Favorite Spot: Loop Yarn
Neighborhood: Graduate Hospital
Address: 1914 South Street between 19th and 20th Streets
I am: a native Philadelphian, a nurse in West Philadelphia, a blogger, and a story-teller with a fierce love for all things homemade be they knit, sewn, or preserved.
Years in Philadelphia: 27
Current Home: Elkins Park
My Love Note:
Do you know how much I love you? I don’t think I’ve ever really said it out loud. I’ve quite possibly said it on Yelp, or to friends, or even to a passerby, but I think it’s time I let you know directly.
In the grand scale of life, my knitting habit is a drop in the bucket compared to those for whom it has been a life-long hobby. This January, when I turn 28, will mark ten whole years for me as a knitter. It was a hobby that I picked up on a whim after so many years of passing a particular yarn shop as a child. “Look at all of those pretty colors! That looks like fun,” I thought from the other side of the window. I was 18 and about to embark on a whole new life as a student at Barnard College in New York City. Knitting seemed like a good distraction from all of the “newness.”
I knit my way through boring classes, subway rides, three boyfriends, a semester abroad in South Africa, a horrendous roommate, and the realization that I hated pre-med classes. I almost wrote my senior Anthropology thesis on the cultural significance of knitting, but abandoned the idea when I decided that field research would be a bit tricky.
In almost ten years of knitting, I’ve visited quite a few yarn shops both at home and abroad. I’ve learned that people can make just about anything seem pretentious, even yarn. I’ve learned that what passes for yarn for some people is my idea of wearing burlap sackcloth. More importantly, I’ve learned that EVERY knitter needs a community – a hub, a resource, a home.
We first met, 5 years ago, during my senior year at Barnard College. I was home from New York City for a brief spell and was in need of a fiber fix. Driving down South Street with my mother, I spotted the shop’s sign. “Pull over, pull over! That’s the store I read about in the newspaper!” Loop had recently been profiled as one of the few yarn shops owned by men. Loop was, and is, pleasantly chic and modern without any trace of the “granny’s den” vibe that some other stores give off. Clean white lines, square cubbies filled with neatly stacked jewel-toned yarn, colorful skeins artfully hung on the walls, and inspiring displays in the large, picture windows – Loop is a feast for eyes weary of the grey and black and concrete of the city. The clientele is diverse – young professionals, college kids, young women with burgeoning families, artists, older women looking to outfit grandchildren, men who don’t give a damn who sees them knitting, and on and on.
Loop, like knitting itself, is pure comfort. Just thinking about you brings forth a happy sigh from within as I think about how popping into the store can brighten even the most dreary of days for me. Sometimes, all it takes to feel hopeful again is a soft wool in my favorite color and the anticipation of stretching those needles with a new pattern.
Whether you know it or not, you have seen me through a lot these last five years – the death of my father, nursing school, my first nursing job, and now my master’s studies. Yes, there is a local yarn shop that is much closer to my home, but I really can’t imagine any other shop but Loop as my knitting community. I remember the first time Kathy – a long-time Loop employee – said hello to me by name when I walked into the shop! Suddenly, I didn’t just feel like a customer, but a member of something bigger than myself. It’s my version of “Cheers” – where everybody knows my name.
I’m not sure what Loop’s owner, Craig, had in mind when he first opened his doors but I think he’d be happy to know that Loop holds a very special place in the hearts of Philadelphia’s knitters.