Yarn shopping in London

4:05 PM

Four days in London should mean four yarn shops, right? Well, that was the plan to start with. I knew that I wanted to visit Loop London, so that was our first stop on the first day. And let me tell you, it was all you could wish for in a yarn shop!

The shop is located in Islington on a little street, Camden Passage, full of lovely shops. The area alone is worth the trip, and you can easily talk travel companions to join you for yarn shopping here. The only thing is that the shop is rather small, so on a Saturday afternoon it was full and there was a line up of travel companions waiting outside.

The shop has all those lovely yarns from around the world. I was only interested in souvenir shopping this time, and the staff was super helpful in not only pointing out the British brands, but also telling more about who is behind the brand and where exactly the yarns come from. Even if the shop was full of shoppers, there were enough shop assistants to wind yarn and help everyone.

The shop is organised so that fingering and lace weight yarns are downstairs, and DK and up upstairs. I was assuming that I would be more of a downstairs type of a knitter, but to my surprise I made some great finds upstairs. For example, this gorgeous Alpaca Tweed, made by The Border Mill exclusively for Loop London. I also happened to touch a skein of Old Maiden Aunt alpaca-silk mix, and after seeing the Blossom colorway just had to get some of that. I wanted to get something in fingering weight as well, and chose Shilasdair luxury 4ply, dyed with wild mushrooms.

The next shop on my list was Knit with Attitude in Stoke Newington. It's a shop for eco-friendly and ethical knitting, and who wouldn't want to support that? This shop takes a bit more travelling to get to, so we hopped on a double decker and thought of it as a sightseeing tour. However, the closer you get to the shop, the less sights there are, and the neighbourhood isn't really a tourist attraction. The shop is well worth the trip, though. Lovely yarns and a lovely shop that's half gift shop, half yarn shop as they share it with Of Cabbages and Kings. We actually walked pass the shop the first time, as we only noticed the posters and didn't see the yarns in the back.

My souvenirs included Fyberspates Vivacious DK in a gorgeous green colorway: Deep Forest. This was also the first of my souvenirs to get on my needles, as I was anxious to start with Kalaloch leggings by Andrea Rangel, my second project in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. I also bought Socks Yeah! sock yarn in Topaz colorway, in case I ever get the urge to knit more socks.

The last shop on my list was I Knit London. It's located near Waterloo station, which makes it pretty easy to reach. The shop has a large selection of yarns and knitting books - and alcoholic beverages. Well, who wouldn't like a glass of wine to go with their knitting?

There was a big couch in the shop, so in theory you could let your travel companion have a seat while browsing through the selection. In practice, the couch was taken. We were left on our own to browse the shop, but I found some souvenir yarns on my own. They were the shop's own I Knit or Dye brand, both sock yarns and merino singles. Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention at the cashier, and only later noticed that she mistakenly sold the yarns as "books and magazines". In case you are a tourist in London and plan to get VAT refunds, do check your receipts! In the UK, there's no VAT on books, so accidentally selling yarns as books effectively puts your VAT refund in the shop owner's pocket.

By the fourth day in London I had this bag full of yarn, so I decided to skip the fourth yarn shop. It is London, after all, so there's plenty to see and do even if you don't go yarn shopping every day! I recommend the new Design Museum; they have an exhibition called Fear and Love that's interesting for knitters. There are knitwear items by Chinese designer Ma Ke and Fibre Market by Christien Meindertsma, an interesting installation showing the actual fiber contents of old clothes - not always exactly what the tag says. There's also an interesting fashion exhibition, The Vulgar, at Barbican Art Gallery. And Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern, although that one doesn't have anything to do with knitting.

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