An August Afternoon on Amherst Island

Earlier this summer, my friend – my Knitting BFF – Victoria, moved away to a community about 2 hours east. I have had many fun knitting and non-knitting adventures with her – Knitter’s Frolics, COUNTLESS trips to local yarn shops where we both left with far less money in our wallets, and just random evenings spent knitting in her living room or on FaceTime in the height of the pandemic. I knew I was going to miss her well before the move. It really sunk in a few days after she left when I needed a certain needle size and I could no longer just drive around the corner to her house to borrow what I needed.

Well, it’s a good thing I like long drives and podcasts. In mid-August, while I was on holidays from work, I went for a day trip, and she and I spent the afternoon exploring Amherst Island.

Located about three kilometres offshore, in Lake Ontario, this island is noted for its dry stone walls, boasting what is believed to be the largest known concentration of historic Irish dry stone walls in Canada, many of which date to at least 160 years old.

Amherst Island is also home to Topsy Farms, the raison d’être for our trip. Established in 1972 by “free-thinking, peace-loving hippies,” their wool products are 100% Canadian, and the sheep in their care are “happy sheep.”

To get to Amherst Island, we hopped on the ferry and drove across the island, remarking on the dry stone walls and interesting houses we saw along the way. Victoria and I are both museum nerds (and proud of it), so when we arrived at the farm, our attention was equally captured by the farmlands and the ‘Wool-Shed’ shop, and also the cemetery we spied on the other side of the dry stone wall.

The shop was modest, but the product easily captured our interest! Victoria left with a few skeins of fingering weight yarn and a t-shirt, while three skeins of worsted weight yarn came home with me. I mean, look at this colour!

I also have to give a shout out to the person working the shop. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the island, happenings, the yarn, and the farm. We asked her opinion on what else we could do while on the island, and she gave us the recommended driving routes and a beach recommendation.

We finished off our afternoon by checking out the Neilson Store Museum (as aforementioned, we’re museum nerds), and, once we realized we missed the hourly ferry, grabbed some food at the Back Kitchen.

I have three skeins of that lovely teal Topsy yarn, and I also have a dilemma of what to make with it. Three isn’t quite enough to make a sweater with, but I’m sure I can find some contrast yarn, like Briggs and Little, which might make it work. Worst case, if I needed more and placed an online order, I’m sure I could bat my eyes at Victoria to pick it up for me! For now, these teal skeins will stay in my stash, waiting for the right project to come along.

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