We’re in full blown summer-type weather here in southern Indiana and it has me dreaming of beach vacations and slowing down for a bit. A vacation isn’t in the cards right now as this new start-up business means a slow initial cash flow. In the meantime though, I can dream about one of my favorite vacations ever, when I visited Penzance, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom last summer and hopefully inspire some of you to travel there as well!
You might have heard of Penzance courtesy of the Sullivan and Gilbert opera, “The Pirates of Penzance.” I know that was all I knew about it when a friend at work suggested that I use the extra time on my trip to see The 1718 Coverlet to visit Penzance. Boy was I glad I took her advice! Beautiful beaches, a magic island, and art galore! It’s a folklorist and textile lover’s dream! I’ll be writing a few different posts on my Penzance trip last year in the hopes to inspire you to check out this gem on the southern coast of Western Cornwall!
Today I want to start by highlighting all of the great stores to check out if you are a textile lover like me. This small town seems to have something for every textile maker and lover and you can spend a day just enjoying these spots!
First let’s talk textile supply shops, because you will want to go to these places to get some goodies to work on while you relax (and because visiting these shops was basically the first thing I did when I arrived).
Penzance is small and you can walk to all of these places in one trip. While it is flat down by the beach, the town is built on some hills so be prepared for a bit of an uphill climb to get to a few of these stores. It’s a good workout to then be able to enjoy all of the good food in the area though!
As a quilter my first stop was at Sew and Quilt (Trinity House, Quay Street)
This cute little shop is tucked away in a set of row houses off Quay Street. Their primary presence is online (so check out all the goodies there) but if when you are in Penzance you can also stop by to pick up all of your sewing needs!
A note on finding the store, it will look a bit like you are entering a private dwelling area if you are following your map, but the shop is down on the left almost at the end of the row houses so just keep going!
They carry a variety of fabric lines and have a great selection of Liberty of London fabric. I had a hard time picking out which prints I wanted to purchase!
They also sell their own range of Sew & Quilt paper pieces and supplies, which they make in West Cornwall. They have precut paper templates as well as acrylic templates. It’s a great place to pick up everything you need to do a little hand sewing on the beach or the train as you travel around the area. And if you can’t get there any time soon they do ship their goodies worldwide.
If, like me, you also enjoy cross stitch, or if you love rug hooking, then your next stop should be Cornish Stitch Designs (2 Queen St)
This is a small family owned independent shop on Queen Street. It’s a bit tricky to get into because the front door opens directly onto the street, so look both ways before venturing in or out. It’s easiest to come at it from Chapel Street as it is right near the fork where Chapel Street breaks off of Queen Street (and Chapel Street has a sidewalk). It is so worth hunting this little place out though!
When I visited last summer they had just moved to this new location and were in the process of setting up all of their rug making supplies and patterns, locally made jewelry and vintage pieces, as well as jewelry making supplies. They also carry a range of cross stitch patterns and kits that depict local places that were all designed by a local woman named Thelma Murrish. Thelma has passed away, but the shop owner told me that she used to have a work space down by the water front where people could watch her design her patterns. Apparently she would stitch up a design and then rip out anything she didn’t like until she had the colors exactly right. As Thelma was also my grandmother’s name I had to pick up a pattern and selected a kit depicting Penzance to remember my trip. In addition to the local Cornish places, the cross stitch patterns also depict medieval themed designs, animals, new baby, and wedding and anniversary. It’s a great place to get a truly unique textile souvenir!
For the yarn lovers, the family run Harbour Crystals and Wools sells yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks, as well as jewelry making supplies and a wide variety of other items. You’ll find this store at 25 Causeway Head, alongside a great range of bookstores and other small specialty stores!
If you are in Penzance this upcoming September 7th and 8th, 2019, you can also check out the Cornish Yarn Festival, which has free admission and is hosted by Harbour Crystals and Wools.
And if you like textiles but aren’t interested in making your own, check out East of Here (2-3 Chapel Street)
This store carries a variety of finished textiles imported from the Middle East and India. When I visited the store had just received a shipment of beautiful quilts made in India. The store also sells a wide range of woven rugs and textile stamps. They assured me that they could ship to the US if you don’t want to purchase a second suitcase to carry your textiles home with you. Even if you aren’t in the market to purchase a rug or quilt it is worth stopping in for the inspiration alone!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tour of some of the great textile shops I visited while in Penzance last year. Stay tuned for future posts exploring fun things to do in the area as well as places to stay and places to eat! And let me know in the comments of any great textile shops you’ve visited while in Penzance or in West Cornwall so that I can make a list for my next trip!
Disclosure: No aspect of this post was sponsored. This was a vacation I planned and paid for on my own.
Photo credit: All photos by author.