A Yarn Lover’s Guide to Sydney, Australia

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

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.

map showing yarn shops in Sydney, Australia - the CBD

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

map showing yarn shops in Sydney, Australia - The Rocks neighborhood

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

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

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!

map showing yarn shops in Sydney, Australia - The Newtown neighborhood

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.

Mosman Needlecraft: Sydney, NSW, Australia

  • store: Mosman Needlecraft
  • address: Shop 3, 529 Military Road, Mosman, NSW 2088 Australia
  • website: www.mosmanneedlecraft.com.au/
  • date of visit: January, 2012

If you’ve read my previous posts about Australian yarn stores, you have probably heard me lament that they aren’t quite the same as American yarn stores. A typical Aussie ‘wool shop’ (and trust me, relatives have sent me to many of them!) has: no table for knitting, scratchy yarn with a limited selection and owners who look at you as if you have two heads if you mention ‘Ravelry’. Sigh.

With that as background, I have to announce: I love Mosman Needlecraft! The store is beautiful and spacious. They’re stocked with beautiful and amazing yarns… even hand-dyed yarns! There’s even a table where you can come in to sit and knit!

The owners are super-friendly, love their yarn and are on Ravelry! They’re up to date with the latest patterns! They even ask what yarn interests you and look into ordering it! Swoon…

You’ll find pretty much everything you could be looking for: Berocco, Claudia Handpainted, Debbie Bliss, Jade Sapphire, Madeline Tosh, Malabrigo, Rowan… I could keep going. They’re also fully stocked with pattern booklets and books.

Of course, I’m selling the store short by focusing so much on yarn. Mosman Needlecraft is a full needlecraft store, with supplies for cross stitch and embroidery in addition to knitting. I know very little about those things- but the displays looked nice!

It can be tricky to find a rockin’ awesome LYS in Australia… so if you’re in Sydney, be sure to stop by Mosman Needlecraft! It’s the best source of yarn I’ve found in the city!

Are crochet hooks allowed on planes?

This question came up recently, and I since I have a lot to say on the topic (because I travel oodles), I thought it’d make a good blog post!

The short answer- in US and Australia

The quick and easy answer is “Yes, crochet hooks are allowed as carry-on items in planes in the US, Australia and lots of other countries”.

In my personal experience, I’ve carried crochet hooks on board planes in the US, England, France, Switzerland and Australia without any problems. The photo below is of my ‘hippo’, the case I carry around with me at all times while traveling.

Yes, I travel with metal crochet hooks (as pictured), and I have even brought steel crochet hooks (the tiny, pointy ones) with me. (For the tiny crochet hooks, I was questioned in Paris about what they were, but they weren’t taken away). I often hear people say that ‘wood is allowed, but metal isn’t’, and as far as I know- at least in countries that permit crochet hooks- there’s no difference between the materials.

And (at least in the US), child-safe scissors (that is, blunt-tipped and with blades shorter than 4 inches) are allowed on board as well (and is stated so in the TSA Regulations).

The Caveat

Of course the disclaimer is this: any TSA agent (or their analog in another country) may confiscate something if they feel it is a threat. Ultimately, the agents are permitted to make judgement calls- and of course, you’ll hear stories about someone who had their hook taken away.

Also, there are countries where crochet hooks aren’t permitted on board (in fact, Australia was one of them until 2009). So, when you travel, always check the local regulations.

Tips for traveling with hooks

I’ve said that hooks are allowed… but that a guard could take them away from you if they are deemed dangerous. So, how can you feel confident bringing your hooks? Here are some tips:

  • Bring yarn along with your crochet hooks. Better yet, be in the middle of a project. It’s much easier to explain what you’re doing (and that it’s a handicraft and not harmful) if there’s evidence of what you’re working on.
  • Use a pencil case. If you’re not in the middle of a project, throw your hooks in with some pencils and pens in a pencil case. Especially if your hooks are wood, they’re unlikely to be noticed.
  • Don’t bring anything irreplaceable. Actually, this rule applies to more than just crochet hooks! There’s always a tiny chance your hook can be taken away, so don’t bring your grandmother’s ivory hook- it’s just a risk you don’t need to take!

I’m not trying to help you sneak on anything that’s not allowed… crochet hooks are permitted on planes. But the truth is that sometimes you’ll run across an agent who either doesn’t know what a crochet hook is or doesn’t know that they’re allowed. And, it really makes for a nicer plane ride if you can have your hooks with you!

Homespun Boutique: Yarn store in Ithaca, NY


store: Homespun Boutique
address: 314 E. State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
date of visit: October, 2011

I had no idea what to expect when I visited Homespun Boutique. it’s a store with no website or Ravelry listing… which often means it’s an outdated yarn store with not so lovely yarns. Fortunately, Homespun Boutique far exceeded my expectations!

The shop isn’t enormous, but it packs a whole lot of luxury yarn into a little space. You’ll find most of the brands you’re used to finding in a well-stocked LYS, plus some wools from farms local to Upstate NY.

Half of the store is filled with yarn, neatly stacked on shelves, and other half of the store is stocked with bolts of beautiful and modern fabrics.

There didn’t appear to be a table in the main store area for sitting & stitching, but the store advertised classes, so perhaps there’s a separate area, or a table gets moved in. The shop is located right in the heart of downtown Ithaca, so it’s a convenient walk if you’re visiting! I would recommend a stop in if you’re in town!

Finding yarn stores in Bermuda

As many of you know, last week, I went on a fabulous cruise to Bermuda! And as with anywhere I travel, I’m on the hunt for yarn stores, with locally-crafted or somehow unique fine yarns as my ultimate goal.

I’ll skip to the chase: you’re not going to find any beautifully-crafted lovely yarn in Bermuda (or, if you do, please let me know, because you deserve a sleuth-award!). However, I found three places to buy yarn (big-box store brands like Lion Brand, Red Heart and Patons), and I found visiting these shops to be revealing about Bermudans and their yarn culture. And isn’t that what traveling is about?

The research

Before I set out, I always do a bit of research… I google for yarn stores (isn’t that how we find everything, these days?), I check Knitmap.com for listings, and check out the LYSs listed in Ravelry. Not much popped up on the radar.

After lots of poking around, I found one blog post mentioning a yarn store in St. George’s, Bermuda and one forum post mentioning a department store that had a yarn/fabrics department. So, off I went!

Gibbons
Location: 21 Reid Street, Hamilton, Bermuda

Gibbons is a brightly-colored (as are most buildings in Bermuda) department store in Hamilton, Bermuda. The city isn’t very big, so if you’re ‘in town’ (as the Bermudans say), you’ll be within a couple blocks of the store. It’s one street off of the main shopping street (Front Street).

Head downstairs, and you’ll find that about a third of the lower level is dedicated to crafts, yarn and fabrics.

The yarn selection contains a fair bit of what you would expect to find in a JoAnn’s in the US: Red Heart and a variety of acrylics. Because it’s so warm in Bermuda, there’s not a large selection of wools.

Like the buildings, you won’t have any trouble finding a selection of great, bright colors! And, you’ll certainly find a selection of crochet hooks, needles and pattern books at Gibbons… everything you’d need for a project!

Betty’s Needle Crafts
Location: 17 Duke of York St, St. George’s, Bermuda

I stumbled upon Betty’s while walking around in St. George’s… it had eluded me in my pre-vacation internet search. Inside, it was a quaint (read: sorta crowded, sorta old-skool knitting) yarn shop that also contained some additional crafting materials, like sequins and the like.

There wasn’t a table to sit & knit, so I got the feeling it was a ‘stop and pick up your yarn’ sort-of shop.

Needles Etc
Location: 22 Clarence St, St. George’s, Bermuda

I had found Needles Etc online during my research, but unfortunately, they were closed when I arrived (at about 11am on a Wednesday… the store hours didn’t help to clarify the situation). I grabbed some photos from the window:


The store looked really beautiful, clean and bright (well… would have been if the lights were on), and I think it would be my favorite spot of all the yarn shops I found. I spotted some Paton’s yarn, but because I couldn’t go inside, I didn’t get a good survey of what other brands they carried.

And, in the Commonwealth tradition of yarn shops, they carried needlepoint/cross-stitch as well as crochet/knitting supplies.

Funniest Product Award

I also found a product that made me giggle (especially since I’m an amigurumi-lover…

So, you can have a knitted amigurumi creation without any actual knitting! *giggle*

What do Bermudans do with all that yarn?
Safe to say that the knitting/crochet tradition in Bermuda isn’t the same as in the US… but they do something utterly fabulous with all those bright colors of acrylic yarn!

Bermuda is home to the tradition of Gombeys, a dance that dates back to African slaves who were moved to the island. They dance and wear fantastic bright costumes…

… which wouldn’t be complete without yarn-fringe!


Aren’t they fantastic?!?

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that Bermudans don’t knit or crochet… they do (I’ve seen them on Ravelry, and I saw knitted and crocheted finished items for sale in the Bermuda Craft Market in King’s Wharf, Bermuda. But, the Gombeys really stand out as being different!

Have I said that I love traveling?

American/British Conversion chart: cut out & save!

American British crochet terms conversion - printable chart

Do you need a handy dandy refernce for converting between American and British crochet terms and hook sizes?

I’ve got you covered.

As I am about to enter my 3rd year of spending 1/15th of my year in the Land Down Under, I am becoming increasingly aware of the differences between the US and Australia. Forget about vegemite vs. peanut butter… the real issue is sorting out your crochet patterns!

The worst part about it is that the two countries use the exact same terms – but for different stitches! Talk about confusing!

I made a handy-dandy guide that you can print out and carry along with you. You don’t even need to travel much to use it: chances are, you’ve run across a great pattern from another country, and you have to translate the terms. No longer a problem! You can even hide this chart in your pocket and impress your friends!

Click on the button below to download a .pdf version of the chart. Enjoy!

Want more conversion charts? This post has an even more detailed printable chart. It doesn’t include American and British crochet terms, but it lists all the different yarn sizes, the various names they have in lots of different countries, and the recommended crochet hook size for each yarn weight.

Happy stitching!

Crochet an adorably cuddly hound dog. Get the pattern here.

Knit & Needlepoint: Boston, MA

  • store: Knit & Needlepoint
  • address: 11 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116 now moved, see update at bottom
  • website: http://www.needlepoint-boston.com
  • date of visit: August, 2010

Knit & Needlepoint is located on Newbury street- the ‘high fashion’ street of Boston- less than a block away from the Boston Common. It’s a long street, so don’t despair… as long as the street numbers are decreasing, you’re going to find it!

Although the store isn’t your typical American yarn shop (as it is also a Needlework shop, like many of they yarn stores in Australia), that doesn’t mean it skimps on the yarn! Knit & Needlepoint has a fun & unique selection of yarn… including their own line of yarn! Their line of yarn contains yarns that are hand-dyed and custom made from a number of indie yarnies across New England. That means you’re guaranteed to find yarns you won’t find anywhere else (and isn’t that always what you’re looking for when you’re yarn shopping on vacation?)

A large proportion of the yarns in stock are ‘fancy fibers’: wonderful for making a creative scarf or artistic project. In addition to yarns, they also provide free knitting instruction (with purchase)… so even if you’re rusty, you can grab some fantasy yarn and get started.

Next time you’re in Boston, add this shop to your list of stops! And, keep an eye on our store spotlight, we’re going to be visiting two more yarn shops in Boston!

As of 2012, the store has moved locations. It’s new address is: 244 Newbury Street, Boston.

Morris and Sons: Sydney, NSW, Australia

Morris and Sons

  • store: Morris and Sons (formerly Tapestry Craft)
  • address: 50 York St, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • website: www.morrisandsons.com.au
  • date of visit: January, 2010

yarn at morris sons
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.

morris and sons
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!

Sew and Tell: Berry, New South Wales, Australia

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  • store: Sew and Tell
  • address: Shop 2, 133 Queen Street, Berry, New South Wales, Australia
  • website: N/A
  • 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.

Australia allows knitting needles in carry-on luggage!

domestic_rl

Exciting news! The Australian government now allows knitting needles and crochet hooks in carry-on luggage, as of December 25, 2009! If you haven’t been keeping up to date, here’s a brief history. The US has allowed knitting needles and crochet hooks on the airplane for some time (although there have been some horror stories online about confiscation, they have been permitted by the TSA on domestic and international flights). However, Australia prohibited crochet hooks, knitting needles and even nail clippers from being carried on board any flight entering or leaving Australia (domestic and international). This was particularly sad for those of us taking the 14 hour flight across that little body of water called the Pacific). News came out earlier in December that the Australian government was going to revise the list of prohibited items, but early reports said that these changes wouldn’t take place until July, 2010. But, that date got moved forward!

Note, as always, that the security agents maintain the ability to confiscate items at their discretion (as is the case in the US)… but in my experience, harmless knitting needles and crochet hooks are rarely the source of wrath of security agents.

Great news for us travelers… it’s like getting an extra Christmas present!