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

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The "Z" here refers to NEW ZEALAND!!  Yes, here I am on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Ah, the magic of modern air travel.  Here is how bad it was getting back home in PDX just before we and polar bear

And after only 4 separate flights and 34 hours of misery traveling, here is what I was looking at yesterday.

LOTR site









Yes, is turning into a travel blog for about 3 weeks.  It’s OK though — NZ has a lot of sheep.

Something like 40 million sheep, apparently.  And although I have not yet taken any pictures of said sheep, I did see several flocks of them from the air as our final plane approached Queenstown, and I saw several more as we drove around on a "Lord of the Rings" location tour yesterday.

Hey, the DH has got to have his fun, too.

Don’t worry, I will be making him go to we will be hitting the Agrodome in Rotorua towards the end of the trip, and there will be sheep and wool stuff aplenty.

We’ve been in Queenstown since Friday night — this being Sunday afternoon — and so far I have seen many shops with knitwear for sale, but only one yarn shop.  It is this tiny little room on Beach Street, which unfortunately is closed until after New Years’.  But it looks to have some nice roving and handspun yarns.

If time permits, this afternoon I hope we can drive out to Alexandra (passing through Muttontown on the way!) which is the home of Touch yarns.  More on that later, if it happens.

There are plenty of the merino wool / possum fur blend knitted fabrics in the shops — and they are in fact rather soft, and pretty luxurious to the touch.  At least one manufacturer refers to this blend as "Merino Mink".  From what I’ve been able to glean so far, the possum was introduced to New Zealand on purpose, to eliminate rodents — but unfortunately for the possums, it turns out they weren’t well-trained on exactly what they were and were not supposed to eat.  So they eat some of the native stuff too, which is not what anyone here had in mind.  Thus, they are now considered a pest and are hunted, one might say, with extreme prejudice.  I guess this means you aren’t supposed to feel too bad about wearing the fur.

mohair wrapOh yes — If anyone remembers, I did manage to get my black MOHAIR wrap thingy knitted in time for the trip, and it turned out kind of — interesting.  I finally figured out what to do to get the laceweight MOHAIR yarn to knit properly on the machine, without dropping stitches — which was to run my hand back and forth along the fabric underneath the needles as I moved the carriage, to keep the fabric where it ought to be and allow the needles to move in and out of the stitches as they should.

The advertised 10 feet or so of fabric was duly created, and I grafted — yes, that means 100 sts worth of Kitchener — the two ends together, and this is what it looks like.  And no, you’re not going to see a front view because it was very late when this picture was taken and I was extremely unenthusiastic.

I’m not sure it looks fabulous, but it is quite warm and cozy, and rather lightweight too.  Two out of three ain’t bad.

I stayed up until almost 2:00 a.m. the night before we left, packing not just my clothes and toiletries but also equipment for the Great NZ Sock Knitting Excursion.  The important part I brought with me is this:

wood needle set knitpicksI treated myself to a set of  Knitpicks laminated wood dpns, so I would not only have all the sizes I would need to knit socks in one handy-dandy package, and not only would I have a spare needle of each size; I also would not have to try to explain to any TSA employees exactly why I felt I needed to travel with 2 dozen small, very pointy pieces of metal.

I honestly am not sure they would believe the truth if I told them, anyway.


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