5.27.2016

I Spied (But Didn't Buy) Wool in London

Love this moving water sculpture just outside the security zone at Pearson Airport in Toronto.

As we stood in the line snaking through airport security en route to London we kept passing a young woman whose backpack had skeins of hand dyed yarn flopping out of the pockets. She was wearing a Steven West shawl over a hand knit wool cardigan. I saw her as a good omen for wooly fun ahead.

A few hours later as we walked into our room at the uber hip Ace Hotel in Shorditch, there under the window, with a great view of the Gherkin was an expansive day bed that immediately called out..."why not sit here and knit?!"




(In the end, Number One Son's 18 hour-a-day tours left no time or energy for knitting but even the prospect of it was a lovely thing to imagine.)



Out and about I was ever on the look out for wool and there was plenty of it to be seen.

The families lounging upon wool blankets on the grass at Kew were only the beginning. Unlike here in Toronto, many of the home wares shops I visited offered pure wool blankets for sale - in an array of wonderful colours...







Knitted bunting hung in shop windows that didn't stock yarn...



In Churchill's underground WWII War Room, literally preserved as it was on the day of the Armistice, wool yarn was tacked up on huge wall-spanning maps to illustrate the ever changing picture of enemy/allied advances...

I wondered at the prospect of someone, in the days of the Blitz, going out to pick up the yarn for this.


On the streets of London, I saw many people, and especially males, wearing fantastic wool jackets, sweaters and scarves. This little boy was my hands down favourite!...


Of course,  there was also my plan to bring some wooly goodness home with me from Loop!

I wanted a hardy, UK tweed wool yarn for a "cracking good", British sweater or vest for My Beloved.

Then there was my additional idea - the one I went on about in my last post - to nab a sweater quantity of rosy pink wool yarn for myself.

Images of such soon-to-be purchases were on my mind as we headed out walking from Shoreditch to the neighbourhood of Islington where Loop is located.

Our route took us alongside a picturesque canal lined with boats that serve as people's homes. That in itself was worth venturing off in the direction of the shop but the little alleyway in which Loop sits is also utterly adorable...


And the alley runs behind an equally beautiful, leafy roadway lined with interesting shops and cafes.


The tiny store looks like its associated web site and at first glance seemed a perfect combined distillation of London and Knitting. As I slipped through the narrow doorway into the shop my heart raced at the prospects therein.

Then the shop owner greeted me...with an American accent? The salesperson on the upper floor offered to assist me - another American.  Two knitters, sitting round a table upstairs chatting - one of whom worked in the shop - both Americans. Nothing wrong with Americans, just not what I was expecting at all.

Not surprisingly, as with the web site, many, many of the yarns were also North American (Debbie Bliss and Rowan yarns I can find here any day of the week won't evoke London to me once back at home.)

Overall I'd say the selection was international - Brooklyn Tweed in all its forms, South American yarns, Quince and Co., Japanese and Icelandic yarns - you get the idea.

The worsted weights were alpaca, silk and some blends - none of it was what I was looking for.

Loop has had custom colour ways in some yarns but they were sold out.

There were a couple of dozen shades of Shetland Jumper Weight but nothing in that British rose kind of colour I was hoping to find.

In the end I picked up a copy of Loop's 10th Anniversary Pattern Book.  The photography captures the feel of what I'd hoped to find. I'll source the yarn from home. Book in hand I rejoined My Beloved and Number One Son outside the shop. They greeted me with shocked amazement. "That was quick!" "No yarn?" "Are you sure? We don't mind waiting."

I assured them I'd exhausted the possibilities of the store's inventory to my purposes and off we went.



That quick exit paid off a couple of days later though. On a rare few hours without our "guide" My Beloved suggested we go back to Liberty of London (thank you Lorraine for that fantastic recommendation!) so I could maybe get some fabric to commemorate our trip since the plan for yarn had been abandoned. On our way to Liberty we stumbled upon a street with many fabric shops and there I found the most fantastic little place, every bit as charming as Loop and maybe even then some. I spent over half an hour inside and came out with some wonderful goodies...

Breezy, plaid cotton gauze from France, some hand dyed in India indigo and a wee little embroidered initial from Japan for Darling Daughter.

So, wool was a big feature of London for me - its just the only wool I brought home in my bag was the Debbie Bliss, Irish tweed I took with me in the first place. 

5.25.2016

(Our) Spring Time in London

London was, as ever  sprawling, bustling, clearly ancient yet confidently modern.

Seeing it with Number One Son, whose been there a couple of years now, was a headlong race to tour, taste and meet up with the fantastic gems he's discovered. So much so, I only recognized the details of all we did once back at home last week sorting the hundreds of photos I took.

Impossible to miss in real time though, was the perfection of the sunny spring weather and its accompanying sights. We even had a few light rain showers one afternoon to make things feel properly British.

The leaves on the trees were beginning to unfurl.


The weekly Columbia Flower Market was extra crammed


This was literally the only place this little guy could stand and not get trampled!

There were folks picking up fantastic looking plants for their plots at home...




But no less showy was the quantity and array of cut flowers both in Columbia Road and in the little street corner stalls across the city we saw as we toured about.

Peonies
Parrot Tulips



Bouquets of Crocus like I've never seen here at home

Several different colours of light pink roses to choose from in this one stall!
Maybe its the nature/quality of the light in London but there's something about the way the Brits "do" pink - sophisticated and cool without looking lurid, or girly.

Just look at this beautiful (delicious) chocolate coconut wafer cookie...

Wouldn't these stripes look great on a knitted pullover?
And I just had to snap a picture of this great looking bike...



Even big, beautiful blush pink meringues were calling to me as colour inspiration for knitting.
All these sights got me resolving to pick up rose-coloured yarn as a souvenir of this trip when I finally made it to Loop.

Before that, however, we were to head to Kew Garden and it didn't disappoint. The scale and ambition of the plantings are literally without parallel.


Trees planted to create the appearance of landscape paintings complete with forced perspective - here, along with the meandering mown path leading the eye to an unassuming bench.

Clipped vistas set against lush expanses of lawn...

Photo-inducing frames for Kew's collection of period structures and buildings...

Kew's famous "Pagoda"
Luckily the garden seemed free of tourists on the Bank Holiday we visited, instead, local families lounged on the grass atop wooly plaid blankets as if out of a BBC television program.

Kids were making daisy chains...


Then there were these two gardens, set virtually next to each other...one, behind Kew Palace...


The other...behind the building housing the Palace Kitchens...


They evoked many, many British books, movies and television programs. I half expected to see Peter Rabbit in his little blue waistcoat hopping around the lettuces in this one!

Of course, back in central London signs of the British spring were everywhere too. Grand floral displays...


Charming domestic plantings...


Flowering fruit trees in Notting Hill looking almost artificial against the pure blue sky...


Probably the sweetest, most spring-timey sight though...flowers on little girls...in their hair...


Printed on their dresses
Encircling their heads...

Finally (and best), we even had a bit of springtime in our room at the hotel...Number One Son organized a sweet little arrangement of flowers for us...


I've never had such a treat before while away on holiday but 'have to say it was surprisingly fantastic to come back to the sight of them and their scent hanging in the air after touring the streets of London for hours and hours each day.

Yup, all this had me primed and ready to splash out on some rosey British yarn. I'd been looking forward to my trip to Loop before but now I couldn't wait. Day 3 would start with the half hour walk there from our hotel!

Details on that tomorrow and thanks so much for dropping by today!

5.20.2016

Pit a Pat

So many things happening that have had my heart racing...London with Number One Son, new adventures with Hudson...and now, after almost 8 months, we're finally headed back to the cottage!

I've been working on posts about much of it but they've been so meaty they're taking forever.

Next week will be short and once again jammed with fun stuff. Nonetheless I'm hoping to hit the "publish" button on something.

In the meantime...this...

Which had my heart pounding the second I saw it.... evidence of Hudson paying full attention in a competition ring! (And the hundred other shots of the run show him maintaining that focus for most of it!)

Literally, years of effort paying off, all summed up in one photo!

"Pit A Pat" indeed!