Friday, November 12, 2010

Yarn shops of London

On Thursday, I didn't really have a plan. Alicia brainstormed with me on Wednesday night, and we thought I'd go to Richmond and take the boat from there to London. When I woke up on Thursday, though, it was raining and gloomy—not a great day for a boat ride. As a last minute thing, I looked up a few yarn shops in London and plotted a tour of them. I came away from Israel with two commissions: a shawl for one niece and a vest for a new baby. (Spesh said I could knit him a pair of socks, but I'm not completely sure if he was serious. I probably will knit him socks eventually, since I've been threatening it for over a year.)

When I looked carefully at the three shops I'd picked for my tour, I realized they were all fairly close to the Regent's Canal. Another thing I wanted to do was walk along that canal. It turned out perfectly. The first shop, Prick Your Finger, was closed when I arrived so I went next door to have lunch at the Worker's Cafe.

Worker's Cafe
I ordered a "bacon sandwich" and got exactly that—a couple of pieces of "bacon" (Euro style) between two slices of well-buttered bread. Ok. It was fine.

I finished up and went next door to the shop, which was small but well stocked.
Prick Your Finger
I saw some nice looking black yarn and next to it, white yarn. Merino, grown, spun and completely processed in the UK. A winner for the future shawl! I chatted with the two women working there and bought three skeins of the black and one of the white. I'm now thinking I should've gotten one more of the white. Mail order perhaps?

After the first yarn shop, I walked towards the canal. Was this public housing?
Council Housing (?)
I hit the canal via Victoria Park, a place I'd never been, in the East End of London. Very pretty, pretty empty. I starting taking pictures in earnest. The canal was very scenic and full of long boats that people actually live on. And try to sell!

View from Victoria Park
Canal from Victoria Park
View from Victoria Park
Green boat
Boat for sale
For sale
Cheap at $19,000

This is the spot where I left the canal to find the second yarn shop.
Walter Scott
I missed the shop and walked to the end of the street. Because I'd had a light lunch, I decided it was time for coffee and cake. My timing was impeccable because not five minutes after I got my coffee, the rain started to come down in a sheet.
The coffee shop, Climpson & Sons
Climpson & Sons
On the way back to the canal, I found the shop, though I didn't buy anything. I browsed around the bags of buttons and ribbon—not much yarn was actually offered. Then the power went out. It was just me and the owner. She said, "Can you watch the shop for a minute?" And before I'd really answered (I did say yes), she ran down to the basement to fix the electricity. A few minutes later she came back, thanked me, then I left. Yes, I am that trustworthy.

Back to the canal path. You know that stereotype of the Brits being super polite? It's kind of true. Look at this sign:
Towpath Code of Conduct
In the States, you'd have a red circle and a bar or a list of dos and don'ts. In Israel, you'd have a big sign forbidding everything. In England, you have firm but friendly suggestions.

Some people taking a boat ride. We waved at each other.
Pretty boat
A questionable architectural decision
You tell me
Waterfowl on the Canal
Around this point, I'd nearly reached the end of the path and my final yarn destination. I walked into the neighborhood as a light rain started to fall. I found the yarn shop and hunted around for a while. I finally settled on a skein of sock yarn of a type that's hard to come by in the US. (Ironically, the color I choose is almost identical to a skein I picked up in New York last month. Whoops.)

The rain was really coming down when I left the shop, so I stopped into a pub and had a beer. Only half a pint, though, I was tired and didn't want to fall asleep. In the pub, I plotted my return route and decided on a bus that would take me all the way to Waterloo station, where I'd need to catch the train back to Alicia's town. Perfect!

The rain slowly let up after I got on the bus and I had a fantastic tour of the center of town, including an almost 360 degree turn around St. Paul's Cathedral. Very nice. Then, home, kids, dinner, sleep. A good day.

Grateful for: a very good, slightly yarny, day.


  1. Long time no talk! Great pictures. =) I wanted to check in to see how you are doing. Sounds like you are having an exciting time globe-hopping. I'm very jealous. Enjoy!

  2. Yes, that was public housing. And I suspect the building with the faces was intended to be art. I'm intrigued what you expected to get when you ordered a bacon sandwich. Hope the weather didn't spoil your time here.

  3. FDC: I'll say! Glad to hear from you.

    Anon: I was pretty sure it was (council flats, right?). I can spot it anywhere! As to the sandwich, I was hoping for lettuce and tomato, but realize in retrospect that I needed to ask for that special. I knew it would be more like Canadian bacon than what Americans call bacon (aka streaky bacon).

    Anon11: Right?!

  4. I'd like to go to London someday and just explore the place. Seems like a really calm and peaceful place to live in.

  5. Nile: I don't think London is calm and peaceful at all--but this particular part is. :)


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