This past weekend was the 10th anniversary of local London knitting shop, I Knit. As we’ve been due for another yarn shop profile on the blog I was excited at owner Gerard Allt’s response to my speedy email to see if we could feature him. Read on to learn more about the shop!
I Knit is 10! Congratulations! Tell us how you got started and what your yarn-y journey has been like over the last 10 years. And how did you come up with the name?
I started I Knit London after my friend and teacher left London for Dorset and suddenly I didn’t know anyone else in London who knit. I wanted to meet new people and make new friends. I started a knitting group as I wasn’t comfortable using SnB as a name so I knew I had to think of my own. I was happy knitting in public and my reply to the exclamation, ‘You knit?!?!’ was always, ‘Yes, I Knit’. The name was easy, actually. A lot has happened since then, so many nice times, a few stressful times, but mostly a wonderful experience. I love my job.
Yarn shops in London always seem to have a specialty to set them apart from others. What is I Knit’s?
I always knew that I didn’t want just a shop. I wanted it to be a place that people could use as a place to meet other people and spend time knitting and crocheting as well as purchase yarns. We are still the only shop (possibly in the world) that has a license to sell alcohol. I also wanted as much British yarn as possible. I’m mostly proud of the community that’s built up around the shop, though. Sometimes people are amazing and the party we had on Saturday to celebrate I knit London being 10 years old proved that.
You also due yarn for your in-house brand I Knit or Dye. Can you tell us how you got into dyeing yarns?
I did not intend to be a hand dyer. I was happy organising events and running the shop. I understand everything has to change and I embrace change and one day I decided to stop organising the big annual event and to start hand dyeing. In retrospect I think it was inevitable. Being constantly surrounded by yarn and colour was inspiring and I’m a fairly creative person so I Knit or Dye was always inevitable. People seem to like most of what I do so I get a lot of encouragement.
One of the things that I think is really exciting about I knit is that you have a lot of social activities including a book club and gin tastings. Tell us more about how you are building community around the shop.
The events are important to me. I have a space in central London and so I want to use it. We host workshops and hen parties and birthday parties and book group and cake club knitting groups and yes, even a Gin Club. I would rather spend my time on doing these things and buying cake for the knitters than spending money on advertising. People have always responded to our way of making it personal and I love that.
Do you have a favourite thing you like to knit (or crochet)? What about your customers?
I can turn my hand to most things but my favourite thing to knit – I more knit than crochet – was always lace. I have made so many lace shawls and I loved it. Over the last few years though my tastes have changed and expanded and I make a variety of things. They’re usually samples to show off the yarn or my designs so they hang around the shop for a while. When I first started knitting I made lots of baby clothes for friends and relatives, that was very rewarding.
I knit has such a varied selection of products. How do you decide what to carry?
The shop has to have staples – like British yarns and standard 4plys and DKs, etc. On top of that I ask people what they want, I respond to (some) trends, and lots of British stuff and then lots of one off things to keep people interested.
What plans do you have next for I Knit that you can share? What is in store for the next 10 years?
More of the same! I also want to more into wholesale of my I Knit or Dye yarns and I’m very excited about that.
Thank you so much to Gerrard for sharing I Knit London with us! You can find I Knit London on the web and social media in the following places:
Web – www.iknit.org.uk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/iknitlondon
Twitter – www.twitter.com/iknitlondon
Instagram – www.instagram.com/iknitlondon
Ravelry – www.ravelry.com/groups/i-knit