Category Archives: knitting tourism

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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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, real life miscellaney

Hear Ye, Toronto Knitters

For knitters in the Toronto area inclined to:
a) knit in public in a group
b) travel to a bunch of yarn shops
c) experience what essentially amounts to day camp for grownups

The TTC Knitalong is back in action this year on Saturday, July 10th, and registration is now open. I’ll be tagging along as a helper/captain once again, though I don’t yet know which team.

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There will be 3 teams this year once again, in the North, Central, and East parts of the city. There is a cost of $10 (plus your own transit costs – i.e. TTC day pass purchase), and all participants receive their own TTC knitalong bag and the chance to win fabulous prizes, generously donated by the participating shops. Many of the shops will also be offering a discount to particpants! All remaining TTC Knitalong funds leftover after cost recovery will be donated to charity. Last year, Sistering was the recipient.

When you sign up, please choose a second preference as well as a first preference for the team you would like to be a part of. (a third choice would not be out of the question either.) There are limits to how many people we can reasonably fit into one yarn shop at once (especially with a few of the shops in particular), and if your first route choice has filled up quickly, you may be placed with your second choice. Keep in mind – there is a LOT of awesome yarn to be found on all of these routes! And lots of awesome company, naturally.

And if you can’t come on July 10th, you can always do your own self-planned TTC knitalong when you’re in the city with some friends. Not that I’d know anything about that, of course. Heh.

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The Best Kind of Souvenir

How many of you have ever had a friend go off on a trip somewhere and bring you back yarn as a souvenir? If you have, I think this must mean you have reached a particular stage of Knitter-dom, somewhere past the “casually enthusiastic” phase and moving towards the “obsessive level similar to that dude down the street who collects miniature frog sculptures” phase, if people going to foreign countries see yarn and think of you.

Not that there is anything wrong with this, mind you. This is what just scored me a few bits of Lopi, direct from Iceland itself.

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My friend Kate who works as a travel agent just got back from a sponsored excursion to Iceland (her flights both narrowly missed airport closure dates – and it sounds like the country in general has a moderate struggle ahead of them as far as generating tourism post-ash cloud), and by all accounts had an awesome time. She also went looking for souvenirs and had a few moments of “Hm, they don’t sell snow globes here. But hey, there’s yarn! I know people who like yarn!” And so she gathered up this handful for me – 3 skeins each of Lopi and Lopi Lite, in beautiful colours.
I have never worked with Lopi before, but clearly I have to find something to make with this. Perhaps even something felted. Or with a few more skeins added in to increase the range. It will ponder in my stash for a bit.

The pattern booklet is wonderful. It is written entirely in Icelandic. So far I have been able to figure the notations for stitch counts, gauge, and needle size pretty easily (they are metric), although anything past that and I may go looking for an Icelandic-to-English dictionary.

What’s the best knitting souvenir someone’s ever gotten for you?

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Knitter’s Frolic

Well, the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic was this past weekend, and what can I say, it was a good time. I went down on Saturday with my mom and my friend Rebecca who came to visit this weekend from the wilds of NYC. Needless to say, she is going home with a bit of Canadian yarn, and we thank her for single-handedly attempting to support the southern Ontario-and-environs yarn related economy. Someone has to do it.

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Not that I didn’t do a bit of damage myself, mind you. These goodies from left to right came from Van Der Rock Yarns, Indigodragonfly, Tanis Fiber Arts, and some Madelinetosh sock which is now happily being carried by the Naked Sheep. I also snagged a couple more skeins of semi-solid sock yarn from the Sweet Sheep, because I’m trying to expand my semi-solid sock yarn stash. For some reason whenever I go to look for some I don’t seem to have as much as I would like.

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It was a pretty hopping day, that’s for sure. In previous years I seem to recall having just a titch more elbow room, but I think we may have finally gotten as many knitters as possible into that space. There was a wonderful group of vendors there, and it never fails to impress me that there can be so many people dyeing yarn and nobody’s looks exactly the same as anybody else’s. Pretty cool, man.

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Thanks for the Saturday, Toronto! Let’s do it again some time.

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Yarn Tourism

Well, nothing says “let’s celebrate being almost-done with Grading Fest ’10 and try to forget the fact that I am most likely going to be unemployed soon” like thinking about recent yarn purchases and knitting tourism, right? Right. I thought so.

Let me say how singularly fortuitous it is to have been visiting with a knitter who is not only awesome in her own right but lives within walking distance of two fantastic yarn shops. In less than 12 hours from arriving in DC, Elspeth had brought me to Fibre Space (and look! they spell it the right way just like Canadians do! Hurrah!)

Apr18-FiberSpace

It really is a lovely store. Elspeth referred to it as ‘well edited’, and I see what she meant – there are no superfluous yarns, nothing you’d consider out-of-place or less worthy of shelf space. I enjoyed browsing through and it was a nice collection of some familiar yarns and some others I don’t tend to find in the Canadian shops. (You’d be surprised how hard it is to walk into a yarn shop and encounter things you haven’t seen in a store before. After a while things really start to blur.)

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I splurged on four delicious skeins of yarn. Two (above) generous skeins of Neighbourhood Fiber Company worsted, because I couldn’t decide between the two – 400 yards or so each ought to be enough for something fun, I’m thinking possibly gloves and hats. It will need some pondering.

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And I couldn’t walk away without giving a glance towards the Madelinetosh tosh sock, a yarn which I am quickly becoming enamoured of. I am enjoying the semi-solid tones and they had a couple of options in the darker range of the palette that I am looking to expand into a bit more. I tend to opt for the jewel tones and purples and teals, and both of these are a nice change of pace.

We also spent an enjoyable knit-night at Knit Happens, which I was also fortunate enough to visit on my trip out to DC last winter. Still friendly, still an enjoyable sock yarn selection – a skein of Dream in Color Starry MAY have come home with me.

But speaking of the Madelinetosh tosh sock, I will give you a little snap of my finished sock for the Socks Revived contest (whose deadline, incidentally, has been extended into May), which I finished while at Knit Happens. I’ll be sure to tell you more about these in my next post, if you haven’t already seen them up on Ravelry.

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Catch you next time. Hug some yarn for me today!

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Filed under design, knitting tourism, socks

Field Trip

On Sunday my friend Kim invited me for a road trip to a teeny tiny local spot called Jordan Station. It’s in the middle of Niagara wine country here in Ontario and if I’m being completely honest, I’d never even heard of it before a few months ago when Sherry mentioned it as a place to check out.

Lo and behold, despite the rainy weekend, it was a nice little visit – yarn shop and fibre shop, and even a stop at a local cheesemaker before heading back out. I’d like to go back some time in the summer and combine it with a bit of winery tourism. After all, what else do you need if you’ve got knitting needs and wine taken care of?

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The Fibre Guy was our first stop. It’s a lovely spot – the first floor of a house filled as far as possible with spinning fibre, spinning supplies, and hand-dyed yarn. I think when I’m back there next I am going to have to take a closer look at the silk/seacell laceweight, because dang that looked pretty darned awesome.

But I did happen to get drawn in to some brilliant magenta roving which turned out to be on sale (go me), and there was no shortage of tempting things to browse at.

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Also, their dog Rusty will greet you like he was wondering why you took so long to get there.

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Just down the street was another little shop, a yarn and quilting supply store appropriately named Stitch. After a few minutes of browsing I immediately began to wish I lived closer because I’ll be the Stitch n’ Bitch nights are pretty awesome. The sitting and teaching area in the back also includes a fireplace.

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They carry a nice selection including Berroco, Malabrigo, Manos del Uruguay, Rowan, Americo, and many others. I wasn’t going to buy anything but then I saw the Ultra Alpaca, and that same brilliant magenta shade was amongst the selection, so I had to go for it. (One wonders at the stash colour urges and calendar progression…I wonder if it is spring fever that is pushing me towards the brilliant colours.)

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All in all, a fabulous excursion. Will have to be repeated!

Around these parts the sunshine has returned again in full force, and I’m starting to feel like spring might just be around the corner after all. Winter has been rather modest around these parts but all the same, the daylight hours are getting longer and the idea of spending time outside is that much more pleasant.

Happy knitting this fine Wednesday!

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A New York Day in Pictures

Conclusions after (this trip’s) first full day in New York: Guggenheim is awesome, Kandinsky had it going on, Knitty City remains awesome, and there is more delicious food available than one person can reasonably consume. But then, I suppose, I knew that already. Still, confirmation is always a plus, right? Right. On with Day Two.

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