The other day, in London, I went to Loop, an excellent wool shop in Islington. It’s in Camden Passage (number 15) which is full of interesting and quirky little shops. Islington in general is worth a detour if you’re visiting London. (Nearest Tube is Angel, on the Northern Line). Here’s a photo of the shop, which is a little gem:Loop Islington London

It’s small, but the retail space is on two floors, so not quite as tiny as the photo might suggest. The upper floor has sofas and chairs where you can sit and leaf through the pattern collections at your leisure. Some of the wool is up there, and some downstairs on the ground floor, as shown in this photo:Loop interior

Pretty, or what?

I spent ages in there, choosing a pattern and then trying to work out which of the available yarns I could buy without having to take out a bank loan. It really is pretty expensive, but on the other hand, the range of wools is just gorgeous. And operating a retail outlet in this location is, no doubt, incredibly expensive, and I guess the prices have to cover such overheads. Anyway, I ended up buying some Madeline Tosh hand-dyed wool. This comes, as do many of the yarns in Loop, from the USA. The range of colours is stunning and the wool has the most wonderful feel to it.

Because I was there on a wet Tuesday afternoon, the shop wasn’t especially busy, and the staff were really helpful. I imagine it could be a different story on a busy Saturday in such a small space, and if/when I go back I’ll try to go on a weekday.

I can’t get on with this project until I’ve finished the dark blue jumper I’m currently knitting with a lovely Rowan yarn. And of course, I shouldn’t really be doing any of this knitting and should instead be getting on with stitching projects. But what the hell. It’s up to me, after all. And the bonus of knitting, at least simple knitting, is that you can do it while watching the telly, or even while reading a book. Can’t really stitch and read a book at the same time…..

Smug post about knitting

I wrote a blog post on 17th February about the trouble I was having with my knitting… and said I’d write a smug post about it if I ever got it finished. Well, ta da! It is finished. If you recall, the item in question is a cowl, or snood, made out of Manos del Uruguay Lace, a beautiful yarn. The trouble was in casting on exactly the right number of stitches (v difficult), avoiding the Mobius strip problem I described in the earlier post, and avoiding mistakes in the pattern. It was just so difficult. Even once I’d cast on the correct 240 stitches and then got it straight, the pattern was so complicated and demanded so much attention that I ended up making lots of mistakes and having to take the knitting back to correct them. It’s a 20-line pattern, repeated 11 times, so there was plenty of scope, and I was still making errors right up until the last line. Still, I eventually got there. So here’s a photo of the finished object:Manos del Uruguay lace knitting

And another showing the pattern close up. It’s really pretty, but a massive pain in the neck.

Lace knitting close up

So, definitely no more knitting for the time being. I’ve had enough. I shall get back to what I should have been doing in the first place, which is stitching. More on that in due course.


Mobius strip problem

How can you have a Mobius strip problem with your knitting? Well, gather round and I’ll explain… At the K&S show at Alexandra Palace I bought a couple of hanks of a very beautiful yarn called ‘Manos del Uruguay Lace‘. It’s expensive, but lovely, made of silk, baby alpaca and cashmere, and I started to make a very complicated, lacy, cowl on a fine circular needle. It has 240 stitches, and you have to cast on exactly the right number or the pattern doesn’t work…. as I discovered when I realised too late that I’d cast on 242 stitches. I’m a patient soul, so I unravelled it and started again. This time I had the correct number of stitches, and I got as far as line 15 in the 20-line pattern, concentrating very hard. It wasn’t till I picked it up this morning, though, that I realised I had a Mobius strip issue with it. Because it’s knitted on a circular needle, you have to make sure that the knitting goes around in an even circle and is not twisted. Mine, however, did not – I’d made an error right back at the beginning when I started knitting row 1 and it has a twist in it as in the illustration here.Mobius strip

I gnashed my teeth and cursed a bit, but there’s nothing to do except pull it out and start again. Which is what I’ve done. Maybe third time lucky?

PS I’m using colour 7310 Orla. If I ever get this finished I’ll take a photo of it and write a smug post about it. But this won’t be for a good long while.

Digression: knitting socks

Socks, wool, double-pointed needlesIt’s a digression because this is not intended to be a knitting blog. (Or, indeed, a sock blog). When I was a child I was taught how to knit socks but I don’t think I’ve knit a sock since turning 18, rather a long time ago. At the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace, however, I found some lovely yarns crying out to be knitted into socks, and bought a ball of variegated black, grey and white and five double-pointed needles. Well, I’ve so enjoyed making these socks I thought I’d share the result:

I’ve found it very relaxing sitting around in the evening, with the cat on my knee, knitting round and round and round. The complicated bit is turning the heel, but it must be a thing you never forget once you know how to do it as I managed without too much trouble.

Knitting seems to be getting popular again. I went to K&S with three young women, all in their 20s, and all keen to knit. But I was struck by what an expensive hobby it’s become. Anyway, that’s it for the sock report. I mustn’t get distracted into too much knitting, as I have lots of stitching to do, but it really is a pleasant thing to do on a long winter evening while watching the telly.