Analogue Amnesty. 2008-14

AAsmall Analogue Amnesty is a collaborative sound and spinning project by Rachael Matthews, initiated in 2008.   First performed at Tatty Devine on Brick Lane, through a month of long winter nights, the project offered a service where proud owners of defunct TDK or VHS tapes could come and choose a selection of wool fibres, the colours of which reminded them of the contents of the tape.  The tape was then played for the last time, whilst being fed through a sound 'pick up' held by a hand feeding tape and carded fibres through the spinning wheel.  The project asks us to talk about our favourite films and music in terms of colour and texture, producing yarn, spoken word performance, and soundscape.


The project went of to play with Chicks on Speed and the Raincoats in the Girl Monster Orchestra at the Donu Festival in Austria.

workshopAnalogue Amnesty workshop at Tatty Devine 2008.


Yarn Menu 2008.



Kandy Diamond Knits with the Living and the Dead


IMG_20140917_124129-500x500 Save the date! Kandy Diamond prepares us for Halloween with her knitted Tricks and Treats. Please come to a private view of her works on Friday 17th October 2014 6-9pm.

Or for a lighter experience, you can book in for her knitted jewelry workshop the day after. Ring the shop on 020 8981 2560 to book your place. This is a really good way of getting a winning streak ahead on your Christmas presents.


Spin Cycle at Cecil Sharp House


EFDSS.CSH_spin-cycle_banner-550x113 We’d be delighted if you were able to join us Next Thursday 25th September at 7.30pm as sampler-cultureclash presents Spin Cycle as the finale event of Yan Tan Tethera at the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

Help us to celebrate, toast and draw to a close a wonderful season of events – as a host of traditional musicians, Gaelic and English songs combine with beatboxers, electronics, and all manner of textile machines and sampling goodness in an exploration of all things that spin, rotate and oscillate.

Joining sampler-cultureclash regulars and previous Spin Cycle performers David Littler, Jason Singh, Hector MacInnes and Anne Martin is Aimee Leonard and the Dulwich Folk Choir, alongside textile artists Deidre Nelson; Rachael Matthews (from Prick Your Finger); and musicians Laurel Swift and Ben Moss.

After five months residency, the Graffiti Chairs will be gathered up from various sites around Camden to be displayed together for the first time. Encouraged by Mr X Stitch’s cross stitch wizardry and tutoring, locals have been busy stitching their textile song related words to transform the chairs.

Catch the final performance from Shane Waltener and his Bobbin Dancers, following the success of their Lace Tell stairwell weave-in; the film of which created by Roswitha Chesher will premier during the evening.

The 25 September will be the last chance to view the exhibition featuring new work from Freddie Robins, Prick Your Finger, Stewart Easton, Shane Waltener and the McGrath Makers; alongside printed broadsides of textile songs from the Vaughan Willians Memorial Library and the Pepys Library.

Promoted by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS)

Spin Cycle was originally commissioned by Atlas Arts with Deirdre Nelson and performed at Skye Bike Festival 2013.

We’d love to see you there. from David and the Yan Tan Tethera artists, sampler-cultureclash collective and everyone at EFDSS.




Gerillaslojd-cover-390x500 Sometimes I think Craftivism is just about housekeeping. All our projects involve * making tea, washing up, sorting scrap paper, winding yarn, making lunch, washing up, accounting, ringing your mates, making coffee, washing up, writing instructions, talking to the public, sweeping floor rep. from * to end. Begin again from * to end. And then we get a lovely suprise, when we remember that someone clever has written about us. GerillasloJD is out now, written by Frida Arnqvist Engström and on sale in PYF soon.

The book Gerillaslöjd is about contemporary handicrafts and how handicrafts can make a difference. How they influence our way of thinking, alter world economies, even change the world. At any rate, a new wave of doers out there claim that this is the case. Gerillaslöjd presents contemporary craftsmen and women who have become part of a societal discussion. We get to know yarn graffiti taggers, artisan activists, DIYers, and anarchist embroiderers.

The author herself has coined the term “gerillaslöjd” in Swedish, which can be translated into English as “guerilla handicrafts”. It describes the creative mix of crafts, street art, and installations currently found in public spaces. Common to all of these is a measure of creativity surrounding the material used and the presence of a message. In terms of technology, guerilla handicrafts can be crocheted, knitted, embroidered, carved, printed, scrubbed or sown. Seen in this context, guerilla handicrafts are not particularly destructive.

Perler beads can be taken down, knitting can be snipped off, embroidery stitches can be picked out, and plants can be moved. Once you’ve read about and been inspired by these people, maybe it’s time you tried it out yourself? Gerillaslöjd features five projects you can start straight away.


The other day I had to do a talk to the Art Worker’s Guild about my career so far. I delved into some heavily buried files, where I was proud to find this article from the Evening Standard in year 2000. The article was the first write up about Cast Off Knitting Club. Knitting in Public was un-heard of in those days. I got my first e-mail address especially to run the knitting club, which was at, written at the bottom of the article. Lucy Ryder Richardson the author coined the phrase Guerrilla Knitters, which I do believe would have formed anyway, but I think this might have been the first use of it. Happy days – there are the Tatty Devine girls in there, Amy Plant, Capitol K, Yu Masui, Rosie Cooper, and lots of other friends and relations. Are you in there? The dog was called Truman and belonged to Sandra at the Golden Heart.

Craftivism is no fad.

Congratulations Freida.

Yan Tan Tethera - Description of Works


page15-355x500 Didn’t we go quiet on this blog? There were various reasons, but it all started when we learned to Knit again at Cecil Sharp’s House, the home of the English Song and Dance Society, where Sampler Culture Clash David Littler was curating a show called Yan Tan Tethera, or which, folks, we have been part.


I didn’t learn to knit with, *’In through the front door, once around the back, out through the window, and off jumps Jack..’rep. from *

but many folks did. Pictured here are examples of windows and doors, from the Guidebook to Knitted Meditation produced by Prick Your finger for the event.


This is the front and back cover of the Guide book as I laid it out – so the right hand side is the front cover, left hand side the back.


All artists in the show had the wonderful opportunity to go through the Cecil Sharp / Vaughan Williams library and learn about folk songs. I was working with Amy Leonard who runs the Dulwich Folk Choir and had produced lots of songs about textiles. Each song is packed with little images, which I thought would be convenient for people to knit as charms while listening or joining in with the choir. Here is one we all know – Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.


Socks are a regular occurrence in folk song. Important to wear in heavy clogs, and essential for cold, damp English winters, I’m sure we used to praise the sock far more than we do now, and I even found counting songs which used images of socks to keep counting fun. Socks, as some of us know, are actually a lot of skilled time consuming work, so our MAX Alexander invented this pattern for miniature socks which you can almost spit out..


I like horseshoes, and they are quite easy to knit as most beginner knitters when discovering a good tension, make a horse shoe shape automatically. This pattern had some more detailed horse shoe designs. I also learned that the good luck with the horse shoe facing up is because the luck falls in, but sometimes they are lucky faced down because the luck stays trapped in. Does this mean that Luck has gravity?


I made a page with ducks and chickens because that is what I thought folk lovers would like, and how true that turned out to be – we were inundated with chickens, mostly orange, and one pink one, which turned out to be a knitted vulva, made by a lady who was heavily involved in the last folk revival, and did a lot of good for woman kind.

There were other patterns too, sheep etc, but what is it all for I hear you wonder?

All the little knitted charms were stitched onto, and continue to be stitched onto, a knitted mandala. Hanging on the stairwell at Cecil Sharp House, is an attempt at a mediaitive dancing wall hanging. All the colours were from the Knit by Numbers range of merino DK (£10/100g) – which helps many people’s work hang together in colour harmony. . There was something for everyone with this project. Children too young to knit made French Knitting in green for the foliage, and pom poms in marigold colours.. more about this later….the shop is full of customers!


Keep and Share Party


20140821_195757-550x412 Amy Twigger Holroyd’s party to celebrate a decade of her research and making of knitwear was in full swing. People came from all over, while ‘The Backbone of Britain’ hung, looming in the long gallery. The Back Bone of Britain was origionally made by Amy’s Nana, and then sculpted into it’s present form by Amy. Smelling of that smell of acrylic knitting, made with clean hands, washed in carbolic soap, it may have been packaged in a draw serviced with lavender bags, a moth ball, and perhaps some sealed plastic. It now hung comfortably, nestling in it’s own oxters, and inviting it’s audience to formation dance.


When Sally Anne first went ‘In’ she said it was like a bad dream. The acrylic overwhelmed her and she imagined the horror of wearing all 20 cardigans at once.


But then she realised just how much care, and generosity of time had gone into the stitches. That made her feel better.


That thought actually made her feel quite at home.


Prof. Sandy Black commented how wonderful it was that all the cardigans fitted together so well. The arms were perfect fitting jigsaw pieces. Sally Anne realised she could try on all the cardigans at once, some up right some upside down, and suddenly even the colours stopped clashing.

There are many ways to interact with this piece.

Amy’s Nana, created a support structure which continues to inspire. This is a structure of endurance, with high standards, and usefulness. The garments can not be worn, (for reasons that are obvious on touching) but they still exude warmth if you look in the right way. The warmth is the story. No colour is bad, no knitting is bad, and ideas never die.

10 Years of 'Keep and Share' with Dr. Amy Twigger Holroyd, To Be Celebrated at Prick Your Finger


Backbone-Amy-499x500 2004 was a great year for Knitting. Amy Twigger Holroyd, now known as Dr. Amy Twigger Holroyd, launched her project Keep and Share. To me, it feels really important for us all to celebrate Amy’s last decade. She researched ‘Folk Knitting Fashion’ and she must be congratulated on becoming a Research Fellow at Leeds University, looking at ‘Design Routes.’ Amy’s last decade was busy and complex, and she will be showing a variety of her works including a time line and a newly published pamphlet about her discoveries. A new piece to be hung in the Long gallery excites me enormously – and Amy will tell you all about it here…

Hello! Amy here! This story is called, Celebrating ten years: the Backbone of Britain

Yesterday I popped into knit mecca Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green to firm up my exhibition-and-celebration plans with the lovely Rachael Matthews. We’re celebrating ten years (to the day) of Keep & Share, with a party next Thursday. The exhibition will stay up for a month or so, including a range of pieces from the Keep & Share archive, plus a new work called The Backbone of Britain.

This work comes with a story.

It is made from a collection of twenty cardigans which my dad found stashed in a chest of drawers when he was clearing out my great aunt’s house – hand knitted, seemingly unworn, all acrylic. Within the collection, there is a range of styles – although there are multiple versions of several patterns, knitted in different colours and sizes. We think my nana, Gladys (Auntie Alice’s sister), knitted them – but can’t be sure, as she died a few years before they were found. My nana was a prolific knitter, and taught me to knit when I was little, so this pile of cardigans felt emotionally significant, as well as representing a staggering amount of effort.

- See more at:


For obvious reasons, I ended up with this collection of cardigans. I didn’t feel a desire to wear any of them – despite my cardigan fetish, I don’t ‘do’ acrylic – but didn’t feel I could get rid of them either. So, for years they were stashed away in a cupboard, and each time I saw them, I felt guilty.

Last autumn I reorganised the studio, and the cardigans re-emerged from the cupboard. Still, I didn’t know what to do with them. The huge pile of knitting continued to lurk, as I shifted it from surface to surface in the studio. The cardigans needed to be resolved!


A little later in the autumn, I met my wonderful friend Celia Pym, told her about the cardigans and asked for her help. Celia – accompanied by Rachael – came to visit me in Hereford on a gloriously sunny day. We drank tea and ate cake and looked at the cardigans together… talked about them… played with them. As you will see in the photos, the weight of all this skill and time and effort weighed heavily on our shoulders for a while! (That’s Celia with her head in her hands.) But as we talked and played, a plan began to emerge. The cardigans organised themselves into a new form which will be unveiled at Prick Your Finger in a week’s time.


Nana, or whoever knitted these cardigans originally, made most of this work. I have just arranged it a little. Many, many thanks to Celia and Rachael for their help!

During the playing process, we were thinking about the amount of effort that women like my nana have put into catering (and over-catering) for their families’ knitwear needs over the years. Rachael suggested that we might think of such effort as the Backbone of Britain – and the name stuck.

Please come and see! All are welcome at the tenth anniversary celebration on Thursday 21st August, 2014 at Prick Your Finger, 260 Globe Road, E2 0JD – join us to celebrate between 6pm and 9pm. I’ll be giving a slideshow talk – sharing my experiences of a decade in experimental slow fashion knitting – at 7pm.

Prayer Ropes In Wild Wood Wool


Every once in a while, I get a call from Mother Seraphima and the Sisters, possibly the most creative knitting nuns in the United States of America. I first met Mother Seraphima and the Sisters when they came on a flying visit to Prick Your Finger after visiting the grave of their former Mother Superior in Kent. Their Mother Superior had knitted in UK sheep breeds and these sisters wanted to continue the tradition. This week Mother sent me this picture of the prayer rope she had made by knotting Cecilia and Jean’s Wild Wool Wool.

Mother sent us a link of how to make a prayer rope on U tube here. All the Sisters have been having a go. She will soon be sending us a leaflet on how to make them, and we will have a go. I think they make a lovely piece of something to help us which ever way we pray.


Cecilia and Jean of Wild Wood Wool are most flattered. Here is some wool they dyed inspired by a beach hedge and blue sky.


A few months back I spun Mother Seraphima this chunky Manx yarn.


She is knitting it up into a shawl. So far it is big enough for her bear to wear, but when the American heat wave cools down and she has finished her busy schedule of charity works, she will make it big enough to keep her cosy through the winter.

Love to Mother and the Sisters.

Kandy Diamond! How Did You Do It?


DSCF1021-550x412 Here is Kandy Diamond presenting us with new dimensions in knitting.

As the last week of Kandy’s show ‘Death by Knitting’ approaches, many of you are still asking ‘How did she do it?’ I managed to interupt Kandy on her busy teaching and proffessional roller skating schedule, and ask her to kill the suspense, and answer the big questions, like,

” Often when visitors to Prick Your Finger view your new work, there is a point of confusion as to whether it is really knitted! Could it actually be true? Please could you tell us what it felt like when you first saw 3-D knitting emerge from your knitting machine. How was the journey into the new dimension? You have a lot of technical ability to make this work. How did you get there?”


“Yes, it’s most definitely knitted, and when the first poster was emerging from the knitting machine it felt amazing, but scary at the same time, I didn’t have my 3D glasses to hand so I couldn’t check if it had worked properly! I had done test pieces before so knew it should work but even the slightest change in stitch size/tension can really change the outcome of a piece.

The journey into the new dimension was challenging but fun. First I had to research into how 3D works and figure out how to get the best effects with anaglyph 3D, how to make the image seem like it’s coming forward/going back etc. I designed the posters using photoshop then worked with layers translating them into cyan and red then shifting the colours to create the 3D effect. The jpeg was then used along with CAD knit software to translate it to a knit design that can be programmed into the machine! ”


“There is quite a buzz about saving analogue film at the moment, Tacita Dean has a moving campaign, and you have presented us with an exciting roll through the shop. What do these technologies mean to you?”


“Analogue film is massively important, it is the foundation of all film making, like the hand knitting of the film world. As well as analogue film having such historical importance, it also has visual qualities that cannot be achieved digitally. The more I see every other new film coming out in 3D and HD, the more I just want to watch Calamity Jane or any other simple film, made with traditional methods, sets and props. Analogue feels much more human than digital to me, and I wanted to express this in my ‘spliced’ piece by adding hand stitch to the machine knitted pieces, also, to bring attention to the traditional methods of film editing that involved actual cutting up of film and sticking it back together. ”


“Viewers have gasped with excitement at your Zine ‘Death By Knitting’, and copies with their free 3D glasses have sold like hot cakes. I think it wrong of me to assume that their laughter was recognition of deathly acts in knitting, as I try to see knitters as beautiful people. I could of course be innocent and nieve. As our first knitting detective to make an art show at Prick Your Finger, what advice could you give our readers on avoiding murder in the knitting circle?”


“If you look at the zine and read about how the murders/incidents occur in the films studied, you’ll see that most of them are in self-defence, with the odd unhinged knitter in the mix…so, as long as you don’t get on the wrong side of your knitting circle, you should easily avoid any fatalities! You could also suggest that people use bamboo or plastic needles, I’m pretty sure they’re less dangerous than the metal kind. ”

If you have any other questions about Kandy’s show, please call.

Anthony Stevens -- Making Soup.


DSCN0705-550x388 Prick Your finger is delighted to announce the opening of ‘Anthony Stevens: Making Soup’; from 13 June – 10 July 2014. We were introduced to Anthony’s work through The Pallant House Gallery’s ‘Outside In’ program. Outside In, was founded for artists who find it difficult to access the art world. Prick Your finger is it’s own art world, and like Anthony’s work; inspired by the Punk Rock movement.

Born in Birmingham in 1978, Anthony travelled around looking for work before settling in Brighton; where he now creates his Punk Rock- and Buddhist-inspired textiles and drawings. His first brush with art was at a young age, when he would make small printed bags with his mother, although it wasn’t until his early twenties that he really began to focus on it as a serious endeavour following employment at a day centre in a creative role.

Stevens started producing his trademark stitch-work after a bout of disillusionment with the clothing market. Traipsing the Laines in Brighton, he decided to stitch his own t-shirts. During this short period, he began to take more notice of the process he was using; sifting, sorting and separating what was useful, but not throwing anything away. He would then cut out the pieces he did want to keep before reorganising them.

Stevens’ work is imbued with meaning; right from the fabric he chooses to the pattern he overlays it with. But it is his use of a Nicherin Buddhism inspired ritualistic process that makes Stevens’ practice so interesting. This form of Buddhism has a strong focus on chanting and recital, which Stevens uses to bring into focus an image, phrase or idea which he will then scribble down quickly. He continues to chant until he feels content: “It’s almost made my art practice seem like a mirror of what is happening in my life. The deeper meanings of each piece come out.”

Stevens wants to jolt the audience with his work; make them sit up and listen. There are deep symbolic meanings hidden beneath the surface that he encourages people to search for, like the recurring stripes alluding to the distinction between life and death.

Highlighting the interconnectedness of his life and work, Stevens says: “By the time each piece is complete, I feel a great sense of love and achievement. Everything adds to the character and depth of the work and has its own value and unique contribution to the whole. It is a great metaphor for life!”


About Outside In Outside in is a national project established in 2006 to provide a platform for artists who are traditionally excluded from the art world due to health, disability, social circumstances, or because their work does not conform to what is usually considered as art. Its main vehicle is a triennial open art exhibition. The project won the Charity Award in the Arts, Culture and Heritage category in 2013.


Showing work by Outside In artists is important to Prick Your Finger. All our customers make textiles because something deep inside them requires it. Whether our exhibitors have full time career with international success, or a one off show for one month, the stitches we show, with their accompanying stories, always exude cause and effect. Anthony we hope you have a nourishing time with your show.

Collaboration Conversation


Rob-Ryan-artist-006 I do love a good conversation, especially a conversation where there are lots of ideas of things to make,


that would make the world a happier place,


today, tomorrow and until the end of time.


When I first met Rob Ryan and Harriet and Rosie from Tatty Devine,


over a decade ago now, this conversation clearly had no ending.


In fact, they still can’t stop talking, which is why I have been drafted in to host a conversation between them, which I have to contain to a mere morning at the new and exciting Soho Create festival. (Interrupting technique advice most welcome.)

There are heaps more great design legends talking that day, and Harriet and Rob will be pondering on ‘Making it Work’, discussing their rich and magical experience of collaboration.


It’s going to be at the Soho Theatre, which looks like this, except this isn’t the audience, that is someone else’s crowd. Booking of ticket strongly recommended.