Yeah, I know, yarn stores and art museums have nothing on koalas and kangaroos, but still...
Threads & More
I snuck off one afternoon during the conference (when there wasn't anything too exciting for me going on) and took the train to Threads & More in a suburb (I think) of Brisbane. The store is really close to the train station, so it was super easy to get there. There's a cafe attached to the store - how cool is that!
There were plenty of places to sit & knit in the store, and I think there was a knitting lesson going on while I browsed. I was surprised to see a very limited stock of sock yarn - maybe it hasn't caught on there quite as much as here in the US? There were also lots of novelty yarns, which I was a little surprised to see. On the other hand, it really doesn't sound like it gets cold enough in Brisbane to knit garments for warmth, so I'm speculating a lot of knitting there is for bling, KWIM? The best part of the store was the big corner of Jo Sharp yarn and books. I've seen some Jo Sharp here in Nashville, but this was literally every Jo Sharp yarn in every colorway, quite impressive!
I learned at the store that crochet might have a critical purpose:
That is crochet, right? I thought it looked like crochet, but I wasn't positive.
My only disappointment in the store was the lack of Australian or New Zealand yarn (they had a small selection of some New Zealand mohair, but that's all). I ended up buying the Jo Sharp Gathering booklet (all the booklets were really cool, I've never seen any of them!) and enough Jo Sharp Silk Road Aran to make the Enia scarf. I really liked several of the sweaters in the book, too.
Happy good thoughts from public transit
The best part of the yarn store experience was actually on the train back to the city. I was sitting there knitting my chevron scarf when this schoolgirl (wearing a very Harry Potter-esque school uniform) across the train said "Wow, that is so cool!" We chatted for about 5 minutes about knitting. She thought it seemed super hard, but I reassured her it wasn't difficult and she could definitely learn. She said she'd talk to her Gran, who is also a knitter. I hope I convinced her to give it a try!
The rest of the time, I felt like a total wacko knitting in public in Australia. I got some really, really weird looks. Along the lines of "look at that crazy lady with the sticks, what the heck is wrong with her". Not that that stopped me, but it was still a bit strange.
Here's a picture of the whole reason I was in Australia - standing next to my poster at the conference:
After the conference wrapped up, a few of us went over to the Gallery of Modern Art (or GoMA), a modern art museum in Brisbane that opened just last year. I'm not a huge fan of modern art, but this was a really well put together museum. I was definitely struck by how well they used their space and the flow of the exhibits.
One of the exhibits was this freaky small room with mirrors on all the walls and a thin layer of water on the floor, lit only by blacklights and small glowing balls. I didn't get a great picture, but it looked something like this:
I had to go back to the crazy ball room a second time, it was entrancing.
They also had a collection of modern aboriginal artwork:
There were several video installations about the aboriginal experience in Australia. It was hard to put it all in context without knowing much about the history, but it was still interesting to see.