I really love visiting museums. Where else can you cross a thousand years of history in a few hundred metres, or from central London to deepest Patagonia? I have a sentimental fondness for the V&A in London, and have been to some other great places, such as the breathtaking National Palace Museum in Taipei to the highly specialist Quilt Museum in Boston. Luckily for me, Seoul has a great blend of museums at both ends of the spectrum, from the expanse of the National Museum of Korea, or several, small gems of textile history.
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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.
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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Lowell is a city to the north west of Boston which birthed the American Industrial Revolution. As you walk around, you can still see the mills and textile factories that housed the first ‘power looms’ in America that automated large parts of the weaving process and manufactured the coarse cottons that take their name from the city.
After the Great Depression and decline of the textile industry, Lowell became something of an economic wasteland. However, now, Lowell has been transformed a National Historical Park, which is a slightly confusing name because the Park part refers to part of the city itself. A huge amount of effort has been made to preserve the history and make for an interesting and informative visit.
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