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Toronto Saturday: Yarn Crawl

torontoprimrosehotel.jpg(I’m not sure how I can do a better job of telling the Saturday story than Stephanie/Yarn Harlot, but at least I have different photos!!!)

Saturday morning came too soon, with not enough sleep under our belts but full enthusiasm for what was to come.

We tried to find a Tim Horton’s (Canadian donut/coffee place) for Rae, we had seen what felt like one on each block the day before. No luck. I brought food with me, not too exciting but it was fuel. I needed to mail a package and there was a Canada Post office in a drug store on the next block so we handled that right away, then we headed to the subway to meet other knitters for a Yarn Crawl.

torontogardens.jpgWe never did find that Tim Hortons, that is not until after dinner when we walked down the same street and it was staring us in the face. That’s life.

[Photos above were taken in front of the post office. I stood in one place and took both shots, by just aiming at a slightly different angle. First is the hotel where we stayed thanks to Rae’s adept use of Priceline, and second is a garden/park where locals were walking dogs, or chatting on benches. This is in the midst of very tall buildings, and a wonderful breath of fresh air. Lovely.]

torontobarbio.jpgOn the way to our first stop we found ourselves at the Eaton Centre food court and got tea and coffee and breakfast for Rae. This is when I took the photo I posted a few days ago. Then we headed to Naked Sheep, the first of many shops.[Here is a good photo of my new friend Barbie O. of Montreal in the Naked Sheep… extolling the virtues of yarn, knitting, Toronto and friendship.]

torontobunny.jpgI was not in the market for yarn (I know this seems incredible, but the trip was a spur of the moment trip and I am also traveling to Columbus next week so there was little wiggle room in the spending plan). Rae had a guideline that she would only buy items not available in Michigan. We got to Naked Sheep a bit late so the crowd was nearly ready to go. We did check around but did not purchase anything there. I fell in love with some Colinette Point Five (lumpy bumpy) in candy colors but left it there for someone else.

We enjoyed talking to the ladies working there, and got a good photo of the bunny who belonged to one of them. Very very fuzzy bunny. You can spin yarn with one of these on your lap… you just gently pluck their fuzz (they like this, it’s grooming and not painful or bad for them) and then spin it, then pluck a little more… and they just sit there happily on your lap. No, I haven’t done it but I’ve watched…

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We posed for a “class photo” outside Naked Sheep and proceeded to the next stop via Trolley. We crammed in like happy knitting sardines in the back half of a car. It’s the transit/waiting times which allow us to build relationship, and we did. The rest of the world left us fully alone, which was odd but then again we were a bit loud as well as wielding pointy sticks (never mind how constructively in use). We enjoyed our bonding time.

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Next stop was Americo Original. This place was more like an art gallery than a yarn shop, with the yarns handspun and made of fun fibers (silk, cotton, wool, llama from what I noticed). Very interesting handspuns.

torontoamericoyarn.jpg

I liked the turquoise bobble yarn best. Stephanie was right when she commented that it would make good scribble lace. Someday I’ll get some and make scribbles. I love scribble lace… but again, I was on the low-cost version of the yarn crawl and handspun is not in the low-cost realm. I was quite content to drink in the ambiance and creativity there. Wonderful.

THEN we walked to Romni Wools. Brian and I discovered this shop quite by accident in January of 2002, and he bought me so much yarn that day (as a delayed Christmas present) that I doubled my stash in one day. Remember, I only started knitting socks in spring of 2001 and I was exercising restraint, only yarn for a few pairs of socks ahead of my current project.

torontoamericoinside.jpgThat day I went home with three bags of yarn, including cones (they have a basement with cones by the pound). One cone became the background color for my self-portrait last summer, most of it is knit up by now except the leftover cone yarn. The place is huge and overwhelming, even for someone who has been to WEBS and who lives 10 minutes from Threadbear.

See this picture of bins stacked so you can barely walk? This is not half of the first storefront, and then there is that basement. It’s really really amazing how much yarn you can cram into a few storefronts. This place is huge. It has high ceilings, two storefronts packed to the gills (yarn falling off shelves onto the torontoromnishelves.jpgfloor wherever you go) and a basement full of by the pound cones. Also spinning goodies and finished knitted items. Wonderful. And a wall of sockyarn.

I almost got out without buying anything. Then Stephanie looked at me and picked up a ball of sockyarn. She said, “Only $5.50 a ball!” Mind you this is Canadian funds so that’s about ten percent less to me. And they were offering a ten percent discount to yarn crawlers. I showed remarkable restraint and purchased one single ball, to make footies. I did give in but it was a tiny fall, really. Right?

torontokensington1.jpgSo then we trekked again using trolleys, to Lettuce Knit which is in the wonderful Kensington Market area. I love this area, I remember it from my very first trip to Toronto in 1975. [See two photos of the streets/neighborhood here.]

There are many small shops of all sorts, many foods, many produce markets, many restaurants. On Sundays I’m told they close off the streets and fill up with even more vendors (I think that is what I remember from the 70’s).

torontokensington2.jpgWe checked out the store first, it had many quality items packed in there. We hung out in the front yard where there are many chairs. Luckily for us it was a nice day, because the shop itself is tiny (200 sq ft) but the garden had plenty of room for us all.

We all scattered for dinner with an agreement to reconvene in an hour and a half. Rae and I proceeded to find food. I had in my mind all Friday that I’d find Indian food on Saturday but it didn’t work out that way. I looked for sushi but actually I eat Smoked Salmon sashimi and not all the fun fancy rolls with sauces I can’t eat… and the place we checked out didn’t have smoked salmon.

torontolettuceknitarrival1.jpg

We ended up with something that worked for both of us… a cafe with American/burgers, Jewish food (including lox) and mideastern food. Rae got a very good burger with freshly cut fries and I got a sampler plate with mideastern treats including some of the best hummous I’ve had in a long time.

Rae found some nice yarns at this shop and I chatted with the owner, Megan, a bit. I might have enjoyed taking home a bit of yarn but again I remembered that the gift of the trip was the trip itself. We took yet another set of “class photos” as we did at every shop that day.

torontolettuceknitclass1.jpg

Then came our trolley adventure. Or rather our non-adventure. Along came a car which was out of service. Then two cars which were full. Then one we took over, whew! We occupied our time by cramming all of us into the bus shelter. There were 24 of us including a baby, and two were taking photos, but we could definitely have fit a few more in there if we wanted. It was silly and fun and funny, and I was so glad to be part of it. We all need hilarity in our lives at times, you know???

Last but not least was Alterknit. We got there at closing time and they did not flinch, did not try to get us out, were more than friendly and accommodating. They sell yarn *and* coffee/tea, and we settled in for a bit of both. I got some great tea and got out my computer but even with their password I couldn’t figure out how to get online. At that point I was too tired to worry about it, as we were going home very soon anyway.

torontoalterknitout.jpg

This store was so fun and funky and different… in the front window they had a line of sock monkeys (socks made by stuffing commercially-knit socks cut and sewn into monkey shapes… I have one from my childhood, made by my mother’s mother). Each monkey was “knitting” and the signs in the window indicated that they are easy to make but it’s harder to teach the monkey to knit. Funny!

There were some lovely yarns here, and also some interesting items made from wool. There were wrist cuffs from felted wool and T-Shirts with appliques made from felted wool as well. I am really exploring in my mind the possibilities of felted fabrics right now, so that got me thinking a bit.

torontosockmonkeys.jpgWe had to leave. I thought I’d left my good beret/hat at a shop on Friday so we went there hoping to find it. (In true LynnH fashion we found it in my car after that trek, even though we’d tried to find it in the car before we started out for the day… go figure).

In the end we took got our car back at the hotel, left the parking ramp at 8:30pm and got back to Lansing in the wee hours. I was in bed at 3:30am. We did more talking in the car than usual on the trip back so that we could keep each other alert, because I have a policy of not driving with my eyes closed and I made Rae agree to the same policy (she did not flinch). We had the MOST fun together ever. More fun than really should be possible in two days, you know? I’d do it again in a minute.

torontoalterknitinside.jpg

Thank you, Stephanie, for creating a space and culture where this sort of connection can happen. For being yourself and for opening yourself to community… for understanding the community, championing it and making sure that non-knitters see it, recognize it, and perhaps even value it. The bookstore won’t underestimate knitters again, and I am guessing our visibility will continue to grow. It was a wonderful time and we felt fully welcomed.

5 Responses to “Toronto Saturday: Yarn Crawl”

  1. Cathoo Says:

    I’m sorry you couldn’t get your internet working at the end there. You seemed frustrated with it.

    You should have asked to go to a Tim Hortons! There was one right near Lettuce Knit, and if I’d known I would have shown you.

    The Primrose (that’s where you stayed I believe) also hosts several floors of University of Toronto students during the school year (or at least it used to). Be glad came to visit at the end of May and not the end of August! Another interesting tidbit to take with you

  2. Kris Elliott Says:

    It sounds like you guys had a great time in Toronto! I will be spending next week in New York City with a high school theatre group. We do not have a whole lot of free time. Can you recommend the best yarn shop (maybe two)? I am not sure we will get there but it is nice to have a goal!

    Thanks for sharing your stories and pictures. Someday I hope I will have a chance to meet The Yarn Harlot.

    Blessings, Kris E.

  3. kristi and otis Says:

    Wow! Looks like such a fun time – sooo jealous!

  4. Pat DeLeeuw Says:

    Well, in true Linny fashion, it was easy to pick you out of the crowd!! :)
    What an adventure. Wish I had been there. I love Toronto-why can’t we do the people transport thing here ? I remember neighborhoods like that as a child. Grew up in one-very multi-ethnic (everything from Dutchmen(me),Latvians(lots in Toronto,including my best childhood friend) to Appilachians who came north to work in the paper factories. Lots of small shops with food shopping done daily(mostly by the kids in the neighborhood) and we never had to leave the neighborhood for anything we needed. I think lots of Canada is still that way-saw lots of this on our trip to Philosophers last year.
    TAKE ME NEXT TIME! And you showed great restraint in the yarn department. That always comes back to bite me. :)

  5. Priscilla Says:

    I’m stinkin jealous too! Sounds like a great trip.