The Great Toronto Yarn Hop

Let me tell you about my Saturday.

For the last 12 years, there has been a giant yarn crawl in the City of Toronto, a fundraiser for an organization called Sistering: A Woman’s Place, “a multi-service centre for homeless, at-risk and socially isolated women in Toronto.” Recently rebranded as The Great Toronto Yarn Hop, I bought my ticket back in June and eagerly awaited this event!

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Here’s how it worked, in a nutshell.  There were several ‘teams’ you could join (and buy your ticket for), and each team followed a particular route visiting a number of yarn shops; in Toronto, there is quite a large number!  At the end of the day, all teams met at a pub where you could compare purchases, and raffle tickets, sold throughout the day, were drawn and prizes awarded.

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I joined Team Linen, largely chosen because I liked the first stop of the day, easy to get to from Transit, located in historic Kensington Market.  Although I’ve been to Yarns Untangled before, I was looking forward to seeing what they had in the shop. After time spent at Yarns Untangled, and a skein of Robosheep Yarns Sock purchased, we jumped on the TTC and headed to Stop #2, EweKnit.

EweKnit was the largest shop we visited, located at Bloor and Ossington, with a large main floor selling yarns as well as fabric and needlepoint kits, and basement set up with looms where they offer weaving classes.  I was good to my budget, only buying a single ball of Classic Elite Yarns Liberty Wool, and it’s already earmarked for a project.

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Stop #3 was Knit-O-Matic, a bright shop on Bathurst, just south of St. Clair, complete with store bird to welcome groups.  This stop was particularly busy as there was another team in the shop at the same time, but I somehow managed to do perhaps the worst damage to my budget here.  I bought two skeins of Cascade Yarns® Avalon, adding to my stash of two and a half skeins. What I had wasn’t enough to really make something with, but adding these extra metres could mean I have enough to make a nice light summer shirt.  I also bought a skein of Manos del Uruguay Alegría:

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With colours like that, how could I not?

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Our final stop was another shop I’ve visited before but was happy to return to Passionknit, on Yonge, north of Lawrence. At this last stop, my allotted budget had significantly dwindled, and my backpack was bursting with yarny-wonderfulness, so my sole purchase was a skein of Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM), in their special colourway released for Local Yarn Store day.

I had so much fun during the Yarn Hop.  Six skeins of yarn, four shops (two new), and I met people from all over Ontario at this event. A cowl in progress was easily accessible during our travels, and I was able to get in a few stitches on transit.

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This was me, on Line 2 (Bloor) line travelling from Stop 1 to 2; stitches in progress, wide stance to prevent falling over.  As I said, so much fun.

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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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Knitter’s Frolic 2017

It’s that wonderful time of the year: the grass is getting greener, the flowers are starting to bloom, the temperature is rising, and in Toronto, the knitters are frolicking.  The end of April means the Knitter’s Frolic, an annual event hosted by the Toronto Knitter’s Guild.

This is not my first time frolicking. I’ve attended this event in 2015 and in 2016, but this is the first time where I’ve debated attending. In an effort to be ‘financially responsible’ and making ‘adult decisions,’ I actually thought hard about not attending, but I’m glad my irresponsible (or should I say fun-loving) side won out, not for the things I bought, but for the chance to hang out with friends.

The Frolic is a wonderful event for those who are addicted to all things woolen. Walking around the Japanese Cultural Centre, you know you’re among your people. Overheard phrases include ‘stashes’ and ‘skeins,’ and I giggle to myself every time I hear an ‘knitting-ism.’

I met up with two friends at the Frolic (one of them is the delightful Knitter Nerd) and we had fun looking at all the different offerings from suppliers, and Amy pointed out every time we got ‘Atherley-ed’ (meaning we walked past Kate Atherley, one of the workshop instructors, knitwear designer, and all around cool knitter).  We all left with a little less in our wallets, but I was proud that I stuck to the budget I allowed for myself, as finances were the big reason I was hesitant to attend.

So, the good stuff! What did I purchase? Two skeins came home with me that day, this amazing skein from Dragon Strings – I immediately had to untwist the skein to see the colours and how it was dyed. I also bought myself a skein from Dye-Version, something which is now becoming a Frolic tradition as I have bought from them every year.


What didn’t make it home with me immediately was the skein I bought from Indigodragonfly.  Every year they make a special Frolic colourway and I fell in love. Really, how could I not. But, I was able to order a skein which will arrive right at to my door.

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Image ©Indigodragonfly, from their Facebook Page
All three skeins were from indie dyers, which I love and makes me love my purchases even more. I don’t know yet what they will grow up to be, but in the meantime, I can admire them, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.

Frolic – 2016 Edition

How much do I love the Knitter’s Frolic?  I posted last year after attending what was my first Frolic, the knitting event hosted by the Toronto Knitter’s Guild.  It’s essentially ComicCom for knitters with the market place open on Saturday with vendors from all over the province and sometimes beyond, and there are additional workshops that one could register for where you can learn all sorts of techniques.

After last year, I knew how dangerous this event could be to one’s bank account, so I had been squirreling away spare cash for weeks and intentionally left my credit card at home.  I am so very happy with my new purchases.

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Before showing off the yarny goodness, I’ll start with the book I bought – Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known in the knitting community as the Yarn Harlot. I just picked this book up from my library and fell in love with it, so when I saw a copy for purchase, it had to come home with me.

Yarn Harlot was actually at the Frolic this year, leading some workshops, and I had a yarn fangirl moment when I saw her around the Frolic a number of times! I was sorely tempted to kinnear her, but I resisted – follow the link to find out just what kinnearing is!

Now for the good stuff!

My cotton DK from Dye-Version, based in Mississauga:

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The colourway – Blue Steel! I couldn’t resist

From Shelridge Farm in  Durham, ON, two skeins of fingering wool, Peacock colour, and a pattern that I can (and will) make with it.

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And from Stitch Please (how can you not love that name!!), fingering merino, colourway Men in Tights.

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I am so suckered in by fun names…

I also tried something new this year and I volunteered! It was a last minute decision on my part to send the email and commit, but I am so glad I did!  I spent two hours winding yarn from skein to cake, and it was so much fun! I was able to chat with people, something I love to do, and I got to see all the lovely yarn that people were buying! And besides, winding yarn is fun.  I’d love to help out again next year at the winding station, and I won’t wait until the week before to commit!

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Christmas Round-Up #3 – 504 King West

I love this project as much as I love the story behind it.

My sister has recently moved back to the suburbs after living in Toronto for two years, not a decision made lightly. She loved her neighbourhood, from the convenient location to transit, to the quirky little shops located a few blocks away, her favourite coffee shop, and her favourite bar.

For Christmas, I knew I wanted to make her a shawl. I bought a stunning skein of Manos del Uruguay Alegría; I grappled back and forth with the choice to be selfish and keep this beautiful yarn all to myself, or do I use it and make something just as stunning for someone else. Gifting won out, and I’m so glad it did.

I spent some time perusing on Ravelry for just the right pattern. I wanted a pattern with fingering weight, that was asymetrical, and one that was ideally free. And then I saw 504 King West.

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Being honest, it wasn’t the pattern that sucked me in but rather the name. 504 King West is the name of a streetcar route in Toronto, one that I have taken a handful of times with my sister, a streetcar route that ends around the corner from her place in TO.  This pattern was designed by the Knit Cafe, a LYS in Toronto that I’ve visited with KT. It’s the same LYS she texted me about after exploring her neighbourhood and finding it. As a non-knitter, KT has as little interest in yarn shops as all non-knitters do, but she found this shop, texted me about it, and we visited it on one of my weekend visits.

With this connection to her neighbourhood and its name rooted in Torontonia, I knew immediately this was the shawl for my sister. (Yes, I just made up that word, Torontonia, but if Canadiana and Americana exist as words meaning concerning or characteristic of the country, its civilization, or its culture, then Torontonia can totally be used in the same manner!)

I started 504 King West and worked a few rows while on my cruise. One beautiful thing about this shawl is that it is made with several complementary colours, and I made this one the same way. The variegated Manos is colourful and bright, and it pops against the black Cascade Heritage I bought for contrast. For edging, I was able to use what I have in my sock yarn stash, and I used a self striping yarn; I love that this is the same self stripping yarn that I bought months before at the Knit Cafe.

This shawl was a part of her gift, which also included craft beer from the brewery in her neighbourhood, as well as a photo collage of her neighbourhood favourites and the stunning street art found on Dupont. She might not be physically in her neighbourhood anymore, but now she has a piece of her neighbourhood with her.

Thank you Knit Cafe for publishing such a great pattern with a fantastic Toronto-centric name. It’s a wonderful pattern if you’re looking for a shawl, easily memorized, and very transportable.  Please visit their blog post to check out the pattern and to read the story behind the inspiration for 504 King West.