When I first moved to Siem Reap I fully intended to make good use of my newly found free time. I had big plans to do some screenprinting; I’d just finished a course in Singapore and was looking foreword to experimenting with the technique.

But circumstances have dictated otherwise. There have been guests, tenants and now construction work; I’ve been scared to mark my mother’s pristine wooden floors; I’ve struggled to find the few missing supplies I needed to get going. Where do you get strong UV lights, table glue or screen hinges in Cambodia?

So many excuses. Last week a friend brought me a lino cutting tool from Singapore, so I got a few erasers and cut up a few stamps. It’s good to remember sometimes simple is best.

It’s easy to find most things in Singapore. Good bread? Cedele or Marketplace. Large bags of pecans or giant tubs of ghee? Mustafa. Chanel or Gucci anything? Just turn around. Theeeeere you go.

But where does one find more unusual, useful things, like, say, nails, floor polish, or specialist light bulbs? The Handyman Centre, that’s where. Tucked on the 4th floor of the desolate Shaw House Shopping Centre on Orchard Road, it’s Singapore’s answer to Home Depot or B&Q. In miniature. And a bit messy. With terrible lighting.

Still, it was comforting to find a place for people who still know how to do things with their hands. Things that don’t involve swiping at an iphone or voucher collecting. The husband and wife team were super friendly and helpful, and within minutes I was happily clutching a non UV light bulb in my febrile hand. Success!

A little notice on the window said they were moving premises at the beginning of 2012, so if anyone knows where they’re headed, do let me know!

Where: 1 Scotts Road, #04-07 Shaw Centre, Singapore, 228208, Tel +65 737 9592

Tip: If it’s still at this location, it’s a bit tricky to find… walk through the main entrance of Isetan at Shaw House. Look for the blue sign to Shaw Centre and follow the yellow brick road arrow.

I discovered this stitch while making a tea cosy and have loved using it ever since. I don’t know what it’s officially called, but it’s very similar to a brioche stitch, which creates a lovely thick, springy rib that looks good on either side of the piece.

This is actually much easier to work than real brioche – none of this slipping  of yarns over and other nonsense that makes my head spin. The number of stitches you cast on should be a multiple of 4, plus three stitches. Just work a knit knit, purl purl rib until you get to the last three stitches, which should be knit, knit, purl. Then repeat on the other side!

In the photo above I’m knitting with two strands of Katia Pluma picked up at Ondori in Singapore – it’s a fairly chunky wool mix with a subtle silver thread going through it. Sadly it’s not knitting up as sparkly as I’d hoped, but will still make a lovely warm scarf for someone back home.

Knitting isn’t the first hobby that springs to mind when you live in sticky, sweaty Singapore, but towards the end of my stay there I got a real urge to knit, triggered by my flatmate bringing home some beautiful soft skeins of ivory wool yarn from a trip to the US. Spotlight has a decent enough selection: lots of acrylics and cottons, some pure wool, mostly Australian, and that awful novelty yarn that knits up to something that looks a little bit like Animal from the muppets. Hippy grossness.

What I really wanted was cashmere, soft heavenly cashmere, to make something beautiful that could last a lifetime. I’d salivated at the online selection at the Wholesale Yarn Store, where a kilo and a half of cashmere goes for a measly $400, but my needs were more immediate. I needed yarn, stat, like a granny going through withdrawal. So one drizzly afternoon, my flatmate and I headed off to Bukit Merah, where I’d heard tales of a mystical yarn warehouse with a range unsurpassed by anything else the island has to offer.

We looked at each other anxiously when the taxi dropped us off at Kewalram House, in front of one of these gloomy light industrial estates that suburban Singapore is dotted with. We eventually found Ondori, past some loading docks and abandoned pallets, on the ground floor of the building. At first the welcome was a bit icy – what were we doing there? What did we want? But the sales assistants soon mellowed out and were pulling out samples and accessories for us and enthusing over the various types of needles on offer.

We spent a good half hour rummaging through the shelves and boxes. Most of it was weather appropriate: acrylics and cotton mixes, some bamboo yarns, some wool, most of them in a light weight most suitable for baby projects. There was some chunkier, brightly coloured wools on one shelf, and lovely pure cashmere yarn on offer but at over $200 for a box of 10 balls, it was a bit more than I wanted to spend. The bargain boxes had some really good deals if you aren’t looking for anything specific – my flatmate walked out with a big bag of deep green pure wool for $40.

A trip out to Ondori may not be worth it if you just want to browse, but it’s one of those enchantingly surreal little pockets of oddball Singapore that I loved discovering towards the end of my stay.

Where: Kewalram House #01-06, 8 Jalan Kilang Timor, Singapore 159305. The number 14 bus goes there from Orchard Road – catch it at the bus stop behind H&M.

Website: Not in stock.

Tips: Bring plenty of cash as they don’t accept credit cards. And combine with a trip to Ikea down the road to justify the trek!