Wednesday, 30 March 2016

A Walking Tour of Edinburgh Part One: Stockbridge, Broughton St. and Three Local Yarn Shops. . .

It's been over a week, but I'm still buzzing over the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  What I so loved about my trip this year was having the time to also explore parts of the city that I'd never been to previously.  With my trusty Wool Tribe magazine in tow, I followed parts of all four of the neighbourhood walking tours that were included, visiting several of the suggested yarn and crafty stores along the way.

One of the things that I noticed right away and love about Edinburgh is the proliferation of indie stores and restaurants/cafes.  It's so nice to be able to walk miles and not see a high street full of chain stores that looks like every other high street around the country.  So if you didn't make it to EYF or get a chance to get a copy of Wool Tribe, come along with me as I take you on a wee tour of a couple of neighbourhoods.  Just a note that I made a few modifications to the routes in the book.  In this first part, I merged two of the walks together.

Starting from the National Portrait Gallery on York Street in the New Town, turn left and walk a block to Hanover Street (which then turns into Queen St.)  Here you will get a lovely view looking down on the Firth of Forth.

Queen Street then turns into Dundas Street and on the left hand side you'll find GreyFriars Art Shop. It's a cozy little shop with very friendly staff and well stocked with art supplies.  I'm no artist, but I really love those pencil crayons that turn into watercolour paints so I bought a Derwent set in muted colours of greys and purples.  They also sold graph paper which I'd forgotten to bring with me for one of my courses. 

Turn left onto Northumberland St.  and when you get to Howe Street, turn left again.  Here you'll find the McAree Brothers.

This is quite a large and airy yarn shop specializing mostly in commercial brands.  You'll find a really good selection of Rowan yarns and pattern books for example.  They also stock every conceivable needle size and notion you would ever need.

Turning right out of the shop and walking further down the hill, you'll see St. Vincent's Church at the bottom.  I headed towards it and then turned left along St. Stephen Street where you will find at number 68, Golden Hare Books.   This is an absolutely beautiful bookstore with most of the books shelved face out and clearly curated and chosen by staff with a wide range of reading tastes, an appreciation for poetry and a love of indie presses, literature in translation and the classics.  Any shop openly displaying New York Review of Books Classics brings a smile to my face.  They also had the latest edition of Slightly Foxed which I was happy to purchase.  Do check out their website - lots of great and quirky book recommendations.

It's not all retail therapy though; there's lots of colourful and stunning architecture on the streets along with tempting cafes.  At the end of St. Stephen Street, if you turn left and go up the hill two blocks, you can see the curving houses of the Royal Circle.

But head back down and cross the river and stop for some refreshment. I highly recommend the cardamon buns at Peter's Yard.

This is an area known as Stockbridge and there are lots of lovely shops to browse, but I had another mission. Fortified with a coffee and some pastry, I then crossed back over the bridge and followed the Water of Leith Walkway a little over a mile to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art.
It's a lovely, peaceful  walk with the sound of rushing water accompanying you all the way, completely blocking any city noises. There are also some beautiful buildings.

The gallery is on the top of a hill and I could have spent all day there.

However I had made the trip specifically to see the Modern Scottish Women exhibition which was fabulous.  It's still on until June 26th so do try and get there if you can. I just had to buy the catalogue; I definitely want to read more about some of the amazing artists whose paintings and sculptures were on display.

This was my favourite painting, Composition in Pink and Green by Cathleen Mann.   It just glowed on the wall.  She worked in the ambulance service in the First World and as a war artist in the Second, designed costumes for films in the 1930s and also posters for the Underground.  I love the colours of the outfit in this painting too -  that coral-red belt just sets off the green and grey plaid perfectly.

I might have to steal that colour scheme for this pattern - Briolette, designed by Anna Wilkinson -  from Pom Pom Magazine, Issue 6.  I would use the coral as the contrast colour on the hem and cuffs and as the bold stripe on the plaid.

There was no photography allowed in the exhibition but I couldn't resist snapping a shot in the loos. I love the ironwork on the windows.

I then returned to the Stockbridge area, again by the Water of Leith walkway, and if you head along Hamilton Place which then turns into Henderson Row and then into Eyre Place (just continue in one straight line),  you'll hit Rodney Street which turns into Bellevue.  Turn right at Rodney. I am now merging into the Broughton St. walk that is in Wool Tribe. On the lefthand side walking up Bellevue is East Claremont Street and if you turn left on that and walk about ten minutes, you come to Fabric Focus.

They had a lovely selection of quilting fabric and also some gorgeous wool tweeds that were unfortunately a bit out of my price range.  I did buy some charcoal grey check fabric that will work nicely as a contrast colour in a future quilt.

Returning back the way you've come, Bellevue St turns into Broughton and here you will find my favourite yarn shop in Edinburgh - Kathy's Knits.

They have an excellent stock of British yarns including Blacker, Jamieson & Smith, New Lanark, JC Rennie, Eden Cottage Yarns and Baa Ram Ewe's Titus.  Lots of patterns and books by British designers as well and I love the colourful stitch markers made out of wellies that they sell. Kathy herself is such fun and wonderful to chat with and there is a cozy couch to relax some weary feet.  She was selling the last of Orkney Wool's Texel 4ply stock and I snapped up 5 balls right away.

Broughton Street itself is lovely - again another street with great shops, restaurants and cafes.  I can definitely recommend Artisan Roast where I had the most sublime hot chocolate of my life - it was a white chocolate with vanilla, lavender and lemongrass.  I went into raptures over it and the barista told me I could get the chocolate at the store just a few doors down.

But I couldn't linger too long - I just had time for one more yarn shop visit.  At the top of Broughton Street you'll hit York Place.  Cross over diagonally to the other side and turn onto London Road.  Again, it's another ten minute jaunt, but just after you pass Easter Road you'll find Ginger Twist Studio.   This may be the smallest yarn shop I've ever been in (and it was full of excited Norwegians here for EYF) but it packs quite a colourful punch.  There are gorgeous, vibrant hand-dyed skeins in every weight hanging down from pegs on one wall, and then cubbyholes of yarn on the other.  They stock West Yorkshire Spinners which is a favourite yarn of mine and I bought two balls. 

In all, my merging of the two walks including time spent at the gallery and stops for food and shopping, took about five hours at an easy pace, so it's a great option if you have an afternoon free in the city.  And I made a point of buying something (not hard!) at each of the three yarn shops, even though I knew I'd be shopping quite a bit at the marketplace.  As fantastic as EYF is,  I feel it is really important to also acknowledge and support the indie yarn shops that foster and continue to inspire the local creative community that allows EYF to flourish and be as successful as it is.  So kudos to them too!

1 comment:

Somerset Wedding Gal said...

Love this, I've been to the Burgh a couple of times and these are all new discoveries to me! Such a gorgeous city!