Category Archives: knitting tourism

Let’s go

Yesterday I arrived in Portland just in time for the sun to go down, after a looooooong afternoon spanning all the time zones between Toronto and Portland. I was lucky enough to be on a direct flight which I was halfway convinced was actually just an illusion and that partway through the Captain would come out and tell us we were actually going to be making stops in Denver and Honolulu and would arrive in Portland sometime next Tuesday, but no. It turned out that there were other knitters on the plane as well, which was even better. I chatted a bit with Sandi Wiseheart and we waited for our bags while comparing Designer Angst Stories, and shared a taxi. So that surely bodes well for the trip, I think?

July28-Sandi

Then when I met up with my Vancouver roommates, they told their tales of the train, it turns out Meg shared a seat with Anna Zilboorg for a large portion of her journey. As one does.

I think this must be just how Sock Summit IS, though. So many knitters are converging from so many places that we may be flooding the channels a bit. The US customs agent who saw me couldn’t have looked less interested when I told him my reason for travel was to take a weekend of knitting workshops. I think a few earlier SS fliers may have broken in the Customs agents before me. I thank them. (And I really do think it’s a shame that all the Americans coming to Sock Summit will not have that experience – I think every knitter should have the rite of passage of having to explain to a US border guard that their reason for travel is knitting.)

And now Day 1 is about to start, and I’m going to have another rite of passage – pretending to have had a full night’s sleep when about to start a full day class with Cat Bordhi. It’s going to be awesome.

Catch you with more tales next time!

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Just the right age for this, actually

Yesterday marked another year of the Toronto TTC Knitalong, an event that has changed hands from one set of organizers to another over time, and sees a slightly different yarn shop landscape every year in the city, but has been going strong for four or five years now. It is an excuse to roam the city as knitters, shopping and knitting and generally raising the visibility of the craft as we go. The participant fees contribute mostly to a hefty charitable donation to Sistering, a local women’s charity, and mostly it’s just a good time and an excuse to be part of a roving band of knitters for the day. And we lucked out and got a sunny hot day that wasn’t quite so hot as to be mimicking the face of the sun, so that was a bonus.

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Along with Lisa, I was a captain for the Red Team this year, which started in the north end of the city at Passionknit, stopping at Mary Maxim and then Knitomatic before finishing at Romni Wools. Many of the shops offered discounts or prize draws, which was an added bonus and extra bit of enabling. (I very nearly had a falling down in front of the Malabrigo Chunky in Romni Wools, then came to my senses. Though I did emerge with a bit more Cascade 220 and Royal Alpaca by the end of the day). And then we had beer afterwards, and lo, it was good. Team Red was a pretty awesome team (not that I’m biased), and I know a lot of folks went home smiling with a lot of new purchases, and even some new Works in Progress on the needles.

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It is always a lot of fun doing things like this, because you can go around for the day completely immersed in Knitting World, without actually leaving the Real World of the city. You get to be among your own kind (with whom you can say things like “hey I almost lost it in front of the Malabrigo Chunky over there”, and they will know exactly what you mean, or they will not blink an eye if you do things like read a pattern on your cell phone in one hand while casting on with the other), and yet you don’t have to retreat to the woods to reach said Knitting World. It’s like day camp for knitters.

The other fun part about this is encountering the reaction from non-knitters, because in using streetcars and subways to get around on a Saturday (or even walking around), while also knitting (because a lot of knitters plan ahead and bring projects they can work on while standing or riding transit), and while carrying bright red tote bags…uh, well…we get noticed.

We had an interesting bit of chatter with one guy on the streetcar who was genuinely curious what it was that we were doing (he wondered if we had arranged to have a team on every single streetcar/subway in the city), and we explained about the knitting and the shopping and the charity and the fun. He nodded and seemed to think this was reasonable, but then commented that we “seemed a bit young to be knitters.” We explained to him that, no, actually knitters come in all ages and in fact some of the fastest growing age demographics in knitting are the young adults.

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It is easy, immersed in knitting world and only sharing our craft with other knitters, to forget that some people actually experience this world as brand new information. It always seems like people should have caught on by now, that everyone should know by now that knitting world is actually pretty big, is located everywhere, and lived by people in all walks of life. Sometimes, you need to go out with a big group of knitters and pull out your knitting in the middle of a busy subway, just to make sure that everyone knows that, just in case they’ve forgotten – because they sometimes forget.

And really, we are all, in fact, just the right age for this.

Happy knitting this Sunday! Wherever you are.

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Departures

Vancouver, you’re all right. But I mean, we knew that, right? We got the memo on the west coast awesomeness. But I’m glad to have verified that for myself. The air is just different out here. The west coast is paradoxical in many ways – prosperous but socially polarized, expensive but sustainably-minded, and yet I still come away thinking that it’s the west that’s going to save us. People out here care about stuff. (Which isn’t to say that people out east don’t, of course. I think being surrounded by oceans and mountains every day must translate something different, perhaps.)

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I capped off my visit yesterday with a day of walking – the park, the downtown, the art gallery (awesome and trippy exhibit involving a mirror of mazes) and a bit of visiting with Meg, who was fresh from the awesomeness of Madrona knitting weekend and happy to chat about knitterly things. Erin has been a lovely host and made sure I saw lots of the city, though I admit this also feels as though I have eaten the entire city, so maybe one makes the other possible. There were also a lot of conversations about Sock Summit (I met both of them there 2 years ago) and our hopes to attend, learn, volunteer, and continue the path of knitting world domination in general.

Feb19-BaaadAnnas

Knitting-wise, Vancouver has much to recommend it. I only made it to 2 knitting shops but they were wonderful. Baaad Anna’s (love the name) in Hastings Sunrise is small but well curated, and friendly. And sarcastic. (See above). I came away with some pottery mugs and whimsical buttons.

Sunday dawned with anticipation of a yarn shop visit as well as brunch with Erin’s knitting friends, who were all fabulous and whose names I am going to forget right now, but take my word for it that it was a great brunch, both for the food and the company. (Seriously, go to Burgoo. Do not pass go, go directly to the delicious piles of food).

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We carried on to Three Bags Full, which is a remarkable little shop. Several local yarns along with a very sturdy selection of standby pics – possibly the best selection of Cascade 220 I’ve seen outside of Romni Wools in Toronto, which is saying something. I had a falling down in front of the Noro Silk Garden and came away with a sweater’s worth, but someone had to take that hit for the team since I learned that all four of the other ladies were on a stash diet. (They’re also all waiting to see who goes out first. Heh.)

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And today it’s back on a plane again and back to reality, but it’s been a slice and I’ve got new yarn, a bunch of knitting progress, and 2 pounds of Vancouver coffee coming back with me to prove it. Thanks, west coast, let’s do it again some time!

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I am the knitting

You know, that was a nice weekend. It really was. I would do it all over again next weekend if I could. (Or maybe next month or so – gimme a chance to do laundry and expand the travel budget first, and catch up on sleep). It is always the case that I feel this way after a knitting weekend of any kind, and I am often left pondering the exact reasons why. Part of it is quite simply the getaway factor – a weekend away as a tourist in another city for any reason is cause enough for relaxation and rejuvenation. People need breaks. Knitters need knitting time.

Jan24-KnittingAftermath

Learning from knitters is pretty great. Everyone has a different style, everyone wants you to walk away as a better or more confident knitter than when you came in, everyone is as passionate about knitting as you could hope them to be. To me it always feels like I leave with a better sense of how my current knowledge fits in, in context to the wider realm of Knitting that is out there. This weekend I learned a new way of holding my yarns when knittng colour-work, a toe-up gusset and heel, and a scadload of tips that were either unfamiliar or gave a name to something that was familiar to me but previously un-named, and that is awesome.

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I do love that this weekend’s event was held in New York City. I have enjoyed visiting it in the past and I enjoyed visiting it again. I’m sure there were conveniences and inconveniences of this location for Vogue Knitting, but I do love that all of these classes were being held just steps (STEPS) away from Broadway, the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, the Guggenheim, and so many other places of creativity and expression and design that New York City is known for. Yesterday was my last day (though my room-mate Lisa continued on with 2 more classes yesterday and another overnight in the hotel, lucky duck), and it happened that I didn’t fly out until late afternoon, so I had an entire free morning, and so I took myself on up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. May I say, if you should ever find yourself with a free Sunday morning in New York City, you could do a hell of a lot worse than hanging out at the Met. I walked up through Central Park (wistfully observing the joggers), was just about the third person in the door after it opened, and was all but alone with the Tiffany glass in the American Wing before the steady flow of the day’s tourists began to come in. And my 2 days’ worth of knitting workshops were still rolling around in my head as I strolled past the exhibits and it was great. It got me thinking about that never-solved question about whether knitting sits within the realm of craft or art, with the bonus of learning a bit of Greek and Roman history through sculpture.

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Later on in the afternoon when I was waiting in Newark Airport to board my plane, I messaged my friend Liz (to check in on her Buffy the Vampire Slayer viewing, since she’s just now hitting Season 6 and well, Things Happen in that season that a person sometimes needs to talk out, you know how that is), and reported that I did classes with Meg Swansen, Jared Flood, Anne Hanson, and Cookie A, and got to visit the MoMA and the Met again on top of it all, and she messaged back to say “Oh fun! Behold the healing powers of crowds of knitters! Plus art!” And you know, that really does sum it all up.

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Because really, screw the either-or scenario. Knitting is both art and craft and we know it. I think this must be where the whole idea of ‘design’ fits in – combining form and function without sacrificing either one. A lampshade is a lampshade and it takes craftsmanship to make it function well, but in the form of a piece from the Tiffany glass studio, it is also art. It is most beautiful to look at when the lamp itself is lit up, being used for its functional purpose. In the best possible scenario, this is what knitters are doing. When you wear a sweater that you have made to fit you well, as a result of a series of creative decisions on the part of the designer combined with your decisions as the knitter executing it to fit your own body, you are making something that is going to keep you warm at the same time as being pleasing to look at, and that is a fantastic thing. There are really a very limited number of practical reasons why we need eleventy-million different ways of working an increase or constructing a sock. But we DO have eleventy-million different ways of doing these things, because we are constantly applying our skills in new and exciting ways that will not sacrifice our pleasure to do so.

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We name things as artistic when we want to draw attention to them as things we want to look at and admire over and over again, because when we looked at them the first time, they made us respond in some way that was thoughtful or emotional or satisfying. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t cast on for a sweater or shawl without knowing that I want to look at it over and over again. I suppose this is what makes knitting seem both intimidating and encouraging at the same time.

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All I want to do now, of course, is knit a sweater. It’s rough returning to the regular routine this week, but at the same time it makes it all the more of a relief to have knitting to return to at the end of the day. Can’t wait for the next knitting weekend on the horizon. Happy Monday, stay warm and keep the knitting close by!

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Knitting tourists have more fun

I’m spending this weekend at the Vogue Knit Live event in New York City, the first event of it’s kind from VK (but as we already know, not the last – they are planning more), and it’s been a lovely getaway so far. Fellow Toronto area knitter Lisa is my partner in crime, who emailed me up last August and said “hey, I’m pretty much thinking about going to this,” and I could see no logical reason not to join in. Knitting workshops AND a weekend in New York? Sign me up.

It’s a fun time in all the exact same ways that going to a weekend of knitting workshops is fun (learned a bunch of increase methods from Meg Swansen, check. Bought some sock yarn, check. Exchanged Ravelry usernames and met some new friends, check. Compared Eddie Izzard jokes with Fiona Ellis, check check), except that there is the bonus of being able to run off to the MoMA or walk through Central Park on your lunch break, because all of New York City is right there too.

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Every time I attend a knitting event, I feel as though my general foundation of knitting knowledge is elevated, but more than that I always come away with a better appreciation for the depth and breadth of knowledge there exists within the world of knitting, and the capacity of knitters to explore it to the degree that fascinates them. Geek on, knitters, geek on.

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There’s one more day of adventures for me today, so I’m going to get back out there and make the most of it. Catch you on the flip side, knitter friends!

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East Bay

So far, California is going well. Of course, it’s only been about 24 hours or so, and the majority of my waking hours so far have been in a try-to-pretend-I’m-not-jet-lagged sort of state, but still. There has been yarn, and food, and that takes care of two major necessities right there.

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Liz picked me up from the airport and promptly trucked me off towards the East Bay area, with an afternoon itinerary that began with fried chicken sandwiches at Bakesale Betty’s. I don’t think I need to tell you that they were delicious. I do regret to tell you that we did not follow them up with the strawberry shortcake, which might have killed us bit it would have been a tasty death all the same. We then walked down the street for a visit to Article Pract, which is verily a lovely LYS. Their selection leaves very little to be desired, and it is a cosy spot.

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I couldn’t decide on a yarn selection but I did add to my stitch dictionary collection, which is awesome, and then we continued on to a stop at A Verb for Keeping Warm. I’d heard plenty about them from the knitting podcasts and even glimpsed their stall at the Sock Summit market last year, but this was my first up close and personal experience with them. It was not disappointing!

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The yarns are mostly their own beautifully dyed selection, and they are very helpful in suggesting potential ways to use them. They are also soon to be moving to a larger store space which sounds like it will be an amazing opportunity.

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I made my yarn purchases here, and I am glad I did (as it turned out, our third stop on the yarn tour was closed). I got some deep purple fingering weight to nudge me somewhere into the fingering weight sweater kick, and a lovely pale teal shade of cashmere-infused sock yarn which I would like to turn into knee socks. It will be nice for pondering this fall.

Today calls for leisurely hanging out time, tomorrow is driving to San Diego, and Sunday is Comic Con. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. More later!

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There and back

I spent this past weekend on a family trip to Edmonton, for the occasion of my grandfather’s 95th birthday. There was much visiting, and of course a party with several relatives – most of my relatives from my father’s side of the family still live in that area. It was a pretty good time, and Grandpa is doing very well as a 95-year-old. Let’s all try to be so lucky, no?

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We managed to sneak in some time to visit some yarn shops – namely, River City Yarns, which has two locations. I’d looked up the Downtown location, and we visited there first, only to discover that the South side location was actually infinitely closer to my aunt’s house, and so we visited that spot too.

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The two locations have some stock in common but differ in others. I think I liked the South location a bit more, purely for yarn selection purposes (I was rather taken by the Lorna’s Laces selection, and the beautiful displays of Louet yarns), but staff in both locations were friendly and helpful.

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While in Edmonton I managed to knit sock #1 of the pair I’m working on for my grandfather (2.5mm needles, 76 sts, for a man’s Size 12 foot – erk), and I’ll carry on with that this week along with the Bridgewater shawl, which happily now has a complete garter stitch section for the middle.

Onwards with the week! Happy knitting as usual.

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