Nova Scotia Craft: Halifax, Mahone Bay + Lunenburg

May 17, 2016

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I recently got back from a solo road trip around Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. My very own craft and photography tour, if you will. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a while and the timing (and Air Miles!) worked out.

My love of the Maritimes started with a serious Anne of Green Gables obsession at age five. I remember having the movies on repeat all summer at the cottage. I was infatuated with early 1900’s life — the landscape, the people, the clothes. I wanted to live in her world. God Bless my parents for putting up with me…

I’ve visited the Maritimes many times to visit family, drive the Cabot Trail with my parents, and most recently for a summer french immersion program in Nova Scotia. So while I went to many new places on this trip, I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the province.

Above: A local pottery exhibition at NSCAD‘s Gallery in Halifax’s Seaport. By Vaughan Smith.

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I flew into Halifax and spent a few days with family before renting a car and driving around for 8 days. I did a clockwise loop, driving down the South Shore first. You can see the route I took on the map above (Roughly, I didn’t include every little detour).

Before my trip I searched ‘craft shops Nova Scotia’ willing Google to present me with a list of must visit places. I didn’t find it. So I’ve compiled this list in the hopes anyone looking for something similar will find it. In this post you’ll see the shops I visited in Halifax, Mahone Bay, and Lunenburg. I’ll follow it up with posts on Annapolis Valley and Cape Breton Island.

I went the end of April and early May which is the offseason. If you’re considering doing something similar, the summer tourist season is end of June to October. That’s when the leaves are out and all the restaurants and craft shops are open. A lot of things really do close in the winter, so consider this when planning a trip.

Why the heck did I go if everything was closed?! It’s the time I had off from school, the price was right, and I was still able to meet most of the artists I wanted to due to calling ahead and sheer luck (more on that in the Cape Breton post). I’ve seen the Cabot Trail twice before in the summer (which is beyond stunning), so I actually enjoyed seeing it in another season and feeling like I had the place to myself. Quiet, no mobs of tourists, no traffic, and one on one time with the crafts people I met with. It just seemed to work out and was what I needed from a solo trip.

Below you’ll find photos from my favourite spots and a list of everywhere I visited at the end. 

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The sweetest sewing shop, Patch, near the Hydrostone Market in Halifax.

I was struck by how welcoming shop owners were. I was able to have open conversations with people without feeling pressure to buy something, you know? People seemed more present and less stressed about the details (money, marketing, etc.) than what I’m used to in a big city. Obviously a generalization, but a notable take away.

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Inkwell Boutique is a print shop carrying a selection of local work and other gems, like these coasters.

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I didn’t realize Nova Scotian Crystal is the only place in Canada to do hand blow, hand cut crystal. They make everything on site and have demonstrations during the summer.

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Have A Yarn in Mahone Bay was one of my favourite yarn shops I visited. I spent a good 45 minutes fondling fleece in the corner before deciding on a bag of lcelandic  from The Last Resort Farm. I liked their selection of local fibre (check website for a list).

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Dots + Loop in Lunenburg is a cute general shop filled with craft, fun accessories, and local prints. They have a top notch card selection (more on that later).

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Down a side street in Lunenburg you’ll find Double Whale Handwoven Designs. The owner, Marrie, weaves and makes everything in this little shop/work space.

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She weaves with wool, and rather than sew her garments together she crochets them. I wish I had a better photo of these seams but it is GORGEOUS and a really interesting technique. Maybe this is old news for seasoned weavers, but I found it exciting.

Now for the list — please note it’s not exhaustive of every possible craft shop in the area, and that not every place mentioned is to my personal taste. It’s a starting point, do your own research.

Halifax
LK Yarns – yarn shop
Lady Lucky Boutique – local jewellers and accessory shop
Finer Things Antiques – antiques
Lion & Bright – coffee and wine bar. OK not craft but you need fuel so JUST GO. seriously.
EnVie – homemade vegan peanut butter cups. Enjoy with coffee from above.
Patch – sewing shop
Make New – curated thrift shop with in house line AKG
Sattva – fancier clothing shop that carries made in Canada lines I love like Betina Lou
Nova Scotian Crystal – hand blow hand cut crystal, the only in Canada
Farmers Market – for food and craft
Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia – very touristy downtown shop, not really up my alley but they carry a decent amount of local pottery
Inkwell – print shop
Loop – yarn shop

Mahone Bay
Have A Yarn – yarn shop with a wide selection of local products
Encompassing Designs – rug hooking studio

Lunenburg
Dots + Loop – general cutesy store with local prints
Double Whale Handwoven Designs – hand woven clothing
Makery – little craft shop that runs classes
Luvly – Canadian made fashion
The Mariners Daughter – yarn shop

And I’ll leave you with these humorous gems…

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You’re welcome.

All cards found at Dots + Loop in Lunenburg.

If you have any questions please send me an email and I’m happy to chat. There’s certainly more I can say but in the interest of keeping the read time of this post under 12 hours… I’ve restrained myself.

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