THE KNITTER’S CITY: NORTH EAST LONDON WITH ANNA MALTZ

After travelling all over with our extensive Knitter’s City guides, it is high time that we had a potter around the city where our UK head quarters are, London! Guiding you around is Anna Maltz, a self proclaimed knit detective, ex-art kid, amateur ice cream enthusiast, colour fancier, Londoner, and maker of many things. You’ll know Anna’s sharp and charming writing style from her numerous articles in Pom Pom and her love of colour from her designs Zazie, Signal and Solja (pictured below!)

Anna has focused her suggestions on North East London where she lives and grew up, with careful consideration of tasty pit stops along the way. Her guide originally appeared in our Pomfest Show Guide, which you can find in our online shop if you want your own copy to take along with you. So without further ado, we’ll hand this over to Anna, for her guide titled ‘A Crafty Guide (with snacks)’.

I’ve put together a guide of my go-to places in the North East corner of London where I live and grew up. All these places are small independent businesses and each has its own colourful character. I’ve added details about snacking and city farms along the way to placate your possibly less yarn-focused companions.

It’s an intense circuit to achieve in a day but you can easily get between all these pockets by bus, Overground or taxi, so if you are feeling ambitious, whizz round the lot.

A SATURDAY ROUND THE EAST LONDON YARN TRIANGLE

The official East London Yarn triangle was formed a couple of years ago to comprise Wild & Woolly, Fabrications and Knit With Attitude. But there are a few other prime spots to drop into on your way around, such as London Loom. Just down the road from Pom Pom’s London HQ, this inspiring space is the craft baby of Brooke and Francesca. Whether you fancy weaving freestyle, or you’re ready for some treadle action, this is the place for you. Call before rocking up as this place is more a classroom than a shop, though you can walk away with a table-top loom (if you pay for it).

Wild & Woolly is where you’re most likely to find me. In the three years since Anna has set up shop, she’s gained a reputation for being immensely welcoming, and stocking an excellent range of yarns that are truly of a place, specifically from the UK, but also some from further afield – Jamieson & Smith, Baa Ram Ewe, De Rerum Natura, Town End Alpaca and Kalinka Linen. Most of her hand-dyed yarn is so local the dyers drop them off by bicycle – think the Wool Kitchen and Travel Knitter.

There’s Lion Coffee + Records next door, if you need a fix or to drop off the other half.

Or a short walk will get you to the Chesham Arms pub, with a range of local beers, a lovely garden, and pizza delivered by Yard Sale Pizza.

Fabrications is around the corner from where I live and has been there since before Broadway Market became the boutique-y destination that it is today. The stock reflects both the new and old neighbourhood. It’s the brainchild of Barley, a long-standing advocate of upcycling. You’ll find haberdashery, craft-related gifts, as well as home furnishings and a small range of yarn.  This is the only brick-and-mortar home of Offset Warehouse’s eco textiles and ethical fabric.

Pop in next door for traditional pie and mash at F.Cooke – you can’t get more East End than this. Try the jellied eels at your peril! This place has been in the same family for yonks and is one of the few remaining populist eateries of its ilk.

I like going for Greek delicacies at Isle of Olive and for bread from Pavilion Bakery (their croissants are as good as the ones in France). The market itself takes place on a Saturday and is a great place to browse through locally crafted goods and vintage treasures. Bring snacks across the road to London Fields, get your knitting out and enjoy the local colour.

For an alternative green space, head to Hackney City Farm which has both goats and sheep, and its own garden cafe. There’s a ceramics studio tucked away in there too.

Knit with Attitude shares its space with design-y gift shop Cabbages and Kings, so you might find yourself coming away with a framed print as well as ethical crafting supplies. With the recent addition of Hedgehog Fibres and Qing Fibre to their range, this is the place to come for speckled yarn in London. You’ll also find Pom Pom buddy CoopKnit’s yarns and Susan Crawford’s Excelana and Fenella. Owner Maya infuses the place with a practical Nordic approach to knitting.

SUNDAY INSPIRATION

Dahlias at Columbia Road snapped by Anna

On Sundays, there’s Columbia Road Flower Market. The market starts setting up in the silly early hours and gets very crowded after 9am. I always stop by the Boro Home stall in the yard behind the market where Shaun and Carlos sell impeccably crafted vintage dress aprons, and bags out of interesting fabrics such as needlepoint and mail bags.

Hand Job Dye Studio can be found at 88 Hackney Road. They are a natural dye house that focuses on indigo and food waste (think avocado pits). Saeed dyes to order and runs occasional classes.

From there, stop at Leila’s Shop for rustic cooking and amazing produce. If you can’t find a place to sit, head to the legendary 24-hour Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. Then stroll on to The Good Yarn Stall, which can be found in Spitalfields Market on a Sunday. Mimi has an unusual and regularly changing selection of handknitting yarn from undyed rare breeds and yak to Handmaiden and Collinette.

Spitalfields City Farm is particularly good for sheep, with an extra friendly castlemilk moorit and an annual sheep and wool fayre where you can see spinning, sheering and racing (and miniature donkeys).

The Geffrye Museum is an outpost of the Victoria & Albert Museum focusing on middle-class domestic interior. Housed in an old alms house, you walk through a long corridor of rooms decorated in chronological order. It has a great garden and cafe, and it’s free!

There’s such an amazing choice of Vietnamese restaurants along this bit of Kingsland Road, that it’s fondly referred to as Pho Mile. We usually end up at Loong Kee or Sòng Quê (particularly good for seating large groups).

BETHNAL GREEN AND BEYOND

Walk along the canal to Knitworks, another place for machine knitters to buy supplies in London. There’s a large range of basic yarns and plenty of fancy stuff too (think cashmere, stretch, lurex, neons). The basics of machine knitting is one thing you can’t learn from online tutorials, so check out the classes owner Timothy runs in this cool space.

Knitworks, image courtesy of Knitworks

The spoon-carving curious can book a class with spoon-carving royalty and all-round character, Barn the Spoon at the Green Wood Guild, Rural Arts Centre in Stepney City Farm.

A WEDNESDAY FROM NAGS HEAD TO ANGEL

On Seven Sisters Road you’ll find The Handweavers Studio. This mecca of fibre is seriously inspirational and you can walk off with tiny shuttle-ready spools or sizable cones of colour in all manner of materials from natural cotton to reflective tape. This is the best place for spinners too, selling wheels, drop spindles and fleece.

The Handweavers Studio, photo courtesy of noidlehan

Rolls and Rems is a down-to-earth fabric shop with a large and ever-changing range. I come here for curtain findings, piping cord, sewing machine feet and scissors, but you never know what treasures you might find.

Across the road, in Nag’s Head Market, you’ll find a stall selling sari material, sequins, beaded fringing, bundles of ribbons and multi-coloured elastic. Pop over to Holloway Road to Crystal, a North London kebab institution where you’ll find party kids nursing hangovers any time of day.

Hop on a bus to Upper Street and get off at Cross Street, where Loop started out around the corner from the enchanting Little Angel Theatre, the home of British puppetry. At the end of the road, press your nose against the windows of iconic taxidermy shop Get Stuffed.

Turn right and go to Ray Stitch, a one-stop shop of beautiful dressmaking goodness. You’ll find a top-notch collection of contemporary patterns from independent heavyweight designers like Grainline Studio, Tilly and the Buttons and Collette, as well as the classic big guns, Burda, Simplicity and Butterick. There’s fabric of all sorts sold by the metre and in bundles (for the quilters out there).This is a great place to find a Liberty prints and all sorts of goodies from the always tasteful Merchant and Mills.

From there it’s a stroll on to Loop  along Camden Passage, where Susan has been making knitting glamourous and sexy for over a decade, sending ripples out across the world. Her aesthete’s eye for colour, beauty and quality makes this a place to behold, with a deluxe selection of international yarns to squish and covet. Think North American yarns like Quince & Co, Madeline Tosh, Brooklyn Tweed and Viola, as well special Brits like Daughter of a Shepherd, Uncommon Thread and Shilasdair. You’ll also find well-stocked bookshelves and a huge range of patterns, including Loop’s own.

Elk in the Woods will serve you a posh tea or fancy brunch, while New Culture Revolution will fill your belly with noodles for half the price, and Kipferl will sort you for sachertorte and riesling.

A KENTISH TOWN DETOUR

London Bead Co/ Delicate Stitches – slightly out of the way, but this is a two-in-one true specialist shop. The front sells beads and everything bead-related, and through the back, you’ll find threads for crochet and knitting, but mainly embroidery – be that tapestry, cross stitch, needle point or freehand. This is where I go to get Appleton’s crewel wool in London. They have the full range of 420 colours and the same in tapestry wool. It is run by a mother-and-daughter team, and you may spy an elderly pooch if you peer into the back.

Thanks Anna! Keep up to date with Anna’s adventures via her Instagram, maybe we’ll bump into you and Anna in these crafty spots one day?

Where should be next on our virtual knitting visits? Let us know in the comments if there is a crafter or city that we should feature next.

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