The Black Squirrel, Berkeley

After a visit to Stonemountain & Daughters Fabrics, I headed towards the water and The Black Squirrel, a store promising yarn, fabric and excellent design. This was not the most logical way to do my trip (I should have headed to Lacis first as it’s less than a fifteen minute walk from Stonemountain) but I didn’t realise this until afterwards. Poor planning on my part! I was curious though to see exactly what The Black Squirrel was all about.

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A Quilt Tour of Berkeley

It’s always great when you find a place home to not just one isolated craft shop, but several, all within relatively easy travelling distance to each other. Welcome to Berkeley, quilters’ heaven, home to some wonderfully quirky and welcoming textile institutions.

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Harts Fabrics, Santa Cruz

I’m not sure the traditional image of Santa Cruz comes with sewing machines and knitting needles but it turns out that Santa Cruz is actually a veritable goldmine of craft shops and fabric stores. Then, when you’re done with your shopping, you can grab an ice cream and go hang out with the seals on the pier. That is, if you don’t get trapped forever wandering around the vast expanse of Harts Fabric.

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Midsomer Quilting, Chilcompton

What is Chilcompton famous for? Or maybe you’re wondering, where, or what on earth, is Chilcompton. UK resident or not, you might be forgiven for not having heard of this small village, tucked away in the middle of nowhere in Somerset. If you’re not from the area, the nearest recognisable city is probably Bath, but even that is a 45 minute drive away, which in UK units is quite a long way. So what is it that draws so many people, even internationally, to this quaint piece of rural England?

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Knitting by the Sea and the Llamicorn Legend

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without following some of its legendary coastlines and dropping into a yarn shop or two on the way. In the quaint, picturesque little city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, is the aptly named, Knitting by the Sea. Maybe knitware and sand aren’t a combination that instantly springs to mind, but this lovely yarn shop will soon have you convinced.

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Britex Fabrics, San Francisco

I’ve been to different places in the States several times over the years but so far, the West Coast has remained unexplored territory for me. When the opportunity came up to visit California, I obviously couldn’t resist going to find out whether there was anything on offer to rival some of the lovely places I saw in Boston on my last visit.

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America tends to do big, bold and grand very well and Britex Fabrics in San Francisco is no exception. It is a multi-storey bonanza of all things craft related and has one of the best collections of craft gadgets I’ve seen outside of Japan.

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Taipei and Yongle Textile Market

Being a tourist is often regarded as one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can be. No one wants to be the hapless soul, guide book in one hand, oversized Canon camera round the neck, clogging up the pavement taking photos of the local highlights, such as cracks in the concrete and public benches.

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Having lived somewhere was definitely a tourist trap in the summer I can sympathise with the tourist-hatred somewhat. I still have no idea how the floor can be so endlessly fascinating to squawking tour groups and quite why the secret to a good photography is maximum inconvenience to other passersby.

In the modern age of the smartphone and Google Maps, I’m usually fairly confident getting around independently. However, sometimes it’s nice for someone else to do the thinking, and as I only had a few days off for sightseeing in Taipei, I needed to be efficient about it and thus began my quest to see if it is indeed possible to take a photograph without causing a traffic jam and find out the local crafting hotspots.

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