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. )