Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Prick Your Finger

Like it or not knitting is the new cool pastime. Thousands of people are picking up their knitting needles and wool and yarning sweaters, hats and scarves. Prick Your Finger is a modern haberdashery shop that is capitalising on this new trend. Founded by Uni pals, Rachael Matthews and Louise Harries, this cutesy kitschy shop based in Bethnal Green aims to take handcrafts to the masses. I took a trip down to East London to check out the store.

What is the concept of your shop and how did you come up with it?
I worked in fashion designing for companies like Hoxton Boutique, Gucci and Gap, being involved from yarn sourcing to factory production. This means I am a bit obsessed with textile machinery, yarn processing, and the journey from sheep to shoulder.
Rachael: I ran Cast Off knitting club for boys and girls, making events to promote knitting and handicrafts as a constructive pass time. It gathered column inches and made woolly chaos all over the world. Out of the chaos came kits, books, films and a completely knitted wedding. Cast Off mixed with the stars including Englebert Humpledink, Rikki Lake, Vanessa Felts, BBC Breakfast crew, Christopher Biggins, Robin Cousins, Vinnie the Ferret, Wayne Hemmingway, and Sharron Osborne.

Your shop is very boutique like and also very welcoming, how do you go about conveying that feeling when you started decorating?
Louise: Our shop has everything you need to be an ornamental hermit or to make the best party costumes. We believe an original look well worn is priceless. Old books teach us new craft skills. We built the shop fittings ourselves, and laid the parquet flooring. If William Morris were alive today, he would take us to the pub.

Knitting is very cool these days, why do you think it is so popular?
Louise: I think the resurgence of knitting is to do with the rediscovery of how good it feels to make something yourself. In an age of mass production and short-cuts you (don't even have to wash and chop your own carrots these days, armageddon is surely around the corner. Knitting is time consuming and skillful - these things are luxuries - also a lot of people never see the end result of their daily labours, so knitting is solves that.

What sort of products do you stock?
Louise: We don’t like synthetic materials, and we don’t panic when our clothes get holes in because we can mend them. We are passionate about all forms of textiles, from current fashion to heritage, and couture to make do and mend.

How did the two of you meet?
We met at Central St Martin’s college in the canteen where we took own flasks. I am from Wales and Rachael is from the Lake District.

Tell me what your average day is like.
Louise: An average day is like this; I cycle to the shop from Dalston, we drink tea and sort out the records we need to play that day. We go through the weeks work and on going projects. We do a lot of events and Rachael has quite a few exhibitions coming up so lots of emails and phone calls. The shop opens at 12pm then we get customers and friends coming in all day. Lunch is very important. I am into home made soup at moment. We shut at 7pm and then its off to meet friends, private views, improving talks or gigs.

What other shops do you admire and why?
The shops I admire are Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren's 'Let it Rock' and 'Sex.' They weren't just shops but whole scenes and a way of life, like Prick Your Finger.

What are your plans for Prick Your Finger?
Louise: Plans phew! Our own range of yarns is currently in production, we have sheep at my brothers small-holding. We are moving the studio further back so we can expand the gallery and event space; we have some really good exhibitions coming up. We plan to take over the whole street and turn it into the first knitted museum/bauhouse style factory and space!

Prick Your Finger are based at 260 Globe Road, Bethnal Green, London E2 0JD

1 cool comments:

browngirlgumbo said...

That's so funny that you're writing about knitting because I was just talking to a co-worker about possibly taking up the hobby! I just hope that I can have the patience to keep it up. As always, great post!!