As I started to gather the bits and pieces for my trip to Wales this weekend, knitting projects first of course 😉 I started to think about the other yarn/art festivals, I’d like to visit. There are, as you’d probably expect, quite a few, many of them are much further afield than the UK – Maryland Wool and Sheep, Vogue Knitting, Knit Camp and Squam to name but a few. As for UK based festivals, I’d still like to go to Woolfest in Cumbria, Fibre East in Bedfordshire and Unravel in Surrey.
Dreaming away, i suddenly realised that I’ve completely forgotten to tell you all about the book from the Yarn in the City ladies, that Deirdre picked up for me when she went to Unravel earlier in the year.
Alison Thistlewood and Rachel Brown are two Nort0h American expats who enjoy living in London and being part of the larger UK knitting community. Together they created Yarn in the City, which celebrates all things fibre in London and the UK. They create workshops and crafty get togethers and are the people behind The Great London Yarn Crawl. Naturally, their love and knowledge of all things woolly is something they want to share with other like minded people and so evolved the London Craft Guide.
As a Londoner myself I was particularly keen to get my hands on a copy of the book. My family have long since left London Town, but it’s still very much my home (although I could never live there again). London to me is my place of firsts. It’s where I first remember living, my first school (and many others), my first job and all of those other heartfelt memories too. My parents together and apart, spending weekends with my grandparents, getting into mischief with my brother, my first kiss, my first serious relationship – excuse my reminiscing.
It’s also the first time I found myself completely fascinated by a yarn shop. It was on Dartmouth Road, Forrest Hill SE23 and had the most beautiful haberdashery counters. Now some 30 years later, that’s all I really remember about the place, I don’t even remember what it was called, but I do know how it made me feel. It’s probably also what I based Knit (my shop) on. I’m sure that if I’d ever managed to get my hands on those traditional haberdashery counters, there’s a good chance I’d still be open as they’d need to be shown off.
So it was quite surreal to open the London Craft Guide and discover there’s a shop on Dartmouth Road called Stag & Bow. What a great excuse to visit that area of London again? Although it wouldn’t be the easiest of places to get to, but I could also visit Horniman Museum and put some flowers on my Nanna and Granddads graves.
The directory of shops is laid out in 4 category; Yarn, Fabric, Haberdashery and Day Trips. Within the first 3 sections, the shops are listed into broad Geographical sections, which means you can focus on a part of London and check out the various shops in that location.
Some of my favourite places are included like I-Knit London, Loop, the sewing and haberdashery shops of Berwick Street, Liberty, and Beadworks, along with places I’ve always wanted to visit like The Handweavers Studio & Gallery, Ray Stitch and Nest Thanks to the guide there are new places I can’t wait to explore, like Sharp Works, The Village and V V Rouleaux. Flipping through the pages of the 4th chapter of the book, it’s also great to know that just a day trip away there are plenty of shops to visit.
The Old Pharmacy in Faversham has been on my list for some time now – Fancy it anyone?
Each entry in the guide includes a brief introduction to the shop and what you can expect to find there. There are links to the website, emails and the all important opening hours check before travelling though. The photographs are inviting you to open the shop door and make you feel like you’ve just stepped in to these treasure troves.
If that wasn’t enough Alison and Rachel have also included a Projects section, packed with 9 makes, all geared towards souvenir crafting. As makers, we all tend to collect souvenirs from the places we visit – a hank of yarn, a metre of fabic. The designers featured in the book used the minimum of supplies and each project could easily be made at any time, even whilst sight seeing.
My favourites would have to include the Knitters Tool Roll by Catherine Hopkins – great for when you absolutely must own some of that stunning fabric from Liberty, but can’t afford to buy enough for a dress.
A sucker for socks, I’m rather taken with the La Ville de L’Amour pair from Fiona Hamilton – MacLaren, with their Eiffel Tower inspired lace and cable pattern.
My absolute favourite design and the one I’ve added to my ‘to do’ list is the Waterloo Mitts, designed by Alison & Rachel themselves. I’m not sure if it’s because Waterloo is round the corner from where I’m from (The Bricklayers Arms, but it’s easier to tell non London folk, The Old Kent Road). It could be that they both share the same area code SE1, or that I use to meet my nan there after work sometimes. It might also be that they’re red, white and blue, which asides from the obvious, are also one of my favourtie colour combinations.
Personally though, I think it’s more to do with the yarn that the ladies have used. It’s the super soft, super beautiful and super tempting Orkney Angora St. Magnus DK, which is divine ( I was given some a while back).
The ladies had some Waterloo Mitts kits when they were at Unravel, but they’d completely sold out of them by the time Deirdre managed to catch up with them. Alison and Rachel are going to be at Wonderwool and I’m hoping they might have the kits again this time. Keep your fingers crossed for me, won’t you.
Have a lovely making weekend.