Saturday, 3 April 2010


I travelled down to London with a group of American tourists, visiting from Kansas.  They were over for a wedding and taking the opportunity to visit London.  It was great to have their company on the trip down.  One of the questions they asked was where to buy British knitting wool.  I'm not a knitter but I realised just how far we have come away from our strong textile heritage.  We might still have a landscape speckled with sheep, but we no longer have much left of the textile manufacturing industry.  Finding a wool shop, let alone one stocking British wool is really hard.  Farmers now struggle to get 50p for a sheared fleece, such is the competition from manmade fibres produced in China.

As an ambassador for textiles, I was able to point them in the direction of Loop in Islington.  Closer to home there is the wonderful Yarn in Beeston.  As I say, I don't knit, but in the company of a knitter and a crocheter, I made my first visit to Loop.  Already a fan of Julie Arkell, the shop uses her work to enhance it's displays.  The shop is a work of art, beautifully presented and utterly tactile.  Although not stocked with entirely British yarns, there are beautiful hand spun and dyed yarns, as well as larger ranges, intermingled with gorgeous displays and jars of buttons, needles and knitting accessories. 

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