Cruella’s — Nelson, NZ

Nelson, NZ — a town at the north end of the South Island — is kind of an odd place.

It is the nearest town of any real size to Abel Tasman National Park, which is where we had a day of kayaking booked.  The kayaking was fabulous — we had a beautiful sunny day, and the water there is this incredible turquoise blue.  It is hard to believe it, but I took this picture of a sailboat (with a white sail) specifically for the purpose of showing that it really is, in fact, this amazing color.

sailboat in Abel Tasman

cruella's yarn shopNelson is home to the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum.  You might think this is a strange combination, and you’d be right.  WOW is a pretty amazing place, but I won’t go into details of that right now — because the most important thing Nelson is home to is Cruella’s yarn shop.

(Before I go into the whole story, though, first I must thank Loralee, who knows someone whose mother and aunt had visited the shop and raved about it, and who very kindly took the time, amidst the pre-Xmas bustle, to email me info on Cruella’s.  Thanks a million, Loralee!  🙂

Cruella’s is part of what you might call New Zealand’s version of a strip mall.  The way they do a strip mall is very cool though:  they put it next to a vineyard.  The complex is called "The Grape Escape" and has a couple of shops, plus a cafe, tasting room, and gift shop.

I found it funny that the sign pointed the same direction for "Playground" and "Cruella’s".  Works for me!

The shop is owned by Ruth and Vicki, who were both very nice — and we had some fun playing "dress-up"!  Isn’t that little wrap just darling?  And they had all kinds of fun little accessory stuff, too. with ruth at cruellascruellas display


cruella's cool wallcruella's warm wall

You will probably notice there are an awful lot of finished garments in these pictures — and maybe you will also notice that there isn’t a ton of yarn, actually.  The big thing at Cruella’s is that they have a very select line of yarns and garment patterns — and they have each garment knit up in each size, so you can try them on.  Most garment knitters can probably appreciate the benefits of being able to try a prospective BIG KNITTING PROJECT on, before committing hours and hours of precious knitting time — only to decide that you should have made a different size.  (And if you’re not a knitter, you can buy these garments, or have them make you one to order.)lion cardi

It works, too.  I wasn’t really planning on buying another sweater project, but I bought this "Golden Lion" cardigan, in jade green, after I tried it on.  Believe me, it will be FABULOUS.

Not to brag, exactly, but I was awarded bonus points for figuring out how the fringed "boa" trim on the collar and cuffs was done.  First I asked if it was some kind of twisted fringe — then the light bulb went on, and I said, "Oh, you knit it, and then unravel it!!"  This apparently was something that no one else had been able to figure out, so Ruth said that gives me Official Guru Status!

Cruella’s also has possum fur-lined boots and slippers, cow hides, and even some men’s garments for sale.  DH finally bought himself a possum & merino cardigan, in a nice dark grey that looks great.

long lock trim

fur trims

But the one thing that was really and truly unique about Cruella’s was the selection of trims.  Take a look at these baskets!  There was possum, rabbit, and long locks of what must be either mohair or wool — either I forgot to ask, or I was too overwhelmed to remember — luxurious trims that I’ve never seen anywhere else.

Can you tell I am just speechless here?dazed and confused


I brought a couple of pieces of trims home for myself (well, actually, we bought so much stuff that they mailed it to us) — check out that rust-colored one in the lower left of the picture above.  Darned if Sandi didn’t know exactly which project I had in mind to use it on when I showed it to her:  the Rowan "Biggy Print" vest that’s been languishing for a long while, while I have been looking for a good way to finish the armholes.  No, I am not going to put that trim around the armholes — but I figure if I put it on the front, maybe no one will look at the armholes.

A brief note about the use of fur here:  please keep in mind that the possum and the rabbit are not native to New Zealand.  And because there are no natural predators in New Zealand to keep their numbers in check, the possums and rabbits have multiplied to the point where the NZ government officially classifies them as pests:  the possums destroy a lot of native New Zealand flora that is found nowhere else on earth, and the rabbits apparently destroy pasture land as well.  The possum fur trade is actively pursued in an effort to conserve New Zealand’s native ecosystem.  For more info, please take a look at

  5 comments for “Cruella’s — Nelson, NZ

  1. Kim Stewart
    01/19/2009 at 2:05 AM

    Hi Tess – I’m off to the wool shop in Stuart Street tomorrow at lunch time (the one you took the photos of) to get a pattern for a fairly basic v-neck jumper (nothing more complicated than k1 p1 for this girl), and that graduated colour wool that we saw – will go for the greeny one I think. But am going to do the bands and cuffs in that nice ostrich-feather ‘wool’ in dark green. Do you want photos of the work in progress?

    Glad you got home safely and glad you had such a great holiday!

  2. 01/20/2009 at 8:38 PM

    OK. I want to go to NZ now just to try on sweaters before I knit them! How fabulous is that?!

    I guess I’m particularly enthralled with this idea because I just starting construction on a sweater I’ve had languishing in pieces for a few weeks. I had a sneaking suspicion that there would be an odd bulkiness beneath the arms. Yep. Shoulders seamed. One sleeve in. Slip it on for a quick fitting and I find that I have a nice bunch of alpaca gathered up in my armpit. Sigh.

    Miss you!

  3. 01/21/2009 at 4:21 PM

    Hey Kim! What’dja get? What’dja get? What’dja get? huh huh huh??? inquiring minds wanna know!!

  4. Kim Stewart
    01/21/2009 at 5:05 PM

    Hi Tess – I got the Cleckheaton Vintage Hues in maroon/purple/turquoise, plus a pattern for a v-neck with a collar, and some needles. Started last night and once my hands remembered what to do it was quite good fun. I even managed to inc 1 stitch (by knitting into the back) and creating a new stitch using a seam stitch. Still have to buy a stitch holder. Of course, I did the “I’ll just finish this row and then I’ll go to bed” thing – consequently was knitting until just before midnight! I decided against doing the bands in the ostrich feather – that will be for my next project which will be a long coat in midnight blue with black feather trim. But I guess I should finish the sweater first, huh?
    Will take some photos so you can see how it knits up – it really is gorgeous!

  5. 05/18/2009 at 7:26 PM

    Hi, Your shop looks very intrigueing, I will be down in Nelson in June so will hopefully be able to find it. Will be at the N.Z. machine knitters festival .

    Cheers to you both,


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