Yarn Shopping in Melbourne

Last week, I headed to Melbourne for a professional development course. I have to say I waited too long to purchase my flight tickets so I ended up taking some really crummy timed flights. I took a red eye to Melbourne (with a stop over in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and got to the city around 10 AM. I was exhausted, but I trooped on and saw the sights. Melbourne is a really cool city. It is well known for its street art alleys as well as its friendly people. Personally, it reminded me a lot of San Francisco… and so I loved it.

I also “needed” to get some yarn shopping in.  My goal was to make it to the yarn shop Yarn +Co before closing time (Sunday hours are 12-4). I entered the Fitzroy neighborhood  and was instantly charmed. Smith Street is just so cute. There are fun little boutiques (e.g., A Harry Potter merchandise shop!) and restaurants to explore. Yarn +Co is a really nice yarn shop. They stock mostly moderate to high priced brands- Cascade, Brooklyn Tweed, Quince and Co- but did have a few brands I had not seen before. The store had a range in yarn weights and everything was out to touch! The needle selection was okay, and the store stocked tons of patterns and books to choose from. The sales associate (who I suspect was the owner) was very friendly and knew when to help me locate things and when to just let me enjoy all the yarn goodies in peace.

I ended up purchasing 2 skeins of sock yarn, 4 balls of cotton yarn, and a set of US size 2 double pointed needles. I got the Rainbow sock yarn wound up right away as I wanted to start a pair of socks. My total came out to be about $100 (Australian Dollars).IMG_3434

Overall, my yarn shopping experience was awesome! If I lived in Melbourne this would certainly be a place I would shop at. The combination of staff, space, and yarn was a win win for me!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Side Note: Check out this awesome yarn creation! The school my course was being held at had a giant crochet/knitting display of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. How cute it this!?!

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Yarn Shopping in Katoomba, Australia

Katoomba, Australia is about 2 hours by train from downtown Sydney. As you saw in my last post we visited the Blue Mountains and Katoomba is one of the easiest ways to get access to the mountains. Since our adventures in Sydney have kept us busy I hadn’t been able go to a yarn shop. On a whim, I googled ‘yarn shops in Katoomba’ and to my luck one popped up! The yarn gods were smiling upon me.

The Granny Square is a cute shop about 400m from the Katoomba Train Station. It is situated right across from the Street Art Walk. When I entered the shop I noted that there was a winter sale! Woot woot! My goal was to find either some cotton yarn (for a future top) or some great sock yarn.

The sales associate was friendly and she let you do your shopping independently. Several customers had questions and she was more than happy to help. The store stocked mostly Morris and Co Yarns. This is a company that started in Sydney as a needlework business and then in the 2000s added yarn sales. The Granny Square also stocked quite a bit of Manos de Uruguay as well as Rowan yarn. The sock yarn selection was decent (German wools), but to my surprise the husband turned down picking out yarn for a hand knit pair! 😱 No worries! More yarn for me! The cotton selection was pretty limited, but I did manage to score 4 of these pretties.

They are 100% Pima Cotton and feel oh so soft. Plus they were really affordable ($27AUD for 4 skeins). A tank top or short sleeve top is in the foreseeable future.

The Granny Square was a cute shop. They stocked basic accessories, pattern books, and lots of wool to keep you happy. The sales associate was friendly and accessible. The shop prices were overall affordable, but the selection was a bit limited. If you are ever in Katoomba or the surrounding area I suggest you stop by for a peek in the shop!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Blue Mountain Cowl

Recently, I picked up my yarn and needles and let my hands dictate the design that unfolded. This process knit resulted in a gorgeous cowl.

I decided on the name Blue Mountain Cowl as it got some use on the trails of the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, Australia. Australia is in the middle of winter right now so the temps in the mountain were a bit chilly. We started the day with it being 1°C and I think it got up to 13°C in direct sun with no wind. The cozy Merino/cashmere blend felt like a little piece of heaven.Originally, I had socks in mind, however, the yarn didn’t have enough nylon content for me. I kept ending up with really baggy socks, which were a no go. I have suffered too many years with baggy sock. The curse of tiny feet! 😫

The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock in Stella Blue (merino wool/cashmere/nylon), which I purchased in Burlington, Vermont last summer. I love the subtle color variegation in this yarn. The yarn was also soooooo soft to work with. To be honest, I was a little sad for the project to end.

The Blue Mountain Cowl was worked over 4 DPNs. I wanted a texture panel, so I worked a modified seed stitch over the first needle. The remaining stitches were purely stockinette. I was aiming for one big tube, but then I remembered this cowl from PurlSoho. I loved how the front panel draped lower than the back. What a great idea! Don’t you hate tugging your neckwear down to seal the cold out of the front of your jacket? Inspired, I added about 1.5″ to the front section only.

Well here I am in my Blue Mountain Cowl in the Blue Mountains! It was a pretty spectacular day. The sun was shining and the cool air kept us somewhat temperature controlled during our 8 miles of hiking. It was good to be out in some crisp. I think my body is happiest in cooler weather.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Places You Can Knit

Since being out of China I have really had the chance to catch up on Instagram (IG) and my blog reading. Due to the internet restrictions, it can be really difficult to load pictures or really any internet content that isn’t Chinese. Social media, such as IG, is such an inspiration for me. I love to see what people are making/ creating as well as catching up on the latest pattern releases.

All this inspiration lead me to start thinking about how I express my passions in life. So I am starting a series of posts via Instagram (@knitsbywhitsf) about knitting while traveling Australia this summer. If you would like to join in spreading knitting love use the hashtag #knitwhiletraveling2018.

I look forward to seeing where you love to knit!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Yarn Shopping in Tokyo, Japan

Currently, my husband and I are in Japan. We are really loving it. The people are lovely and the food is fantastic. Before we arrived I did a little research about yarn shopping. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few sources to locate yarn stores. I used a list from Travel Knitter as well as Knitmap. Just my luck there was a craft store about 1 km from our hotel! The description sounded like this place was a crafter’s heaven.

Okadaya is located off the Shinjuku metro stop across from “Godzilla Road.” Okadaya stocks fabric, yarn, buttons, sewing notions…etc. I headed right for the yarn floor (Floor 5). The area was spacious and there was quite a selection to choose from. I also appreciated that the staff didn’t hover, but when I had a question they were friendly and helpful.

Most of the brands stocked were new to me. There were European brands as well as Japanese. I loved that they had all of the yarn out for petting! Okadaya’s stock was mainly wool, but I did manage to find some cotton yarn. I have two more knit tops that I want to make for summer. I purchased NaturaXL (aran weight) and Natura (fingering weight yarn).

My husband was with me and asked for some more hand knitted socks. Funny how whenever I go to the yarn store with him we walk away with a skein for him too. He found a pretty cool sock yarn by Opal. They took famous paintings and applied the colors to the yarn. My husband chose the colorway inspired by Le Café, le soir as he is partial to blue.

I also remembered that my Blaster sweater still needed some buttons. I went down one floor down to the button section. With so many choices I really had to stay focused. I ended up choosing buttons with a green and blue mosaic. I am not sure if they are the best fit. If they don’t work with my Blaster sweater I am sure I can find something else to knit up to go with them. 😉

Okadaya was a great experience. The shop had good prices (as compared to yarn prices in the US) and a variety of items that appeal to all crafters. Despite not specializing in yarn, I left feeling excited with my new purchases.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

If you are interested in learning more my about our travels in Japan please visit Smithberrys Abroad.

Knitting On The Great Wall

Greeting from Beijing! More specifically from the Great Wall of China! My mother-in-law (MIL), husband, and I are in the north of China for Christmas. It is mighty cold here, but the chill allows us to get great use out of our knitwear.

I am wearing a slouchy beanie I made a while ago. I used a swirling eyelet design that I free-styled. My MIL is wearing a Snuggly Loops Cowl that I made for her when I first published my pattern. Both of these items kept us nice and cozy.

The thing that surprised me the most about the wall was the steepness of the stairs. At one point, I had to use my arms and legs to hoist myself up. My husband pointed out we were on a wall on top of a mountain and steepness was to be expected (😬 duh!). In any event, we made it from towers 1-6 in a little less than 1.5 hours. I have to say the whole experience was quite impressive.

I did sneak in a row or two on my Chuck Sweater. I thought I would have it done by now, but time ran away from me. It would have been perfect for this freezing cold weather.

What a great day! I got to see another New 7 Wonder of the World in addition to getting some serious exercise in. Win-Win for Whit!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Jet Setter

Hello all! I realize I have been super inconsistent about posting. There are several reasons for this. 1) The internet in my new home is sooooooo slow in the evening. Therefore, if I try to load photos it can take 30+ minutes . 2) Work has been busy and I just have less time to knit. 😩However, this week the husband and I are on vacation in the Phillipines so I plan on logging many knitting hours! <<<<<<
his week, in China, is National Holiday. I am picturing it to be similar to the 4th of July in the USA. We heard from many co-workers that China gets VERY busy so we opted to take our first international adventure. Currently, I am in Boracay and boy is it gorgeous! Do you like white sand beaches? Crystal blue water? Delicious food and drink? Well then Boracay might be for you.

So what am I knitting? Well I am making a short sleeve cardigan. I plan on the cardigan falling around my waist and having a boxy silhouette. I made a swatch and a sketch, but I am not using a pattern for this one. I started vacation with 3/4 of an inch so please check back to see how far I made it! <<<<<<
ext Time,

-Whit-

P.S. I plan on moving more of the travel related content and how my life is going in China to another space. Please follow me at Smithberrys Abroad. 🇨🇳

Cotton Cardigan

Before I left the USA, I knit up a lovely cardigan called Summer Lace Cardigan Shrug by Vera Sanon. I used GGH Linova in Knospengrun (cotton/linen blend), which I purchased from Love Knitting. Sometimes there is great cotton yarn and sometimes there is not so great cotton. In this project’s case, I ended up with a scratchy cotton blend that didn’t really soften up until after a few washes.

Despite this, I ended up with a really cute finished project. A lot of my summer dresses are tank tops so this cardigan will make many of my outfits workplace appropriate. The cardigan pattern was easy to follow and included a chart for the lace detail. I really liked that it was made from the top down in one seamless piece.  Since I was traveling, I didn’t want to have keep track of all sorts of sweater parts. The cardigan was intended to have a button at the top, however, I opted not to sew one on. I made the button hole anyway in case I change my mind and/or find one amazing button in the future.




Here I am modeling my new cardigan on top of the Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China. The Canton Tower is the 4th largest freestanding structure in the world. It stand about 604 meters in the air making for an excellent view. Lucky for us we went on a pretty clear afternoon. We got to see most of central downtown and the Pearl River.

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I have to say I am glad to add this bright and cheery piece to my warm weather wardrobe. It has been a little lacking in color.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Beautiful Istanbul

While en-route to China we decided to layover in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey has always been one of those places on my “must see” list. The culture has always intrigued me. However, in the last 1.5 years, Turkey has had a lot going on politically. Things appeared calmer than they were this time last year so we worked it into our itinerary. We flew Turkish Airlines, which is a lovely airline, and landed in Istanbul at about 4:00 pm. By the time we made it through customs we had about 6 hours to explore the city. Knowing this time was VERY limited we made the most of it by heading to some of the famous sites and grabbing some yummy food.

Our first stop was Hagia Sophia. This beautiful and very old structure was quite an interesting sight. It began as a church and then was eventually turned into a mosque. Due to this, mosaics of Christ are positioned in roughly the same area as Islamic scriptures.



We decided to not enter the Blue Mosque as it was super crowded, but we did sit in the courtyard and take in the beauty of the architecture.

Our next stop was the waterfront. We followed the sidewalk along the Golden Horn and took in views of the Galata Tower in the distance. We ended up sitting in a square eating a fish sandwich (balık-ekmek) from this really cool looking boat. What great people watching. We then ended up at another restaurant by the water where we got some cold beers and watched the sunset over a local mosque. Talk about picturesque.

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I was bummed because I forgot to try some Turkish ice cream (as per a friend’s suggestion). However, I felt I got a good sense of the city. I most certainly hope to go back and have a more comprehensive view of the city and Turkey in general.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Life From The 20th Floor

Well, we made it to China in one piece…and with all our luggage! I have to say I am so thankful that our company did such a great job helping us get adjusted. I do not read or speak Chinese at all. Therefore, simple things like turning on the AC have been extremely difficult.

 And take this bottle. What do you think this is?

If you guessed dish detergent you are correct! Why there is a baby on the dish detergent beats me.

It is really quite weird living on the 20th floor. I feel so high up and it is a little scary looking down from our balcony. However, the views are fantastic! I started a pair of toe- up socks last week to keep myself occupied. We have a lot of orientation sessions and bus rides to endure.  I am using my favorite yarn Cascade Heritage Prints in Baltimore. My stripes won’t line up as nicely has my husband’s pair did, but I am not as picky as he is. I am still deciding on the heel method I am going to make as I would like to spice things up and try a heel I haven’t made. Check back to see what I decided on.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-