The Little BIG shop
Originating as a stall in the Spitalfields Market, I Knit, London has grown into an organization that's leading the way in bringing knitters together through its events and the weekly knitting group, that's putting the "pub" in public knitting. The shop bills itself as a sanctuary for knitters, and indeed, its location is just far enough from the madding crowds. I was happy to find refuge there when I visited the city for the first of what will be many visits.
Whenever I travel to a new city, one of the first things I do, is to find a yarn shop. By meeting others through shared interest (if they are cool), I can find alternatives to the tourist track; for me, it's the equivalent of a community center.
After having a bite in Covent Garden, near our hotel, Mr. K and I perused a local bookstore, where good 'ole Time Out, London, hipped me to I Knit, London––the name, a bold statement in comparison to shops with names like "A Good
Yawn Yarn," or "Me and Ewe." I was down to investigate.
Voyage to Vauxhall, South London
I was knitting away on the Tube, seated next to two American tourists. How'd I know? Well, after fixating on me for a minute, the woman turned to her partner and said in a pronounced nasal twang "you know, knitting is popular for them over here." What!? As opposed to who, where? I faced her, smiled, and replied in my pronounced northeastern accent, "yes, and it's quite popular among African-Americans like myself." Watching her turn the color of the Circle Line was priceless, but simultaneously disappointing. The seditious assumptions of Americans about ethnic cultures, have never been surprising to me; I'm only sad, because it's hastening our slide into global isolation.
But, aside from them, I still feel that needlework––in the rest of the world––is a Great Equalizer, and the reception I received at I Knit was a confirmation of this. It's instantly relaxing to enter a shop where
a black knitter isn't seen as an unwelcome oddity. After all, the Brits did
contribute to the expansion of the art throughout their former colonies––of which we were one, once.