Knitting SOS in The Financial Times!!!



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FT WEEKEND MAGAZINE - PLEASURES PURSUED: Puritan Pleasure - Purls of wisdom

By Natalie Whittle, Financial Times
Published: Mar 03, 2007

Loop in Islington is like a delicatessen of wool. Soft alpalcas in pale, gentle colours, shiny bamboo yarn and sweet baby cashmere are bundled temptingly into white wood shelves, alongside multicoloured skeins from all over the world. Every yarn is hand-picked to represent the best independent producers, and there is an assortment of pattern books and quirky wool creations for inspiration.

This winter, before I even knew plain from purl, I came across the shop, and, by the time I left, I had developed a yen to knit. Internet how-to sites, of which there are hundreds, were not a wise place to start. The diagrams of casting-on tied me in impatient knots, and I came close to abandoning the idea altogether. Instead, I asked my mother for a few lessons at home over Christmas. This felt suspiciously like learning to tie shoelaces again, but it worked much better than the inscrutable drawings online.

Loop also offers regular SOS clinics for hapless knitters; a chance to have your woolly dilemmas unravelled by a professional. The staff are helpful and not at all snobbish - you can ask, without shame, how to make tassels, how to knit in stripes, or simply why your rows are not as neat as they could be. These drop-in events are free and open to all, but for a fee you can also embark on courses in experimental knitting, Fair Isle, crochet and more. The beginners' sock-knitting class looks particularly useful - just imagine being able to knit yourself a pair overnight when the rest of your stock has disappeared.

As to knit is no longer to be prematurely aged (or so we're told), it is not uncommon to see scarves in progress on public transport, in the hands of non-bus-pass-age creators. But whether hip or not, knitting is addictive - and if you go the boutique route, it is expensive, too. Still, as I put my coat and self-knitted scarf on in the mornings, I have a woolly sense that it is worth it.

Loop, 41 Cross Street, London N1 2BB, 020 7288 1160,