Sunday, October 26, 2008

Victorian Spinners & Weavers Guild

I love knitting with handspun. Love it. So, in aid of increasing my handspun stash I decided to head off to the Victorian Spinners & Weavers Guild, in North Carlton. They have a gallery/ shop, see.

I caught the tram all on my own, and didn't get lost and was quite proud of myself. The Guild Hall is a 19th century Boy Scout Hall. Very large. Very well equipped with fiber, wheels-for-hire and whatnot. The gallery was still closed up when I arrived, so I contented myself with looking at the three skeins of handspun hung on a hat tree outside the gallery. One of them was nice, but not my colours. But if there wasn't much else, it'd do.

Then someone arrived to open the gallery. They threw back the double doors into a little room where two walls were stuffed full - full - with handspun. Arranged by colour. I think I spent nearly an hour in there. Everything is priced by the spinner. Labelled by fiber, weight, price and the spinner's name. The only downside was that there were not large quantities of anything - finding more than 100g of anything was a challenge. But I rose to the occasion, and left with seven skeins.

Merino and glitz, in a pretty sea green 3 ply (not navajo). It'll be a fuzzy, flopped beret for me.

This pink/ grey/ mauve tweed was my absolute favourite. Spun by V. Harding. I just love it.

More V. Harding - nice tawny autumny colours. Whoever this mystery spinner is, she has excellent colour sense.

I wasn't sure about this, but bought it because it's nearly 200g. And it's grown on me. Natural Corriedale plied with commercially dyed merino. For some reason it reminds me of newspaper pulp. In a good way.

And this is a little scratchy and a little expensive (compared to the rest), but it reminded me of irses, so I bought it anyway. The yellows pop a lot more in real life.

Job Warehouse, Melbourne

I didn't bother to go out of my way to fabric shop while in Melbourne, but couldn't help but notice the sign in the window of Job Warehouse ('specialising in vintage fabrics', or something similar). Job Warehouse, as I'm sure Melbournians know, is a freakish anomaly. It's right in the CBD, next to an extremely popular Italian espresso bar and a couple of doors down from one of the city's finest Italian restaurants.* It is a store that by all odds should've gone the way of milk in bottles.

Here is what Job Warehouse looks like. From the back of the store looking towards the door. What you can't see is that there are several doorways on the left of the photo, into rooms filled with more fabric. Unfortunately I couldn't actually get into them, because fabric bolts were stacked chest-high across the doorways.

There are no labels, and no prices. Apparently the gentlemen that work there price according to mood. Well they liked me well enough, because I paid on average $10 p/m. For three metres of 1970s tartan acetate taffeta, two metres of (80s?) striped cotton and five metres of printed panels.

That's just half a panel I've photographed. I have no idea when these are from - ideas, anyone? The full circle skirt suggests 50s, but the print and colourway to me looks more early 80s? And the best bit - look around the panel. Along one selvedge is a printed band - for a waistband or matching button-band on a blouse. There's collar panels, and two kind of pocket panels. Pocket panels! Two kinds! I bought enough for a full circle skirt for me (too much? Should I make it only a half?) and the half panel over will become an apron.

* For those that can't afford to eat at Grossi Florentino itself (we didn't), I completely recommend the Cellar Bar - the cheaper, more casual restaurant on the side of the building also run by Mr Florentino. Most meals under $20, and absolutely fabulous. Same quality ingredients, just simpler food (spaghetti bolognaise, osso bucco, eggplant parmigiana, minestrone). Most of those dishes are under $20. Best. Value. Ever.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's a helluva town.

Alright, it's been a little quiet round here recently. But rest assured that as soon as we get home and can download all the pics I've taken on BCB's iphone there will be some Very Interesting Posts. Get home? you say. Yes, my friends, I am in Melbourne.

Be prepared for images of the World's Most Astonishing Fabric Shop ($10 p/m for genuine 1950s skirt panels in pristine condition; $10 p/m for bird-poo stained calico; priced according to how the owners feel that day...); possibly the World's Largest Vintage Store (also selling, oddly, a stack of berets knitted to Ysolda's gretel pattern...); photos of some Very Lovely Handspun at Extremely Reasonable Prices ($6 - $8 per 50g sound good to everyone? Yep, good). Oh, and I bought the Cutest Vintage Dress Ever. 1940s, black velvet trim, fabric with little pink birds singing all over. Tres Black Apple.

Just hang on a day or two more.

edit: If customs have a tantie over my suitcase (they shouldn't - I was talked into not trying to take cheese and fresh pasta on the plane) my cover story is that I'm a fashion designer, okay? There is no other way to explain how yarn and fabric takes up over half my suitcase. Back me up, okay?