The Travelling Stash Collector – UK

I spent four weeks in London attending the summer school at RADA, which didn’t afford a lot of time for yarn shopping, but i did manage to head to two yarn stores, and of course london has the amazing quality of DEPARTMENT STORE YARN SHOPPING. we used to have that here in aus – i just remember it from when i was little. i managed to score an absolute BARGAIN on debbie bliss pure silk at John Lewis! three pounds ninety or similar. got 12 skeins of one colour  🙂 I also picked up a bunch of kim hargreaves pattern books while i was in the UK, since i totally heart her (Precious, Amber and Breeze).

I headed to Loop the weekend before the class started, at a very opportune time as they had 20% off everything! They didn’t have quite as large a range as i envisaged, but it’s a lovely little shop, just near the angel islington. Picked up some more Casbah sock since it was on sale and I was LOVING knitting with it. I also picked up some adorable project bags called Pretty Cheep, with pictures of birdies printed on the fabric. Great for larger projects.

The other yarn store i went to was I Knit, London’s only liscened yarn store! Some of my course mates came with me, one just to drink in a lys – which was a GREAT novelty. It had a fantastic range, a lot of locally produced yarn and fibre, and some yarns from further away – like Biggan Designs from Aus! *proud moment* The whole alcohol policy seems to work – i went a little crazy!

Suprisingly enough, Edinburgh was not exactly crowded with yarn stores. I did snaffle a few purchase – one skein of handspun from a market stall and some of the new Rowan Alpaca Cotton yarn from Jenners department store on my very last day!

UK photos are here and here

1. Cherry Tree Hill suri lace, 2. Rowan alpaca cotton , 3. baby camel handspun, 4. DB pure silk, 5. knitwitches seriously gorgeous, 6. handmaiden casbah in amethyst, 7. DB pure silk, 8. habu cotton boucle

The handspun shetland that i picked up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Markets were transformed in my first weeks back in aus into these mitts – they are super warm and toasty! It’s totally natural colour and the cables look perfect.

*sigh* so that’s my yarn collection from my travels. I am not allowed to buy any more yarn for myself for QUITE a while (besides, when all my stuff comes out of storage, it will be like going shopping anyway!!) I am allowed to buy yarn for presents, since ALL THIS IS MINE, MINE I TELL YOU *crazy laugh*. It’s definitely going to be fun working through it and finding patterns for all of these delicious yarns!

The Travelling Stash Collector – Europe

Europe was a whirlwind travel wise – 6 days in Paris and then 5 cities in 12 days! I didn’t do a heap of yarn shopping – in fact i found the yarn stores relatively disappointing in Europe. Very ‘no touch’y and all boxes and bags. The french brands – Phildar and Le Bergere de France are similar to ACS – lots of acrylic and acrylic blends, or yarns great for larger garments, but not so much for souvenirs. The stores in Austria and Germany were better – a few brands i hadn’t come across and some scrummy sock yarns. No wollmeise though lol.

you can read about Paris, Toulouse, Venice, Vienna, Prague and Berlin on my lj and there are photos of all the cities on flickr.

I will comment on La Droguerie though – this is a french chain store… sort of like clegs on crack but in a tiny french space… Quality fabrics, ribbons, buttons, beads, fixings, findings, feathers, patterns and of course, YARN! the yarn is in display hanks so you choose the colour and fibre you want and they wind off the quantity. They also had adorable knit kits – an elephant (!) and rabbit and other adorable things, but i resisted. I did get three different fibres though in the most glorious colours. It’s a great way to buy yarn.

1. alpaca from la droguerie, 2. carmen alpaca silk – blue, 3. schoppelwolle crazy zauberball, 4. linen from la droguerie, 5. opus dk with aloe vera!, 6. kaleido bamboo and linen from la droguerie, 7. trekking xxl, 8. carmen alpaca silk – silver


The Travelling Stash Collector – Oh Canada!

Ah Canada, the Great White North. Place of Yarn Stores and awesome people…

I love canada. I really do. It was my first time there and i headed to Toronto and Montreal (next time i’ll have to go to vancouver and edmonton)  and i bought more yarn in those two cities than anywhere else… I spent a week in both cities and generally took it easy – again you can read about my canadian advetures on my blog here and see photos of toronto and montreal on flickr.

In Toronto I visited no less than five yarn stores…

The Knit Cafe – I headed here and joined in the regular SnB, which was an absolute ball! I picked up some more handmaiden here, making the most of being in canada 🙂 The cafe is lovely and the store is small, but well stocked. Was very inspired here and finished off the thank you socks for my lovely friend of the family host whilst here.

Americo Original – This is actually an outlet for Americo Original yarn company – a nth american company specialising in sth american  fibres – llama, alpaca etc… They sell patterns, or give them away with the yarn and have a beautiful range of cottons, merinos, alpaca and llama in beautiful colours. they also have buckles, buttons and leathers for creating truly original knitwear!

Lettuce Knit – found this store almost by accident. I had done my yarn store research and when i saw i was on this street i thought, hang on – there’s a yarn store nearby! it’s in a gorgeous street surrounded by cafes and bookstores. The little store has socks that rock!!!!! that was exciting! and habu, blue sky alpacas and all sorts of other deliciousness.

Knitomatic – Headed there for another knitting night, but no one else showed :(. Instead i spent and hour or two chatting with the store owner, her birdie (so cute!) and two awesome local indie spinners. Barbie heads in yarn people! bit much for me, but have to admire the achievment! Managed to snaffle some Misti Alpaca Lace on sale here too!

The Purple Purl – What a lovely store – the staff are absolutely hilarious and a conversation about Jenny Kee ensued once it came out i was australian. I was also given a free copy of the stores charity calender… yarn and naked people – awesome! I finally succumbed to the temptation of mooi here – it had been following me around the continent. although the temptation of vicuna was also great!!

I only went to four yarn stores in montreal, one of which was very disappointing, but i still managed to do my fair share of purchasing!

Mouline – This store is packed to the rafters with yarn! rowan, handmaiden, fleece artist plus  a whole range of local indie sock yarns. The staff are friendly and i had a great chat with some customers too. It’s a bit dark, but the range makes up for it.

Tricoteuse a laine – this was a very disappointing shop. I’m sure it would be great if i lived in the city and were looking for larger projects but there wasn’t much in the way of ‘treat’ yarn – sock yarn, lace weight etc. They did have a great rowan collection though!

Effiloche – now this is a store to die for. Comfy couches, massive range, workstations for classes etc and very friendly staff. pretty much the complete handmaiden and fleece artist range, plus a whole pile of international yarns and local indie dyed and spun yarns. Cotton, wool, cashmere, linen.. all sorts! I spent about two hours here playing with bison and muskox…

Tricot Quartier – This is a bit out of the way, but like a lot of out of the way yarn stores, took me to a lovely area of the city i might not have gone to otherwise. Not the biggest range, but again, lovely staff. very friendly. This is more of a workhorse yarn store – berroco, cascade etc.

1. socks that rock lightweight!, 2. louet mooi bison blend laceweight, 3. 4ply cashmere, 4. classic elite alpaca sox, 5. indigo moon handdyed sock yarn, 6. misti alpaca handpainted lace, 7. tanis fiber arts sock yarn, 8. be sweet bamboo, 9. americo dehaired baby llama, 10. suri blue, 11. americo pima cotton, 12. handmaiden casbah, 13. arequipa alpaca sock yarn, 14. biscotte et cie self striping sock yarn, 15. handmaiden sea silk, 16. hemp for knitting dk

I am desperately searching for a pattern for the mooi that will do it justice – some sort of cowl or scarf.

The Bamboo is currently being transformed into a Ms Marigold. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but they had one knitted up in the EXACT colour i wanted and i couldn’t resist! the colour is amazing…

the Casbah sock yarn was transformed whilst i trained my way around Europe into a pair of Nutkin socks.

I’m also looking for ideas for the suri blue and seasilk – I’m sure something will pop up!


The Travelling Stash Collector – USA

As promised I will give a run down of my many MANY yarn purchases while in the northern hemisphere.

this might take a while 😛

So! I arrived in San Francisco on a crisp Spring day. I LOVED San Francisco and you can read about my adventures in the Golden Gate city here and here and view photos here.

Yarn store wise I really like SF. The stores i went to had good ranges and really nice people and were all light and sunny 🙂 The stores I went to were:

Imagiknit – This is definitely my favourite in S. I love the area, the shop, the whippet (!) and the incredible range of yarns. Here I touched Manos for the first time and saw the Lorna’s Laces colourways up close and got to see Brown Sheep and Cascade and all sorts of things I hadn’t seen in Aus. It was like being released into a whole new playground! Of course, this was the first yarn store of the trip so i was conservative in my purchasing. That soon came to a halt! I had a fantastic chat with the store owners and workers, bought Norah Gaughan patterns and helped with australian yarn conversion (they stock Jo Sharp) and generally made a nuisance of myself for a few hours 🙂

Noe Knits – This is a large store with a comparatively small range. I was a little dissappointed to be honest, but the awesome staff made up for it. They were really lovely and laid back (like most San Franciscans) and I did pick up a exquisite little handdyed skein from Alaska (!) from Rabbit Ridge Designs.

Greenwich Yarns – Small Store with a largish range, recommeded to my by a melbourne knitter as it used to be her haunt when she lived there. It gave me a chatting point with the staff and I passed on hellos and such. Picked up a few things here, but found it a better store for project purchases than souvenir purchases (if that makes sense)

I almost went yarnstore-less in LA, well techically i did, but i stumbled across a sweet little store in Santa Barbara, but for the life of me I can’t remember the name! I didn’t get any yarn, just a copy of Vogue Knitting 🙂 you can read my other LA adventures here (disneyland here)  and see photos here.

Chicago is a very knitterly city and I discovered very quickly i was staying around the corner from one of the best chicago yarn stores! I went to one up the  top of Michigan Avenue, whose name i don’t remember and wouldn’t say if i did, because it was the most unwelcoming yarn store i’ve been to! everything was in plastic, I was afraid to touch things, it was a teeeny space and the staff member, although very nice and chatty, didn’t really explain what could be touched or looked at and what couldn’t. there were no prices on anything either! All other yarn store experiences in Illinois were great – I actually spent some time in the ‘burbs in Glen Ellyn, and the stores out there are just LOVELY! blog photos

Loopy Yarns –  HUGE range, particularly of Lornas Laces – i think they had all their colourways on every yarn available! This was the place i first came across Artyarns Silk Rhapsody, I was VERY tempted (and would continue to be everytime i came across it!) they also had beautiful llama and alpaca and all sorts of sock yarns and a great selection of roving too! (from lornas laces and fleece artist). I did pick up some fleece artist kid mohair in a glorious pink (just as i was about to walk out with just a magazine!) but i don’t have a photo of it!

String Theory Yarn (Glen Ellyn) – This is a delightful little store, full of wondrous things – manos, moutain colours, alchemy, wagtail (from Aus no less!) frog tree (hmm didn’t end up getting any frog tree :() and more! lovely helpful staff too – if you ever find yourself in the area, you must go!

Knitche (Downers Grove) – slightly bigger than string theory, with fleece artist, prism and handmaiden dyed yarns (plus a cafe! very popular in Nth America) as well as all the american staples. Lots of handdyed and kits and all sorts – again really nice staff (including a young cute guy!) Bought FAR too much here 🙂

Then it was on to New York, New York. What a fabulous city and a real knitters delight! The home of Artyarns! I finally caved and bought one little skein of artyarns in nyc – it seemed fitting – as well as some other beautiful brands – alchemy, the fibre company (far more fancy than it sounds – Road to China? DIVINE!) be sweet… *happy sigh* blog photos

Purl Soho -this is one of the most beautiful shops i’ve been in. Not huge in space (where is in NY? its sister quilting store is even smaller!) but full of the most delicious fibres! sadly i didn’t actually buy anything here, but i wish i had – ended up buying some things stocked here elsewhere. the best news – flat shipping rate to Aus!! i will DEFINITELY be splurging here sometime.

Gotta Knit -Another tiny store on the third floor down the road from the Empire State building. Not a massive range, but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality and ARTYARNS! yes this is where i caved. they have a great range and a bunch of instore patterns too. They also have a good range of sock yarns.

The Woolgathering -This store is worth it for the windows alone! soooo beautifully dressed. Unsual for america this store is sans sock yarn. yup, not a skein. but they do have be sweet – the most ethically conscious yarn i’ve come across, and pretty too! they also stock garment yarns – good workhorses and those yarns that are a bit more special too.

String -Luxury luxury luxury, This store is definitely not for those on a budget. put it this way. they have a custom yarn from artyarns. i wanted it sooooo badly, but at US$80 i resisited. it’s a divine store to walk around though you feel a bit naughty touching the expensive yarns. definitely a place for special purchases.

Knitty City – This is a lovely store too with a large range from cascade to artyarns with malabrigo, handmaiden and alchemy in between. Spent quite a while browsing, sitting on the floor sorting through sock yarns to find just the right one… (which i did!) and chatting to the staff.

So! That was my yarn adventures in america – wanna see what i bought?

1. be sweet bambino cotton and bamboo, 2. malabrigo silky merino, 3. Artyarns mohair splash, 4. Crystal Palace mini mochi, 5. manos del uruguay silk blend, 6. mountain colours bearfoot, 7. the fibre company road to china and alchemy haiku, 8. handmaiden camel spun – photo by penelope_waits, 9. handmaiden silk lace – photo by penelope_waits, 10. lana grossa sock yarn – photo by penelope_waits, 11. rabbit ridge merino dk , 12. prism yarns laceweight – photo by penelope_waits

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys

The Road to China and Haiku yarns were specifically bought to become a pair of Mrs Beetons, which they did about a week ago. The Road to China is the SOFTEST yarn to knit. just scrumptious. I have half a ball left and it’s going to be patted regularly!

The mountain colours bearfoot became my very first pair of self designed socks. I am in the process of having the pattern test knitted at the moment! Hopefully I will be making the pattern available soon. The yarn is just so gorgeous and the socks are cozy to wear!

Cable Car socks

The be sweet bambino was cast on in Canada and became a chevron scarf in the brightest colours!


The Artyarns beaded mohair was cast on and knitted whilst I was in Paris (seemed appropriate!) the photo doesn’t do it justice. I knitted a simple garter stitch on the bias so the clumps of beads and sequins would be diagonal. It’s for going to the opera. and hey, i’m going to tripods’ Dungeons and Dragons the Opera on Tuesday! does that count?

I am the worst blogger in the world

ok, so maybe not the worst, but i’ve left the internet (I’m not arrogant enough to think i have readers) hanging for ten months!!!! In all fairness I was overseas for about half of that, and i am only just starting to put my life back together! Apparently that includes blogging!

I wanted to reconnect with this blog for a number of reasons. Firstly I have a crafty travellers adventures to tell you all about. So many yarn stores, so much yarn.  have some gorgeous purchases from all over the western world 🙂

Secondly, I made some amazing improvements in my spinning ability over the summer. I was in Adelaide working on a theatre show, so i pretty much just rehearsed, organised and spun (and knitted a bit…). I moved on to some BEAUTIFUL fibres and worked with plying different fibres together and all sorts of things. My wheel is still in Adelaide and I am in Melbourne, so i have to take yet another break, but luckily it is much like riding a bike. I do have a nice new spindle, so I really should try that out.

Thirdly, I have written up my first pattern. Yep. My very first written out pattern that I created. It’s socks, so I kinda borrowed heel flap concepts from another pair I’d just knitted, but other than that it’s all me. I worked out how many stitches, and a cute little cable into the heel flap and all sorts! I have two lovely ravellers knitting it at the moment and hope to have it available as a free download on this site and on ravelry (or at least as a post here) in a few weeks!!! EXCITING!

meanwhile, as soon as I finally get around to measuring up my bestie E, I will be designing and knitting a soft little sleeveless cardi for her, hopefully ready for next autumn (which for you Nth Hempisphere folk is March/April). I will be knitting it in the absolutely sumptious Filatura Di Crosa Superior,  a laceweight silk cashmere blend, which I will be working on 4mm needles for a lacy effect. I have worked out the gauge (written next to sketches in my Stitch n Bitch designer’s notebook, thanks Debbie Stoller) but  need to get the measurements of the lady in question so i can start doing the maths. And I thought I’d never use it outside of school! lol. (well to be truthful I have NEVER had to do integral calculus or use group theorums since graduating)

Christmas is also coming up, but i don’t quite know what I will be doing knitting wise, since my aunt has decided to do a stupid secret santa thing. So not sure who my chosen recipient is, but will make something for them. As for besties and my mum, dad and grandparents, I’m not sure. Definitely not as organised as last year. But on the plus side, I only work one day a week (boo, more days in the yarn store please!) and can knit like the WIND! and of course there’s always crochet.

So. Exciting posts ahead. I will pace myself though, otherwise I’ll be burnt out by xmas and you’ll have to wait another ten months!