Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Sick of plastic? Me too. Especially where kids toys are concerned. If that's you as well, Little Sparrow is just the toy shop for you. Popping into the newly relocated shop is like wandering into Aladdin's Cave - full of gorgeous, high quality toys (at reasonable prices) you wish you had when you were a kid - wooden puzzles, huggable handmade knitted cuddly-toys, books, paints, craft kits, balls, finger-puppets, games, teddies, rattles, even my own favourite, cuisinair rods. The knitted cuddly toys are totally gorgeous and very unique - think rhinocerouses (or is that rhinocerii?), moles, chooks, zebras, koalas - you name it, they can knit it! They even have an entire knitted farmyard animals set - eat your heart out, Old MacDonald!
Owner Shelly and her friendly knitting-legend assistant Pilgrim have stocked (or should I say, 'curated'?) Little Sparrow using Steiner education as their inspiration. Most of the toys are locally sourced or produced to be environmentally friendly. Many of them are made from natural products such as recycled wood and Australian wools, and there are lots of toys which are handmade.
Putting their money where their mouth is, Little Sparrow also runs private lessons and workshops in toy making, doll-making, crochet, machine-sewing and knitting (they have a dedicated habedashery room at the back), starting at $50 per session. Shelly runs full day workshops in how to make irresistible traditional Waldorf Dolls, but they are also happy to book private lessons on request.Check out their website or call the shop for details of their next classes.
Waldorf Dolls by Shelley - but they could be by you too if you take a class!
The toys in the shop are mostly suitable for younger children - say up to 10, though older kids and crafty teenagers may enjoy some of the craft classes. If you can't make it into the store, they also have online orders, but it's worth the visit to Balaclava just so you have an easy excuse to check out the nearby cafes while you are there!!!
Hard carved and painted wooden puzzle toys at Little Sparrow