Thursday, 29 July 2010


E-mail Maggie at Alternative Arts or phone Jules on 07791012837.
We would go for it, but we've still got most of our teeth.
Good luck.


Elen's timing is usually spot on. She arrived in time to help put the finishing touches to the shop sign and knocked up this stylish fascinator from the offcuts.
Now there is no disputing the fact she works here, and to add to her credit, she's made this extraordinary watch from Shetland spindrift. The time is always Friday afternoon, which is about right for here.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Tidying up my dusty accessories box, I found myself crocheting around a pair of rather tasteless blue frames I bought at a car boot sale, with blue cotton, silk boucle and some purple beads which I have never worn.
There's plenty more dead car boot sunglasses and beads where they came from. I'm really excited. I drilled holes then it's a pain to get the first row through but then it speeds up and feels a bit surgical with a tiny hook, pots of beads, and lots of fiddling.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


This morning we had a telephone call from the Hampton Court Palace Restoration Department, requesting 30 'Moths are Wankers' badges, to become part of the staff uniform.
We posted them straight away.

Zeel, the artist who produced the badges, joins us in wishing the restorers every success in their on-going battle.

Monday, 26 July 2010


Check out the new look! We needed a new lick of paint, so we've gone a shiny sour bronzy green with woolly carpet yarn letters and flowers.
We knitted a length of two colour intarsia on the chunky knitting machine. It took about a day and a night, was quite a work out on the arms, but most satisfying. I put it in the washing machine on 90 degrees. The weather was so hot, it dried instantly.
Then we cut the letters and loads of leaves and petals. With the help of the Kate Bush 1979 Christmas Special and the late Sebastian Horsley's generous spirit we spent quite a while stitching them together.

Unfortunatly there wasn't a man around to go up the ladder, so I went up there myself. It wasn't that bad, except that when you hit felted carpet yarn with a hammer in a light breeze, it lets off fiberous bits, which go up your nose, causing a hey fever effect.
Funnily enough, a lawn mower parked up on the pavement below. The driver was lunching at the Worker's Cafe. As I was putting up the sign, more dust was coming from the building work next door, and sticking to the window and the new glossy paint work. The builders, who were generous in lending their ladder, kindly offered to clean the window, so there we are, there were men about after all.
And here is Prick Your Finger's new facade, which I hope you will all come to visit soon.

Saturday, 17 July 2010



There's a very special gift for us all to see in our work by Fleur Oakes.
Basically it is a corset, but as you can start to see from these pictures, it's a corset from a place beyond Narnia. This piece has taken months to make, and was inspired by the creaking frost that twinkled at Fleur last winter.

Each needle lace leaf took Fleur about 5 hours. The eyes are not apparent at first. Like with any green man / woman, we are beckoned in and only when we are looking closely to we see there is someone looking back at us.
There is a needle lace cat and a deer, dancing and racing through the greens and blues and whites,
of the shot taffita, which shimmers as our eyes travel around.

On the back of the piece, are layers of little organza snowflakes which have not beginning or end, but which hold a little message from Fleur which reads...
'For I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.'
Much of this great work was made through a giant magnifying glass, which I imagine is how Fleur must look at the whole world, in order to understand the enormity of what is around us and somehow express it with needle and thread. In the midst of energetic summer, I urge you to come look at patient sparkling winter which will be upon us before we can say Jack Frost.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


A date for your diary's folks.

The New Sheridan Club presents a fantastic talk on August 4th - some time during the evening which runs from 8-11pm.

Evadne Raccat will vent her obsession with “pretty ladies in pretty dresses” with an elaboration of The Duchess of Devonshire’s Ball. Held in 1897, this fancy-dress party, with royal guests of honour, was notable because Lafayette set up a photo booth and made records of many of the costumes, giving an insight into the telling ways that different guests interpreted the code of historical or exotic dress.

Upstairs, The Wheatsheaf, 25 Rathbone Place, London W1T 1JB

Members: Free

Non-Members: £2 (first visit free)

For more info go to

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Dear All,

You are invited to a private view of new works by Miss Fleur Oakes of Glass Pingle this Thursday from 6-9pm, here at PYF.
Her work is extra ordinarily fine, and it's rare to see anything made with this much love and attention in this high paced crazy world.
See you there,

Saturday, 10 July 2010


I don't remember when this stinky dishcloth came into my life.
Through the heatwave, it's odor hit me in the face, and I noticed it for the first time.Why is it, that I dedicate my life to beautiful textiles, and let this foul creature, grow and rot in my sink? The guilt was mind blowing.
A friend said to me that cleaning things was the best place to start when the rest of the world seems over whelming. It seemed this monster of a dishcloth could be the savior of the day.
Gathering strength, I put it in the washing machine.
It came out it smelling feather soft, but still skew whiff, and in need of a make over. I chopped off it's wonky seams, and ironed it, then punched holes around the edges with a knitting needle to make a foundation for a Herdwick crochet border.
Herdwick is a tough, all weather wool, which is grey to start with, so there's no need to worry about it dying in dregs. Herdwick sheep live on the lake district fells, a much more punishing climate than my kitchen.
I've enjoyed being in the kitchen more since I bonded with the dishcloth. It has been promoted to wiping trays, and is hung out to dry in prime position. Dishcloth has arrived, and is most welcome. x


Remember Yoko's blindfold crochet!

Friday, 9 July 2010


While we've all been busy doing whatever we did over the last year, The Glass Pingle was quietly working away in her shack full of treasures at the end of her beautiful herbacious border.

She's coming out from the other side of her magnifying glass at some point next week, to put up a new show of work at Prick Your Finger.

Prepare to be blown away, like a little dandelion seed. We'll tell you when she arrives.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


I couldn't resist blogging this photo from our party last week.
These sparkling grins are always this big when I see them, even though they spend all day working jolly hard to run businesses that make beautiful things. There were more grins, but they didn't fit in the photo. These girls make creative business fun and our lives would be much harder without them. It is possible to work hard, if you know how to play.

I'm reading the philosophy of Andy Warhol and he says,

"Business Art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did the thing called 'Art' or whatever it is called, I went into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business Artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business- they'd say, "Money is bad," and "Working is bad," but making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art."

To grin like this, give your old looks the re vamp of joy, by trying on a new hat or jewelry at and


Everyone of you, has, or knows someone who has, an odd sock. There's zillions of them, strewn across the planet.
John- Paul Flintoff, our current artist, has a solution. With a few small steps, an odd sock can be turned into a Person Toy Thing.
We love the way an odd sock could develop a persona, become part of a family, team, or institution. Sock Person Toy Things could make or break rules, cheer people up, or remind us of things we have forgotten.
What role could you give an odd sock person toy thing?
Tell us your ideas and read more about the genius behind this idea by purchasing J-P F's 'Sew Your Own' £7.99


It was a joy to spend time with Lisa Anne Auerbach a few weeks back. She stayed for a couple of days, on her way from LA to Paris. We went to the Art Worker's Guild for Lucinda Lampton's lecture on 'Temples of Convenience'.
Lisa's button was falling off her jacket. We were so busy talking and embroidering the snakes and ladders board (Lisa did no 29) that we didn't fix the button but sent her off to Paris with the needle and thread.
It was a good thing we did, because on arriving in Paris, Lisa Anne needed to wash her socks and knickers, but it didn't seem safe to dry them on the balcony of her hotel room, because they could have been caught in a light breeze, and fallen from the balcony, so she threaded them all together with the needle and thread, and they tidily drip dried in the bathroom.
Genius. Come back soon L-A x

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


We were delighted to launch John-Paul Flintoff's marvelous book 'Sew Your Own' with a fantastic shin dig last Thursday night. We met John-Paul a while ago, when he came to buy some wool. He asked good questions, so we knew he was special, and on a serious mission. We couldn't put it down, especially Chapter 39, 'Prick Your Finger'!

The book is J-P's journey to find the meaning of life where he ends up making by making his own clothes. It is funny, friendly, and honest.
Interested in everything, and engaging with everyone he meets, John- Paul is never afraid to try.
We were gripped as we read about him spinning nettle fiber and knitting his own pants.

Every product has a brilliant story, and you could have been there.
John-Paul's friend Prue made extraordinary cakes with pants and buttons on. They were displayed in a big tower with flags on, next to the organic nettle wine.
John-Paul's daughter Nancy, dressed in a frock made from her old baby grows and decorated with drawn flowers, was our MC and DJ for the night. Armed with the megaphone she shouted "Sew your own! Buy my Daddy's book!"
whilst spinning her favourite song,
Nirvana's 'Smells like Teen Spirit'.
The party goers sang along, into a watering can for amplification.

And how they danced! Louise's dancing shoes looked like this.
The show is up for a couple of weeks. I'll try and blog it further, later in the week.
In the mean time I recommend this warming read, for a bargin £7.99.

Monday, 5 July 2010


To-day we have a guest blog story from my mother, patchwork detective, Diana Matthews JP.

"At the back of a long undisturbed cupboard in my late grandmother’s linen room emerged a tangled mess of patchwork bedspread. The cousin with whom I was sorting linen declared that the rubbish dump was the best place for it.

I decided otherwise and soon set about mending the bedspread however thought it was unwise to wash it. I have been told since that washing is not a good idea. The patchwork now resides on a bed of c.1650.

On visiting a large patchwork collection many years ago in north Cumbria, elements of mine looked similar to the owner’s. The main feature was the Indian tree of life motif in the centre. I thought that perhaps there was such a thing as a patchwork kit for bedspreads of 1815-25 as so many materials looked similar.

I had the opportunity over last weekend to visit this collection again and gained permission to take mine to show the owner and compare patchworks. She has two with the Indian tree of life motifs, of different sizes. The colours are much more vibrant and less faded then mine. These were perhaps the fashionable centre for patchworks and being printed were possibly an item to purchase from the haberdashers. Like her patchworks of the period, mine is also hand quilted and has a plain ‘white’ backing sheet.

We looked at the various materials which were used in mine and in hers of the same period and it appears that many are very similar. It was less of a patchwork kit scenario and more of the question as to what materials were in fashion 1815-1825. Many of the patches were brown or red with little off-white stylised roses. The browns were the materials which had decayed the quickest. The materials were all cottons rather than the more affluent silks from grand houses."

Thanks Mum. Here is the Tree of Life Patchwork on the cover of the catalogue for the Calbeck Collection. It is simular to our patchwork.

Friday, 2 July 2010


Those of you that have followed our blog for a while will know that every year on our birthday, we take the sign down and wash it, twice. Re-erecting the sign is a long job, so we nominate tall, well dressed men of significant character.
This year we were blessed with John- Paul Flintoff, author of page turner, 'Sew Your Own', available at Prick Your Finger for £7.99
Thanks for your help J-P!


We can't get enough of P Diddy's 'Dirty Money' on our big speakers.
It makes our shop feel like how you imagine the sound inside those cars with souped up bass bins to be, where from the outside it just vibrates.
The customers seem to like it, probably because the chorus says 'Good Morning'.


Our Elen has graduated from Chelsea College, and we are very proud of her. Elen has been working here one day a week for over a year, helping us with our projects. There isn't much she can't do, and she brings us much joy. Above she is pictured with her knitted bus and train journeys,
and sizes of rooms in places she has lived, measured with lengths of yarn,
and trophy samples from knitters she has taught through her time in college. She has, of course, sold the whole show for a very good price.
We wish you every good fortune Elen Roberts, you are a star. x