Founder/Owner Loop, London
1960’s Started as a kid running around NYC, surrounded by new pop songs and Motown and singing with brooms to the Beatles with my mom and brother. Sundays meant smoked fish from the Jewish delis and trips to art museums and central park for kite flying. Each summer we went up to the bungalow colonies in upstate NY and that was filled with eclipses of the sun, outdoor drive-in movies and chubby grandma’s pot roast and onion cookies always cooking. Screen doors slamming. Jones Beach and transistor radios and my dad teaching me to play cards. I started taking painting lessons and my parents divorced. My dad encouraged me to read the Sunday New York Times book review at an early age and when I said I didn’t understand half the words he got me a little notebook to write down the meanings of words. My brother had a notebook filled with pages and pages of detailed notes about dinosaurs from our visits to the Natural History Museum on the upper West Side. He grew up to be a geologist.
Both of them said I could be what I wanted to be as long as I worked very hard and was passionate about what I did. This to an 8 year old. I guess it stuck. We lived in Queens, NYC and played handball against the sides of apartment buildings and rode our bikes around the streets. I could sense change all around me as the Vietnam War, and its’ accompanying protests, was played out on TV and men landed on the moon. There was a feeling of so much hope and good things to come.
1970’s (11 years old to 21 – how significant a decade is that?)
A big cheer went up in assembly when it was announced we could wear jeans to school. I won the school spelling bee for a few years. I never forgot how to spell ‘squirrel’.
The bungalow colony summers gave way to sleepaway camp in upstate NY and for this NYC kid woodland cabins and the smell of campfire with s’mores came as a revelation that has stayed deeply seeped in my soul. I still can go gooey-eyed at the sight of acorns, the smell of pine forests or a swim in a lake. When I was 10 we drove across country, 4 of us with Eileen, my dad’s new wife, in a VW bug from NYC all the way to California. (it was blue and the top came down- so glamorous to me then, though now I don’t know how we did it) I saw the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, Giant Sequoias and incredibly long trains running across the American landscape and got a breadth of how sweepingly huge and beautiful the country was. My dad cooked steaks by the side of the motel pools and I had my first taste of wanderlust. I was in heaven driving across endless landscapes with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell on the radio.
My mom went back to art school to study Interior Design and there were always mood boards strewn around our apartment and stacks of design magazines. I was dragged around the Museum of Modern Art and the D&D building in NYC on weekends. She saved up to get a pair of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs and then started weaving. Suddenly there was a huge wooden loom in our living room and hanks of yarn drying in the bathroom which she had dyed with cochineal and plants that she sent off for. I think I must have become a designer and textile junkie by osmosis.
I went and stayed on a commune in Kentucky the summer I was 15 and suddenly high school seemed irrelevant. It was all farming and meditation and living with people pretty much older than me. Life was good but I missed having the time to read, paint and the long dinner conversations of my upbringing terribly. I wound up staying less than a year and moved back, briefly, to NYC with my mom before heading off to California to be with my dad before heading off again with my New York high school love to go plant trees and pick apples in the Northwest. I started knitting again.
It wasn’t long maybe 2 years, before NYC was calling to me again and I got into art school and started studying Textile Design at The Fashion Institute of Technology and then The School of Visual Arts for Graphic Design. These were years of being in love with falling in love, feeling crazy with creativity and dancing at night with friends in clubs and art openings and NYC felt like the Rome of its’ day.
I met my husband of 22 years in a club on the lower east side in my last year of Art School. He – an Englishman living in NYC and our young marriage and my first designing job straight out of art school at Conde Nast.
When homesickness struck him we moved to London and within a year I had my first baby – a gorgeous girl, but everything had changed and I felt so isolated- everything that could change, did change. All of a sudden I was a young mom, away from NYC, family and friends. It wasn’t a great time for me and then there is the pressure to feel like it is a great time because you have become a mom. I loved up my baby every day but was longing to sweep her up and get back to Brooklyn.
The following years gave me two more blessed babies – boys – and I free-lanced as an art director and designer while we raised our three children. I loved my work. I fell for London and made some great friends at work and in the school yard and felt blessed that my husband was my best friend. When he met me from work I still got a little shudder even though we had been together for over 14 years. We took our kids around the world on a million trips. To this day they are great travellers. I look back on those years of our young family with incredible happiness and some wistfulness. I sometimes long for those years. For their warm little bodies clambering up onto me and falling asleep in the sun.
My forties feel a little blurred.
My dad’s wife died and a few years later he met another incredible woman who I came to love. They bought a cabin in upstate Pennsylvania and it quickly became one of my favourite summer places to go, to hang on the big porch, mooch around antique barns & auctions and have ‘movie-night’ with fresh corn-on-the-cob and ice cream pie.
Our children started to get older and began to stretch their wings. I started to get restless with magazine design and dreamt of opening a knitting shop. Yes, me. Once I thought of it I threw myself into it like a fever and within a year I had opened a shop in Islington selling gorgeous knitting supplies sourced from all over the world. I loved meeting talented people working with textiles; I loved the tactileness of the craft and the colours to play with. That my shop has been voted one of the best shops in a city like London for a few years and three books. How crazy fun is that?! It has been an amazing journey growing a business, a community in a sense. I’m proud of what I created and feel honoured to know and work with some incredible people.
My husband suddenly left me after 22 years of marriage and I was all in pieces. My 40’s ended in a very bad way. It felt like I had lost my best friend as well as my husband. It took me a long time to recover- years really. The pain was unbearable but I felt blessed I had had a long marriage that was mostly great and all the wonderful years we had together. All of a sudden those soppy love songs, even the corniest country and western ones, seemed to resonate.
Something like that – betrayal by the one person you love most in the world – leads you to irrational thoughts. Self-doubt. Feeling not pretty enough- not thin enough and not the young self that you were when you first met all those years ago. But of course you’re not, and yet somehow it felt like I should have been.
My ex-husband and I have retained a good friendship – he still lets me know when stuff is on that he thinks I would like and comes over for the big family gatherings. Niall is making his music and DJ’ing. He is still in love with the same wonderful girlfriend he had at 16. I am proud that I have raised a son that knows how to love someone fully. That all the children are close to me and yet still question everything. That they give affection with huge hugs and kisses happily. Of everything, I am most proud of them.
At 53 I met an incredible man who I adore. It has been almost a year and this feels like a new chapter in my life. A different part of my ‘older’ life but just as special, and something to be cherished. Someone who loves my fifty-something self. I would not have thought it was possible to love this way again. But there it is. Someone who ‘gets’ me, is happy to mooch around antique fairs, makes me laugh, reads to me, shares my love of good design and quirky movies, loves me so well and who I love spending every second with when we are together. I feel like I am living in a state of grace. He even loves my crazy hair and ‘dangerous’ curves.
I am looking forward to these things in my future years:
Becoming a Nana. I can’t wait to hold fat baby legs in my arms again.
Making a home with my boyfriend and getting a Wheaton Terrier.
Many road trips with the radio blasting, Japan, Bali and more trips to India and the cabin in Laceyville.
Things that make me inexplicably happy:
Finding the perfect lipstick
Sinking into the world of a great book
The smell of Eucalyptus trees in California
Going to the cinema and Chinatown on a rainy Sunday afternoon
Mauve and grey. Mauve and chocolate brown. Mauve.
Having my whole family around me, from near and far, in my home for a great family dinner – when I walk in the room and see everyone there my chest just swells with love for them all.