Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Uncle Kim has Rocked and Rolled all over the world, and he agreed he'd never heard a guitar solo quite like the one Louise played at closing time last night.


We lost Zara to the spinning wheel this afternoon! It was a good first day's work, and we know as the weeks pass her yarn will get more and more relaxed.
Zara was taught by Uncle Kim, pictured here. Kim is a good pirate who lives in the West Indies and grows coco. He comes to visit a few times a year, gets drunk and tells amazing stories.
Kim taught me to spin too. He says you have to let the wool do it's own thing.
For a really good adventure, you can go and stay in his converted chicken shack with en-suite everything. I can put you in touch. He's got a toe missing where a shark got him but he can still build houses and catch your dinner.
Kim tells it as it is , sings the blues, and isn't really my Uncle but he likes it when I call him that.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


For those of us who couldn't make it to Lisa Anne's show in Nottingham, here are some pictures she kindly sent me.
The first, her wonderful window display at Nottingham gallery.
The second, Lisa Anne by the big tree where all the rebels go.
“Stop making scarves, start making trouble,” she challenges..
Lisa Anne Auerbach is a rebel and a very good one at that.
We love her work, and all the ideas she has.
Read her blog Steal This Sweater.

Thanks for coming Lisa Anne! Here we are, as you saw us, waving hello and goodbye. X

Friday, 25 September 2009


Watch the worlds biggest and most beautiful poem emerge at the Poetry Society this weekend. There are a lot of letters to stitch together. The poem is still secret but clues are sure to come to those who lend fingers and company!
Here is picture of the lovely cafe, which will be on hand all day.

Here is Philosophy by Gwyneth Lewis

"Knitting is like everything," it's tempting to say.
No. Knitting's like knitting. sure, there's cosmology

in Norwegian sweaters with vertical stars,
but as science that doesn't get us far.

If space is made of superstrings
then God's a knitter and everything

is craft. perhaps we can darn
tears in space- time continuum

and travel down wormholes to begin
to purl in another dimension's skein.

But no. There are things you can't knit:
a spaceship. A husband, though the wish

might be strong and the softest thread
would be perfect for the hair on his head,

another, tougher, that washes well
for his pecs and abdominals. You can stitch a soul

daily and unpick mistakes,
perform some moral nip and tucks-

forgiveness. Look out. your Frankenstein
might turn and start knitting you again.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Aketsun is our new friend from Japan, who has just announced she will jolly up Christmas at Prick Your Finger. An amazing show of stitched windows onto far off knitted lands where brightly dressed dolls love you, will surely be a wonderful experience. Aketsun we look forward to greeting you!


One of the perks of being a knitter with an internet connection is that you can get to know knitting cousins in far away places. I think I first became aware of Lisa Anne when we appeared in KnitKnit by Sabrina Gschwandtner and then I've followed her blog and worn her 'Saddlesore' badge ever since. Lisa Anne rocked up to the shop on Saturday. She had a sore butt because some idiot knocked her off her bike on the way to the airport.

We went for a Pint of London Pride. Lisa Anne is here for a solo show at Nottingham Art Gallery which has shut for re building, but they are showing artists in the window. Lisa Anne has made a series of green Nottingham Forest Sweaters for her show entitled "Take this Knitting machine and Shove it". She has knitted the city's rebel heritage into jumpers and mini skirts for merry feminists, and will be talking about her work tomorrow. I recommend it because there isn't anyone quite like her!
Find out more click here.
In the pub, Lisa was knitting a red square for a project on Saturday, where everyone is invited to submit a square with some text.
Lisa Anne's square is knitted with our favourite red Wensleydale Longwool. (She bought some more of it to knit a cardigan.) The idea of attaching text to squares came after experiencing knitting circles in LA where everyone discusses shows on television. Not having a television, she fancied discussing something a bit more in depth.
Then we found ourselves at the Derek Jarman Award ceremony, where there were lots of canopes. We weren't allowed to take our drinks into the cinema, we had to leave them on this table. Lisa Anne had the genius idea of identifying her beer with a bit of red wool. TOP TIP!
Lisa was wearing one of her jumpers. On the front it said
"Strangle the last king with the entrails of the last priest." and on the back it said,
"Mend the roads with the ruins of churches."
Both sayings that the English used to shout in pubs and at protests.

To see and hear more, get yourself to Nottingham tomorrow! Trains leave from St. Pancras and it takes a couple of hours, otherwise, check out Lisa's blog "Steal this Sweater" the link to which is just to the right on this blog!
Thanks for a lovely time Lisa Anne.

Sunday, 20 September 2009


We are delighted to welcome Anna Von Wilkinson into the fold of PYF. Anna is a talented lady who managed to ply a kilo of 'Lavender Puff' on her first day. I would like to apologise to Anna for making her pose for a photo when she was more than ready to go home.

Thursday, 17 September 2009



For those of us in need of a good weep, may I suggest, in case you'd missed it, the informative documentary about the troubles with Harris Tweed. You can catch up on the i player and there is another episode next week.
There are some brilliant people out there, bringing the production back to life but it isn't easy. Buy Harris Tweed if ever you can, and if you can't find it or afford it, just talk appreciatively of it, often...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


PYF's en vacance, turned out to be a very practical time. We have alterations; please walk this way.

Yes, a new counter. It is constructed with housing joints from one display case top from Cumbria, two kitchen doors found by the river in Oxford, 4 floorboards from Norfolk, an old Ikea bed base from Bethnal Green and a set of fairy lights from Dalston Market. All the shelves light up, it's stained Mohogany on the outside and white gloss on the inside. I made it with lots of help from Louise and Jay.

Then, I thought it looked so good in the shop that it put the wall and door behind it to shame, so on Sunday night, me and Radio 3 knocked it down.
Louise took down the old storage systems and we now have a stage / studio, where we shall make a long thin collapsible table with two benches either side, which we can use for classes, lunches, making, discussions and teas.
Oh, and if you have read this far, you might be nosy, which is fine, and here is the back of the counter, which has a built in bin, bag depositary, and two stationary shelves.


Celia I had the most enjoyable evening at the Whitechapel Gallery recently, with Richard Wentworth and his portholes into the world of string. Wentworth was the inaugural curator of the Study Studio's Cabinet of curiosities, which he filled with his personal string collection, a ball of which is pictured above.
These are the pieces of string he 'confiscated' from us. He has asked us to add more bits of string.
If you have string to add please e-mail

We learned that the root of the word 'string' is the same as 'strong', 'stringent', 'strict', and 'strangle'. String contains no glue, the material is held together with friction between the fibres. If the friction is too tight it could snap, and if it is too loose it goes elastic. String is one dimensional. That gives it a lot of powers, it could go in a direct line, or if it keeps piling up it could fill a whole space!
So when does string become rope?
Mark Miodownik, the materials expert, decided it becomes rope when you tie a horse up with it. Extreme sport ropes are made differently to traditional rope. Traditional rope is spun from individual plant fibres, and sport rope is woven from fibres that are one long continuous fibre. Modern sport ropes will not be made once the oil runs out, so get absailing now. If you bungee jumped with a traditional jute rope, it would have no elastic, so you might do yourself an injury.
I took along our examples of making string, by spinning flax and a tribute to my string dishcloth.

My Mother brought this flax back from Ireland, and spun herself. (wet)

My string dishcloth photographed by Felicity Ford.


Well done letter knitters! The Poetry Society's knitted poem is emerging! We had a super time stitching them altogether last Friday at the I Knot day. Ha ha! We are still not going to tell you what the poem is, but we can reveal that when stitched together it will be the size of half a football pitch.
Each letter is signed by it's knitter, usually with an address and the favourite poem at the time of knitting. This makes the forming of words touching and very addictive. Indeed I could have stitched all night.
The Poetry Soc. still need blank squares of 12" and do drop in on the Stitching-Together-Athons on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September. There will be refreshments from their friendly cafe, and lots of poems.


The whole thing starts with a single knot
and needles. A word and a pen. Tie a loop
in nothing. Look at it. Cast on, repeat

the procedure till you have a line
that you can work with.
It's a pattern made of relation alone,

my patience, my rythm, till empty bights
create a fabric that can be worn,
if you're lucky and practiced. It's never too

to pick up dropped stitches, each hole a clue
to something that might be bothering you,
though I link mine with ribbons and pretend

I meant them to happen. I make a net
of meaning that I carry round
portable, to work on sound

in trains and terrible waiting rooms.
It's thought in action. It redeems
odd corners of disposable time,

making them fashion. It's the kind of work
that keeps you together. The neck's too tight,
but tell me honestly: How do I look?

©2007, the BBC From How to Knit a Poem
Publisher BBC Radio 4, London 2007

Poetry Society - 22, Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX


I have been renovating over the week end; shop alteration phase 4. (pictures to follow) Shelves were cleared, either for diamanteling, or dust prevention. Moving things in our shop uncovers unusual relationships, which I feel must be documented. No one here remembers who placed what where. We can only conclude that things move around in the night.
1. A crochet carrot moved into the top right hand corner above the back door, inbetween the denim fibre and the cable cover, not far from the phesent feather jar. The carrot was made in orange roving as a nose for the wool snowman last christmas. This shelf has now gone and the carrot is floating around the shop aimlessly.

2. Linda's alien pin cushions and the folk fish seem to be having a harmonious existence. The fish is from a Murri Folk Club poster from the early days of Cast Off Knitting Club. They seem to bypass the public altogether, and we decided not to disturb them.

3. The parrot and the jumper have been perched on four wooden bobbins for we don't know how long. I dare not ask what they thought about the alterations!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Last night we are talking at Howies ( the totally cool ethical clothes store) on Carnaby Street.

Howies dedicated the Beastie Boy's 'She's Crafty' to us on their blog and were flattered and excited!

They started off by being a lovely audience, but then we discovered they could make the evening even more interesting, so we ended up having a good old chat and discussion. Everyone there was deeply concerned about the lack of use of nature's very own high tech fibres.

Howies have a water fountain in their shop and you can use it any time you are passing. How kind. On their clothing labels, it says 'Buy land, they don't make it any more'. How cool. Thank you Howies, we had a lovely time. Howies do evening talks and discussions on many subjects, with free beer from our friends at Pitfield. Lets all make friends with Howies.

Monday, 7 September 2009


I have decided to come clean about our carpet yarn. It's rough, cheap, durable, 100% wool. Spun from the most outer/older part of the fleece, it can with stand abrasions and frictions - a bit like my parents do.
I aquired the carpet yarn from a gentleman who was retiring from making carpets. It was a bargain, but came in scanes so big you can hardly lift them. I'm blessed with very supportive parents.
Mum heaved the scane onto the back of a chair and started to wind it into balls. Dad watched her for a while and then came up with a genius ball winding solution, a wheel, a bobbin and an elastic band. After dinner, the ball winding machine appears in front of the fire. Dad winds the wheel and mum unwinds the scane. It looks easy, but as the bobbin fills up, Mum has to speed up, and her arms start flapping all over the place.
Thank you to Sabrina Gschwandtner for filming it.

Saturday, 5 September 2009


When we in Iceland we drove the length of the country, in the 4x4, over dirt roads of the interior, just to see the Textile Museum. It was well worth it.
The lava rocks are sharp to drive on, let alone walk on.
The textile museum had a wonderful collection of the common fish skin shoes with knitted insoles. As you can imagine a cured fish skin shoe does not last long, and a journey was measured by the number of pairs of shoes you would need to get from A to B.
When the skin wore through, you would remove your knitted sole, knitted on about 2mm needles, and insert it in the next pair of shoes. Wow.

Friday, 4 September 2009


Restless feelings, not being in control of your own destiny is a scary condition, especially when the state no longer has power, and we don't know who to vote for. It could lead us to consume.
We founded Prick Your Finger, after concluding that we were willing to apply our creativity to all aspects of our lives including plumbing, wiring, and finance. Creativity makes us happy, introduces us to new friends, and encourages our interest in the universe.Learning requires confidence and we often meet wannabee makers, outfaced by the amount of practice needed to make beautiful things. 'Just have a go' and 'One step at a time' are motos which enable us to begin a journey. Recently we have met a shining example of a confident, creative learner, who proves our point that with a little help from your friends, anything is possible. Meet Mr. John-Paul Flintoff -
The man with the profitlessly speculative mind, who set out to find the meaning of modern life and ended up making all his own clothes.We first met John-Paul when he came in the shop and bought some of our own brand Black Welsh Mountain DK to crochet himself a hat. He asked lots of questions. You may have read John-Paul's stories in the Sunday Times or Observer. His new book, 'Through the Eye of a Needle" is a fascinating, funny, and moving account of his journey off the grid of consumerism.John-Paul is friendly and down to earth. He leads us to believe that whatever he does, we could do too. His story starts in New York, when he was fitted for a suit by a robot. A following meeting with sweat shop workers forced J-P to think deeper about what he was wearing. Once home, looking for another story, he embarked on a trip round Britain's diverse range of Christian churches. Asking questions in his friendly way, he uncovered fascinating insights, and explains them by asking yet more questions. Through the spiritual pilgrimage, he became a bin man, exterminated rats, threw himself into mainstream politics, chatted to Hollywood actors, and thought deeply about how to save the world.
Through his pilgrimage John-Paul discovered that the nearest and easiest place to develop spiritual enlightenment was in his own hands, with fingers and thumbs, on the journey of making things. He bought a treadle sewing machine and set about making his own shirt.
Then followed, jeans, shoes, hats, jumpers, clothes for his daughter. He saved all the little bits of string from his organic delivery box and knitted a purse from them and then finally produced a pair of Y-Fronts, knitted from nettle yarn, which he spun himself.'Through the Eye of a Needle' is an easy read, especially chapter 39, entitled 'Prick Your Finger'! It dis-spells any myth that craft skills are un-obtainable. You don't need qualifications in a subject, just an interest and someone to show you how.
Vivienne Westwood keeps telling us not to buy her clothes but to get into making our own, and think for ourselves. She says the most important thing is to understand the world you live in. If you are not religious, you can soak up ideas in galleries and museums. If we stop consuming rubbish, we leave room for the more full filling pursuit of gaining knowledge and developing dexterity, which we can use to give something good back to our environment. Well John Paul Flintoff has shown us how he does just that!I asked J-P if he could show his work in our window, and he said he was flattered at the offer, but wondered if the quality of his work was good enough. The thing is, John-Paul has already contradicted his fears. It is the very act of doing which interests and excites us, so we earnestly await his show, and will endeavor to sell his book to you all.
Please click on the link below to hear John-Paul on last week's Woman's Hour and another link for his lesson in the benefits of nettle fibre.


Last summer, I took Sabrina Gschwandtner to puff on knitted fags in the Colony Room.
The Colony Room was the best place for happenings on days when enough had happened already.
We chatted to Ingy and a Swedish film maker. Sabrina filmed on super 8, which didn't come out too well because it was dark there.
Whilst clearing out my computer today, I rescued a little bit. RIP Colony Room.
(I nicked the sound track off a Kenneth Anger Film -Puce Moment, 'Cause We Ended as Lovers' by Jonathan Harper . It's much longer than the film but who cares. )

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


I went to Iceland with Mum, Dad and Monty my brother. Iceland is like another planet, and stunningly beautiful. It was too extra ordinary to photograph with a normal camera, so using my old Lomo, I started making patterns with the landscape.
We took a 4 wheel drive through the interior, which was black desert, with river and lakes of milky water. With white overcast skies it made stripes.There was a rainbow which filled the whole horizon, and stayed most of the afternoon.
As we got higher, towards the glaciers, the ground got blacker and the water whiter, so I started to make checks by double exposing.
Then I did the same with the horizon.
And the white tops of volcanos coated in black lava.
When we got back to the sea, a Russian schooner came in. Monty speaks Russian, so he chatted to the sailors and we went on board.
I had fun weaving with the rigging.
Iceland is very special. It is cheaper to visit now that the ecconomy has collapsed.
I read a very depressing book "Dreamland- A self Help Manual for a Frightened Nation" by Andri Snaer Magnason, about the pollution of a unique landscape hosting the world's finest salmon fishing, by an aluminium plant, running off geothermal energy.
We discussed the situation over a cup of tea on the edge of a glacier.
It wasn't a huge chat because it was too cold to talk. We made tea by burning newspaper in the storm kettle, which took ages to boil due to lack of oxygen.
Oddly, we came home with suntans.