Saturday, 29 September 2012

Daytripping: York. . .

York is a lovely historical city to spend a day in, nestled under the towers of the majestic York Minister.  The last time I visited it was almost twenty years ago and then it was primarily to catch a bus to Castle Howard, where the original mini-series of Brideshead Revisited was filmed.  By the time I returned to York and found my hostel, most of the shops were shut which was fine as I didn't have much money or space in my backpack. I remember just walking around a city that was fairly quiet after the tourists had gone and I've always wanted to return and explore it in more detail.

It's a very compact city and easy to walk to the centre from the railway station, and once there you can see and do a lot of things in just a few hours (I had about six in which to explore).  Thanks to this post by blogger TravelKnitter, I downloaded the York Crafter's Trail brochure - a really smart marketing tool that  highlights all of the craft shops in town.  You can also pick up copies at any of the stores or at the York Tourist office. It's a bit small to read, but even if you aren't interested in craft shops, I'd still recommend following most of the route as it takes you through and around most of the city and down streets I might have missed otherwise. And there is plenty to inspire - York is terrific for shopping and getting those creative juices flowing. There are tons of independent shops on quaint streets that have you stopping every five minutes to pop in or window gaze, especially if you like antiques, second hand bookshops, jewellery or chocolate!  A major tourist destination is The Shambles where the streets are narrow and the medieval houses almost lean towards each other.  This picture doesn't really do it justice.

It was here that I found a delightful wool shop called Ramshambles and bought a few skeins of a fiery orange Harris tweed.  

I also really liked Grace and Jacob, a beautiful store that sold knitting, quilting and craft supplies. They had some lovely yarns, hand-dyed by the owner, and the fabrics and ribbon trims were stunning.  I could easily have bought enough fat quarters for several quilts but restricted myself to four.  Such a lovely, lovely store - definitely worth a visit. 

My third favourite was The Viking Loom - just a good general craft store where I picked up some beads and found some size 0 knitting needles.  They also had a good selection of fabrics.

Also on the Craft trail is the Quilt Museum and Gallery which I enjoyed visiting.  It's quite small and there is an admission charge, but I'm quite happy to support craft galleries, especially textile ones.  There was an exhibition by quilter Pauline Burbidge who makes very modern quilts, often in black and white, using interesting long stitches and inspired by nature and her own photography.  The museum also has a very nice little shop and some gorgeous Japanese fabrics that were tempting.  I did buy two of their printed sashiko squares that I'll probably turn into cushions.  This is a great idea - the pattern is printed on the fabric so you can stitch right over it and then it apparently washes away.  I've been wanting to try this form of embroidery ever since reading this tutorial on the Purl Bee blog.  I know it's traditional to use white thread, but I'm tempted to do something with Noro and maybe even fill in some of the spaces.

Just wandering the streets and shopping took up much of my day but I did make time to walk the city walls.

And to relax with a drink and some chocolate in the beautiful York Museum gardens.

 And my final stop was a brief encounter with The National Railway Museum, having a bit of a train fetish.  I just love seeing those old carriages and powerful engines.

York's own station is quite impressive too - I just love all those architectural curves and old clocks.

No comments: