As mentioned several weeks ago, I spent the Easter break on an epic road trip across Scotland and the Orkney Isles. Unbelievably, I had 10 days of sunshine out of 12 – I was surprised to return with a tan from a holiday so far North.
I had an utterly fantastic time, going on lots of beautiful mountain walks and bike trails, discovering breathtaking nature and wildlife, and, of course, partaking of a generous helping of arts and crafts.
My adventure started in Scotland’s bright and bustling capital, Edinburgh. The city is full of the most wonderful gift boutiques and yarn shops. I spent a lot of time (and money) in the Grassmarket area of town – in particular, at these two shops:
The Red Door Gallery, 42 Victoria Street, is a fantastic find for handmade items and quirky gifts. The staff in there are really helpful and were able to give me information on the designer of any item I picked up. I finally fell in love with a pair of gem-shaped, laser cut perspex earrings, which had been designed by Orcadian jewellery designer, Kirsteen Stewart.
Just a few doors down the road from The Red Door was K1 Yarns, a veritable treasure trove for those of us that want high-quality, unusual and locally sourced yarns. I pretty much fell in love with every single skein I picked up in the shop! However, using my superhuman willpower, I managed to resist, as I was hoping to engineer a trip to Kingcraig Fabrics into my holiday.
Edinburgh is a fascinating city, full of history, mystery and heritage. After touring the Scottish Parliament, walking up to the Observatory on Colton Hill and perusing what felt like a hundred souvenir shops on the Royal Mile, I was in need of a break before tackling the touristic behemoth, Edinburgh Castle.
Right near the top of the hill sits a Tartan Weaving Mill, which was just the sort of crafting break I was looking for! As well as being able to buy every imaginable shade and pattern of tartan, you can actually watch it being made in the basement of the building.
I hadn’t realised there were so many different patterns of tartan! You were able to buy the material by the metre, and there was also a good selection of offcuts to choose from. I really wanted to buy some materials which I could use for a patchwork project when I returned home. Therefore, I chose three offcuts of tartan, each being a different design but similar shades of colour.
During my trip, I also had time to visit the utterly amazing National Museum of Scotland – so inspiring! There was so much to see in there, but of particular interest was the exhibition on traditional Scottish weaving. I also spent quite a lot of time looking at the Pictish and Viking exhibits, in preparation for my sightseeing further North.
Alas, it was finally time for me to leave this beautiful city and resume my journey North towards Royal Deeside. Of course, there is always time for a little crafting en route, as I had booked in to make a paperweight at Caithness Glass. However, on my way there, I found an absolute gem of a craft shop: Lagom Felt Studio, in Crieff.
Tracy and her husband run the shop, which is a specialist fibre art shop and craft workshop. They stock a wide range of weaving and felting materials and tools, with a specific emphasis on Scottish alpaca fibre and locally-sourced rare-breed fleeces. The pair were really friendly and were happy to chat about any items I picked up. Tracy also mentioned that she too has a blog, which is here!
Tracy is super talented and runs workshops on wet and dry felting, from absolute beginners to intermediate. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come to a workshop on my trip, as I was only passing through the area. However, I will try to make a detour on my next Scottish trip!
As you know, I find it virtually impossible to leave a craft shop without purchasing something. This was bound to happen at Lagom Felt, as all their items were gorgeous. Firstly, I bought a remnant reel of handspun yarn, which I thought matched my Edinburgh tartans quite well. Secondly, I spotted a basket full of gorgeous, unique, hand fired clay buttons, each of which was glazed in lovely colours. As you can see from the picture above, I chose the oak leaf, which, for me, really symbolises Scotland. When I was a child, we regularly visited a place called Craigendarroch, which means ‘Hill of the Oaks’…but more about that in my next post.
I guess this rounds up the first few stops of my trip, so that’s enough for now. Next time, the Scottish Highlands!