Wool has this grounding force that cannot be explained. At age twenty-one, I popped into my good friend’s house, one evening, to find her and her mom knitting. They showed me how to cast a stitch and the basic knit stitch. I was hooked. This evolved into me stalking Suss at her then knitting supply store on Beverly (now her design studio). After months of aimlessly walking around in her store looking for supplies and staring at her subtly, she asked if I’d like to join a knitting group she held, for friends, on Thursday nights. Skip to the following Thursday with me and a handful of middle-aged women knitting around her perfectly designed office. We knitted over some amazing wine and cheese for months to follow. This is where I learned my skills of knitting, and then I went on to model for Suss where she’d pay me in yarn. I’ll always cherish those times.
My love for knitting is still very full in my heart every fall and winter, so during our December visit to NYC, it was mandatory I visit SoHo’s Loopy Mango. This company combines all my favorite elements; Amazing design, large, quality wool and quick beautiful projects you can whip out in hours! Meet this modern take on traditional knitting, Loopy Mango.
HOW DID THE NAME LOOPY MANGO EVOLVE
Waejong has a German Shepherd named Loopy and an orange cat named Mango. But the name "Loopy Mango" originally was made up by my friend Vlad who said that we both were so loopy. It made perfect sense because we are definitely loopy and we love knitting and crocheting where everything is made out of loops and now that we make our own yarn everything makes perfect sense.
BECAUSE ALL OF YOUR WOOL IS SOURCED DOMESTICALLY, TELL US ABOUT THE PROCESS BEFORE IT REACHES THE STORE
The fiber comes from American farmers - mostly in Western states such as Wyoming and Colorado. There are different breeds of sheep and that particular grade of merino that we use comes from there. After we get the fiber it gets dyed, then carded and then spun into our Big Loop Yarn. It's a long process and it's very labor intensive. Just spinning one skein of Big Loop (and that's after transporting, dying and carding) takes more than 30 minutes!
WHY SUCH LARGE WOOL AND NEEDLES
Our store is in New York City and New Yorkers are always so busy and don't have time for anything. We wanted to be able to teach anyone to knit from start to finish in just one class but it was impossible to do it with any yarn available on the market. So we came up with Big Loop. Now we can teach a class where our students can complete a project such as a scarf or a rug in just 2 hours without even having any knitting experience whatsoever. And of course we love the aesthetics of super chunky knits.
WHAT TYPE OF WOOL DO YOU PRODUCE
Right now our main focus is merino. But in the future we would love to do a merino and alpaca blend.
OBSTACLES YOU AND YOUR PARTNER FACED WHEN STARTING LM
We didn't really know anything about running a retail business, not to mention spinning our own yarn. Waejong's background was in languages, restaurant management (she had her own restaurant in Japan) and corporate housing. My background was in Software (I worked for Microsoft and Expedia as a Software Test Engineer). We learned everything from just trying things out and from our own mistakes. It's been a very rough ride - it wasn't just hard when we started out, it only got harder the more we got into it - we survived scaffolding blocking our entire store front and making us virtually invisible for almost 2 years, recession, Hurricane Sandy, you name it.
FAVORITE ASPECT OF YOUR COMPANY
Making a product that people love and that makes them happy.
TOP FIVE BEAUTY PRODUCTS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
WHAT DO YOU DO TO FIND YOUR ZEN IN THE CITY
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with Loopy.
DAY TRIP DESTINATION FROM THE CITY YOU OFTEN FREQUENT
We unfortunately don't have any time for that.
I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT MY
Red lipstick and knitting needles.
ADVICE TO BUDDING KNITTERS
Don't be afraid to experiment and try out new materials - you can knit with anything - fabric, leather, paper, anything you can cut into strips.