I love traveling, and I love visiting yarn shops. It’s probably no surprise to you that I like to do both things at the same time!
I was delighted to hear about a new yarn shop, House of Wool, opening in rural New South Wales, Australia… which was directly on the road to my trip out to the country! Yippee!
House of Wool is in Blackheath, a popular (and adorable) town in the Blue Mountains. It’s an area known for beautiful scenery… but it’s worth stopping in the towns to have a look at the shops, too!
The store just opened a few months ago, but it’s already obvious that it’s a fabulous place to be for yarn-lovers. It’s full of beautiful yarns (with a strong focus on local & eco-friendly yarns), has a full roster of classes available and sports a lovely interior.
Blackheath is about 2 hours outside of Sydney (you might also want to check out my guide to yarn stores in Sydney), and the scenery is worth the drive if you have time. It’s close to the famous ‘three sisters’ rock formation:
So, if you’re driving by (or scheming for a road-trip from Sydney), check out the House of Wool!
Looking for yarn shops in Sydney, Australia? Then this guide is for you!
I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Sydney, and it’s a beautiful and walkable city. I’ve picked four areas of town that are fabulous for walking around and sightseeing – and they also have some of the best yarn shops in Sydney! In this guide, I’ve included yarn stores, craft stores/markets and shops where you’ll find yarn and exclusively Australian wool products.
I’ve sketched some maps… but you’ll want a ‘real’ map as well, since mine aren’t terribly detailed.
Ready? Let’s get started!
The CBD (Central Business District) is what Aussies call their ‘downtown’. On any trip to Sydney, you’ll likely find yourself wandering through this district of beautiful buildings and shops. Subway stations are plentiful, but if you’re making a special trip, then Town Hall is probably your best bet for the yarn shops.
1. Morris and Sons, 50 York St.Morris and Sons is a cross between an LYS (local yarn store) and a big box store. They have a couple of stores nationwide and their own brand of (reasonably priced) yarn. They also carry loads of imported fine yarns and have a table for sitting & stitching. Click here to read a full review.
2. Lincraft, 68 York St.Lincraft is comparable to a JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby in the US: lots of craft goodies, and mediocre (but cheap) yarn. You may not find much yarn worth putting in your suitcase, but it’s amazingly good fun to look around at all the supplies. It’s stocked slightly differently than an American shop (for example, you’ll find a hat-making aisle and kangaroo scrapbooking supplies), so I doubt you’ll walk out empty-handed.
3. Darling Harbour Souvenir shops. Walk west along Market Street, and you’ll head over to Darling Harbour, which is full of souvenir shops. I wouldn’t usually recommend going to these (usually junky) shops, but this is where you’re most likely to find scarves and hats made from possum yarn. Possum yarn is unique to the Australia/New Zealand region (mostly from New Zealand, where they’re an introduced species threatening the native wildlife), and is incredibly warm and soft. It’s very difficult to find the yarn, so a lovely possum scarf might be your best bet.
Other sights. The Queen Victoria Building is the main ‘place to shop’ in the city. Wander a little further to Galleries Victoria and stop by Kinokuniya– a fabulous Japanese book store with an unbelievable selection of craft (and knitting and crocheting) books.
Walk north up George Street, and you’ll end up at our next stop…
The Rocks is sorta touristy, but sorta artsy and hip… and it’s one of my favorite districts in town.
1. The Sheep Shop Okay, you’re going to be mad at me, but I don’t actually know the name of this place! But, it’s a genuine sheepskin store, not some wacky souvenir shop. It’s on the left, and you’ll see it as you’re walking up George Street from Circular Quay (pronouced: Circular KEE). This shop occasionally stocks possum scarves and accessories (see point 3, above) and lots of wonderful sheepiness. Come here for the real thing.
2. The Rocks Market. The market is held every Saturday and Sunday, and is a great source for handmade items. I haven’t yet seen a stall full of handspun yarn, but it would fit right in.
3. Craft NSW, 104 George St.This store is a lovely place full of work made by local artisans. I can’t guarantee it will always be in stock, but I’ve spotted some great local handspun yarn for sale. Click here for a complete review of the shop.
Other sights. Hands down, The Rocks is the best place to have your photo taken with the Opera House in the background. Just walk up to the water and you’ll see what I mean (it’s where I took the photo above). This is also the home of The Museum of Contemporary Art, which is worth a visit if you have the time. On the food scene, you’ll want to check out Pancakes on the Rocks (for yummy crepes) and The Rocks Cafe and have a Kangaroo Burger (the tourist favorite) or a plain ‘ol burger with a slice of Beet (the Aussie classic).
Mosman is sorta like the ‘well-to-do’ district: filled with lovely shops and beautiful cafes. To get to Mosman, I’d recommend the ferry from Circular Quay (even though buses do run): it’s a fantastic view of the city!
Mosman is also home to my one of my favorite yarn shops in Sydney: Mosman Needlecraft, 529 Military Road. It’s a well-stocked shop with lots of goodies – and I always like checking out the needlepoint (a rarity in the US)! Click here for a full review.
Other sights. I happened upon in.cube8r Gallery on my last trip there: it’s a great gallery filled with work from local artisans. There was even an amigurumi artist – steal my heart! It’s also worth having a walk up and down Military road, and maybe down a street to get to the water. Beautiful.
Newtown is the district right next to Sydney University, and so has a ‘college-town’, hippie feel to it. It’s also home to Sydney’s newest yarn store – A Coffee and a Yarn, which makes it well worth the visit.
I like to walk into Newtown from the city because my in-laws live nearby (City Road turns into King St), about a 45 minute walk end-to-end. If you’d prefer, take the subway to the Newtown station, placing you right next to the yarn shop!
1. A Coffee and a Yarn.This shop opened last year and is as much like an American LYS as I’ve seen in Australia. Classes, tables for sitting, nice yarn and even a coffee bar!
2. The Granny Square. If you’re walking in from the city, you’ll see two yarn shops on your right (one picture, The Granny Square). They weren’t open when I was passing by, but if you’re on a yarn adventure, you might want to make the stop!
Other sights. I love Newtown for its yummy Asian food… and almost every noodle shop you stop into is wonderful! It’s also the place to find some rarer cuisines, like Nepalese food.
It’s your turn!
Planning a visit? Already been? Let me know if you spy any new yarn shops Sydney! I’d love to hear how your trip went!
Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.
I get asked this question via email quite often, so I figured it was time to answer it in a blog post!
The short answer is: no.
But leaving it there would make a very boring blog post, wouldn’t it? So, here’s a bit more info about how yarn weights are labeled!
What does ‘weight’ of a yarn mean?
‘Weight’ refers to the thickness of a yarn. Yarn can be very skinny or very bulky, and everywhere in between.
Knowing the thickness of your yarn is crucial when you’re trying to follow a pattern or figure out which hook/needle size to use, because the yarn’s thickness (largely) determines the gauge that you will get in your knitted/crocheted piece.
American and British Yarn weight terms
Worsted weight yarn is the American term for yarn that you might spy in Australia or the UK as ’10 ply’ yarn. It’s the most common yarn weight that you’ll find on American shelves… and if you shop in Big Box stores, you might see it labeled as a “medium weight yarn.”
8 ply is the yarn that you’ll find most easily in Australia (which I know from personal experience), and I’ve heard that it’s pretty standard in the UK as well. It corresponds to what is called ‘dk’ weight in the US.
Help! How do I follow a US pattern with 8 ply yarn?
If you’re knitting/crocheting a garment, then there’s a slightly long and complicated answer about getting proper gauge and such when you substitute yarns.
However, the reason I get this question so often is because folks in the UK and Australia want to crochet an amigurumi pattern (which calls for worsted weight yarn), but they can only find 8 ply yarn. . . and then the solution is easy-peasy!
If you’re making amigurumi, what’s most important is that you use the right sized hook for your yarn. So, if you’re using an 8 ply yarn, select a hook size that gives you a nice-looking fabric that stuffing won’t show through.
Your finished piece will be an eensy bit smaller than one crocheted with thicker yarn… but it’s easier than ordering yarn from overseas!
So there you have it… worsted weight and 8 ply yarns aren’t the same… but you shouldn’t let that stop you from making an awesome amigurumi!
Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.
This is my last post about the yarn shops I visited in my recent trip to Australia (although, fingers crossed that I’ll go back soon!). And, although I don’t mean to play favorites, I saved the best for last: Morris and Sons. It’s my favorite probably because it’s most like what us Americans think of as a ‘yarn store’: it’s a destination for people in love with yarn. What do I mean? They have Sit & Knit sessions, they have knowledgeable salespeople… gosh darn it, they have staff who are on Ravelry! And the staff will chat with you about what they are working on, and what they recommend, because they know their stuff. I really love that. And, as you can see in the photo at left, they have a table! Because they teach classes! It’s wonderful, really. Coming from America, I didn’t think any of this was too exciting, until I went to a large number of yarn stores that just sold yarn. I’ve come to love the community aspect of a yarn store… and this place has it.
Okay, enough of my ramblings about the greater functions of yarn stores in society… onto the details. Morris and Sons is a two-floor store, with needlepoint and such on the top floor, and knitting & crochet yarns on the bottom floor. Like I said, they have classes, a table, a book corner and of course, lots of yarn. As is the case in most places in Australia, the focus tends to be on lighter weight yarns (because it’s really warm!), but this place has a sizable selection in all weights. Noro, Jo Sharp, NZ Naturally, Debbie Bliss and Fila di Crosa are just some of the lovely brands that are there. And… here’s the most exciting part: for each type of yarn they have, they knit up an entire ball into a swatch! So, not only are you able to see how the yarn looks when it’s worked up, but you can get an idea of how much is in a ball… hooray!
In addition to yarns, there is also a wonderful needle/notions selection… including interchangeable circulars. And, although I haven’t yet ordered, they have an online shop, so it’s easy to browse their stock.
One final note for visitors… it’s right in the heart of downtown, so it’s really easy to get to! Get to either the City Centre or Wynyard subway stops, and just ask a person on the street, “I’m trying to get to York St., between Market & King”, and you’ll be pointed in the right direction (Sydney actually isn’t too big of a city). So, if you’re in Sydney, there’s no excuse not to stop by!
address: Shop 2, 133 Queen Street, Berry, New South Wales, Australia
date of visit: December, 2009
Like many other yarn stores in Australia, Sew and Tell sells many things other than yarn, including materials for sewing, needle felting, cross stitch and needle point. Even though the yarn collection takes up only a small percentage of actual floor space, the store hosts quite a collection of wonderful yarns and patterns.
Among the wonderful yarns for sale (displayed on the shelves in bags!) were: Noro (beautifully variegated colors), Tilli Tomas (luxury beaded yarns), sublime (super-soft wool blends), and a selection of sari silk yarns. In addition to yarns, Sew and Tell had a wide range of beautiful patterns, including an entire rack dedicated to lovely Noni Felted bag patterns. And many of the yarns and patterns were displayed in the beautiful samples surrounding the entire store. (I wish I had more photos to show you, but I was told by the owner that I could take a ‘general shot’ of the store, but could not ‘photograph anything specific’… so you’ll just have to imagine lots of lovely knitted samples on mannequins, on top of shelves, and even hanging from a display rack on the ceiling.)
Since the store carries much more than just yarn, you are likely to happen upon many different notions that you may not find in a yarn store in America. The store displays a large variety of buttons (probably mostly intended for sewers, but great for finishing knitted cardigans or bags) and other supplies that would be very useful for finishing your knitted/crocheted objects. However, the down-side to such a multi-faceted stock is that there is no class/meeting space to sit & knit. Also, (as I’ve been to this store multiple times in past years), it isn’t guaranteed that you turn up and meet a staff member very keen on yarn… so be prepared that you may be on your own.
Yarn store aside, I also need to put in a plug for Berry, which is an adorable town, and definitely worth a stop if you’re traveling down the South Coast from Sydney.