Tuesday, 27 November 2007

It's Show and Tell Time!

I hope you're ready for this! It's a long one...

I'll try not to give you a blow by blow of everywhere I went, and everything I did (you'd be bored to tears, and so would I!) so I'm just going to post mainly about the knitterly stuff. I'll break it into two separate posts (NZ and then Los Angeles).

So. We arrived in NZ after a 24 hour flight, followed by a 3 hour wait in Auckland, followed by a 1 hour internal flight down to Christchurch. We've done this journey so many times before
but it still never fails to amaze us how crap we feel at the end of it! Anyhow, enough of that and onto the exciting stuff...

Although I'm a Hawkes Bay girl, Christchurch is one of my favourite Cities in New Zealand I always like to try and visit when I go home (it's all part of the plan of trying to convince the hubby that he would like to live in NZ someday!). Once of my favourite places is the Arts Centre. It was originally the University of Canterbury from 1873 until around 1974 at which point,a new University was built 7 kms away. From around 1978 onwards, it's been used as a cultural centre. It's a fascinating place and I thorougly recommend it as a place to hang out if you're visiting Christchurch and have at least half a day to spend mooching around the lovely shops.

That brings me nicely to my first crafty purchase which came from Wool, Yarns & Fibre, a wonderful little shop which is hidden away in the Observatory building in the Arts Centre. It's a treasure trove of handspun yarn and roving and is also stocked with handknit hats, sweaters, cardigans, etc. There were two lovely ladies running it when I visited, one of whom was chatting away to me whilst spinning. They were very encouraging when I mentioned I was a newbie spinner. So much so, that I came away with this little lot!

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Possum and Merino Roving
This is Possum and Merino

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This is 100% Merino. It's so beautifuly tied up, I don't know if I can bear to undo it!

I think I spent around $70 NZD for all this lot, which at the current exchange rate, worked out to around £25 GBP or $50 USD. Not bad!

I did manage to pop into Knitworld in Christchurch and whilst I found their stock to be nothing particularly out of the ordinary (i.e the usual Rowan, Debbie Bliss, etc), I got chatting with one of the assistants about knitting in general and how popular it's become, blah blah blah. We talked about Ravelry, etc and she was really excited about it (who wouldn't be though?!). In fact, I found all the staff to be really friendly and they have a lovely "Knitting Corner" with big squishy sofas where you can sit and knit to your heart's content. If I lived in Christchurch, it's definitely somewhere I'd hang out.

We left Christchurch after a couple of days and headed further South towards Dunedin. On the way, about an hour south of Christchurch, we came to Ashburton which is home to Ashford, the birthplace of my beloved wheel! It's well worth a visit here, particularly if you're a spinner as you can pick up all sorts of bits and pieces you never knew you needed, and again, at the current exchange rate, everything is well below the prices you'd pay here in the UK. They have a lovely tearoom with a nice shady outdoor seating area, which is very handy for bored husbands! I didn't buy any yarn or fibre here, but grabbed a couple of sets of DPNs, a Lazy Kate, some Flick Carders and a set of Dyes. I really wish I'd picked up some more bobbins as they were only about £3 each but as it was only day 3 of my holiday, I was already worrying about how I was going to get it all back to the UK!

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I didn't buy anything knitterly in Dunedin, apart from a pot of Knitter's handcream from Knitworld, so nothing really to report from there.

We headed off from Dunedin after a brief 1 day stay and headed towards Queenstown. On the way, we drove through Alexandra and stopped for lunch and a brief stop at the i-Site (tourist information office), I picked up a local map and we headed off tofind
Touch Yarns as I'd heard how wonderful they are. OMG, I wasn't disappointed! They were really easy to find by their colourful sign and their location is breathtakingly lovely. Just look at the view from their driveway!

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So. I headed into the shop and was immediately in yarn heaven! I was blown away by the piles and piles of gorgeous yarn and fibre and OMG, the colours! I didn't know where to start. I was a little overwhelmed to say the least. Marnie Kelly's (the owner and creator!) son was in charge of the shop at the time and he told me to just take my time and give him a call when I needed him. He said they were quite used to people coming in and being overwhelmed, so he'd just leave me to it. I really wish I'd taken some pictures of the inside of the shop but I completely forgot, such was the excitement! So... quite a lot of dollars later (NB: I don't feel too guilty as I've been on a fairly strict yarn diet for most of the last 6 months), I came out with this:

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From top left - Natural Possum Merino, (Blue) Pure NZ Fine Wool, Boucle and 2ply scarf kit (purple and green), 2ply Wool/Mohair (green), 3 skeins of Wool/Mohair 2ply (multi colours). I'll post individual details in my Ravelry Stash.


and this............

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Oh, and finally, this........

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So, now you can probably understand why I loved it so much. If you ever get the chance to visit Touch Yarns, I can highly recommend it. You definitely won't be disappointed, I guarantee it!

The next few days we spent in Queenstown and no knitterly purchases were made at all. I did find a small yarn shop in a tiny shopping mall in Beach Street but bought nothing. We spent most of our time here doing all the usual touristy stuff like bungy jumping from here (NOT!)

Underneath the Bungy platform



and riding up mountains hanging in a glass bubble, hanging from a bit of wire (terrifying!) so that we could get to enjoy views like this one:

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and this one:

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Once we'd returned back down to the ground, hubby announced that he absolutely had to ride the Shotover Jet which involves hurtling down river canyons at high speed towards cliff faces and doing massive spinouts in a speed boat. All in the name of fun! I decided to be the "photographer" and stay safely on dry land! Here are a few action shots of him having what he called an "excellent time"!

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Now.......... are you still with me? or have you fallen asleep with boredom................?

Next up, we spent a couple of days travelling up the West Coast just enjoying the scenery, and once again, I didn't buy anything knitterly related.

Our final destination in the South Island was in the Abel Tasman and Nelson Bays area which is what I can only describe as a knitter's and spinner's paradise! There's so much to see and do and we really didn't have enough time there to make the most of it. However, as usual, I'd done my homework beforehand and so arrived with my list of "must visit" places!

First up was Hallblacks in Brightwater. Mary and Selwyn who own Hallblacks are a fantastic couple who are really friendly and made us both feel very welcome from the minute we pulled up the driveway. Mary runs the shop and business from a purpose built building on their property and Selwyn is the Farmer. They have a flock of about 600 sheep and each one has its own name! They love what they do and their animals are their life. It was a real pleasure to meet people who are so passionate about what they do. Even hubby was interested which was a real surprise! Selwyn took him "out the back" and they manly chats about farming and tractors and stuff!

We were shown all the different yarns they had in stock and then taken out to the large woolshed outside. I explained to Mary that I was just a beginner spinner and she was really helpful and encouraging and gave me some useful tips. She told me not to be afraid to give anything a try and that there's not really a right way or wrong way to do things. She then produced a washed Romney fleece which she said I should be able to handle. Apparently, she said they like to wash and prepare their fleeces in such a way that you should be able to spin straight from them rather than having to spend ages carding it. A few minutes, the fleece was mine! Mary told me that the sheep's name was Gamble, she was! lovely and had led a very happy life. I can only assume that since being shorn, poor Gamble has met her end at the local freezing works. I didn't like to ask, and I can't bear to think about it ;)

Anyway, the entire fleece only cost $20 (£7 or $14 USD) and there's enough for an entire sweater!! What a bargain!

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There's my little helper Henry in the corner of the photo. He thinks the fleece makes a very comfortable doggy bed...

Hallblacks have a mailorder service and will ship all over the world so if you're interested, check out their website.

My final purchase was from Edencourt Natural Fibres, Clover Road West, RD1 Brightwater (they don't have a website) where I bought a kilo of Alpaca/Merino roving for $15. My camera seems to have deleted the photo so I'll have to take another one later and add it to my Ravelry stash.

The Nelson area is definitely what you would call the creative centre of New Zealand as there are so many awesome craft shops to visit. My biggest regret is that we just simply ran out of time and I couldn't visit all of them. Sadly, I didn't get to visit the World of Wearable Art which I'd been hoping to see. Never mind, there's always next time!

Finally, we headed across the Cook Strait back to the North Island and after a one night stopover in Wellington (where I visited one of my favourite shops ever, Nancys and still bought nothing!), we arrived back at Mum and Dad's place in Havelock North and spent the final 5 days just enjoying time with family, soaking up the wonderful Hawkes Bay sunshine, eating good food, seeing my mates and supping some of the finest wines (I'm a bit biased) on earth. What could be better?

In part 2........ (which will probably be tomorrow) I'll post news and pictures of my Californian adventures. If you're still awake that is!


4 Comments:

Alice said...

I hope you're feeling better! Looks like you had a great vacation with so much fibery goodness... I am so jealous :) Oh and that gondola ride, what fantastic views!

Skein Queen said...

Each of the 600 sheep has a name?! Looks like fab visit and esp. like your yarnie purchases. Looking forward to the next instalment.

justclaire said...

Oh Yes. Each and every one of their sheep is named!! We thought they were joking when they said it but no, they were serious. Each to their own I guess...!

Diane said...

Your NZ trip sounds a lot like mine :-) except we never made it to the west coast although we wanted to.

I'm sure my hubby will never forget waiting out in the car for ages with the hitch-hiker we picked up while I browsed in the Ashford factory!