Local Yarn Store Day

Saturday April 21 marked the first (hopefully annual) Local Yarn Store Day, where fibre people were encouraged to go support their brick and mortar Local Yarn Stores.  I have four in my immediate area, four that I love dearly, and I would have loved to visit them all, but Saturday ended up being a perfect storm of errands, budget constraints, and the beginnings of a cold.  My errand running did put Soper Creek Yarn in Bowmanville right in my path, so of course I stopped in.

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I was there fairly early in the morning, sometime between 10am and 11am, and the store was buzzing with activity! Tina, the owner, had various sales on for LYS Day, and the big sign for LYS day was inviting.

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I was good to my bank account (the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic is April 28, after all, and one should budget accordingly), and I bought a skein of Cascade Heritage Sock in a lovely forest green colour.  A few weeks previous from Soper Creek, I bought a beautiful speckled skein from Mineville Wool Project, and the green was purposefully purchased to compliment the speckles.

In the past, I’ve written about why I love LYSs and why, I think, all knitters should support the LYS in their community.  Local Yarn Shop Day was another opportunity to bring attention to the small businesses in our community, to encourage people to shop local, and to discover for themselves what’s to love about a LYS.

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2018 Yarn Challenge

It’s started. Every year, one of my LYSs hosts a yarn challenge; she picks the yarn, the colours, prepares kits, and knitters do their thing and make something using the yarn. In 2016, I made this:

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And last year, I made this:

 

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I’ve already cast on my project and won’t post pictures until the challenge is over, but here is the yarn for the challenge:


I’ll be honest, I did find it hard to find a project that nicely incorporates five colours, but I cast on and I’m really happy with what I have so far. And I’m sure you were wondering, the yarn is Borgo de Pazzi’s Amore 160, a DK weight yarn. I’ll share my FO in a few weeks. Another reason why I love my local yarn shops!

Visiting Yarns Untangled

Last week, I found myself walking about Toronto with a little spare time on my hands. It was a toss-up between visiting the ROM or AGO, or going to a yarn shop. Not overly interested in either special exhibit being offered at the museums (but I’m sure they are wonderfully curated and exciting to visit!), I walked over to Kensington Market and visited Yarns Untangled.

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Thanks to a newly created Heritage Minute, I learned earlier that week about the history of Kensington Market and how it grew and evolved to the niche neighbourhood it is today. Unfamiliar with Heritage Minutes? You must not be Canadian (“Dr. Penfield, I smell burnt toast!). Want to see the newest addition to the Heritage Minute collection? Head over to Historica Canada’s YouTube channel for new and classic parts of our heritage.

Yarns Untangled opened in 2015, in the former home of Lettuce Knit. It was a cozy shop, with a table full of lovely yarn and beautiful finished objects greeting you as you walk in.  The staff who was working that afternoon was friendly and happy to offer assistance as I asked for a specific circular needle for a project.

And, of course, I bought yarn.  They carried a wide selection with many indie dyers being profiled, including Riverside, based in Quebec, Ontario’s Blue Brick, and Lichen and Lace from Nova Scotia.

I bought a lovely skein of DK yarn from Mineville Wool Project.  As YU describes on their website: “Part of the joy of the Mineville yarns is getting to name the colourways ourselves, and this time we chose the theme of Toronto landmarks and neighbourhoods.”  The ON Science Centre colourway came home with me.

For one year, between 2010 and 2011, I worked at the Ontario Science Centre as a Host. I walked around the Science Centre wearing a white lab coat talking to visitors and sharing cool science-y facts with them. My science knowledge wasn’t huge when I started; I was hired more for my strong customer service background. The science could be taught. It really was a fantastic year where I got to meet new people, share some of my enthusiasm, and the team of Hosts were some of the smartest, kindest, most awesome people I have been fortunate to work with.

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When I saw that this skein was named after a place I will forever have wonderful memories of, there was no way I was leaving the store without it. It will make a beautiful cowl, one with a fun tie to a special place for me.

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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?

 

The Mixed Wave Cowl, or the ongoing ramblings of how it was made

February 14, 2017

Made my way to LYS and purchased the Yarn Challenge kit. The yarns are lovely: red, taupe and beige. Now comes the hard part, what to make with it.

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February 15, 2017
4:30pm

Awesome! I’m so glad I found the Mixed Wave Cowl pattern on Ravelry. It’s perfect for this yarn, a fantastic way to truly highlight the three yarns of the Yarn Challenge.  I have the yarn, the needles, the pattern; I’m ready to cast on!

4:45pm

Okay, we’re cast on! Let me just read the pattern… oh… huh. Well, this is… huh. Okay, so it’s not written like other patterns. This designer’s put a lot of thought (and math) in this pattern. I’m impressed. Cool. I can do this… I think…

4:55pm

Gah, so that didn’t go as planned. Here’s a tip, Lisa. Read the whole pattern. Like, all details.  Let the frogging commence.

5:12pm

Frogging complete. Cast on complete. First row knit. Now onto short rows… wait… huh… I still can’t visualize what to do here. I get the general idea – you’re using short rows and alternate colours to create this really interesting and unique striped pattern. That I get. These instructions, though… Maybe it’s just because I’m not comfortable with the wrap and turn method. Yeah that’s it.

5:14pm

I still don’t get it. There are over 100 people who have this in their Ravelry projects. What do their notes say…

5:18pm

So many of these project notes say “Just do it.” “Trust the designer.” “It all makes sense once you get going.” Yeah, I’m not buying it… Maybe this will be clearer after dinner… mmm… food…

6:03pm

Just do it, huh… okay, here goes… Wrap and turn abandoned, going with German Short Row method instead, a tried, tested and understood method. Maybe that will help…

7:54pm

Well whaddya know? Those Ravelers and the designer were right… just do it. I’m doing it, and a few repeats in and it looks like it’s supposed to look! Maybe all that math the designer did actually makes sense… almost foiled by math once again, but not this time!

February 17, 2017

A day off work and four hour car ride = lots of knitting time. Mixed Wave Cowl, let’s do this. I’m actually feeling so confident with this pattern, a pattern that only a few short days ago I had no faith in, that I’m now able to work it without referring to the written directions. Lesson learned: read all instructions. Trust the designer. Trust other Ravelers.

February 20, 2017

Mixed Wave Cowl grows, both in length and in my overall love for it.

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March 6, 2017

And grows…

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March 7, 2017

4:40pm

Couch, knitting, Law and Order. I see you, Mixed Wave Cowl.

6:35pm

Break out the measuring tape. 55cm! I’m at the right place in my pattern to justify casting off. It is 5cm shorter than the recommended length but it’ll stretch.

6:42pm

Stupid provisional cast on. Grumble grumble.

7:55pm

So this happened:

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Why yes, that is the cowl, grafted, ends woven, and blocking!

I’m sorry I ever doubted you, designer. The initial frustrations I felt three weeks ago was worth pushing through to get this as the final result.

March 8, 2017

4:34pm

Just trying it on for good measure. Yup, still in love with the final result. So much cowl love.

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!