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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Leeds Market and City Museum

When I’m visiting somewhere new, I take a multipronged approach to trying to uncover the local craft scene. The first stop is usually Ravelry’s wonderful Yarn Shop finder, an essential part of planning any local roadtrip. Digging into the forums for local groups can be a great way to discover more hidden gems as well, particularly as there are a lot of long-running craft shops that predate the Internet and still don’t have a web presence.

The second part is usually hammering my search engine of choice with the names of various crafts and the city. This often has varying levels of success, as again, it is dependent on the shop having a good online presence. Yelp can be really useful when there’s a local crafter who has put up their ‘top 10’ list of places to see. Unfortunately, it’s only as useful as what people have contributed and it’s not so popular outside of big cities.

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This week’s adventure was to Leeds, home to the Royal Armouries Museum (not to be missed) and a historical centre for the wool trade. If you don’t have a car and aren’t planning on venturing much further than the city centre, Leeds conveniently has rather a lot of crafty goodness one place, Leeds Kirkgate Market.

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Make at 140, Plymouth

It’s an exciting bit of news to hear that there’s a new local craft shop on the scene, and even better when it’s not just a shop but home to a café with a mouth-watering menu and enough workshops to keep any craft addict happy for at least a good few months.

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Make at 140 is the latest addition to Plymouth’s craft scene, situated just between the city centre and historic harbourside. It opened its doors in November 2015 as a ‘creative space to craft, make and create’, run by Lizzy, who has a wealth of experience in button and jewellery design.

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Boston Yarn, Fish and Beads

Considering that there is a non-zero probability that I will combust at temperatures greater than 23℃, I do seem to spend my summers in some dreadful locations. This summer’s treat was heading off to Boston, Massachusetts because I was feeling terribly homesick for Kyoto’s hellish, humid summers.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the States and longer still since I’ve been to Boston. I was looking forward to seeing what parts I could remember and of course, visiting somewhere new means getting on the yarn shop trail.

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