Making No. 3 / DOTS Sponsor Feature: Loop
As an independent publisher, we are grateful to all of our sponsors! Enjoy an interview with No. 3 DOTS sponsor, Loop founder Susan Cropper.
What’s unique about your company or brand?
Loop opened 12 years ago and was pioneering in that we brought so many yarns from overseas and from Indie-dyers that had never been seen before in the UK. I try to curate beauty. By that, I mean, that I'm forever trying to find unique and well made yarns and haberdashery to bring into the shop as well as exquisite things made by people working with textiles such as Sophie Digard, Nathalie Lete and Julie Arkell. It is very much a personal vision that is reflected in both the London and online shop. The passion and work that goes into Loop has never abated. It's always been about the yarn and inspiration - most of the yarns are natural fibres and a lot is hand-dyed from the likes of Madelinetosh, Eden Cottage, Lichen + Lace, The Uncommon Thread, Shalimar, Viola, Freia, DyeForYarn and many other independent dyers from the UK and around the world. Loop is also the European Flagship shop for both Quince & Co and Brooklyn Tweed as well as being one of the few shops in the world that stock Wollmeise and Woolfolk yarns. It's an honour to us that we are respected and are able to have so much beauty in the shop. I never take that for granted.
Tell us about a challenge you’ve had to overcome.
The rise of the internet and all the good and the not-so-good that has brought with it has sometimes been challenging. In some ways, it has made it much easier to find people making wonderful yarns, books and haberdashery - just looking at Instagram or Pinterest can bring a wealth of inspiration. What it has also brought though is discount online shops that small independent shops can find it impossible to compete with. Nothing can compare to the passion and resources that an independent knitting shop can offer to its' customers though. From seeing knit up samples, getting help with their projects or advice on everything and anything you may need and the actual human interaction and sense of community is worth everything though. Just think - there was no Ravelry when Loop opened - so, there is now so much to see and keep up with. I have to always trust my instincts in a world where we are sometimes overloaded with more external pressures. When Loop opened there was my small shop and the people that came to visit and loved knitting. The change with the internet has opened up a whole world to each other of different expectations and needs. As I am the sole owner, albeit with wonderful staff, it can be a challenge not to feel a little overwhelmed at times.
What project of yours are you especially excited about, either current or forthcoming?
We're incredibly excited about some of the visiting teachers we have coming from near and far this Summer. We have Tif Fussell (dottie angel) coming to teach her Woolly Tattoo methods, as well as Bristol Ivy, the Temaricious women from Japan and Olga Buraya Kefelian of OlgaJazzy knits. We love when we have master classes with such talented people that come to help pass on their knowledge and inspire us. Last Autumn I went to India again and I had an amazing trip sourcing fabrics and having things made for the shop that were sewn, silkscreened and embroidered. The journey going around Rajasthan and Delhi was incredible and when the boxes arrived at Loop with the finished haberdashery and project bags I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I hope to go back this coming Autumn as I have new ideas in my head and in sketchbooks that I'm excited to see come alive.
What's your favorite color?
Ha! Well, I think a lot of people know that I am pretty crazy about smokey pinks. We just received a delivery from Eden Cottage Yarns yesterday at the shop and when we were unpacking the boxes I pulled out the skeins of Hayton in the colour 'Stonechat' and I gasped at how beautiful it is. Like a smokey Peach. Colour does that to me. I still get such a kick out of the beauty in all the colours of yarns. That dusky, slightly muted pink along with mauve and yellow ochre get to me ever time. And sea-greens - like teal.
Tell us how your company got started!
In 2005 I dreamed of going to a place to buy gorgeous yarns and take knitting classes. At the time there was no where like this to go in London. A quirky and magical place where hand-dyed yarns and beautiful patterns were to be found alongside unique things made by independent designers working in textiles. My background was as an art director in publishing in NYC and London while raising my three children. After 20 years in this field, as much as I loved designing, I became so excited at the thought of creating this wonderful place. Somewhere that reflected what was going on in the knitting community at the time as well as indulging my magpie collecting from travel. To also, in a way, help build a sense of community amongst makers. There were hardly any yarn fairs back then, so I always thought of making it like the best yarn fair in the world. It was a whirlwind time with crazy long hours for the first few years, deep into the night.
If you were going to create something just for fun today, what would it be?
I would spend the day making little small swatches in simple garter stitch and then getting all of my Temaricious and 'plant dyed by mehlsen' threads out and embroider on them to make a layered patchwork of colour, motifs and texture. I would be listening to an audiobook and sipping chai. Later in the afternoon I would go see a movie and have chinese food. This to me is one kind of a perfect day.
Describe your perfect day.
I have other kinds of perfect days that I dream about that involve traveling to small interesting cities and remote places going to the flea markets there to find vintage buttons and ribbons and all manner of haberdashery to bring back to Loop.
Or sitting and collaborating with a wonderful designer and making little swatch mood boards that become like a collage of colour and snips of different yarn textures and imagining how the final design will be and what I will pull out from the shop or around my home to play with the images. I love playing with colour and texture. It gives me endless pleasure.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
This Spring + Summer we'll be getting in Dandelion Yarns from Sweden which is a beautiful hand-dyed organic merino as well as Snail Yarns and mYak, which I'm incredibly excited about. I am so impressed with the life that Paola of mYak has led and the way she works with yak and goat herders on the Tibetan Plateau. It's a special thing that she is doing and I have so much respect for her and the beautiful yarns - Its always about the yarns at the end of the day and hoping to transfer the joy that they give to me, with all their possibilities, to all of our customers.
Thank you Susan!
*Images copyright Loop Knitting, Ltd.