Thursday, 28 January 2010


I've been wanting to knit a dress for some time, but couldn't think what I wanted to wear.
I wanted an explosive dress in which I could jump up and down and have ideas. Explosions can be good or bad, it depends....
So an explosion it is - in Shetland DK. It's going to have a lot of bits flying out of it, and big clouds of smoke.
And then! I saw a brilliant program, 'Chemistry- A Volatile History' where I learned that in the 17th century, scientists thought that anything combustible was made of Phlogiston. It was an attempt to explain oxidation processes like fire and rust. Phlogiston took science down a cul-de-sac, which took 100 years to come out of, but I love the story as an example of how sometimes we have to grapple with thinking, and ideas do come clear eventually.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


We are so excited about our new knowledge! This weekend we went on a course to learn how to build a bicycle powered generator, with Magnificent Revolution. Our generator is going to power our wool mill during our residency at Louder Than Bombs.
Magnificent Revolution are brilliant. They are passionate people, explain things clearly and make wonderful bike powered cinemas and parties.
This is what we did;

We screwed a motor onto a metal plate, screwed onto a training stand. Making an exception, we wired the +ve to the -ve because the roller on the side of the motor, which is in friction with the bike wheel was a screw in roller, which if it was rolling the wrong way, would have popped off, so we turned the motor around the other way and wired it backwards! Cool!
Motors can be generators. If power goes in, they turn, and if they are made to turn, they make power. This motor makes DC power.The capacitor holds the voltage we create by pedaling the bike. The numbers show the volts we were making. The inverter converts the DC voltage into AC, so we can plug in a household appliance. The inverter takes between 10v and 14v, so we had to regulate the power as we were cycling by keeping an eye on the numbers, otherwise the inverter cut out. It didn't like powering bass woofers, the power kept surging and it was hard to pedal smoothly.

Then we learned how to power a battery. We put a fuse between the battery and the inverter, to stop appliances blowing up. We powered a light off the battery, while we connected...
the diode, which is like a one way valve, and stops the electricity going back to the motor.Then we wired up a DC to DC converter, which regulates the flow, so that we could pedal at any speed we wanted without sending surges to the invertor. This circuit board sends out a constant voltage which you can change by turning a little screw.
We are now designing our mill and will enjoy all the souldering and crimping and stripping of wires. We look forward to showing you when it is up and running.
Don't listen to what I've just written, I might have got it wrong, but it was helpful to write and remember what I'd done! I'd recommend this course to anyone. It's reassuring to know that if there is ever a time when we have no power, we can make it ourselves, with a few bits and pieces, make power and continue to be partying craftsmen.

Monday, 25 January 2010


ASAP Twitterers! You can cast on today with Ingrid Murane's cyber knitting performance.

Apologies, I should have blogged this yesterday, so you can get started NOW, but I'm sure you can catch up.
Ingrid had been thinking for a while about combining social networking and knitting, by crowd sourcing tweets to make a knitting pattern. She mentioned it to the rest of her collaborators the '@Platea Steering Committee' and although not all knitters, they thought it a marvelous idea. Ingrid explained to me,

You can take part in two ways, either as a maker or instructor. She asks instructers to use the hashtag then plateaknit when they give makers abreviated knitting instructions in tweet. These will be picked up by the the makers and incorporated into the piece they are knitting. Although they will be using knitting abbreviations, makers can use whatever media they like to interpret and perform: Drawing or photography could be influenced by the knitting pattern instructions.
If you decide to knit, you can either cast on a number of stitches to work from as a base and follow the instructions to make a freeform piece of work, or use a garment as a basis for your performance. Simple things will work better for this such as scarves, shawls and basic hats. It doesn't matter what yarn or needles you use either. As with all making, there will be a certain amount of personal interpretation of any instructions to fit what you are making.

For more instruction and to get started, got to @PLATEA Blog and find InnyM on Twitter.
Good luck everyone! We would love to see what you end up knitting.

Sunday, 24 January 2010


Our friend Lisa Anne lives on the other side of the world. Los Angeles to be precise.
Here she is knitting a revolutionary red cardigan by candle light, from Wensleydale which she bought when she came to visit Prick Your Finger. Her night time is way behind, so she is busy knitting revolutions while we are all asleep.
And she's knitting with her morning coffee, as we finish work.
Red Wensleydale suits Lisa. The colour of war, she can wear it as much as she wants because she wins wars without hurting anyone. To catch up with Lisa Anne, and hear about her recent power cut, check out her blog at Steal This Sweater.

Saturday, 23 January 2010


My new years resolution is clearly not working. Three weeks in, and the tidy time has fallen out of the routine, again. Fortunatly I have been saved by this brilliant knitted hanger by our friend Claire Murphy.
Avaliable from Fabrications on Broadway Market. Hurry while stocks last, Claire has a very busy life and she doesn't always have time to make her brilliant works.


Seeing as it's the season of the sale, we thought we should clear out the back room.
We now have silly prices on cones for machine knitting. Lots of colours and textures starting at 25p.
Hurry while stocks last!

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Pringle of Scotland has commissioned artist David Shrigley to create a humorous short animated film about life behind-the-scenes at Pringle to celebrate the brands return to Milan Fashion Week.


Good luck to the lady who went into labuor in our Beginners Crochet class last night. You picked up the concept very quickly considering the circumstances. We hope you are ok, and wish you and the baby well.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


We disguised our suprise, when Axl and Slash rocked up to Prick Your Finger this weekend. We have always maintained that when superstars shop with us, they will be treated the same as everyone else. This time we made an exception and took them to Louise's house to freak out.
Slash found my appliqued double neck guitar much lighter than his own, and he said our top hat, knitted by Kitty in a blend of wool and back bin liners, was really cool. Axl found the amplification from our giant knitting needles most empowering. He was running up and down the bedroom all afternoon.

Actually I can't tell a lie. That's us in the photos. We keep being asked for press shots, and after discussing new looks, we realised we could be who ever we wanted, so this Sunday, we were/ will be again, Axl and Slash.Dear Siobth,
Thank you for taking the pictures. What a brilliant way to spend an afternoon!
Love R x

Friday, 15 January 2010


Congratulations Clare on finishing the cot blanket in time for your goddaughter's baptism!
Clare bought Cornish Organic, Wendsleydale and Shetland DK yarns in blue, yellow and brown for her second crochet project.
A baby girl, arrived 3 weeks early, before the blanket was finished. Luckily, the baptism 6 months later was a more achievable deadline. The blanket has proved very popular and was even taken on a camping trip.
I think this blanket will be treasured for many years to come!

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Here is the poster for our new residency in the show 'Louder than Bombs' at the Stanley Picker Gallery at Kingston University. Inspired by The Smiths, the show will run for 7 weeks, with 7 residences and 7 ways to activate change.
Other artists include, Ansuman Biswas, Aine Philips, Steven Levon Ounanian and Thomas Thwaites, Sean Burn, Stacy Makishi and Yoshiko Shimada, and The Vacuum Cleaner.
Our week starts on 15th March (Please come visit) where we will present;

'Murder at the Wool Hall'
We are concerned that textile production which historically formed an economic back bone of Britian, has been lost to unethical manufacturing structures of disposable fashion. By constructing the world's first bicycle powered wool mill, we will turn the unwanted sheep fleeces within the M25, into a range of seductive yarns, good enough for the Queen.
Analyzing our factory's data, with live link -ups to the Stock Exchange, illustrated information from 'Love fashion, Hate Sweatshops' and 'The Environmental Justice Foundation', our factory asks the world to listen to sensible ways of profiting from nature without exploitation.
'This is the start of something we can not finish. The reward for our toil will not only be the product we make, but what we become by it. When love and skills come together, expect masterpieces. Creativity is a drug we can not live without.'

Watch this space for updates, and please come and visit us. The work will be fun and there will be regular tea breaks with bingo and dancing. The poster holds an image of Joseph Beuys in 1985, (not Michael Jackson as was originally thought.) Quote Beuys;
'Art that cannot shape society and therefore also cannot penetrate the heart questions of society, (and) in the end influence the question of capital, is no art.'
Here is Louise, age 15, in her boyfriend's bedroom listening to The Smiths "Things Take Time."
The words to the last verse which they learned off by heart together were,
'On the alcoholic afternoons,
when we sat in your room,
they meant more to me than any,
than any living thing on earth,
they had more worth,
than any living thing on earth..... '


Josh popped in yesterday to buy some more roving. He's being thrifty, saving plastic bags, and strengthening them with woolen stitches in beautiful patterns. Josh's bags will be for sale from tomorrow night Friday 15th January, at Kate MacGarry gallery, 7a, Vyner Street E2 9DG, where you can also see his lovely drawings like the one pictured here.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


Please spare a thought for the farmers in the snow. Some of the cauliflower and broccoli crops have failed. Harvesting machines don't work in hard ground, so they are having to harvest by hand to stop the cauliflowers turning to mush.
Sheep can survive in temperatures as low as -20, but early lambs need fodder, and water. Pipes are frozen and quad bikes and dogs won't go in a foot of snow, so the farmer has to do all the work on foot.
Rosemary knitted this cauliflower in carpet yarn, in short rows on the knitting machine. We've had it for months.


I went to see 'Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll last night - a wonderfully colourful film about Ian Dury. Layers of collage and casting so good, I couldn't believe it wasn't real.
His knitwear is inspired; gloves, snappy scarves, big floppy cardigans, and braces over fairisle tank tops.
Hit yourself with a knitting stick and GO!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


We bought ourselves a present!
"Rock Stars in Their Underpants" a book, photographed and complied by the amazing Paula Yates.
It's the hottest book we've seen for ages, and we will leave it lying around the shop for you to read.
Here is David Bowie in gorgeous Fairisle pants which would look lovely in Shetland Spindrift £2/25g.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Hello everyone.
We will be opening again on Tuesday 12th January 12pm.
We are trying to install hot water and a radiator, and it's a bigger job than expected.
We do miss you and look forward to seeing you soon x

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


'I've Been Thinking Of You' is an international sewing circle, started by Katherine from Bournemouth. Her first meeting is on January 13th, between the hours of 12 noon and 12 midnight, but don't worry - you don't have to go to Bournemouth, you can sew from anywhere in the world, and meet all the other participants on her blog at
Good luck stitchers, I hope you form a wonderful community.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


After weeks of watching modern men, shiver in inadequate winter clothing, how lovely to find these pictures of Keith Richards looking reassuringly solid in a warm arran polar neck, with chunky cables.
Handsome on any man, possibly in Swaledale - If he is hard enough.


When I was about 10, we chose this jumper for Dad for Christmas. It was a radical departure at the time, because it wasn't blue or grey, but red with a pattern on.
Dad has worn it every Christmas since, but this year, the jumper disintegrated having being attacked by moth.
Knitted in Shetland, the fabric is rather comforting, so I've saved what I could.
With the 'Speedweave' darning aid and an orange and satsuma as templates for heal and toe, I converted the back of the jumper into a pair of socks.