSED Sundays and Mondays when you are welcome to take us to parties.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


Louise found this picture of us on the day we left college. 
We would like to tell you that we are delighted to have grown up. Back then, we hadn't a clue what we were doing, which is apparent by my first push up bra under an extra large Sonic Youth T shirt, and Louise's lovely green tights, which were actually joined to a pair of platform leopard skin flip flops. 

Monday, 14 April 2008


Three years ago I went to Uzbekistan. In the markets the fabric trends were synthetic rainbow polyester florals with seaquins, and I was very tempted. No cotton though....

We took a trip to see the remains of the Aral Sea, drained by the over production of cotton. Skeletons of ships lay around in the distance as we sailed down a river, running through a place which was once a sea and is now a desert of salty toxic dust, which blows in the wind, causing alarming high cases of cancer. The average life expectancy in Uzbekistan is 44.

We got quite sick there. Food is fried in cotton oil, which goes putrid in daylight, and their only bottled water, called 'Pure Life' produced by Nestle, is really expensive. 

Most Uzbek cotton, picked by children is sold to Europeans. An average cotton t-shirt should cost £45, if it is produced properly.

Uzbekistan used to be a luscious and powerful country on the silk route, the home of Genghis Kharn, founder of the Mongol Empire.  

Please watch this video, by the Environmental Justice Foundation by following the link below and remember to ask where cotton comes from. 

Friday, 11 April 2008


We couldn't believe it! Customer of the Month February 08 has done it again! The lady who said she couldn't knit came in to show us the beautifully cable knit cardigan she whizzed through. She proves that our customers can do anything when the inspiration takes them! Customer of the Month March 2008 'We Salute You!'


Here's the V Day Yurt by knitting artist Lisa Anne Auerbach. 
It is 10ft in diameter, knitted in bamboo yarn and  has just been shown at the Hammerstein Ballroom NYC, in celebration of 10 years of VDay. 
Lisa was comissioned to knit a vagina, but she took it a stage further and knitted a yurt where you are 'Welcomed to the Wetlands to bow down and worship the Vagina Queens'.
What a marvelous piece of knitting. 
We wish we were there.

Thursday, 10 April 2008


We knitted for Siv Stoldol, and look! How sharp are this man's cheek bones?! The yarn was 'Natural Fantasy' very soft, and on top of his hat, it's hard to see but we knitted around sticks from Victoria four different colour ways....which can be seen at

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


This is meant to be a blog about haberdashery, but haberdashery is about colourfull friendly things, and so is our new PUNK CHOIR- THE HACKNEY SECULAR SINGERS.
We have a gig date already and we haven't even started. 
Everyone is welcome to join, there is no audition.
1st song, is Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, by Ian Dury and the Blockheads,
1st rehearsal, is this Monday 14th April 7.30ish at St John's Church, Bethnal Green, next to the tube.
1st gig, is at Victory Pub, Vyner St, E2, Sunday 27th April, 8pm, in aid of a cot death charity.
We need your noise!
Please come, and bring your friends.
for more info e-mail 

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Kate Talbot's, Beans, Ketchup and Marmite have been the most popular show we have ever had.

We watch faces light up through the window, people jump with delight, and kids have actually banged fists on the glass and shouted 'Yes!' And then we kill the joy when we tell them the crocheted Marmite costs £320.

Kate counts her ours of work and pays herself a professional wage of £10 per hour. We add 20% on top as our commission. 

Knitting will probably always be boxed as a lesser art. Knitting is loved but it is seldom rewarded. Skills take years to perfect, and hand knitting is one of the slowest of mediums. As the Spanish knitting shop below says " All you knit is love"....

Like or hate marmite, you'll love our window display.

Louise found a lecture by Dave Hickey about the subject of selling without selling out.


Our Hilary went to Barcelona and took this picture of the shutter of a yarn shop which was closed but we would love to visit it one day. If anyone knows this yarn shop, could they please send them our love. 

Saturday, 5 April 2008


2 hot green chillies,
1/2 inch fresh ginger,
1tsp cumin seeds,
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds,
4tbsp ghee or vedge oil,
3 med size spuds ( about 1lb) peeled and chopped in squares,
1 med sized cauliflower( about 2 lbs) cut in flowerets,
2 med sized green or red tomatoes, quartered,
1/2 tsp tumeric,
2 tsp ground coriander,
1/2 tsp garam masarla,
1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar,
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp chopped fresh corriander
lime or lemon wedges

1. Combine chillies, ginger, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds in a bowl. Heat ghee, when hot but not smoking, pour in seasoning and fry until seeds pop. Drop in spuds and cauliflower and stir fry 4-5 mins.
2. Add tomatoes, tumeric, corriander, garam masala, sweetner, salt and half of fresh herb. Stir well, cover and cook 15-20 mins until tender. Sprinkle water if vedge sticks to pan, but stir gently. Serve with remaining herb and lime/ lemon wedges.

Friday, 4 April 2008


Goodbye Zeel drawings. 
We love you. 
We have to cover you up for a while with new shop fittings. 
You arrived at halloween and cheered us up all through the winter. We are very proud of you and will never forget.
For more friends of Zeel go to

Thursday, 3 April 2008


More yarn keeps coming so we are making the shop bigger.
We think we are quite good at this.
It's taken us 2 days so far...
Do come see!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


What are they knitting in New York? 

our Sabrina Gschwandtner of KnitKnit fame, just e-mailed us these pictures of a banner she made with Cat Mazza, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Julia Bryan- Wilson, and Liz Collins. 
It says "AGENCY"..and so they are, and so they say.

In America, it is quite common to take a photo into a shop where they will machine knit it to A0 size. It's like having a big print made, except you can use it as a blanket. It is used a lot when servicemen go off to war, and the family can sleep under their portrait. It's a brilliant tool, because you can really say things on a big scale! Correct me if I'm wrong Sabrina, but I think this is how this banner was made?
Anyway, isn't it lovely? And here is a picture of them all discussing what to make! For more on this peace piece, go to