There’s a wee place tucked away in a community centre in Musselburgh, which sells second-hand art and craft supplies. It’s great for a bargain, and I’ve picked up everything from a guillotine to oilcloth there. The shop is called the Borders Scrapstore, which seems a bit odd until you realise that it’s linked to a much bigger store down in Selkirk. I’ve always wanted to visit the real Borders Scrapstore, and today I finally got my chance. It did not disappoint! First, there was a lovely drive down to Selkirk along roads lined with autumnal trees. Then we passed lots of old textile mills, some of which are still in operation. Finally we arrived at the store itself, hidden in the corner of what looked like an old stable block. There were quite a few abandoned buildings nearby, and the store didn’t look that exciting from the outside.
Then I went inside and was immediately greeted with a huge bin full of yarn cakes in all different colours. I felt totally overwhelmed and super excited when I saw just how much was there! The space is huge, a small warehouse full of supplies. It’s so big that you have to have a good dig around to find what you want, but it’s also organised into rooms based around a theme which makes it a little bit easier. Just inside the door were art supplies, including a few new items such as chalks, painting canvases and air dry clay. Everything was really cheap, with a huge block of clay costing less than £3 for example.
In the centre of the room was a massive table covered in fabric. There were some fabrics which were still on a roll and sold by the metre, and others which were offcuts. I found an abandoned patchwork project, consisting of hundreds of hexagons, and some beautiful cotton prints that were cut into squares ready to be sewn together. There’s every kind of fabric – fleece, corduroy, silk, tartan and jersey. Under the table there were bins of fabric scraps, perfect for quilting and patchwork. There was also a huge pile of cross stitch and tapestry kits, and a tray of buttons, zips and haberdashery trimmings. It’s obvious that some of the stock has come from shops or wholesalers, as there were full reels of ribbons and braids. I enjoyed digging through a wicker basket of dressing up costumes and hats.
Off the main warehouse space was a room entirely dedicated to yarn. If you’re a machine knitter or weaver, this is definitely the place for you! There were so many cones of Shetland yarn in all different colours. Another huge box on the floor was full of proper woolly wool wound into cakes, in bright colours and neutrals – these were 4 for £1, and were probably around 100g each! I found vintage baby yarn, mohair, and some interesting ribbon yarns.
Just next door was another room – my personal favourite – filled with craft magazines, books, sewing patterns, knitting needles and much much more. The space under the tables was filled with more reels of ribbon, and there was lots of upholstery fabric piled up. There were some fabulous patterns from the 1930s onwards, using vintage yarns like Lister Lavenda 3ply. I picked out some of my favourites to photograph.
The main room of the store also has a wide variety of totally random things – for example unprocessed sheep’s fleece, doll’s house electrical fixings, and this box of old 78 rpm records! Do you need envelopes, framing supplies for a print, wholesale amounts of sticky labels or sparkly cardboard? You’ll probably find it at the scrapstore. Of course, the stock is donated second hand and therefore ever changing, but there’s bound to be a wide variety of stuff whenever you visit.
I spent quite a long time trying to decide what to buy, and eventually came away with 17 craft magazines, two circular knitting needles, 50 luggage tags to use as product labels, some pink jersey, corduroy and flowery dress fabric, and three vintage Clothkits – a pair of trousers, shorts and some dolls’ clothes. This haul only cost £17, so I was really pleased with the bargains!
After this we drove back along the road to the Lochcarron Tartan Mill. They had a topiary deer outside with real antlers, and inside there was a mill shop with some gorgeous knitwear and gifts. I loved these little cashmere mittens for children, so soft.
I enjoyed a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, and had a toastie on the squishiest leather sofa. Then it was a leisurely drive back up the road in the autumn sunshine – definitely a lovely day.
The scrapstore is a charity, and aims to reduce waste and make affordable art and craft materials available to all. I’ve always loved a bargain from a charity shop, but I’m starting to think more about the environmental bonuses of buying second hand rather than just the financial ones. It’s great to see so much stuff that would otherwise be in landfill, but now has a chance to be used for creative purposes. If you’re ever in or around Edinburgh or the Borders, I’d definitely recommend you check out either store. They have limited opening hours, which you can find on their Facebook page here.