You may remember that a while ago I bought some satin display boxes from the Viking Loom. Last Monday I quite unexpectedly had the opportunity to visit their new premises just outside York, and of course I jumped at the chance! I had been to their old shop in High Petergate, which was lovely, but I’d read on their website the new place was much bigger, including workshop space. My sister-in-law kindly lent me a bike (which took a bit of getting used to, as my trusted Dutch bike has back-pedal brakes and no gears) so off I went up Wigginton Road and past the chocolate factory, which was rather like being bathed in cocoa – very invigorating!
To say that the new place is more spacious is definitely a bit of an understatement. It’s not many craft shops that you approach by means of a tree-lined avenue, or where the car park is overlooked by horses and a dovecote, and where you can park your bike next to a miniature orchard with geese in it.
The house , too, is impressive, but unfortunately not part of the shop so an outside view only. A lovely yellow labrador of supreme laid-backness welcomes you (if that is not too active a word) to the Viking Loom itself, and the first room you get into is awash with colour, filled as it is with innumerable shades of Appleton’s crewel and tapestry wool.
Then it’s upstairs, to a room devoted to all things quilting (which I didn’t photograph), followed by the embroidery room which had kits and books and threads and tools and a surprising number of goldwork bits and bobs. As I wandered into this room a lady asked if I was looking for anything in particular or if I would prefer to browse. When I said I’d browse a bit first, please, she offered me coffee or tea – I can tell you it’s a rather nervous affair, walking around with a hot drink while looking at all these gorgeous things! The tea (proper, strong Yorkshire tea, with lots of milk) was made in a little kitchen attached to the workshop space, where two ladies were having a lovely time sewing and “escaping the housework and the children”, as they informed me.
Of course I couldn’t possibly leave without taking a little bit of stash with me. As luck would have it, I found two things which I had been reading about, and wanting to try out, but I didn’t like to order them online without having at least some idea what they were like. One of these was trigger cloth, a fairly closely woven fabric for freestyle embroidery; unfortunately they only had it in bright white, not the antique white I usually prefer, but it felt nice and sturdy with enough body not to need backing (unless you’re using very heavy embellishments or goldwork materials). And as I was looking at the fabrics, a piece of hand-painted (not dyed) silk jumped out and said “goldwork seahorse” to me, so that got added to the trigger cloth. The silk is actually painted on the premises by a lady who comes there every now and then to paint a batch.
The other thing I’d been reading about was heavy metal thread, as used by Hazel Everett in her goldwork book. Unfortunately she doesn’t mention a brand name, or where to buy it, and so some further research was called for. This lead me to Madeira’s #12 metallic thread, which is indeed known as Heavy Metal, a misnomer if ever there was one for this fine, 3-ply thread which can be used as it comes, or split into its three plies for detailed or miniature work. I could find it online, but not very easily, and the postage for these chunky reels made it rather too expensive to buy on the off-chance that it would be to my liking. But there it was, at the Viking Loom, ready to be inspected and touched, and available in four colours. I got them all.
Visiting family is fun anyway, but if they happen to live close to a place like the Viking Loom it’s even more fun!