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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Coaster IV – Broken Dish Pair

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For my previous coasters, I’d stuck to following some great online tutorials. To me though, patchwork seems like one of those skills where it’s far better if you understand the concepts behind constructing a block and can mentally deconstruct patterns, much like making temari, rather than just learning to follow a pattern blindly.

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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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Coaster Mark II

As someone who really loves lurid colours, it probably comes as no surprise that, when it comes to fabrics, I really, really love batiks. There’s enough variety of prints, patterns and colours that I could probably be entertained forever. The ‘mottled’ effect you get from the resist dyeing process also means that one piece of fabric has a huge amount of variation within it, which for me all adds to the creative fun.

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Chaos, Routine and a Bernina

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The last six months have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, with two moves, a new job and all the general chaos and upheaval that comes along with that. It has been rather exhausting and the whole thing has seen me decoupled from a lot of my crafting equipment, my stash as well as all my usual routines.

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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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Lowell and the New England Quilting Museum

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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.

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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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National Trust: Newark Park

The National Trust (or the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty if you’re feeling particular) is an organisation dedicated to the conservation of ‘lands and tenements of beauty and historic interest.’ Many of the iconic English country houses are maintained by them and even a few bits of the British coastline.

As a child, I spent many hours being carted off to various National Trust properties, usually with a fabulous picnic in tow. I remember this fondly but I have no idea if younger me was nearly so appreciative of quite how fantastic some of the architecture and history I was seeing was.

As an adult, the picnics mostly consist of handing over my life savings at the National Trust’s café, missing my grandparents’ ability to identify the maker and date of every piece of ceramic, but feeling very appreciative that someone has kept these snapshots of history alive. They also include an inordinate amount of time staring at textiles and grilling the poor volunteer stewards for as much information as I can glean from them.

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Newark Park is located in Gloucestershire, close to Wotton-under-Edge and for a house with a reputation for being dank and cold, has some very interesting fabrics and materials in it.

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