Thursday, October 10, 2013

Australia Stash

I just returned from three weeks in Australia, first to attend Savour Australia, and then for some vacation and stash enhancement. The stash enhancement was limited because I was looking for Australian yarn made in Australia. Still lots of sheep in Australia, and lots of Australian wool, but not much Australian-made yarn. I was told that most Australian yarn mills have closed, and that the Australian wool is processed in China (as it is at Morris & Sons, very nice shops in Melbourne and Sydney) and perhaps other places. Some people said you could sometimes find some hand-spun at local markets but I was not that lucky. But I am very happy with my small Aussie stash.

This silk was an unexpected surprise. I found it at an art show at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. Elizabeth Calnan is best known as a weaver and also dyes silk yarns. Her weaving is gorgeous (be sure to look at the gallery on her web site). This skein is 1,000 meters of 20/2 hand-dyed mulberry silk. Love the colors.

Another purchase was this hand-dyed DK-weight yarn from augustbird in the Adelaide Hills (Adelaide Hills also has some great wineries). I bought the yarn not in the Adelaide Hills but at the Stash Cupboard in Hobart, Tasmania. The yarn is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon. Love the colors of this one too. Stash Cupboard did have some nice DK and fingering yarn produced in Tasmania but the colors did not sing to me, especially after seeing the augustbird colors.

Then, surprise of all surprises, size 100 thread, found in the unlikeliest of stores, Spotlight in Adelaide. Spotlight sells yarn and thread, plus all sorts of craft and home supplies. The yarn section was comparable maybe to Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, and Michael’s — nothing very exciting. Then I found the thread section, with loads and loads of threads, including the elusive size 100. Score!

In Melbourne, I was referred to L’uccello, a shop with all sorts of beautiful vintage items. It is the kind of shop that has so many interesting things you could spend all day exploring buttons, threads, ribbons, laces, and things you did not know you might really need. I had to buy these vintage Australian knitting needles, size 4mm.

Australian yarn shops are stocked with many familiar brands, such as Noro, Arucania, and Schoppel Wolle. The prices are a few dollars more per skein than you would expect to pay in the United States. But it is always fun to look, and all of the shopkeepers I met were extremely nice and helpful, as were the other Australians we met.

Overall, a successful wine-and-wool tour to Australia.