wool yarn shops while on holiday
They are always worth a peek, if just to add to your internal map of where acrylic still reigns supreme, and where the other kind of shop finds a market. I usually ask the shopkeeper what yarns are popular, and if any are locally produced or dyed. Often there isn’t, but perhaps by asking, the way is smoothed for a future spinner or dyer. As with beer (see Pubs, below), I like to find something that has a flavour of the area, that I wouldn’t come across elsewhere, something that makes a good souvenir. If your travel companions are accommodating souls, search out local knit groups.
My mother knitted me some excellent jumpers (including a mod-themed zip-up in the Britpop era), but I wasn’t interested in learning until one weekend I was alone without flatmate, boyfriend or TV. But within walking distance of Loop, and a bookshop. There was a spate of maths-themed chunky scarves with yarn ends sticking out at the edges, then suddenly friends started having babies, so I got started on a series of Jared Flood’s Tweed Baby Blankets. And then came my own children, and then came a desire to knit socks. Why do I love knitting?
1. When all around is chaos, a good knitting pattern (and appropriate yarn) is a soothing set of instructions to be followed.
2. It gives me a space for creativity, to use neon pink rather than subtle grey.
3. Knitting in groups is wonderful: talk, or don’t talk. Share, or don’t share. Spill all or listen in as someone else does. Wool and needles are a prop that lets you, and other people, be who they feel they can’t be elsewhere. Or at the very least to reveal the full extent of their yarnsanity.
4. Many more reasons.
It has been my home since 1996, and fascinated me ever since childhood visits to an aunt, which would feature the oldfangled Museum of Childhood, and a double-decker ride down the bumpy round from Hackney. I have rather a lot of books about London, both fiction and non-fiction, and a particularly dense collection on Dalston, where I lived for a while until 2010.
Not just being in them, but exploring their history. One drizzly Christmas-New Year interregnum in the mists of time, a dear friend and I explored the City of London, and she let me stop and take pictures of every single pub we saw. There were a lot. The same friend and I were into “real ale”, an ancient forerunner of “craft beer”, in the days when if you were serious about it, you were a man, had a hiking rucksack, and a large beard. Wait a minute … If you’re going to the bar, mine’s a half of something local.
My obsession began in the hazy days of 1995-96, when I spotted the wire-bound edition of The Grey Area in my local Waterstone’s (as it then was). It looked different to everything else. I bought it, and there began my love affair with his writing. And his voice. Years later, I worked in the big Waterstone’s (it still had it then too) on Piccadilly in London, and was doing something or other at a rarely used till, when I heard: “Hello, modom.” Heady times. His use of language teaches me something new each time I read his words.