Friday, 30 July 2010

Crafters' Guide to York

I originally posted this on Craftster, but thought I'd out it here too. love living in York. It’s a brilliant city, and as a crafter I’m utterly spoiled here. In case any crafters feel like visiting, here are the highlights of York for creative types.


Craft Basics, Goodramgate. You can’t come to York and not visit Craft Basics. It’s the daddy of all craft shops. They’ve got everything you’ll ever need, from handbag handles to embroidery floss to wool roving to card and feathers and glass paint and card embellishments. You’ll go in there looking for particular supplies, and come out with supplies for a whole new craft you never know existed. The staff are fab and really helpful – they never batted an eyelid when I asked if they had googly eyes.

Gillies Fabrics, Peter Lane. This is a superb fabric shop tucked away down a little alley, near the shop that sells nuts and swimwear. Seriously. They’ve got a huge range of dressmaking and quilting fabrics, and sell some incredibly high-tech sewing machines. They also run classes throughout the year. I was once at a craft show in Harrogate, and saw this incredibly well stocked fabric stall that stood out above the rest – got closer and realised it was Gillies. Of course.

Viking Loom, High Petergate. The Viking Loom sells a gorgeous range of quilting fabrics, including Moda and Robert Kauffman materials, as well as beads, embroidery floss, wool rovings, and loads of unusual embroidery kits. They also have some seriously fab jelly rolls that I covet every time I’m in, despite the fact I don’t quilt.

Ramshambles, The Shambles. The wool shop Ramshambles used to be Sheepish, but it’s just been bought out by the woman who used to manage Sheepish. It seems to have just as much tasty tasty wool, but it’s now looking really clean and funky – a real destination wool shop. As well as stocking Debbie Bliss, Noro and King Cole, they also sell Highfield Textiles - local Wensleydale and Shetland wool. Yum!

Poppy’s, Colliergate. This wool shop is the new kid on the block. Little sister of Poppy’s in Pocklington, this shop is out to wow. The Pocklington shop stocks much more than wool – jewellery supplies, rubber stamping, paper crafts and more, but I understand the York one will concentrate on wool for the time being. But don’t let that worry you – they have all the big names – Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Sirdar, as well as lesser know ones like Araucania and Yorkshire Yarns.

Boyes, Goodramgate. So, you like the sound of all these shops above, but don’t have the readies to splurge on some supplies. Where do you go? You go to Boyes, the north’s premier cheap and cheerful department store. Their haberdashery department upstairs has loads of fabric, wools, dyes and more and low prices.

The Art Shop, The Shambles. At the entrance to The Shambles, which won the award for Britain's Most Picturesque Street 2010, The Art Shop is stocked full of everything you’ll ever need to paint, draw and more. I go there for my lino and printing ink for making lino cuts.

The Miniature Scene, Fossgate. The Miniature Scene is the UK’s number 1 independent Doll house miniatures supplier. And it’s fascinating. I’m not really into dolls’ houses, but I can’t resist popping in, looking at all the tiny things and pretending I’m a giant.

Duttons for Buttons, Coppergate. More buttons than you ever thought existed! They supplied the buttons for the Pirates of the Carribean, apparantly.

Make Your Mark, Goodramgate. Writing all this out, I realise York has some pretty specialist shops – we’ve had buttons, dolls’ house supplies, and now rubber stamps. Make Your Mark is a teeny tiny shop, full to bursting with rubber stamps and inks. And if you want a particular stamp making up, they’ll do that for you too.

Bead Hive, College Street. Nothing much to say, other than that it’s a really excellent bead shop at the back of York Minster. If you want unique and beautiful beads, you know where to go.


There are a few crafty things to see and do in York – I like the ceramics café Rainbows Ceramics in Marygate, and it’s always worthwhile seeing what’s on at the Art Gallery. Good classes run throughout the year, often held by York College. If you’re around on a Monday night, there’s Knit and Natter at the Brigantes Pub on Micklegate from 5.30pm, and on Friday nights there’s Art Jamming at the Art Space, Tower Street – bring a drink and they provide the supplies to paint or draw.

But if you are a crafter visiting York, you must not miss out on the Quilt Museum on Peashome Green, dedicated to quilting and textile arts. It’s based in St Anthony's Hall, built for the Guild of St Martin in 15th century, and it’s also been a workhouse for the poor, a hospital, prison, and a school and archive. Now, the medieval space is filled with stunning antique quilts, and they have regular exhibitions of more modern fibre arts. It’s not cheap, but well worth the entrance fee – even P loved it.


  1. Great guide - I never realised there were so many crafty shops in York! I've always been a fan of Duttons for Buttons:)

  2. Well, me too really - it was only when I started thinking about them I realised how many there are!

  3. You sound spoilt for choice. A word of warning about araucania sock wool. I bought some in Sydney. It was basically unwindable from the hank. Lots of knots, tangles and cut ends. Which was a real shame because the colours in the range are amazing. It felt good too.

    After some hassle, I received a credit from the shop, but four or five emails to the people themselves went ignored over a period of about a month.
    Jan (Loth...... on board.)

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  5. Earwig, I just came across your blog via the ship. I've been to York a couple of times (my friend lives there), and I LOVE the craft shops. I didn't know there was a quilt museum though... sorry I missed that.