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Friday, May 11, 2007

the trip home - Pitstop 1.5 and 2: Tarcutta and Wangaratta

Sorry - no pics of the hand-painted goodies I picked up at the Tarcutta Farmhouse Industries Craft Shop - but I got some loverly hand-painted mohair and some gorgeous rainbow hand painted handspun...

The volunteer shop-clerks recognised Pierre from a previous trip to the town (I stopped there everytime I was going between Geelong and Sydney) and we discussed how Tarcutta was such a handy location for a pitstop (the rest area is on the main road with easy, ample parking) and the possible highway by-pass, luckily not scheduled until about 2012. I was very disappointed to have missed Taph and her mum, who stopped by a little later on in the day - however, I warned the ladies that more fibre fiends would be stopping by! If I didn't have certain place to be by a certain time I would have gladly grabbed a cuppa in the town just to catch up with Taph once more.

And that certain place was... WANGARATTA WOOLLEN MILLS!

Behold the majesty of such a yarnaholics mecca.
The photo collage above clockwise from top left: Yarn sales around here somewhere; One of the many overflowing yarn bins; the entrance to the retail shop; must be heading the right way for the yarn sales; just a minor stash enhancement; textile avenue - must be on the right track; the ACS mills - unfortunately no tours available; wool and woolblend remnants - $27.50 kg.

The retail shop there closes at 4pm, and I wasn't sure of what sort of time I would make - but due to the new by-pass around Albury I made it to Wangarratta before 3. (Yes - I enjoy driving through all the small towns where you only have to slow down for a couple of kms before you can resume cruise control, but Albury with its doglegs and traffic lights really irked me! Also, the bakery and roadside cafes tended to have better food for a better price than all the fast food in Albury)

Some of the photos are a little blurry as I was asked not to take pictures inside the shop, but they suggested taking some through the window (well, the original response was 'why do you want to take photos...? ... weblog...? ...maybe you could just do it outside... you know... through the window...?') Anyway - remember Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money bins? Replace that coin with yarn and you have something like the retail shop and something a hellava lot softer to dive into.

Anyway - next time I go to the Wangaratta woollen mills I will definitely be taking an empty car. Or perhaps a semi-trailer (my Dad could drive - he got his truck licence on Monday - Yay and congrats to him!) I walked out with one HUUUUGE bag of woolblend yarns, and one HUUUGE bag of acrylic yarns (approx 4-5kg of yarn in total) and spent just over $100. The acrylic, which my Nan uses to knit soft toys - was $10/kg. The wool and woolblend stuff $27.50/kg. There was also some other yarns with small discounts (patonyle, whole-bags of angora supreme etc) but I didn't partake of those.

I picked up enough shadow tweed to make two garments in two different colours, and more than enough inca to make another Josephine. Considering that the retail for these yarns is approx $10/100g, or $100/1kg the $27.50/kg was a steal.

Top Ten Tips and Tricks for making the most of Wangaratta woollen mills:
  1. Clean out your car (trust me, yarn takes up a lot of room)
  2. If you can spare the room in your front passenger seat, take a friend to split petrol costs and therefore afford more yarn (the only space left in my car was the front passenger seat, so I ended up piling up my yarn there)
  3. Know your products - spend a couple of hours swatting at the ACS handknitting sites (ie cleckheaton, patons etc) and get to know the composition of your yarns. They are bagged up without labels/ballbands with a yarn composition and a weight written on the bag. (I know my patons yarns well, so I see wool/alpaca/acrylic and know that its inca)
  4. Be flexible. All the yarns are a bit of a cluster-fork in the bins. Just because you know that inca comes in black doesn't mean you will find it, or it is even there. Its remnants - it may not be your lucky day!
  5. Don't stress over dyelots. No ballbands = no dyelot information. If you are worried about dyelots, do a little research into how to disguise then when joining yarns.
  6. Know what you are prepared to go through in order to save money. There are tangled yarns that are even cheaper than the $27.50/kg - but do you want to waste good knitting time untying knots? I know I can't be bothered.
  7. Add in your petrol costs to your yarn purchases. It's no use spending $50 in order to save $10 on yarn. (Of course, the upside of this is that the more yarn you buy the more cost effective your trip)
  8. Make sure the mills are open when you plan to go. On my way back to Sydney in January I made a slight detour to Wangaratta only to find the mills were still closed from the xmas/new year break. This time I emailed ACS customer service to ensure I could get a little S.E.X. in on the way home. (S.E.X. = Stash Enhancement eXcursion)
  9. Make sure you buy enough yarn to make a garment - pointless saving money on 3 balls of yarn when you discover that you need 12 more of them to finish.
  10. If the excitement gets too much for you, just find a seat, dip your head between your knees and breathe into a paper-bag for a while.

And now we briefly return to retail yarn for a moment:

At my last RandL knit group two and a half weeks or so ago, I decided to make one last purchase at my favourite LYS . After much mopey browsing, I decided to go with this loverly oceanic slubby handspun from Mollydale. The colours reminded me of the harbour city, and the yarn was of (reasonably) local origin. I grabbed all three skiens of the colourway, and am now trying to decide what I should make with it.

I have 300gms and just shy of 300mtrs - its labeled as a 12ply. I would welcome any suggestions on what I can make with this beautiful yarn - I haven't played much with slubbies before so please give me your input.

And a finished pair of socks... for ME!

NAME: Roza-knee-hi
PATTERN: Loosely based upon Roza's Socks by Grumperina in the spring InterweaveKnits. Modified for toe-up, and extra brioche stitch incorporated to stretch over calf.
YARN: 2 skeins Lorna's Laces's Shepard Sock in Black Watch
YARN SOURCE: ebay (yarnbow's shop, from memory)
NEEDLES:15cm Tulip 2.75mm bamboo DPNs
COMPLETED: 07 May 07

An just so you know, Pierre is doing well in his new (temporary) home at my parents. My Dad and I have been working on some new tricks with him - and he can now 'roll-over'


Taphophile said...

Sorry we missed you, too. The shop woman ensured I knew you'd been there already - but I'd have guessed by the dearth of yarn to buy (still managed a little).

Mum, Nanna and I used to go to the mills in the uni holidays back in the day and drag home to Canberra with bags of wool to see us through. Great fun.

Good tips on mill shopping.

juuli said...

300gms should be enough for a shrug with sleeves. The easiest way is to knit a rectangle, sew the long sides together a bit on each side for the sleeve portion, then pick up stitches along the remaining long sides. You could do ribbing, or lace pattern, but You'll have to increase every row. If you run out of thick yarn, I would knit the part that goes around the body with thinner, matching yarn. Ditto for cuffs - pick up and knit ribbing, or lace.
Did I just make it sound very complicated? Well, it isn't...
Love to see it knitted up, the yarn is simply gorgeous!