Describe your style in three words. Awesome, colourful and hilarious.
Did you have any particular ambitions when you first started out? We always wanted this to be a very open space – inclusive with classes that are unpretentious yet substantial. And we’ve always had the same goal of making our space work in our community. But overall? We really just wanted to turn what we had in our heads into reality, and feeling like it’s happening is just glorious. How did you get into weaving? Weaving just came for us! We love yarn, we love knitting and we love to sew and make garments. In a roundabout sort of way, weaving allows us to be a bit more cross curricular with our crafts. I still wouldn’t call us professional weavers, as we don’t produce cloth for sale. Instead, we’ve always been an educational business, imparting knowledge alongside our joy of fibres and making things with your hands. Tell us more about why you both love this craft so much. There are so many benefits to handweaving. There’s a long history of hand-
weaving being used as a therapy – the term basket case came from occupational therapists working on hand-weaving with veterans with PTSD. It’s extremely rhythmic, which is soothing and very simple for both beginners and children to get to grips with. Weaving – especially on our floor looms – is also really speedy. Unlike a lot of beginners’ craft classes, you can make something very substantial very quickly which is super satisfying. There is a lot of set up involved in weaving, but we do that all for our beginners so they can just get straight into the studio and start weaving right away. What’s your typical working day like? We have a big meeting about the week ahead and catch up on each other’s weekends. Brooke’s more practical, moving around the studio at light speed preparing everything for the week, while I’m on the computer, responding to customers and arranging meetings for various businessy plans. When there are customers in the studio, the music is on, the atmosphere
“We’ve always the same goal of making our space work in our community.”
is sweet and we’re mostly chatting about the wrongs we’d like to right in the world and why there aren’t more shades of neon green yarn (it’s something to do with new dye laws in the EU). Sometimes we have late night workshops, so Brooke will go home to meet her kids and bring me back a tub of dinner, then we’ll hand everyone a shot of tequila and get making. Take us through your creative process. Sometimes our creativity comes from something one of us has read about or seen somewhere, other times it’s out of necessity. We sit and throw around ideas for crafts and workshops until we’ve figured something out we’re excited by, and then we make samples. There are lots of things we’ve tried that in theory were genius but in practice didn’t work, or ideas we thought were amazing that no one cared about. Then we have to figure the business side out – how do you sell a workshop that no one seems interested in? We try lots of creative solutions to make things work, but it’s important to let things go if they aren’t working. Life’s too short for that nonsense. What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learnt so far? Be true to your brand. It sounds like something from an inspirational Instagram profile but it’s true. We’ve tried workshops
and collaborations before when we weren’t totally convinced and it doesn’t work. It ends up compromising the integrity of what we’re trying to build. We’re always being told we have a strong identity and we think it’s funny because it’s just us. But we’ve learnt to trust our guts. And put lots of bagels in them, too. If you were starting up now, is there anything you’d do di erently? No way! Every mistake we’ve made has been a huge lesson – and we’ve made heaps of mistakes. I can’t imagine how we’d have learnt anything other than by doing it. Who, or what, inspires you? I think if you love colour, texture, fibres and people, then you can be inspired by anything. We get so many amazing, funny and smart people through our doors who teach us new things. We’re also inspired by the community in Hackney. From dyers like Helen from The Wool Kitchen to wool shop owners like Anna from Wild and Woolly, we’re in walking distance of women
“If you love colour, texture and people, you can be inspired by anything.”
who blow our minds with their knowledge. We feel very lucky.
What’s been your proudest moment? We wrote a book that was published in February. It’s called Weave This and we’re really proud of it. It’s been a mad dream that we were able to go into our second year of business with a book launch party. There were a lot of very happy tears and garbled thank you speeches that night.
And what’s been the biggest struggle? Just knowing what to do! We’d never run a business before. Last spring there were days when we sat in our studio not knowing what was next or if we’d made a huge mistake. Now looking back at that time (and all the times I sobbed in my boyfriend’s kitchen over bookings), I feel insanely proud of what we’ve done.
Do you have plans for the future? We really want a bigger studio as it would allow us to hold creative talks and workshops. We want to be the hub of yarn crafts in the city and work alongside all the amazing people in our community.
Can you share any parting wisdom? Don’t expect to be perfect first time. We can’t all be Barbra (Streisand, obviously).
Francesca 01 Brooke and set up The London Loom to be somewhere “colourful and bright... a place with good equipment and quality materials”. 02 Freestyle weaving is fun and fast, and the end results can be impressive. 03 Francesca adds green pom poms to a salmon-coloured weave on the loom.
01 Inspiration hangs on the walls, and rugs and cushions make for a cosy f loorspace. 02 Why aren’t there more shades of neon green? Something to do with new dye laws in the EU, apparently. 03 The studio is a colourful place with ace tunes and chat.
01 Francesca and Brooke’s first book – Weave This – takes pride of place on the studio shelving. 02 Work in progress: different yarns come together to create texture. 03 Permission to play: colourful craft materials are set out to entice, as if in a sweet shop.
01 work Francesca in Special used to Educational Needs which required patience. “I also learnt how to use my humour to teach.” 02 They’re planning a programme of healing arts groups and after school clubs.