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Through the Eye of a Needle: The true story of a man who went searching for meaning and ended up making his Y-fronts [Paperback]

John-Paul Flintoff
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.82
Price: 8.78 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

17 Aug 2009
John-Paul Flintoff was the archetypal mindless consumer until one day he set out to find a purpose in life and decided to make his own clothes. Through The Eye Of A Needle is a brilliant account of his journey - illuminating, enchanting and often extremely funny - arguing that the way we look at clothing influences the way we look at the environment, the economy and life itself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Permanent Publications; 1st edition (17 Aug 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856230457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856230452
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 410,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A world-changing book, an adventure in politics, religion and haberdashery --Alex Somerset An illuminating and funny testament to one man's attempt to survive economic meltdown, tackle climate change, and enter the kingdom of heaven by making his own clothes. John-Paul shows us that we can almost literally re-make our future and we can do it with a smile on our face. Tony Rollinson, Permaculture Magazine. It seems, and I'm grinding my jaws as I type this, that his time has come. --Harriet Green (the author's wife), The Observer

Combines the cheerful idealism of Tom Hodgkinson with the well-meaning cluelessness of Danny Wallace, and a commitment to the DIY ethic not seen since William Morris started stringing his first loom. --Mark Bailey

A world-changing book, an adventure in politics, religion and haberdashery. One day it will be recognised as a classic. --Alex Somerset

About the Author

John-Paul Flintoff's writing has attracted compliments from the documentary maker Michael Moore, the stage and film director Richard Eyre, and the late Nobel-winner Harold Pinter ('Very good. Very funny... In fact, it made me laugh'). As well as writing he has worked as a bin man, scuba diver, poet, taxi driver, assistant undertaker, tailor, gardener, high-wire window cleaner, very amateur boxer and rat catcher.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Lyra
I bought this book after listening to the author on Woman's Hour. The presenter tried to make fun of the dress John-Paul had made for his daughter but failed to dent his cheerful enthusiasm, and it turns out he's very much like that in the book, which is laugh-out-loud funny but also thought provoking and unexpectedly moving. With passages on climate change, fossil fuel, sweat shops and the miserable, disempowered state of the modern consumer, it could easily have been a straightforward "green" guide to clothing, but John-Paul took the unusual step of including passages about his search for meaning in religion and politics (and even here he managed to make me laugh). In the short time I've had the book I've lent it round to others, and they all seem to share my enthusiasm. I'd have been glad to have a section at the back on how to do some of the things he learned to do, and where to buy things like nettle (!) yarn, but it's not sold as a "how to" book, so it would be unfair to complain. Thoroughly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To knit, or not to knit... 15 Sep 2009
This book wasn't at all what I expected. I thought it was going to be crammed full of really great hints and tips to get you started on making your own clothes. It isn't, but once I got used to that idea I wasn't disappointed because this is a hugely entertaining story of one man's journey from conspicuous consumption in all areas of his life to making his own underwear and fearlessly crocheting on public transport.

Along the way, Mr Flintoff meets some amazing characters and some delightful people, but his message is clear - we are passively soaking up whatever the global economy tells us we need and it's not doing us or the environment any good. An odd (but engaging) mixture of religion, philosophy and environmental thinking brings forward the notion that self-reliance is a good thing, and there are many routes to it. If you're at all crafty by nature then you won't be able to stop yourself putting down the book to go and crochet a hat, or knit a scarf, or maybe even just sew the missing button back on your shirt.

We need to be more conscious of what we do, and what we buy, and this book is a great place to start.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous and very important book 27 Sep 2009
By Pudding
I was expecting tips on making my own clothes when I first picked up this book but instead I found a funny, moving and potentially life-changing story. As a dedicated follower of fashion this has made me reassess everything and has given me a much clearer insight into the global importance of the clothes industry and how we can all do our bit to eliminate exploitation in the third world and combat climate change. I will read this book again and again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a well-written and heart-warming book 27 Sep 2009
I bought this book after reading an article about it in Permaculture magazine. As I am in the process of learning to make my own children's clothes, I imagined that this book would be primarily about sewing, but I was wrong. It is soooo much more! The author explores how we have 'outsourced' so much of our lives, believing ourselves to be unable of even the simplest of tasks which has obviously been great news for the mass-produced goods market, but which has also allowed bad-practice and human suffering to creep in en route. The book has a strong 'green' message, but not in a way that is hard to swallow or is hackneyed at all. The author clearly demonstrates how by taking back some control in his life, from sorting out his own rodent problem right up to making his own underpants, he has not only saved money, but found a new satisfaction and empowerment in his own achievements. Along the way, the author explores religion in a very sensitive and touching way, he visits a land-fill site and talks to many people who work in the background of our every day services. I found this book amusing, inspiring and hugely thought-provoking and was quite bereft when I came to the end of it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunour with meaning! 26 July 2012
By minxy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting and amusing book that I couldn't put down. It's not only this blokes crafting journey but also covers his exploraiton of various religions, environmental issues and insights into his family life. It's really weel written and I couldn't put it down. The only word of warning is that I bought this with another booked based on Amazon's recommendation of buying two books together (the other was Sew Your Own bu the same author) only to find that they were one and the same book just published at different times.
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