A yarn pilgrimage | Loop London

New yarn gives me gentle star-like tingles up my neck and down my arms, ending in a burst of flexing knitting fingers. Mostly, it’s the colours – not even painters can hold and touch and engage with colours quite like a knitter can – but it’s also the feel of the material and the echoing possibility that each skein holds.

looplondon

I still find it miraculous that through looping yarn in various ways I can create real, tangible things that people can treasure and use for years to come. Each ball holds that future in their very threads, the molecules quiver knowing that they can be held, and loved, and worn, long past the time they’re made and long past the life of even the maker. And knowing that they come from the earth – whether it’s animals (wool, angora, cashmere), plants (bamboo, cotton) or even insects (silk) – and that they’re hand dyed, and often hand-wound (at least the yarn I favour tends to have that history) makes the final product so much more special and meaningful.

So you see, yarn shopping becomes about so much more than just shopping! And with this in mind, you can understand why Loop Yarns in London became an absolutely-MUST-DO on my itinerary when travelling the UK. Rather then spend my hard-won pounds (the exchange rate with the South African Rand was R20 = £1!) on mementos to lose, I decided to spend my ‘memory-money’ on yarns I could use to MAKE and engage with much more than other things. (Also, I’m a yarn junkie).

The store was also filled beautiful oddities like this!
The store was also filled beautiful oddities like this!

I first heard about the gem when my friend, who immigrated to the UK, sent me photos of the gorgeous yarns in store. Then I read about it from one of my favourite SA pattern designers, Magda de Lange (she crochets, has great taste and a lovely sense of colours) and it was set in stone. During my UK trip, I HAD to go to Loop.

looplondon2
Finally at the yarn mecca!

London is a walking town and I’d already done a hell of a lot of it by the time we got off the Angel stop, the lovely name of the tube station by Loop yarns (Burroughs market was worth every step, see the photos here). Loop is surrounded by simply wonderful, arty, crafty stores and restaurants and if I’d had more time I could easily have spent a long, golden afternoon walking the Islington area, grateful for the extra time granted magnanimously by a 10pm sunset.

As it was, I had an hour or two in the store. It was magnificent (my poor boyfriend and friend rested their tired feet in one of the comfy chairs plonked around). The variety of yarns – all natural fibres, and some even from South Africa! – was breathtaking. All four ladies working in the store were knitting and eating frozen yoghurt from a shop down the road… I had a sudden, sharp lusting for a life in the yarn store.

This is Jane, a Dublin lass holding up the minuture skeins called 'unicorn tails'. Naturally, I bought one. At only 6 it was a steal.
This is Jane, a really lovely Dublin lass holding up the miniature skeins called ‘unicorn tails’. Naturally, I bought one. At only £6 it was a steal.
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Exquisite Quince & co yarns
Everyone knitting!! Amazing!
Everyone knitting!! Amazing!
South African yarns!
South African yarns!

In the end I went for a gorgeously green palette and got yarn to make my first shawl, a soft lace Squoosh fibrearts in cashmere, merino and nylon. I chose the deep, earthy Balsam green and can’t wait to cast on. I also decided long before visiting Loop that I wanted to make El Boyfriendo a beanie with yarn from the trip; I made him one of my first beanies and it turned out TERRIBLY – baggy, loose, ridiculous. I chose Eden Cottage yarn’s DK 100% wool for him – the varied deep green of Hyssop will bring out his beautiful hazel eyes and it’s a proudly UK yarn which makes it an even more special memento from the trip.

Milo, and my @edencottageyarns beanie cast on. The yarn is so soft! Nice winter evening #knitting #knittingaddict

A post shared by Samantha Steele (@mcsteelio) on

Lastly I bought two skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Metallico simply because I COULD NOT RESIST THE SOFTNESS.

baby alpaca metallica

They’re not dyed – they come in the natural colour of the alpaca – and the sheen comes from the mulberry silk blended into the fibre. I have NO idea what to do with the 100g I bought and might have to get some more (delivered to my friend’s house, she’s visiting here soon!). Any pattern ideas for 100g of heaven in Flint? I’m very tempted by the Jasmine Scarf by PurlBee (see below) but will need to order two more skeins to make it… argh. That’s a very expensive scarf. What do you think?? What would you do?

jasmine-scarf-600-25

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