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I’m almost certainly not the only sock knitter to have thought of it, but I post this tip in case someone can make good use of it.

There are plenty of devices and gadgets that aim to keep your stitches from falling off your dpns while you transport your sock-in-progress: this is a popular one, and this is a beautiful wooden number. Having none of these tools, I improvised using some things from my stationery box.

DPN keeper
DPN keeper


  • 1 document binding comb, like these. (c. 7mm in diameter for 2.25mm dpns).
  • 1 craft knife or small pair of scissors.
  • 1 double pointed needle from your project.


  • Measure your dpn against the comb, and mark the length. The idea is that the length of comb is measured so that a ring is sitting inside the needle length on either end. This is what will keep your stitches from falling off.
  • Cut the comb after the last full ring of your measurement. In my case, this was after 8 rings. (Or 11cm of comb for a 12cm needle).
  • Using the craft knife, cut away all the rings in between the first and last rings, making sure to trim any sharp edges. Leave the first and last rings intact.
  • Insert dpns with project safely restricted between the edge rings.

Go forth!


A few weeks ago, exhausted and grouchy, and thinking “Why should I let the toad work / Squat on my life?” we escaped our responsibilities for a few days. We’ve returned, refreshed and rounder of girth, after a relaxing break.

We wanted to get as far as our (pretty meagre) resources would take us, so we aimed for the edge of Europe, for the city that has one foot in Asia – Istanbul.


Although we were only there for four days, we managed to cram our time full of incredible experiences, sights and tastes. Byzantine and Ottoman architecture dominates the city, an order of magnitude greater than the shops and apartments that line the narrow streets. Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet were particularly stunning, as was the tiny church of St Saviour in Chora – crammed full of exquisite mosaics and frescoes. The bazaars were saturated with colour and texture, and we overcame our inhibitons enough to barter for some goodies. We ate until we were full, and walked until our feet hurt – and then hopped on a ferry to explore the city by water.  (More photos of our trip here).

Kürkçü Han: wool seller

I even managed to do a spot of yarn shopping (!). The winding streets between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar are lined with shops and informal stalls where many of the locals buy and sell their wares. A narrow opening from Mahmutpaşa Street leads to an enclosed courtyard bazaar – Kürkçü Han – which houses several dozen yarn and linen stores.

This rainy picture was taken from the first-floor corridor that surrounds the courtyard. Make sure you explore upstairs if you are coming here – the corridor is lined with yarn stalls.

This guy had a great little shop, crammed to the rafters with all sorts of yarns. Most of the offerings were vibrant acrylics and cottons, but I found some pure undyed wool crammed into a plastic bag in front of his stall. I bartered with the owner, but he was persuaded by one of his other customers not to budge in price (in fact, I think she was pushing him to charge me more than the stated price!). I came away with ten hanks of creamy worsted weight wool, for the bargain price of £5. This will be yarn for dyeing, I think.

We came away from Istanbul reluctantly, but spent the rest of our break relaxing with family around England. We’re back at work, and holding onto our renewed energy levels. And we’ve learned our lesson – don’t wait until you reach breaking point to take a break. Even a few days away can make a world of difference!

C. Arden, Bookseller

We made the most of yesterday’s unexpected heatwave by taking a trip deep into the Welsh countryside – to buy books…

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Spindle and Wool Top

As if I don’t have enough obsessions already… I’ve been trying my hand at a new craft – spindling.

This beautiful high-whorl drop spindle was a gift from my mother a few months ago.

I love this spindle. It’s smooth and beautifully marled, and generally soul-soothing. For months now I’ve been twirling it through my fingers empty of fibre, yearning to try it out properly, but discouraged by the woeful results of my sporadic attempts. It seemed to call to me from its place on the bookshelf behind my desk, urging me impatiently to give it another try – so last Saturday I did.

Spinning is a completely different animal to master… Unlike knitting and crochet – where the end result is more important than how you get there – spinning is all about process. So my first attempts at spinning were unmitigated disasters – I dropped the spindle on my foot and spun it out of my hands and across the room several times, I tangled the fibres irrevocably, or spread them too thin. Then, gradually, I started to produce yarn.

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