9-18-17 Liberty London
My mom spent a few years in London when she was growing up. Her father, my grandfather, was an executive at Xerox, and they flew him (and his whole family) over here in the early 70's to set up a project of some sort. They were put up in a dilapidated old Georgian House near Regent Park and everyone was thrilled except for my grandmother, who was left to fix said dilapidated house with something new going wrong nearly every day.
My mom loved it here, she attended a ballet school, and generally liked the quieter nature of British citizens and their affinity for rules (like standing in line?) and especially liked the shops. The one store she's continued to mention to me over the years is Liberty "Ohh the prints, Katie!" "Look at this one!" "Ah yes, I got this one in the 90's".
I am not one for paisley, so originally I thought my mom was strange for liking a department store that seemed to only create things in a paisley print. I heard that they had a killer haberdashery department however, so I decided to visit. The store is an enormous Tudor style department store and stands out from any other shop near it. It's also sort of unassuming from the outside, the outside and general architecture do nothing to convey all the color inside.
And color there is, I went right up to the Haberdashery department, but that was hard to do. Italian knitwear, the cutest porcelain bowls and dishes designed to look like succulents, silk bathrobes everything!
By the time I got to the third floor I knew I was getting close... one the one side an enormous macrame wall hanging, and then the fabric room! The famous prints (which were happily not all paisley) stacked against every wall in every color! It turns out my mom just has a weird thing for paisley... The florals were my favorites, I'll probably have to take up quilting next. Such tiny details!... but then I saw it... the haberdashery room.
Ahhhhhh! That was basically my reaction, lucky it didn't start with yarn, otherwise I'd never have seen the rest of the amazing collection they've amassed. The button wall (above, center) was a favorite of mine. They also had the cutest fabric scissors I'd ever seen. But I couldn't quite bring myself to buy $55 gold chicken scissors, no matter how desperately I need them.
I passed the pom pom trims, the million-color threads, and even the most adorable ribbon collection (they had so many colors of satin, guys). I had a very firm and small budget because everything here is the tippity-top of luxury and quality. Generally I swear my small-indie-makers (hollah!), but I'm not going to be close minded to the rest of what's out there, wouldn't be prudent after all! Haha, I'm totally kidding. Sometimes I just have poor self-control and want to buy a little something from where I've been, then whatever you make with it serves as a little souvenir.
And so I made it to the yarn. Liberty is famous for their Rowan yarns, though I saw a couple familiar faces there - I see you WoolandtheGang! (Seriously though WATG is great and I've spoken about how much they're doing for sustainable fashion practices before.) But onto Rowan. Rowan is a UK yarn giant with tons of different styles of yarn. They're (perhaps, I'm no expert) most famous for their tweed yarns which are made from wool right in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, where the brand is based. the yarn has a natural marl and the muted color combinations are so beautiful. I had to talk myself out of buying a ton of their red tweed for a sweater that I don't have time to make until summer of 2018. It was tragic. I did however, go for a skein (or two) of the ridiculously lavish brushed fleece in a cotton candy pink and oatmeal color.
London is lucky to have such a thriving wool and fiber arts community. I visited two other yarn shops last time I visited - LOOP in London and YAK in Brighton. Both of these are small business reppin the indie+local dyers (woo!), and so I was glad to visit this other side of the business coin. I even got to buy my mom a present :)
If you visit I do recommend a visit (and a budget!)