If you are a crafter, a knitter, a sewer, a scapbooker or an artist of any medium London will be a delightful destination in which to pursue your passion.
Of course, you’ll be doing some very traditional sightseeing and “cultural” activities, most of which seem to be happily complimented by gift shops filled to the brim with ideas and materials.
One of my favorite places is the William Morris Gallery. William Morris was the designer who so influenced the walls and homes of Edwardian England. The gallery specializes in textiles (a metre or two of fabric will take up very little room in your suitcase and create a new cushion cover at home), glass and ceramics. William Morris was one of the designers at the very frontier of the arts and crafts movement.
Take some time, make some time for London’s famous street markets:
Brick Lane Market is like your favorite garage sale neighborhood transported across the pond. This is a wonderful hodge podge of everything: clothing, furniture, and kitchenware – it’s all here. Take the tube to Liverpool Street.
Covent Garden has been a tourist haven for years, filled with lots of boutiques, independent shops and tempting little eateries. You should plan to spend several hours soaking up inspiration for future projects you can craft at home. Head upstairs at the market to the Banana Bookshops to find a wide range of craft paper and card-making essentials. The Apple Market, held in the North Hall from Tuesday to Sunday has a slightly more upmarket (expensive) selection of arts and crafts stalls.
Head to the city’s Westside and Portobello Market, this place is chock full of handicraft stalls, vintage clothing, antiques and accessory stalls. The nearest tube stop is Ladbroke Grove.
If you want to do more than shop but combine your passion with meeting locals and soaking up authentic ambiance, then go on line to iknits.london.uk to discover where you can find groups meeting to attebd (they hold a Sunday roast night with knitting in a pub, or perhaps a class, or even a craft-tea adventure).
You can even plan your trip around a crafting event, the Festival of Quilts is one of the largest textile events in Europe, generally held in August. The Knitting and Stitching Show is a big event in London in October, as is the London Craft Fair, also held that month. Tickets to these events can sell out quickly, so best to book online so as not to be disappointed.
And while you are online exploring, book your Oyster pass for cheap and efficient transport around London, to get you to all those lovely markets with lots of change to spend when you arrive. If you are only visiting for a few days the “pay-as-you-go" card may be your best option. If you make enough trips in one day the card will automatically kick into a day pass option, saving you even more money, such a clever card!