dear annie

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Indy Lifestyle Online
As a chilblain sufferer I find the only solution is to either look like Scott of the Antartic or wear real wool tights. I have only found one make of wool-rich tights in my local store - from a Finnish company, Kymen Sukka Oy, but these sell out of my size (large) very early in the season and the store has not been over-helpful in reordering. Your help would make next winter a pleasure rather than a pain. Sylvia Fox (Mrs), Poole

First, try silk socks, either worn on their own or under any tights. They are renowned for keeping feet warm. The Innovations catalogue does some in black, cream or blue at pounds 8.95 (call 01793 431441). I, too, used to have a thing for high wool-content tights, but they aren't the best for warmth, comfort, or fit. They grow with body heat and bag at the ankles, so please don't write off blends. But if you insist on wool, you could try contacting Kymen Sukka Oy yourself (the number is 003580640001) if the snotty store won't help you. Also, Fogal has done some wonderful ones and before you scream at the prices, I have a pair which have lasted six years and are still as good as new. "Kreta" has the highest wool content, 58 per cent with 23 per cent silk and 19 per cent nylon, pounds 94, sizes SMLXL; "Cashmina" has 62 per cent cashmere, 31 per cent silk with the heel and toe reinforced with 7 per cent nylon, these cost pounds 175 and, yes, of course I realise that this is a huge amount of money. Fogal is based in London with stores in New Bond Street and Sloane Street but it also does mail order (tel: 0171 493 0900). Later in the year, Wolford will do a woollen blend pair (about 30 per cent wool) for pounds 17 from department stores (tel: 0171 935 9202 for stockists).

Honey, what I really want is the top that Renton wears at the end Trainspotting. It is a clinging turquoise v-neck of the kind that is available from Ted Baker, Nicole Farhi et al, but it is long sleeved and the shade of blue is cooler than any of the above do. Also, I need the belt the men wear in Much Ado About Nothing. They are dark brown and chunky with unpretentious buckles - a bit like the Timberland ones, but without the maker's name on. Please put me out of my misery.

Love Tom, Chester.

Look Tom, we hardly know each other and already you have called me honey and signed off with love. My husband is extremely high ranking in one of the martial arts disciplines, as well as being a bloody brilliant pig farmer. He saw your apricot coloured billet doux to me and started strumming on his guitar and singing some James Taylor song, which always means he is sulking. All is not sweet in the Martini household. Anyway, I have found out exactly where that top came from. I went straight to the top - to the costume designer on Trainspotting, Rachael Fleming, who was gloriously helpful and told me that the top is by a company called Free (tel: 0171 498 1349). Free has agreed to send you one mail order, as there isn't a stockist near you (the nearest one is Drome in Liverpool) - give Free a call. For others interested they are stocked by Duffer of St George; Big Apple and Larache, all in London. Now then, belts. I have three suggestions here. There is a stand by Camden Lock that makes belts to order, I can't remember the name and I couldn't get down there to do a recce for you, but you sound like a young lad who can do a bit of footwork (and may I remind you that I have four kids under ten, not much fun on a Saturday in Camden). Second, Frogpool Manor Saddlery (tel: 0181 300 0716) can make belts to order. It takes two to three weeks and costs from pounds 15 depending on width and length, and colours are limited to black and two shades of brown, but it could make you the chunky belt you require. Third, Racing Green does a jean belt in dark brown (style AL009) which is 3cm wide (might not be thick enough, but if it's too thick it won't fit through your loops!). Call for a catalogue (tel: 0345 331177). In the meantime, stop watching so many films and get yourself a girlfriend. Honey.

I recently bought a pure cotton sweater of a good make. Unfortunately it is a size too big and as I bought it in a sale I can't return it. Is there any method of shrinking? I don't mind taking a bit of a chance!

James, North Yorks

You could put it through a boil wash, but I doubt it will make any difference. Wear it a size too big - it'll look cute and girls will want to mother you. Or send it to Pavarotti.

The problem of "Silk Worms, Do They Have a Happy Life?" (21 April) caused a bit of a stir. In order to help those of you who have had trouble sleeping since the Stephen King-like revelation that silk worms are boiled alive, I should like to print extracts from two letters. First, this one from Martin Hardingham, a textile consultant from Somerset: "The silk worm (larva) does live a happy life and gorges itself for about 28 days on succulent white mulberry leaves. Having eaten, the larva makes a cocoon and goes to sleep. It then changes into a pupa which remains dormant for 10 days. The cocoon can then be reeled into a single silk filament, by submerging the cocoon in very hot water which kills the pupa. The deceased pupa is not wasted but often used as either chicken- or fish-feed, and even sometimes consumed by the locals as a delicacy. The only justification I can offer about the demise of the silk worm pupa is that by continuing silk production many, many people are employed in developing countries." Rachel Dufton, from Winchester, writes to suggest a cruelty-free alternative: "What about wild (tussah) silk? It is obtained when the silkworm eats its way out of the cocoon, breaking the threads, which are then spun into yarn that is slightly rougher and less lustrous than reeled silk."

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