Nifty Knots

A Monkeyfist Milestone, 14th May 2022, and a wee bit of Monkeyfist history

Well, we never thought this day would come, but it did, and it happened at Broughty. We sold £165 worth of Monkeyfists items, which was amazing, but when Stevie Leask and his wife Christina, who were visiting the regatta, bought their eight items they pushed us over the £5,000 raised so far! Absolutely fantastic and congratulations to you both.

Maria busy making monkey fists at the Broughty Ferry regatta

So how did it all begin? I was asked this question recently a couple of times….
It all started with a doorstop purchased by the then 60+women rowers at the World Championships in Strangford in 2016 as a present for their wonderful cox Anne “Flan”. Inspired by this doorstop and a monkeyfist keyring Anne Purcell had brought back from Sweden, the two of us set about trying to make these and similar items ourselves.

With varying levels of success, great determination and the go ahead of the club committee we were serving at that time, it was agreed that red Monkeyfist keyrings would be the QRC regatta medals in 2017 and the many other items made would be sold as a fundraiser. So, on 19/08/17 the medals were awarded – and well received (to this date no red ones have ever been sold, they can only be won at our regatta). With help from many club members and their non-rowing partners, friends and children, £178.50 worth of items were sold! We were thrilled, and after deduction of some of the costs of the materials, the first £150 was transferred to the Treasurer who entered this into her accounts as Nifty Knotters Regatta Trinkets!

Medals on display – the driftwood hanger was fished out of Port Edgar harbour

Bitten by the knot-making bug, Anne and I tried many different designs and colours of rope. We made keyrings, doorstops, paperweights, pet toys. People started donating all sorts and sizes of balls and cut-off pieces of rope. We were on a roll. When zipper pulls entered our vocabulary, Anne gravitated to the smaller items and I to the larger ones. Retired ropes from climbing centres and even the Scottish Parliament made their ways as doorstops into many homes (even as far as Australia). Limited Edition zipper pulls (made using1.5 mm rope from a chandlery in Largs) became hot items!

The ever-popular keyrings and zip pulls

Quite a few folk were keen to learn how to make the Monkeyfist knot, and the ones with nifty fingers fashioned all sorts… Halloween pumpkins, Christmas decorations, Santas, gnomes, Christmas puddings… we were unstoppable. Down the Hatch kindly allowed us a space for keyrings and an honesty box in their coffee shop, which brought in steady donations, and a box with items on display in the shed was also very successful.

Orders came flooding in for Club coloured keyrings from other rowing clubs and no regatta was attended by us without somebody taking the Travelling Rope with a selection of our now famous keyrings attached to it. We were often seen to be making keyrings whilst waiting for our next race. Our takings were regularly transferred to the club in ever-increasing amounts (after only deducting money paid for materials like rope, marbles ball-bearings and boules). We kept all our receipts and have kept everything recorded in a little book… great fun to look back in to from time to time!

Maria at work on one of the Portsoy keyrings – those Quines and Loons like their pink
The travelling rope at the Largs regatta in 2018

The dizzy height of manufacturing and sales were tested during the World Championships in Stranraer, where people kept on asking for more and more… We worked nonstop to keep up with demand. We bought extra materials at the local hardware shop and visited the bank to keep our takings safe!

After that summer of 2019 our funds had reached the magical number of £3,500. The club members were asked for ideas as to how this money could be used for a big project to benefit all. Some ideas were received but none was chosen. We continued to beaver away, funds were slowly increasing, many items remaining very popular and gorgeous dinky earrings were added to our stock . Great sales were made during our Ceilidgh in February 2020, our last big social event…

The monkey fist earrings – as modelled by their creator, Donna W

During the Covid time our merchandise was safely tucked away. We moved to online sales with direct bank transfers now established for the club. A few bits were added to the stock…and some sales were made, which kept us happy.

When rowing returned, so did the appetite for Monkeyfist items, and it was a great pleasure to see so many old customers return at the Broughty Ferry Regatta, showing us their old keyrings still going strong and buying new ones for themselves and as presents for others. Liz has offered to take the travelling rope to the Netherlands in June for the 4th Skiffie World Championships, a great gesture indeed!

So here we are today, very happy indeed to be able to consult the whole of the membership again as to how these funds can be proudly spent on something that will give all our rowers, young and old, the continued or even improved enjoyment of the sport we all love so dearly. With huge appreciation and thanks to the very many people who have helped in so many ways in supplying rope, balls, marbles, making, selling, advertising and purchasing. This would never have happened without all of you!

Maria van Dalen
Anne Purcell

Zip pulls – as worn by the most stylish rowers

During the pandemic the team – Anne P, Tansy, Liz, Frances, Donna W and Maria – worked on new stock, including dainty earrings, keyrings, zipper pulls and mini doorstops, and have shared a brochure with the latest range. Click here to view or download that.

Here are some of their past offerings:

The earrings come in a variety of styles and colours. £6 for those with silver plated fittings, £8 for sterling silver.

A dazzling array of goods. The biggest door stops are built around bowling balls; smaller ones have a French boule inside.

The 2017 medal run was repeated for following regattas:

2018
And 2019
A lot of rope goes into making the medals