Whenever I walk past a wool shop, I stare in the window and a have a brief moment of longing. Perhaps it’s because I had a fling with knitting as a child, perhaps it’s because I’m simple and bright colours attract me, like a magpie.
Or perhaps it’s because, as Wild and Woolly owner Anna Feldman suggests, knitting and crafting offer a remedy to the mental and existential fatigue brought on by spending half your life prodding a computer screen.
Anna packed in her years working in web design, but has opened Hackney’s newest knit shop to indulge her passion for the craft. “It’s a departure from working online,” she says. “Being online all the time has its frustrations, there’s something very real about making things with your hands, that people can enjoy.”
True to that departure from the digital, every available space on Wild and Woolly’s walls is dedicated to the handicraft – no modern trickery can bypass the patience it takes to weave a ball of wool into ear muffs.
The most advanced contraption available inside is a wooden hand-cranked mechanism for balling up yarn. There are more variations of needle than I knew were necessary and more types of wool stuffed into the displays than I knew existed, from Aran through to Alpaca. Anna sources as much of it locally as she can.
The Alpacas aren’t even from the Andes, they’re lucky enough to live in the Lake District. Some of the goods are sourced as close as Leytonstone and Shacklewell Road.
The ambition is for Wild and Woolly to have a collaborative local role. “My idea is having a place where people come and knit, the cliché is it’s a close knit community” she laughs, conscious of the pun. “It’s a place where people can come and work it all out together”. Far from being a woolly pipe dream, Anna brings forward her experience working with victims of torture for the Helen Bamber foundation. There she found that having a craft to work on helped people open up and have an identity beyond their trauma. “There is something therapeutic that happens between the lines,” she says.
The shop will hold classes from beginner’s level to advanced, taking you through tea cosies all the way to woolly jumpers, whether it’s for your nephew’s first birthday of your a Christmas pub crawl. With the prospect of the week’s work ahead in front of a computer screen, I bought some needles and yarn of my own. Anna even taught me how to start my thread. A true testament to her patience, believe me.
Wild and Woolly Shop
116 Lower Clapton Road