A Store, On The Next Level
(rubi + lana, on the mezzanine; shop 21, Gordon Village Arcade, 767 Pacific Highway, Gordon NSW; (02) 9499 9711; firstname.lastname@example.org. All pics enlarge)
To aid in my yarn shop search, I picked up two homegrown Aussie knitting mags––Yarn and Creative Knitting (the latter, has a review of Marsha A. Polk's book––click on front cover. See Sistah Friends? Word travels).
On the third page of Yarn was a most colorful ad for the shop, rubi + lana. My initial visit found them still on holiday. I called the following week, finding them open, and after an inquiry on how to get there from Sydney, I was off. Ya' know, it's only a 30 minute CityRail ride on the north shore and west shore line from Wynyard Station direct to Gordon, where they're around the corner; if you drive, there is parking behind the arcade. So, city dwellers, there's no excuse. Really.
This was the first shop I had been to after visiting the local shop in Avalon, and Hornsby Craft & Wool Nook (shop 3a, the Piazza, 25 Florence; Hornsby, NSW (02) 9482 4924), that sold primarily yarn, year round. (my sincere apologies to Greta's Handcraft Centre; 321 Pacific Highway, Lindfield NSW; (02) 4938 5970. I didn't get the chance to visit what I hear, is a very fine store, and part of the impetus for the opening of the one I'm reviewing).
At this shop, yarns are organized by color, and weight (similar gauge), not ply's––the standard I'm told, elsewhere (weight, in my opinion, is more accurate). Paula, the owner, encourages her customers to step out of their pattern-led comfort zones, and think more creatively, through yarn substitution. What difference does it make?
You see, many of y'all Americans are creative rebels, often wanting to use pattern "A" with yarn "B" and needle "C" (and often needing a lot of help to pull it together). Australian knitters by contrast, are faithful to their patterns, following the instructions, and using the dictated yarn. While sheep-like, it makes for very good knitters. I suspect the creative transition should be easy.
The layout itself, albeit a bit crowded with merchandise, is a testament to this love, displaying yarn, needlework, and patterns relevant to modern tastes––while not alienating lovers of the classics, whose favorites are here, too. Paula also stated, that upon opening, customers came from as far out as the western suburbs––"it was like travelers in the desert finding water." Wow.
The yarn selection is impressive. Many are exclusive only to the shop––European and, new to my eyes––imports from Asia. An American novelty by Geo Yarns Inc., gave me a very Chanel feeling. But alas, I only bought a ball to swatch for the library. No matter. If you are visiting, purchase yarn, and later want more, simply fax or email a pic of the swatch and the band; either Paula herself or Marie, her associate will accomodate you.
I know y'all wanna ask––no, I did not go crazy. Prices, while not outrageous, do not lend themselves to serendipitous experiment. You need to think about what you want to make. I only purchased a few novelties to swatch for the library, and a couple of balls of the shop's own beautifully colored, and finely spun merino, for two summer wraps. My advice as always, is to buy one ball to swatch, and if you like it––return to purchase the rest. It's not as expensive, because a mistake always costs much more.
Other Mediums, Common Threads
A nod is given to other crafts; nevertheless, I found the rug-hooking a bit odd, it's inclusion possibly because of the age group of the immediate area. Embellishment, showcased an emphasis on beautiful Brazilian Embroidery (ironic, as embroidery in general seemed to be on the decline). My favorite were the shoes, embroidered with delicate florals (not pictured).
Ready-made items of the shop can be purchased. Hallelujah! No disrespect, but there are folks who have no desire to knit or crochet. Many yarn shops, rather than showing contempt, could instead show an increase in sales, by courting these potential customers. After all, there just is
no better place for a non-knitter who likes knits, to go. And y'all
knitters and crocheters, can stop killing yourselves from altruism during the holidays, finally having time
to make the (fill in the blank), that you've always wanted.
And Vera, the good news is crochet is on the upswing. Chooks with hooks are on the move! ("chook" is an Australian lexicon for chicken, or chick––as in "chicks with sticks").
A finishing service is available––a relief––and the small staff is extremely patient, friendly and attitude free! (to my Aussie friends, this is a big deal in the states; you'll see when you come here). In attendance with me was Helen K., her daughter Anne G., and Helen's step-daughter Val S. While speaking with me, Paula and Marie helped them, and other customers. Indeed, the atmosphere was casual and pleasant (Helen––remember, you can bring in that cardigan for a crocheted edging––how fabulous).
All in all, Rubi + lana is a store I will reach out across the hemisphere to, when I am ready to knit my Chanel-esque suit in the spring. On the other hand, If you live in Sydney or the surrounding suburbs, you're almost there; rubi + lana will simply help your creativity reach the next level––and it's only a few steps up.