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. 


Lorraine said...

Marie- Liberty's is Nirvana!! I'm so happy you went and picked up some beautiful things!

Chris said...

I love Loop but wouldn't shop there for UK stock. John Arbon would be my go to for colours.