South Oxfordshire is something of a crafters’ heaven. More than anywhere else I’ve lived it is teeming with gorgeous little fabric and yarn shops, quilting groups, stitch and bitch sessions, yarn bombing and all sorts. I’m not sure which came first – the crafters or the craft shops, but the two now exist in a blissful symbiosis of supply and demand.
For the disparate crafter, like myself, there’s the holy triumverate of Masons in Abingdon, a set of three shops spread throughout the town selling variously: fabric and yarn, fabric and notions and ribbons, cake decorating and papercraft items. Lady Sew and Sew is a lush fabric warehouse in Henley – a quilter’s paradise of fabrics – and for the quilter in search of support, Village Fabrics in Wallingford has the most knowledgeable and helpful staff, and they don’t do a hard sell on you. It also runs lots of great classes and groups.
Wallingford also has the lovely Poppycraft – a papercraft shop – but sadly said goodbye last year to Wool and Willow, the only yarn supplier in South Oxfordshire I’ve come across other than Masons. Luckily for the community there has been a wonderful upsweep of creativity-based shops in Wallingford with three opening in the same week. I really must review the pottery cafe and local-vendor start-up-pop-up-shop thing, but for now let me focus on the fabby Made by Raspberry Tart and friends.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, ‘Made by Raspberry Tart and friends’ is certainly an intriguing name, but it makes more sense when you understand that it is a shop set up by a one-woman enterprise who sells clothing and other textiles under the name of Raspberry Tart. The shop, however, is not just a showroom for her handmade items, but also a wonderful community enterprise, encouraging other small-time, local craftspeople to contribute items for sale.
This not only allows a stress-free sales outlet for various enthusiasts, but ensures that the products in Made (as the locals are already calling it) are as varied as they are unique. From leather satchels to felt scotty-dog door stops, button jewellery to funky little cookie cutter pin-cushions this is a one-stop shop for those in search of presents for the hard-to-buy-for. Luckily this includes crafters to some extent as it even has a small selection of yarns and needles. Hurrah!
We are blessed, in this part of the county, to have so many lovely crafty shops within easy reach and I’ll certainly be doing a more fulsome review of some of those mentioned above (I especially need to check out Lady Sew and Sew as Christmas approaches – have you seen my Pinterest board recently? It’s very, eh-hem, festive). Perhaps, if we keep our fingers very tightly crossed, we’ll become a destination shopping location for the crafty-at-heart and even more shops and events will flourish. One can only hope…