As the bus carried me from Kings Cross to Islington, I realised I had an hour to kill. Easy! I thought. I’ll go to Loop. Loop is a lovely knitting haven on Cross Street. Except it wasn’t. Isn’t. Hasn’t been since July. This is what I found when I arrived:
The shop had very much closed for business. I couldn’t understand this at all. I’d only been on Loop’s website earlier in the day, looking at their beginner crochet classes. Anyway, I wasn’t about to lose heart. I knew of a fabric shop on nearby Essex Road. I could go and spend some money there. I happily wandered past the nail bar and the shop of stuffed animals, to discover…
Wouldn’t you know it? This shop closes on a Thursday. (Don’t they realise this is LONDON!) It was a real shame, as I could spy some black and white tweed with a silver thread running through it. I’m going to have to go back. But not on a Thursday.
Now I really was at a loss for what to do. So I started bothering people:
Sir, may I photograph your Singer?
I spotted this in a dry cleaner called ‘Cufflinks’ on Upper Street. I wandered in and asked the man if I could photograph his sewing machine. There was a bit of a language barrier. He wanted to know why.
‘For my sewing blog.’
‘You supply parts?’
‘No, I’d like to photograph it for my blog.’
‘You’re a tailor?’
‘No, I sew at home.’
A smile spread. ‘Ah, at home.’ I wasn’t going to try to sell him anything and I wasn’t here as part of some sort of industrial espionage. A home sewer. Harmless. He hurried to take away the naked light bulb tied to the machine with a scrap of fabric, and that’s when I snapped this photo. He reckons the machine is 15 years old and that he’s made 400 clothes repairs on it. 400!
I decided to pop by Camden Passage. If you’re ever in Islington, go there. Why? Here’s why:
Did I tell you there’s a fabulous chocolate shop here? There is.
La, la, la, la, la, my brain was going, as I strolled along. I’d recovered from the fiasco of the two shut shops. So you can imagine how I staggered to a halt when I saw THIS:
That does say ‘Loop’, doesn’t it?
The shop that had shut? It hadn’t shut. It had moved. And I’d found it again. Mummy, my head was hurting. I wandered in and went straight up to the shop assistant to share my story. She gave me a kind smile and explained that they’d moved months ago, putting signs up to let people know. So it was just me being dim, then. I had a good look around, absolutely determined to spend money, but ended up leaving empty-handed. And anyway, I’d spotted something else across the street:
Antique Lace Heaven
I last visited here years ago with a friend preparing for her wedding. They have a lot of antique lace, which apparently some brides like. And if you creep back, back, back towards the very rear of the shop, you’ll find some sewing patterns:
That’s a pattern for a tennis dress!
The patterns were being sold for about £9, which I didn’t think was too bad. It’s what I pay for any contemporary pattern, once you include postage.
But you know what? I still hadn’t spent any money. As I approached the end of my wander down Camden Passage, I came across these:
You know you want us, Karen.
Cocky little sods, aren’t they? So sure I’m going to pick one of them out. I hovered by the stand; I’d already fallen in love with one towards the back. You don’t need it, I told myself. Where will you put it? I was about to walk away. Then something significant happened. Another woman wandered over and stopped by the stall. Immediately, the hairs rose up on my arms. I had to fight the urge to bustle her away. Oh no, you don’t! Don’t you dare take my teacup! Thankfully, she wandered off but she’d been the catalyst for a Very Important Decision. It was time to buy a teacup I would never use to drink tea out of. And here it is:
Dolly Clackett, this photo’s for you.
Apparently, it’s 1950s though I wouldn’t know if it wasn’t. It’s German porcelain, by a firm called Mitterteich of Bavaria. I love the scalloped base of the teacup and its oval handle. I have it on the desk in front of me as I type. It makes me very happy. One day I’ll tell you the story behind the table it’s sitting on. I bought it from an antiques shop. And then took it on a pub crawl with my friend. If you ever want to make new friends, take a table on a pub crawl. We had a riot.
So, that was my wasted hour. It wasn’t really wasted at all, was it?