Did someone say Norah Gaughan?

Tosh DK Cowl in progress

Here’s a little peek at the cowl in progress.  I’m loving it.  I hope this picture manages to get across some of the springy delight of this yarn.

When I first considered my day trip to London, it was a given that I would be taking the opportunity to view some knitting yarn and patterns.  My main choice was whether to visit Loop in Islington or iKnit near to Waterloo. I thought iKnit was the obvious choice as I had already been to Loop a few years ago in their old premises, but I was swayed in the direction of Loop when I saw online that they stock Berroco patterns. Norah Gaughan designs for Berroco and I often haunt their site looking at patterns I can never buy!

Loop is largely lovely.  It is more than twice the size of the original shop, with both a ground floor and first floor selling area.  Downstairs they have the lighter-weight yarns – laceweights, sock yarns, and the “exotics” in the form of Habu and Wollmeise (which was hiding on the floor).  There was a bit of sensory overload going on with every surface covered with bits and pieces, and hand-painted skeins of yarn a-plenty.  In fact, my overall impression of the downstairs was “clutter”.  This is by no means unusual in yarn shops and I think it is probably supposed to make the place look homely and inviting and cosy.  But, hey, I’ve got clutter at home – I don’t need it in the shops!

After a look round downstairs, during which I was drawn to both the Madelinetosh Sock and Malabrigo sock yarns, I headed upstairs.  To my eye, this part of the shop had it just right with a balance between comfort and space.  There was a large table which on the day I visited was piled with pattern books, and a sofa by the window where you could make yourself comfortable and browse some patterns.  The yarns ranged from DK through to bulky.  The main pattern stock is upstairs and was far and away the best selection I’ve seen.  Shelves of books, large folders with individual patterns and a hanging rack with their Berroco pattern books.  I had my fingers crossed about being able to find Berroco’s Norah Gaughan Collection No6 which was showing as out of stock online.  Digging through the rack I turned up the only visible copy – hurrah!  Now I was equipped with the pattern for Laccaria:

Berroco Norah Gaughan Collection 6 - Laccaria

Oh, and yes, another Norah Gaughan book slipped in – Volume 7 which contains three very lovely patterns and some others that don’t appeal to me so much.  Also, the first issue of KnitWear which seems to be a new American magazine which is pitched somewhere between Vogue/Designer Knitting and the monthly knitting magazines.  Quite interesting.

Now to my other reason for choosing to visit Loop – the fact that they stock Quince and Co yarns from America.  I had read about these yarns and thought I might treat myself.  The Laccaria cardigan seemed like a good option, until I read the requirements and saw that it called for DK weight yarn, rather than the American Sport or Worstead weights.  I did spend quite a lot of time trying to find something I liked which would suit one of these yarns, but truth be told, the more I looked at them, the less I liked the look of them.  They did look like they might pill badly. Also, I wasn’t that enamoured of the shades they had available.  In fact, Quince and Co left me feeling underwhelmed.

And here we come to a further little niggle I felt with the shop, once again it’s fairly common in all sorts of shops.  Some of the products were on such high shelves that there was no way to view them properly and therefore I had to gloss over them.  Of course, if it was my local yarn shop and I went in there specifically knowing I wanted a particular yarn which was on the top shelf I would get a member of staff to fetch it for me, but in all honesty I am not going to do that just in order to be able to browse the yarns.  It seems to be a less than useful way of displaying your wares, but perhaps there is a good reason for using this high shelving for display rather than simply for storage.

That didn’t prove to be a problem, however, because I did get to treat myself to the Madelinetosh DK which I’m using for the cowl, and this little beauty:

Malabrigo "Sock" in the 851 Turner colourway

I’ve seen this colourway in photos on Ravelry which manage to make it look like a muddy brown sludge.  I do trust that’s just bad photography because it is a stunning mix of colours.  No idea what this will become.  Possibly socks, but I really would like something slightly more decorative than that for it.

Well, that’s my impression of Loop.  Would I take another trip out to Islington to visit?  Probably.  I will almost certainly be ordering Berroco pattern books from them online.  I wouldn’t like to live in London, but I would like Loop as my Local Yarn Shop!  Ah, well, you can’t have everything.

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