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In Soho NYC, I discovered “Purl”. A great shop selling wool, felt and fabric.  In the hippest most happening city in the world, knitting was all the rage.  Young twenty somethings were flocking there in huge numbers.  Very thick loosely spun wools were the most popular sellers.  They were available in the most gorgeous colours imaginable.   When I walked through the door I immediately thought of the Wool Baa in downtown Albert Park, Melbourne, Victoria.  Very similar in the way that divine yarns line the walls. Both places having a wonderful creative buzz. 

I’ve been put off knitting my own garments because I could never get the right fit, or the shape of the finished garment didn’t suit me.  Lots of investment in time and money would be relegated to the back of my cupboard.  But it’s a funny thing, when I see someone knitting I get itchy fingers and start dreaming about things I’d like to knit. Knitting patterns appear to be so complicated that it never occurred to me that it was possible to create my own. After one garment workshop with Leonie Ball proprietor of the Wool Baa, I can see that anything is possible.  All you need is  a piece of graph paper, a pencil and eraser, some very simple formulas and a good grip on basic maths and you can design a pattern for any garment you wish to make.  Once you have this basic pattern you can alter it to use yarns of different ply, and or a variety of cables or ribs or lacy patterns.  It’s brilliant.  The other advantage of learning these skills is that you can rethink a pattern from an existing pattern book and tailor it to your own measurements accurately.

So Leonie makes it look easy.  That’s the mark of a really good teacher.  It didn’t surprise me to find out that she began her worklife as a primary teacher. When she set up the Wool Baa eight years ago it was important to her that it be user friendly.  You can look at patterns while sitting in comfort or just simply sit and knit around a table, chatting with other knitters. Yarns are out of their packets and beautifully displayed so customers can pull them out and feel the quality of the yarn and have a really good look at the colours available. Yarns are from all over the world…Noro from Japan, Anny Blatt from France and Rowan from England. Garments can be finished with beautiful quality buttons. In addition to her own patterns (available at no charge with the purchase of wool) she has a great range of pattern books by the likes of Debbie Bliss. Leonie’s staff are knitters and therefore able to answer customer queries. Beginners are genuinely welcomed. The whole experience of the Wool Baa enhances the fun of knitting.

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Ideas for throw rugs and cushions abound.

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Leonie spends her mornings designing new patterns that showcase yarns.  She has a designers eye for a great garment. There are no daggy unwearable patterns here. A version of that beautiful evening cardigan worn by Kate Middleton on her wedding day is already on the drawing board.

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If your fingers are itching just reading this post, go to the Wool Baa website for workshop details.