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Sisters in Yarn

In association with my Evolving Aveline Sweater CAL, over the next 3 weeks I will tell you 3 little stories, each of which will end with information about a random prize draw where you could win a voucher for free yarn! 


This is my first story:


a wall of handdyed yarn

Photo credit: Skein Sisters – used with permission.


When I entered Skein Sisters for the first time my arms were full of crochet design samples in large carry bags.  Having met co-owners Deb and Janine at the June CGA crochet conference earlier that week I had ventured out to see the shop and say hi.  I had known of them for a while and maybe we could work together on something in the future?  Best foot forward and all that.


It was a blustery day, so it was kind of awkward to navigate both my elbow-slung bags and the shop door.  As I turned to check the door had latched closed behind me, my crochet clipped the nearby mannequin which (up until that moment had) stood guard by the front window display.  I instinctively reached out to halt “Manny’s” journey to horizontal, but instead was horrified to see (in rather a slow-motion and doomed cinematic fashion) she was falling further and further away from my extending hand. 


“Noooooooooooo” silently echoed inside my head, and the clash of Manny hitting the hardwood floor echoed inside the store.  If I was trying to excel at “How to make an entrance 101” I think this would have been a dismal F…. or an A plus, depending on how you look at it….


Glancing up I expecting to find harsh stares or glaring snooty faces, but instead Olga sauntered over with a smile on her face and restored Manny back to her place at the front window,  “Don’t worry about that Susannah…”.  (Wow, someone knows my name!??...). “Come on in!”


I looked around to see another staff member Tracey helping a young man, offering advice for his knitting project.  He was perched in one of two comfy armchairs, framed by shelves housing a squishy fibre rainbow, and both he and Tracey were so engrossed in conversation they didn’t seem to care about the commotion.  Sweet!


Not skipping a beat, Olga suggested, “Pop your bags here behind the counter and explore the store, Deb will be here in a few minutes”.   Great idea.


Olga’s warm welcome and Tracey’s focussed support for a customer was my first impression of the Skein Sisters store.


My second impression was how pretty the shop looks and how nurturing it feels.  Colour and inspiration abound, all wrapped around a mini lounge room core.  Now, before I get too far onto this, I should just pause to mention that since becoming crochet obsessed somewhere around 2010, I have been fortunate to have dabbled in a bit of yarn tourism. 


“What’s yarn tourism?”  I hear you ask…  Well, for the past 14 (or so) years, when planning travel overseas or interstate (whether it’s holiday or for business) the first thing I research is which local yarn stores should I visit?  An evening with a glass of wine and Google produces a short list and a map of the stores to hit.  There’s one day of your holiday planned, or maybe a couple of diversions along your journey.  (Travel tip: Sometimes extra handy if you are with a yarn-averse travel companion and you want a moment to yourself to be all zen with wool.  Double benefits.)


Why do I bring this up?  Well, I think it’s a great element to include in your travels (just saying…), but it also means I have perused quite a few yarn stores and experienced a range of treatment from staff to compare to – not all so warm and fuzzy as Olga and Tracey, and plenty not as inviting as Deb and Janine’s second lounge room lined with yarn, which is delightful!


Skein Sisters is a corner store at 721 New Canterbury Road, Dulwich Hill.  If you are driving, there’s all day parking in front of the shop.   Via train, it’s approximately 20mins from Sydney’s Central Station along the T3 line to Hurlstone Park station, then a 10 min walk up Kroombit Street.  If you catch the light rail, get off at Dulwich Grove, turn left along New Canterbury Road, and Skein Sisters is a 10 minute walk up the hill.


There are two doors to choose from when entering.  I had walked past the one at the corner where New Canterbury meets Kroombit Street and fumbled my way through the second door which sits at the centre of wide glass windows facing New Canterbury Street.  If you go in that way, be sure to say hi to Manny from me….


My third impression: Skein Sisters is like the Tardis.  Deceptively small on the outside but large (yet cosy) on the inside.  Via Manny’s entrance, yarn lines the front windows either side of the door, and clusters of partial height wood shelving and racks (I thought of them as yarn islands) throughout the store keep your eye wandering over the open plan display of colour.  Along the back, full height displays are well stocked to invite you to explore more deeply. 


Behind a couple of  islands to the right, a wall of luxury animal-based yarns leads to the counter where you will also find a rack of gorgeous handknit and crocheted sweaters, scarves, and shawls.  (Drool, drool).  To the left, the lounge area (complete with floor rug and comfy chairs) is the central focus between the two entrance doors. 


Beyond the lounge area to the left are more yarn islands (near the corner entrance door) and behind that are walls of cotton and other plant-based fibres.  A separate wall wrapping left behind the counter houses a plethora of knit and crochet tools.  Between the cotton area and the tools wall is a cosy enclave where you’ll find a huge floor to ceiling bookshelf with beautiful publications, some glorious tweed yarns, a passageway to the staff kitchenette area, and a door to the dedicated classroom which sits behind the counter and tool-wall.


So much packed in and still feels open.  You could park yourself in front of the bookshelf for quite some time (or better yet, flip some pages in the comfort of a lounge chair).  I noticed the other customers looked like they felt quite at home, just like I did.  I was in the middle of choosing a knit book for my mum’s birthday (yep, she loved it) when Deb arrived to chat with me. 


Deb’s superpower is that she naturally helps people feel at ease and I think her videos on Skein Sisters Instagram highlight this part of her character.  We had a great discussion and afterwards I spent another hour in the store having a gooooooood look around, sipping a cup of tea and chatting with Olga and Tracey.  Squish, squish, drool, drool, more squishing, then a few skeins slipped into my bag as my credit card went ding before heading back to my hotel.


Fourth impression: experienced, skilled, knowledgeable, and friendly staff – not only to me, but to the other customers who drifted in to shop during my stay.  Some customers sounded like friends.  The vibe I got was a real feeling of community and comradery.


Visiting Skein Sisters led to my discovery and purchase of the LITLG Moon Sock silk-blend yarn which later became my second Shelley Sweater.

Yarn and a woman wearing a crocheted sweater

Meeting and chatting with Skein Sisters Deb & Janine led to them hosting me for a workshop a few months later in November 2023.  I ran a full day “Getting Into Garments” workshop, leading 9 crochet curious women through all the factors influencing how to approach a sized crochet garment pattern to end up with a garment that fits. 


We enjoyed a dedicated space in the classroom at the back of the shop. Participants brought their own lunch, but Janine and Deb also put on a lovely gourmet spread of strawberries, chocolate, cheese, and biscuits with cups of tea or coffee too!  Skein Sisters really look after their customers and have also been very supportive to me.


Suited best to  a crocheter with 1 or 2 garments already under their belt, my Getting into Garments course is an in-depth process working through schematics, sizing, grading assumptions, ease, influence of fibre choice, getting gauge and impact if your gauge is off, how to counteract your gauge being off if your hooking action can’t be corrected, interpreting your hooking action, custom changes, effect on yardage and a bunch of other things but I think you get the idea…. 


Here are a few pics during the class.  I tend to use my whole body and wave my arms around a lot in an effort to explain – thanks to Kelly Lonergan for these action shots and her permission for me to use them here!


a woman teaching adult students about crochet

And here is a pic of most of the garment-empowered attendees at the end… two ladies had to rush off as soon as the class wrapped up so aren’t in this pic.

9 women in a group photo after a crochet workshop

All smiles even after all that math and intense concentration!  Staff member Jane is at the left end of the photo and assisted me during this class as she had already been a participant for one of the workshops that I delivered during the CAL conference.  Staff member Tracey was a student for this class and is seen on the right end of the photo, immediately next to me.


Jane also joined my test group for the Evolving Aveline Sweater in preparation for my Crochet-A-Long.  She used luxurious Bellissimo Lucca merino-cotton blend.  Here she is doing a test-fit in the shop, and the finished garment on display as well.

A woman wearing a partially made crochet sweater and second photo of finished sweater on a mannequin

Photo credit: Skein Sisters – used with permission.


Deb McDonald and Janine Smith first opened Skein Sisters in April 2017.  No, they are not actual sisters but had long enjoyed a fibre related friendship and shared the belief that underpins their yarn store: “Everyone deserves fabulous yarn.” 


They have yarns from all corners of the planet with a range of price points and fibre blends to suit a wide variety of customers, but I have to say they have an excellent stock of luxury stock – you know, the I-just-want-to-pet-and-sit, daydreaming-as-I-dab-it-to-my-neck kind of yarn.  Right up my alley.


From 2022, Skein Sisters developed the first of their own range of hand-dyed yarns, Fabulous Sock (and yes, it is)….  Skein Sisters Romance came in 2023, and Skein Sisters Joyful DK joined the range in 2024, only a couple of months ago!  I LOVE the Fabulous Sock base and the tonal colour is oh so gooood.  Durable, springy to hold its shape and yes, fabulous.  Can’t wait to use it for a garment – It’s too fine for the Evolving Aveline Sweater - I could not make the gauge work…

handdyed yarn and a crocheted swatch

Skein Sisters Fabulous Sock Yarn would, however, be a great option for the Susannah Sweater


Books, magazines, tools, notions, accessories are all there for browsing pleasure as well as wonderful classes you can take.  Skein Sisters run classes with their highly qualified staff and sometimes there are workshops with visiting knitting and crochet designers too!


Probably the most important thing I can say about Skein Sisters is they have created an inclusive community around their shop and passion for quality yarn.  Reading their newsletter (to subscribe, go to the footer of their webpage here) shows just how much effort they put in to sharing their fibre adventures and family life with their customers, heaps of inspiration pairing suitable yarns with amazing knit and crochet patterns and the bit I love seeing the most are photos from their community craft nights – check these out…


A large group of people enjoying a crafting night
knitters enjoying knitting in a group

Photo credit: Skein Sisters – used with permission.


Few yarn stores that I have visited demonstrate this level of customer care from highly skilled and knowledgeable staff, yarn curation offering a range of their own hand dyed luxury merino and silk blends along with quality commercial products from Australia and all over the world to suit all kinds of budgets and, to top it all off, they welcome their customers as friends into their rainbow lounge room. 


Sisters (and brothers) in yarn unite. Brilliant. 


I recommend that you check them out for yourselves.  If you live overseas or interstate and one day happen to holiday in Sydney, it’s worth a little train ride out to Dulwich Hill for some yarn tourism of your own.  Maybe even time it so you can attend one of their classes!


Okay, time for the fine print.  When I started this CAL, I talked about my wish to support local Australian businesses who have also supported my creativity.  Clearly, I am a fan of Skein Sisters.  What am I getting paid to say this?  Nothing.  I genuinely feel this way about my experience visiting the shop, reading their newsletter, observing, and working with them and their staff. 


Skein Sisters Deb and Janine are, however, generously providing a $100 yarn voucher that YOU could win as a prize draw this week in association with my Evolving Aveline Sweater Crochet-A-Long! 


The winner will be chosen by random selection via the process described below. The winner will liaise directly with Skein Sisters to choose $100 worth of any of their glorious, stocked yarns.  Awesome!  Click here to go their website and start browsing which yarns in case your entry reigns victorious.


How do you get your chance to win, and can you have more than one chance?  I thought you would never ask…



To be eligible for the prize draw to win $100 of free yarn:


Before midnight AEST Thursday 16th May 2024:


This provides 1 entry (your Ravelry name). This means anyone who has already bought the pattern automatically goes in the draw with 1 entry.  

For an additional 10 entries do all of the following: 

  • post a WIP pic on Instagram &/or Facebook of your Evolving Aveline project

  • include your Ravelry account name (this is needed so I can add 10 more entries to your Ravelry name), and

  • tag & follow Peppergoose on the relevant platform.



For an additional 20 entries you need to be using Bellissimo Lucca for your Evolving Aveline project (or a suitable substitute yarn that’s available from Skein Sisters) and do all of the following:

  • post a WIP pic of your Evolving Aveline project on IG &/or FB, 

  • name the yarn you are using, 

  • include your Ravelry account name (this is needed so I can add 20 more entries to your Ravelry name) and

  • tag & follow both Skein Sisters and Peppergoose. (If you don't tag Peppergoose then I can't see it, so make sure you do that, or your entry won't count).


This means if you haven’t already purchased the Evolving Aveline Sweater pattern you still have this week to do it and post your WIP pic on socials and optimise your chances to win!


I will allocate numbers to all your entries via an excel spreadsheet then use a random number generator to select the winner.  I will contact the winner through their Ravelry email associated with their pattern purchase, then announce on socials.  Voilá!

3 women in group photo at a crochet conference

Before I go, I want to say a huge thank you to Skein Sisters Deb and Janine for their support and generosity to sponsor a prize voucher of free yarn in support of my Evolving Aveline Sweater CAL, and for sponsoring the Bellissimo Lucca used for Jane Downey’s test project.


As always, you can browse Peppergoose patterns on Ravelry here.  Thank you so much  for your support and stay tuned for next week’s story by subscribing here


Happy stitching!


Susannah (Peppergoose )












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