knit | look | sew

The Nicholas Building

May 28, 2015

Thank you dear readers for your wonderful advice on sock knitting fastly (as Our Dear Girl used to say). All the patterns you recommended have been gathered together in my Ravelry favourites section using the new bundle feature…best ever sock resource!

2015-05-28 19.42.51Now one good turn deserves another, so I thought I would share with you a very special part of ol’ Melbourne town, should you visit one day.

IMG_0528The Nicholas Building is a Melbourne institution but it is very easy to miss or forget about for years, then remember it has the very thing that you need.

Nicholas_BuildingImage by Stephen Bain, 2009 Wikicommons

Those police cars were still there when I popped in last week, six years after this pic was taken!

Built in 1926, on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane, it was very splendid once. The architect was Harry Norris but the building is named for the building company who made it.

Influenced by the design of commercial buildings in America, the Nicholas Building adopts a Renaissance palazzo form with mannered Greek revival styling in its facade treatment. 

I have no idea what that means but it is rather grand although somewhat faded now. The Nicholas Building used to be a significant commercial building, there was a Coles on the ground floor and lots of offices. Now, it full of artists and artisans and tiny specialty shops.

IMG_0529That was the ground level, now up the stairs.

IMG_0534Beaut wee corners down dark corridors.

IMG_0533This is the directory for level two.

IMG_0539Here we are.

IMG_0535Buttonmania! Its front doors belie the treasures within. Look at this!

IMG_0536It is the kind of place where you tell the proprietor, Kate Boulton, the kind of button you are looking for. You describe it in words or take in the garment with you. Then, something very magical happens. Kate considers for a moment, says ‘I think I might have something that would suit’, goes to a drawer, pulls out a tiny bag and shows you the exact buttons you need. First time! The customers after me had a similar experience. It is witchcraft I am sure.

I also needed some grosgrain to face a steek but all I could find were polyester ones which seemed a shame to put on wool. So I popped in to L’uccello, a haberdashery emporium of sorts.

IMG_0541They had vintage grosgrain made of cotton in exactly the shade I needed…

IMG_0540…of course they did!

IMG_0543I also bought some vintage silk taffetta ribbon for a stowaway gift for Our Dear Girl.

IMG_0531On the way down the sad old stairs, I browsed in a second clothes store and found a ladies’ wool kilt from Scotland. It fitted and as we all know, that is destiny…so I bought it.

IMG_0544Do pop into the Nicholas Building if you are in Melbourne town. Street level chain stores obscure the marvellous experience awaiting you…but you know that now!

Next post, I will show you what I did with the wee green buttons and grosgrain.

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  1. it is a really dangerous building and i love the old lifts a bit scary when you get in to them are they going to work or not but just great. I try not to go their too often easy to spend money I really don’t need to spend glad you were able to get all and more there. I did not know Coles had been on the ground floor, i cant remember that. it was the wool shop on the side underneath I used to love cant remember its name but they used to have great yarn YEARS ago. wish I could remember what mum told me about it.

  2. Loved the photos of this beautiful building and the wonderful shops you were in. The designs in the ceilings and entrance remind me of art deco style or Frank Lloyd Wright….beautiful. Glad the building is filled with artists and independent shops. Joan

  3. That really looks like my kind of shopping experience. We don’t have a wonderful building like that here but the shops that sell haberdashery are all of the ‘you have to ask for what you want’ kind and when you buy something they wrap it in paper very carefully like a gift… no little paper or plastic bags. I love it!

  4. What a gorgeous virtual shopping experience! I particularly loved your pic of the ground floor interior with its arcades and cupolas (not sure if that’s the right term…) – looks an all round wonderful place.
    Those sock pics are so tempting….but, alas, I know that I’m a real oddy and just don’t like wearing handknitted sox. I’ve learned this from the bitter experience of wasting hours knitting beautiful sox, and then leaving them languishing in the drawer. In the end I gave them away. Wish somebody could tell me where I’m going wrong!

  5. Oh wow! The buttons! My local craft store offers 10 types of buttons that haven’t changed in three years that I’ve been here 🙂 I feel like I would be stuck in Nicholas building for a whole day!

  6. The next time I have a day in lieu from work that is exactly what I will do. I’ll pop into the Nicholas Building and find pockets of joy for my soul. I used to go there when Vali Myers had her studio there… a very very special place. xoxo

  7. Ooohhh!!! Such a place is a place of magic! The buttons alone would have been perfect but a kilt, grosgrain ribbons…. do such places really exist? So pleased you have found all these wonderful things and I look forward to finding out just where the grosgrain ribbon and buttons will be.

  8. Such a beautiful old building…perhaps people who love it could convince the owner to remove the billboard from the roof…such an affront to her beauty!
    I’ve just found your blog and have been enjoying it…thanks.

  9. A magnificent building full of the right stuff. Thanks for sharing the sock resource; I can see a second pair on my sticks soon.

  10. Love the Stitch Surfer sock…but you knew I would…ORANGE 🙂
    The Nicholas Bldg was very interesting/beautiful and then I saw the Subway and 7 Eleven sign on the front! However your tour redeemed it. Buttons and Haberdashery, oh my and then a KILT to boot! Great purchases.
    So, over 4 million Melburnians…….a cultural force to be reckoned with 🙂 Then there are the Australian Dance styles…the Bush Dance which (among a few mentioned)
    was drawn from the Eng, Irish, Scottish and European dance forms. Not what I was expecting when I saw the term. Indigenous AU Dance was what I was thinking of. Great fun tour, thanks.

  11. How wonderful to shop for buttons and ribbons, found in wonderful stores, located in a grand old building. And to top it off a surprise kilt too. A happy shopping day indeed.

  12. I do love the Nicholas Building. It is also home to Collected Works, a glorious little bookshop devoted to poetry. My partner has had several book launches there.

  13. Very nice post! I love virtual shopping with you, but next time we must stop for virtual tea. Adding that to my virtual wishlist here at needle & spindle.

  14. That looks like my kind of building! If only Melbourne wasn’t so far away. I find old buttons irresistible.

    (I owe you an email, apologies for the delay, I’ve been rather preoccupied with the grandbaby.)

  15. I was certain I’d commented on this post but apparently not! A lovely roundup of a beautiful building – thank you for sharing and the timely reminder to go visit the Nicholas. It’s been far too long.

    Pea green with envy over your wonderful tartan find too! Wear often and with glee.

  16. Born in Melbourne, I am 56 years old and have never been into the Nicholas building. Thank you for taking me there Rebecca and I will take myself there in person soon.

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