Category Archives: yarn stores

The weekend in knitting

This past weekend, I:

1. Did not let the bulky cabled hat idea get the better of me, and got pleasant results on attempt #4. It turned out to be not at all what I was planning when I started with attempt #1, but sort of morphed its way there, as knitting sometimes does. (I’m writing it up. Also, that Sweet Georgia chunky holds up well to ripping-out and re-knitting, I’m here to report.)

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2. Visited the Purple Purl for their 5th anniversary festivities on Saturday. May all such fabulous yarn shops thrive for 5 years and well beyond! Happy birthday, Purple Purl.

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3. Learned that the “icing sandwich” is a completely valid method of eating a cupcake, especially if they are mini ones.

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4. Taught some fabulous and friendly knitters at Ewe Knit, the newest yarn shop in the Toronto knitting community. They are well stocked and, if the classes I have taught there are anything to go by, have quite a few enthusiastic (nay, fearless) knitters already.

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5. Started some chunky mitts for a class sample at the Purl, and hot damn if these don’t go by fast. I think the cuff took me half an hour. Every winter I ask myself why I don’t knit more with chunky yarn, and every time I fail to come up with a solid answer. This stuff is warm and fast!

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It was a busy weekend and I’m looking forward to some cozy knitting time this evening.

Happy knitting this Monday! May you have a fun project and a refreshing beverage waiting for you at home.

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Filed under cables, design, teaching, yarn stores

Adventures in yarn world

So, if you were staring at a display of Noro Kureyon, and there was a cubby half-filled with yellowish-green/pink/purple #221, and one lone skein of yellow/green/pink #95 (you can go ahead and look at the colours on that link, I’ll wait) that you were trying to locate as one of the several single-skein oddballs to pull and re-house…do you think you’d be able to do that? This weekend I learned that, as it turns out, I can do that, and continue to be impressed and amazed at the tiny bits of yarn and knitting knowledge that stack up in one’s brain, lying in wait until who knows when. (It turns out that little tiny challenges like this occur with other Noro colourways, and with other yarns. Yarn world, you so crazeh.)

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In other words, I spent Friday through Sunday pinch-hitting as yarn shop staff at the Purple Purl, and it was great fun. Turns out I am also at least moderately capable of minding a cash register and making lattes, and I gained a bit more of a sense of what it is like to be behind the scenes in yarn world. Everyone shops an LYS a bit differently, with different yarns and patterns (or not) in mind, and it was a great learning experience to be on the shop floor like that.

So much of the weekend passed by in a blur that when I took out my camera to see what I’d actually remembered to take pictures of, I was delighted to find these ones of Toronto knitter and fellow shop pinch-hitter Jen, who was knitting the greatest socks on Saturday and Sunday. (And yes, she was working two-at-a-time, and yes, she was knitting them standing up.)

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These are her leftovers socks – everyone who saw them wanted to know what she was doing because they were turning out just that awesome. She is making these with her leftover sock yarn, doing chunks of colour, then alternating 2-3 rows of two colours in the transitional points of switching to a new colour, and so on. They were awesome. She said she has plans for other colour combinations based on her leftovers.

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She inspired at least one other shopper to buy hat-making yarn to do the same approach, I can report. It does make one wonder what treasures might be waiting at home in the stash, even in the baskets of oddballs. Don’t discount the odds and ends, man, they’ll surprise you.

I hope you’re keeping well this week, and that your December knitting is going at a good pace. One other thing I learned this weekend is that, if you should happen to be embarking on a whirlwind of gift knitting? You are really, really not alone. As for me, I’m settling in with a big mug of tea (or three) and hunkering down with some deadline knitting. December is a big get ‘er done month for me, and I’m going to show the knitting who’s boss. (I hope it turns out to be me.)

Happy Tuesday! And happy knitting as always.

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Filling the well

Well knitting friends, Sock Summit has come and gone for a second time. Good times were had by all, though I can attest that about 99% of us were pretty much saturated by Sunday. I think a naptime section of the Oregon Convention Centre would go over big. Maybe just a few sleeping mats and pillows in 20 minute spurts, you know? To let the knowledge sink in and the fatigue pass for a few minutes. But all in all, I think the fatigue is okay when you know you’ve been doing lots of mingling and learning and knitting and thinking, and this was a pretty awesome event. Steph and Tina and all the ST-1 and ST-2 team members deserve all the adulation in the world.

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It was bigger than the first time around but no less significant, and I am always impressed at how easy it is to “run into” knitters you know even when you are in such a big group. There were knitters all over the airport and on my flight to San Francisco (I am carrying on the vacation a few more days, taking the liberty while I’m already on the west coast), and it turned out that I spent the end of my Sock Summit trip much the same way it began – in an airport with Sandi Wiseheart. We knitted and chatted about our classes and thought about Knitting and Related Plans, and it was good. Sometimes I think events like this are the best purely for the non-event times, because when else do you get thrown in the path of knitters at such regular and like-minded intervals?

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On the last day of Sock Summit I attended a lecture with Fiona Ellis, and spent the rest of the day mingling around the marketplace, and getting to do two things I didn’t do last time at Sock Summit. One was to visit an actual real live yarn shop in Portland (you know, actually leaving the marketplace at the convention centre and going to a store. Whoa, man. Michele (thanks, Michele!) offered to drive me to her spot which is Twisted – and it is indeed an awesome shop.

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It is a pretty brilliantly arranged space – they have managed to create a shop that feels both big and small at the same time, is lit perfectly to show off all the colourful yarn, AND they have a great selection of materials – both yarn and tools. They also had one of the most fantastic bulletin board posting I have ever seen. Check this out and even if you can’t see all the notes, you can get the idea:

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These are all swatches knitted by folks at the shop, all with the exact same needle size, yarn, number of stitches and rows, and the same swatch style (flat, with garter at the edges). And you know what? Not only did none of them achieved the exact gauge written on the ball band, but none of them had the same gauge as another person in the group. Maybe two of them had the same stitch gauge, but differed in row gauge, or vice versa. It was great. This is why gauge swatching can be so powerful, my knitting friends.

The other thing that happened on Sunday is something that was new this time at Sock Summit, which was the ‘Fleece to Foot’ competition. Six teams of spinners and knitters worked from freshly-shorn fleece to produce as much as possible of a pair of handspun and handknit socks. And that fleece, it was as fresh as you could get. The nervous young sheep waited amongst the camera happy knitters, then protestingly but cooperatively sat for their public shearings.

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Then the fleece was sorted for the best locks and Clara Parkes (yes that Clara Parkes) took the first ones to card up and spin as a sample guideline for the spinning teams, who then worked for the next five hours as furiously as possible. I missed seeing the completion of the competition, but it was pretty great to watch in the early stages.

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Although I have now left Portland I have the rest of the week in San Francisco to look forward to – likely a combination of tourism and leisureliness, and more eating and visiting with knitters. Here’s hoping all of that goes according to plan.

Have a great week ahead! Catch you next time from The City.

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Filed under knitting in public, knitting tourism, sock summit, yarn stores

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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TTC Knitalong 2010

This past Saturday I joined in on this year’s TTC Knitalong, as one of the team captains on an unprecedented 5 teams! There were 75+ participants and many dollars raised once again for charity. This time our tote bags were also pre-filled with generous donations from several of the shops on the route, as well as Patons, Bernat, Plymouth yarns, and even a few books donated.

And boy, did we ever fill up the bags throughout the afternoon. I was on Team East Blue, heading from the Naked Sheep to the Purple Purl, then Americo, and finishing up at Romni. Beautiful wares to be had at all the shops. I definitely stocked up on a few more skeins of sock yarn, some spinning fibre, and notions. Thanks to everyone who came out and I hope a good time was had by all!

If you’ve never done a yarn crawl before, it is definitely worth it. If not in your own city then it is certainly a fun way to get to know an unfamiliar one. I know I’m hoping to do one at the end of July when I visit San Francisco. And naturally, every day is Knit in Public day. ;)

Here are a few photos from the day. In my next post I’ll catch up with some of my new projects on the go – and later this week I am indeed hoping to get some more photos of my finished Bridgewater shawl, as it is well worth the extra photography!

In the mean time, stay knitterly, my friends.

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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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I survived the Great Cascade 220 Crush of ’09

If, after five straight days of family visiting, eating, Christmas gifts, eating, sitting around, visiting friends, and more eating, you are ever wondering how you are ever going to make the re-entry into the non-slothful regular outside world, well. A Boxing Day yarn shop sale will pretty much do that for you in a hurry. Lisa put out the Bat signal for me a few days ago, inviting me along with some of the local gaggle of Toronto knitters to hit the sale and then do lunch afterwards. How does one say no to that, I ask you?

Although I’m familiar to Toronto’s esteemed Romni Wools (and I suspect much of the knitting world is, by this point…it’s pretty darned big), I have never yet been to their Boxing Day sale, so this was quite an experience. I arrived around 10:30 am, and the shopping was already in full swing. 25% off is serious business, man.

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I didn’t really go in with much of a plan other than “I want some Noro Silk Garden to knit one of those striped scarves and maybe something for a sweater.” The Romni Boxing Day sale is probably not the most opportune moment to casually decide to look for a few balls of Silk Garden, but there were still a few skeins to scoop up and I did so. The Cascade 220 heathers (7 skeins of dark turquoise) lept into my hands thanks to the helpful efforts of the knitters who actually managed to get within a few feet of the shelf. I thank them, though I know not their names as I was too high on wool fumes to remember to ask. Thank you, dear knitters who were in that knot down in the back by the worsteds.

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By the time I was on a second circuit of the shop I realized I had bumped into the back end of the check-out line (by now mid-way through the shop) and decided to stay there. When I eventually emerged to the street, planning to wait it out in the cafe next door (a fruitless plan as it turns out every other knitter in Romni was like-minded), I ran into other Lisa who was doing the same waiting. We ventured down the street and sat with hot beverages and knitted and eventually gathered the rest of the group one or two at a time, and then a delicious pub lunch and yarn-score-comparison ensued.

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And that was a good Romni Boxing Day sale day. Craziness man, but good.

I came back and promptly spent the rest of the afternoon getting my suitcase together, as tomorrow I head off to that other great North American knitterly town, New York City. (Well okay, it has other things going for it besides knitting.) I will be spending a few days there over New Year’s and I am pretty sure that my lodger/tour guide Rebecca has planned out an entire schedule for us so I hope to have some more exciting blogging from NYC later in the week. I am looking forward to a brief escape before heading back to the treadmill of another new term starting in (eek! don’t look too close!) one more week. Fingers crossed for safe and timely travels.

Happy knitting, and catch you in a few days from the Big Apple!

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A Festive Occasion

Today I went into the big city with Kim to pay an afternoon visit to the Purple Purl. It was a Very Important Occasion indeed, as they are celebrating their 2nd Anniversary as a yarn shop. Happy anniversary and many happy returns, Jennifer and Miko! It’s hard to imagine the Toronto knitting scene without you. Lots of fabulous yarn, friendly faces, and tea and goodies…what more could a knitter want?

What a wonderful and cumulative transformation the shop has had since their (already welcoming) opening day. Today they were vibrant and bustling.

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I sometimes forget how many friends I actually have made in the knitting world, but I always remember pretty quickly again once I’m at the Purl. I am just so pleased that they are a part of Toronto’s wonderful knitting community and that they are thriving. The world needs knitting shops, and knitters.

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And sometimes also cake.

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So all in all, not a bad Sunday afternoon. Happy Anniversary, Purple Purl! Are you sure you’ve only been here 2 years? It feels like more.

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Stranded again

On Saturday afternoon I was merrily engaged in another Advanced Level Knitting Technique: In-Transit Stranded Colour-work. (Because really, if you’re not working up a colour-work hat while crammed onto a commuter bus sailing down the highway towards the big city, I just don’t think you’re as committed to this whole “knitting” thing as you should be.)

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I please myself to say I executed most of the crown shaping on that bus ride without any dropped stitches (though sadly my cute dragonfly stitch marker was the casualty…It was clearly the sacrifice the knitting fates were looking for and I had lost it by the end of the ride). But of course, this being colour-work and all, my eyes were pretty well glued to the knitting and I totally missed out on the degree of weirded-out glances I undoubtedly received.

This is the Beaumont tam, from Jared Flood’s recently released Made in Brooklyn booklet. It is a beautiful pattern and relatively quick to execute as colour-work projects go. And though this was the first time I’d worked with the project-specified yarn, Classic Elite Fresco, I doubt it will be the last. It’s soft, the colour selection is great, and it’s got bunny in it (10% angora/30% baby alpaca/60% wool), and I will definitely need one of these hats for myself somewhere down the road.

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Because yes, this hat is no longer in my hands but lives with the fabulous ladies of the Purple Purl. The last time I was in the shop, Miko somehow managed to walk me over to the Fresco and hold me in thrall long enough to convince me to knit them up a Beaumont, and I left the shop with the ribbing already on the needles and a vague sense that I had somehow gotten myself hosed.

But naturally, I say this with love, because sample knitting is a very rare thing for me (aka “what do you mean I have to do all this knitting and time and don’t even get to KEEP IT FOR ME ME ME ALL ME” sort of knitting), but it’s very easy to do when you love the home that the knitting is going to. I’m just so super happy that the Purple Purl is about to turn Two Years Old. It feels like they’ve been around a whole lot longer than that, and I hope they never leave. Even though it takes me an hour and a half to get there, they are the store that feels most like my Local Yarn Shop.

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Do you have a beloved Local Yarn Shop? What fabulous things have happened at your LYS lately?

Have a fantabulous Sunday evening, and hopefully a manageable Monday ahead!

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In case of yarn avalanche, do not send rescue

Last night I went into Toronto to play with Lisa (currently undergoing a trifecta of woe), and had enough time before dinner to have an hour or two of sitting and knitting at The Purple Purl and ruminating on yarns for future design samples. (The marshmallow squares continue to be to die for).

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I stayed long enough, however, to witness that sacred event, delivery of new bags of yarn into the Local Yarn Shop. This is a sight to behold, so much Noro. I managed to resist buying any.

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For now. I might need more striped knee socks in my future, though. Just maybe.

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