Knit In Public Day 2017

Is there anything better than getting together with friends and spending an afternoon knitting? Why, yes there is! Getting together and knitting with friends IN PUBLIC for Worldwide Knit In Public Day!

Are you asking yourself what is Worldwide Knit In Public Day? Take a moment and read my post from last year where I touch on its history.

This year, we met at the same place, the courtyard in front of the Whitby Public Library; the group may have been smaller, but it was a beautiful day spent outside.  My friend Polo over at the Knitter Nerd co-ordinated it, in partnership with Whitby’s LYS, Kniterary. Side note: if you’re not following Polo, you really should because she writes about really cool/yarny/nerdy stuff, and she just revamped her site and it looks awesome.

People were knitting, people were using knitting machines (quite the set up!), and I spent my afternoon seaming a baby sweater which will be mailed to its recipient later this week.


Last year I asked the question isn’t every day knit in public day, because I’m not shy about my habit; I’ve knit on planes, trains, automobiles, in restaurants, coffee shops, on sidewalk benches, and in the middle of parks. What makes WWKIP day so amazing is that there is power in numbers. When you get a sizable group together, everyone partaking in the same activity, passers-by want to come over and want to learn more about what we’re up to. We get to showcase our pastime, our passion. We get to spend time outside on a lovely June day with other knitters with the knowledge that around the world, there are others doing the exact same thing as you.


I’m going to keep knitting in public, but I’m already looking forward to WWKIP Day 2018!

Loving Local Yarn Shops

Over the six plus years I’ve been a knitter, my habits have changed greatly.  Besides the obvious growth in skills and techniques I’ve learned, my speed is greater, I am more fluent in reading patterns, my preferred needles and yarns have changed preference, and where I shop is drastically different from where I first bought a skein of yarn and needles.  There is nothing wrong with supporting a large ‘big box’ craft store ( or BBCS as I’ll be abbreviating), which is where I went when I first decided to give knitting a try – they have affordable supplies and helpful staff.  However, now that I think about it, I cannot remember the last time I purchased supplies from a BBCS, preferring to shop and support Local Yarn Shops (LYS).

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I am quick to sing the praises of LYSs, and rightly so, in my humble opinion. There are so many reasons to love a LYS, and here are mine:

Unique Offerings

Walking through a BBCS, you’ll see the same products. Lots of Red Heart, Lion’s Brand, Patons, and the shop’s own brand. Rows after rows, colour after colour. The same time and time again. Walking into a LYS is almost like a treasure hunt – many LYSs have brands they always carry, and every so often, they will discover a new company or indie dyer and will have new surprises for customers.  There is also no arguing about the quality of the product being offered, that what you can usually find at a LYS is superior to BBCS. There is nothing wrong with the products listed above – good, solid, reliable products they are – but my own preference through they years have turned to favouring other offerings, like Cascade, Berocco, Sweet Georgia, Manos, and more. If you’re looking for diversity and uniqueness is products, you’re best bet is head to a LYS.

Friendly Staff

LYS owners are some of the friendliest people you would have the honour to meet. People who own LYSs are knitters or crafters themselves. They love the craft, they love yarn, and if you’re in a bind, they are there to help. I’m lucky to have four awesome LYSs within 20 minutes of driving, and I’m on first name basis with three of them (I’ll get there with the fourth!). Once you get to know the wonderful staff at a LYS, you become more than a customer – you become part of the crafting community.

Shop Local & Support Local

And speaking about community, when you shop at a LYS, you are supporting a local business and small business owner. You are supporting your neighbour and your community at large. I’m a big fan of small businesses and try to frequent them when I can. Is there anything better than supporting your community, making it a more vibrant place to live?

 

Why do you like shopping at your Local Yarn Shop?

 

2017 Yarn Challenge

I love my local yarn shops.  I have four in my city and neighbouring towns that I visit with some frequency (much to the chagrin of my bank account). One such neighbouring LYS is Soper Creek Yarns, and every year around this time, they host a yarn challenge.  I talked about this last year when I bought my first kit and participated for the first time. Well it’s back for 2017 and I’m super excited to cast on!

Here’s the yarn:


Berroco Remix Light in three colourways.

I have a pattern picked out, and I’ll be casting on later today. As the Yarn Challenge is a contest – shop visitors vote on their favourite finished objects – and anonymity is key to its success and a big part of the fun, I won’t share my chosen pattern or the finished object until after the contest is over.  For now, check out the pretty yarn and just imagine all the possible things one could knit with it.

Happy knitting!

Oh, The Places I Have Gone…

When you travel, do you buy yarn? Do you make yarn shops planned stops on road trips? Do you ensure that stopping at a LYS is as important to your trip as cultural stops and other tourist attractions? Since delving deep into the Knitting lifestyle, local yarn shops are as important to me as which museums I’ll visit. I buy enough yarn from each shop I visit to make afghan squares, which one day will be complete and a lovely keepsake to the places where I have travelled.

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In 2013, I took a few day ‘staycation,’ and I drove to Ottawa – The Museum of History, Bytown Museum, walks around Parliament Hill, every Canadian history dork’s dream. On the way there, I took a detour off the Highway and stopped in Kingston. Along with re-caffeinating at Starbucks and visiting Sir John A.’s gravesite at Catarqui Cemetery, I visited Knit Traders of Kingston and bought a lovely ball Diamond Luxury alpaca in a ‘Typical Me’ pink colour.

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When I finally arrived in Ottawa, between walking, sightseeing and Museum visiting, I went to a small LYS east of the Rideau Centre. I was very saddened to see that it had closed when I returned to Ottawa a year later, but on my first and only visit to this shop, I bought a lovely blue skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Fine Merino Superwash DK.

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In 2013, my knowledge of yarn was low. I didn’t appreciate the difference in DK to worsted, material content, or brand recognition; I did, however appreciate the colours of these balls of yarn, their softness, and that they made me happy. I also didn’t have a project in mind, as the idea of a keepsake afghan hadn’t quite materialized, but I knew they were going to come home with me, souvenirs from a well needed getaway.

When I visited Quebec City in 2014, I had knit the Ottawa/Kingston yarn into happy squares and was anxious to buy more yarn to help the blanket grow. Quebec City is such a lovely place to visit, steeped in history and rich with Quebecois culture. The handy Ravelry ‘Road Trip Planner’ informed me that while there wasn’t a yarn shop in the old part of the City, there was one on the other side of the St. Charles River. After I walked the 20-25 minutes to get there, I found a lovely LYS where women were buying yarn and sitting in the comfy chairs knitting. I found a skein of Briggs and Little softspun in a fun melon green colour; I knew it would work well with the bright blue and pink I’ve already knit with, so I bought it, along with a pair of handcrafted birch needles, made by River John Needle Company, based in Nova Scotia. I didn’t speak much French, and the LYS woman didn’t speak much English, but I thought back to Grade 9 French, remembered my “s’il vous plait” and “merci boucoup,” and the woman smiled a kindly smile at my while I paid for my purchase. I Googled the shop, so that I could get the name and recommend it if you were ever in la Belle Province, but Google has told me that Softi is ‘permanently closed.’ Again saddened to hear that a lovely little shop, with kind staff, has closed.

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In 2015, I went on my fabulous cruise with my best friend, where we went to Miami, Key West and Cozumel. We couldn’t find any open yarn shops on the day we spent in Miami and was informed in Key West that it was too hot there to be knitting (they are doing knitting wrong in Key West), so I wasn’t able to buy any souvenir yarn on that trip, but in September of that year, my sister and I took a day trip to Kitchener, where I went to Shall We Knit and bought a vibrant purple skein of Cascade 220. It may not have been a true ‘Vacation,’ but my sister and I had a fantastic day together, I called the KW home for four years as I completed my undergraduate degree, and the purple reminds me of the purple of my school colours. I may have bent my rules for this yarn to be a part of the afghan, but I think they were bent for many good reasons.

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This summer, I’ll be camping in Goderich, visiting a dear friend and, you guessed it, visiting museums and yarn shops. In late August, I’ll share my Museum stories and yarn purchases.

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Soper Creek’s Yarn Challenge

A few weeks ago, I posted about one of my LYSs hosting a Yarn Challenge, a truly engaging and inspiring idea.  They pick the yarn, you buy the yarn, you create with the yarn, they display your creation, and people vote for their favourites!

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Well, I finished my project a few weeks ago, and voting ended a few days ago, so I can now share my project!

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Tadaaaaa!

For the challenge, kits were prepared with 90 grams of Diamond Luxury Tradition, Worsted/Aran weight, although participants could have bought more if needed.  I used almost all the white from my kit and still had quite a bit of blue and green left over.

The pattern was Fake Isle Hat, which gave me a chance to TRULY try my hand at stranded colourwork.  Main colour was thrown with the right and contrast colours were clumsily held with the left.  I truly felt like a knitting pro when I was shaping the crown, two strands being worked over four DPNs. How I didn’t end up in a big ol’ tangled mess, I’ll never know!

I loved this yarn. I loved knitting with it, I loved the colours, I loved the contrast with the colourwork. Ultimately, and maybe the saddest thing for a selfish knitter, is that the hat is just a little bit too small for my head. I’ll try stretching it a little more, because it truly will be a great hat for early springtime, and the thought of parting with it breaks my heart a little because I do love the colours and I’m proud of the colourwork.

How Challenging!

Don’t you just love a good challenge? Whether it’s trying out a new technique (I’m coming for you one day steeking), playing a good ol’ fashioned game of yarn chicken, or casting on your largest project ever, challenging ourselves is how we grow and improve as knitters, and it adds an element of fun (and sometimes stress) to our works in progress.

This is one of the many reasons I love one of my LYSs.  Soper Creek Yarn has started their 8th annual Yarn Challenge – they pick the yarn and the knitter chooses what they make with it.  I’ve followed this challenge for many years, and this is my first year buying the kit and taking part.  The colours are bright and Spring-like, and I’m excited to pick the pattern and get knitting!

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I have 90 grams of Diamond Luxury Collection, Worsted/Aran weight, and I can buy more if I need to.  I’m going to see what I can create with just the 90 grams.

The end result of the challenge – returning our item which will be displayed in the front window and voted on.  First place will get a $30 gift certificate, and second and third will get $15 certificates.  Because of the voting, Social Media silence is strongly encouraged, and I bet that extends to blogs too, so I’ll be sharing my finished object later in March! Stay tuned!

While winning bragging rights and a gift certificate would be awesome, I’m simply excited to be taking part, challenging myself, working with beautiful new yarn in amazing colours. Here we go!

Yarn and the City

I love living close to a big city.  In just over an hour’s time, I can travel from my home town to Toronto, and while sitting on the train, I make the trip and don’t even break a sweat.  I happily use the time to keep my fingers busy, and socks make the best travel project!  I began a very simple sock pattern using yarn I bought months back, Bernat Sox yarn in a fun Desert Storm colourway – it’s khakis, greens and browns and knitting up in a camouflage-esque pattern.  When I stashed this yarn, I always knew it would end up being socks.

While in TO, I was able to visit two yarn shops.  The first was The Knit Cafe on Roncesvalles.  My sister discovered this shop in her neighbourhood a few months back, and she didn’t wait to text me to say ‘you need to come visit and check out this shop!’  Well, I finally checked it out on Saturday, and it was a lovely shop with very friendly staff and an interesting selection of yarn.  I was very excited to leave the shop with new needles (I have a thing for knitting needles… I just love them and adding to my collection), and two hanks of sock yarn from Turtlepurl Yarns, an ‘indie’ Canadian yarn dyer.  The yarn is their Striped Turtle Toes, and when they are complete, they will be two identically striped socks.  This makes me happy.  They are already wound – any excuse really to use my swift – and they are ready for casting on whenever I am ready for them.

Turtlepurl Yarns, Mystic Topaz Striped Turtle Toes Yarn
Turtlepurl Yarns, Mystic Topaz Striped Turtle Toes Yarn

The other shop I visited was Romni Wools on Queen West.  I once saw this places described as ‘an Aladdin’s cave for knitters,’ and whoever came up with this apt description wasn’t wrong!  A huge shop with great selection, rows and rows of yarn.

After I left Romni, without making a purchase (this time), I’ve realized that I have a hard time buying yarn for the sake of buying it.  I have a hard time justifying buying yarn unless I know that I can use it for something.  Sock yarn is one exception, because it has an obvious project that can be completed with it.  However, buying the odd ball or two, or more even, just to buy it, I just can’t do it.  So I left Romni without making a purchase, but the next time I go back, I’ll have a project in mind and I’ll find the perfect yarn there.  Really, half the fun is in the discovery.