I met this terrific lady online a while ago. Not unusual, I've "met" quite a few wonderful people that way. Beryl Tsang is the driving force behind Titbits. When I saw her pattern published on Knitty, it struck a chord with me. I lost my mom to breast cancer in 1986. Beryl's story of her experience with the silicon prosthetic was my mother's as well. I decided I would knit a tittie in memory of my mother. Then I decided I wanted to knit a lot of titties - crazy titties - for charity. Eventually I sent about 20 or so to Beryl and we started corresponding. She added me to the membership list for the "Society for the Propogation of Fiber Pornography" and I was regularly invited to knit-alongs. The only catch was that they all took place at her house, in Toronto. I live in Calgary. So began a running joke that I was going to list a child on ebay to raise ticket money...this month's market was too soft maybe next month...would you believe not a single offer for him again? Unbeknownst to me someone had the idea of kicking the spare change into an envelope. Eventually a fair chunk was collected and Beryl sent it to me.
I was stunned. Flabbergasted. Speechless. Overwhelmed. This group of people, whom I had never met, had given me this incredible gift. It wasn't just the money either. It was the concrete evidence that they really did want me to travel east and join them. I cried. Honestly. And then I cleared out the airmiles to pay the fare and used the cash to pay the fees. There is no way for me ever to repay the generosity of spirit that prompted those wonderful folks to not only invite me, but to make it possible for me to accept the invitation. Instead, I have paid forward the kindness and done something for someone else which made a difference for that person. Karma is a wonderful thing.
I arrived Friday, April 18 late and tired having left Calgary in the middle of a spring blizzard. I got lost in Pearson - zigged when I should have zagged and went in the out doors I think - but eventually I met up with Guerrilla Knitter (Beryl) and BlogMistress Kat (Katherine). Kat welcomed me into her apartment in the Beaches neighbourhood. Monday was bright, sunny, and Hot! While the snow blew back home, I was wishing I had brought shorts with me. Glorious. The Yarn Harlot has her travelling sock; Franklin Habit is making a book of 1000 Knitters all of whom are stitching on the same scarf; I decided I love both and gave everyone I met my sock in progress, asked them to knit a round or so, and snapped their pictures while they did. It was so much fun!
We started our yarn crawl at The Purple Purl.
The first person I met was Melinda. She was working on something pretty but put it down to work a round on my sock. Then I was treated to the sight of her WIP - a hand crocheted wedding dress which she is making for her wedding this summer. It's stunning.
Finally Jennifer, Purple Purl's other co-owner took a turn. She was so excited because she hadn't knit a stitch yet that day and needed a little fix. I had to hand it to Jennifer - it took her all of 2 seconds to figure out that the part of the sock plan I wasn't saying was that I was getting my sock knit for me in the process! Smart Girl that Jennifer.
What did I get there? Let me see....
42% Cotton 35% Superwash Merino Wool 12% Silk 11% Seacell
50g/125 yards/114m; 10 balls
colour 40605 "Storm" teal blue green
This is intended to make a short sleeve warm weather cardi.
Sorry it's hard to see... yes... Qiviut.... squee!
The Musk Ox is Mine at last.
Magical Qiviut from Cottage Craft Angora
22g - 162 yards; 2 ply fingering
Also there, a lovely soft, nearly black bump of alpaca roving for spinning. It's from "We Are Spun" in Beaverton, Ontario.
Onward Knitters! Next Stop... Americo
The lovely Annegora works there but she didn't knit on the sock. I took her picture anyway because she's beautiful. That's Anne in the black top and Kat in her stunning cabled cardi. Nicole, Americo's owner and designer did though. I didn't buy any of the gorgeousness that Americo has to offer. Trust me when I tell you their yarns are absolutely stunning. Stunning I tell you, with the possible exception of the yarn with the furry testicle balls on it...but that might just be me.
Nicole gave me samples of three of her lovely yarns to bring back to Amy and Sandra at Make 1 Yarn Studio. I am a yarn mule!
Left 50% Superfine Alpaca/50% Organic Cotton, fingering weight; Centre 100% Organic Cotton, worsted weight; Right 100% Pima Cotton, dk weight. It's all lovely. And I'm going to hand it over. Soon.
From Americo we went on to Romni Wools. WOW! This place is overwhelming. They have everything here. Beryl wouldn't let me go downstairs. Apparently that's where the spinning stuff is. Next time...
Meanwhile, I got a little lost... Happy happy knitter...
There was a little stash enhancement at Romni too...
I finally found a copy of Nashua Hanknits The North American Designer Collection No.4 which has the pattern shown here, Surplice Lace Top by Gayle Bunn. I saw this picture in an ad ages ago and fell in love with it. Naturally, I had to get something to knit it with.
Romni Wools Bamboo; 100% Bamboo, dk weight, mid tone copper/brown colour 306; 50g/102m; 10 balls
A walk was in order and we set off for Kensington Market and a visit to Lettuce Knit. That's where I met the amazing Denny. Not only is she a terrific person and a skilled dyer, she was happy to knit on my sock too. I have to say though that I was distinctly hot and sticky in the Toronto heat and humidity by this point and I couldn't help but admire the way that Denny looked so cool and collected while wearing two shirts and a sweater.
I also met Alejandra, who is lovely and graceful in person, and who was thrilled to take a turn as well. I didn't take her picture but I met the cutest little girl here. She came in with her mom, obviously well versed in the ways of yarn stores, and proceeded to finger the goods, ask about a million questions, and admire the fridge magnets. "Knit a Little" she read, with obvious scorn. "My mom doesn't knit a little," she announced to the whole store, "She knits a LOT!"
I bought just a little bit here. Only stuff I cannot get anywhere else! Two bumps of merino, hand-dyed by Denny herself. (Which I started spinning tonight and it's gorgeous!) and one skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Socks that Rock" Lightweight, in Waterlilies 100% superwash merino, 128g/360yds/329m. Lettuce Knit is the only place in Canada that you can get STR...couldn't not get some now could I?
From Lettuce Knit back to Beryl's house was an easy streetcar ride. Those streetcars made me a bit nervous. They travel all over downtown Toronto in the centre lane. People wait on the sidewalk. When the streetcar arrives it stops right there in the middle of the road and opens the doors. People then step off the curb, usually without looking, and cross a traffic lane to enter the streetcar. Cars are not allowed to pass on the inside of a stopped steetcar, for obvious reasons, but I was still impressed by the lack of carnage.
More lovely knitters awaited me, this time bearing wine and cheese and disturbingly green sausages I was told were made of Leprechauns.
This precious wee thing is Elaine. That's her knitting she's holding. It is "A something that's going to be made out of two balls of this yarn here that nobody wanted." Elaine is also a pirate. A diminutive pirate to be sure, but Pirate nonetheless. She has a Pirate Song, "Yo ho ho and a ball of yarn!" and decided that the something might just be a pirate flag, with a skull and crossed needles. We had a rousing duel, where her straights beat my dpn's handily. Arrrr Cap'n Elaine!
Here she is again with her lovely mom Mary. Turns out I met Mary online as well. She was living in the UK at the time and read about my little TitBit project. Mary sent me a very nice pair, which eventually made their way to Beryl. Mary herself did the same thing moving to Toronto from the UK. It was a great pleasure to meet both of you as well.
By this time my sock was ready for a heel. You know how fond I am of the PGR short row heel. Works every time - no holes and neat! Except there might have been a problem with trying to turn a heel in the gathering dark, whilst talking, dueling, sipping wine, and singing Pirate songs. I ended up knitting the heel turn twice in the evening, then ripping it out again the next morning and finally getting it right. Meanwhile though, StrickChik (Heidi) and official yarn admirer Christine looked on as I tried to explain the reverse yarnover maneuver and StrickChik translated the german label on my sock yarn. It is Lana Grossa Meileinweit (milenvite) colortweed; 80% Schurwolle (sure voll eh)20% Polyamid in a blue green striped colorway # 1004. The label says it is waschmachinenfest (vash machinen fest) which we thing means machine washable, garantiert filzfrei (garan ti ert filts fry) which probably means "guaranteed pill-free" and, best of all, extra strapazierfahig (schtrap a zeer fay heek). We think strapazierfahig might refer to long wearing, and since there's extra of it, well... that's got to be gud right?
The guys plainly didn't understand. But there was lots of wine, so they were good.
Sharing and fondling of the new stash followed. Note for Rod...Beryl bought nothing and she did not enable spinning stash acquisition, not even when I was drooling over the spindles at the Purple Purl. Kat indulged only in a single skein of Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn, which she started knitting with right away. I however....
Ahem... moving right along....
Sunday was bright and gorgeous. There was a pretty stiff breeze blowing in off Lake Ontario but the beach there is sandy and the water was a very pretty blue green. Kat, the sock, and I took our morning beverages and muffins down to the boardwalk. I don't think it gets much more lovely than sitting in the sun on a park bench, by the beach, knitting with pretty yarn and sipping a latte. Knowing that the husband and children were enduring -12 C and continuing snow gave me wicked delight. I actually had Kat snap a picture of me sitting on the pier, knitting, so I could text it to my snowbound man. Bad wife!
Our last yarn shop was In the Loop. Interesting shop... yarn, coffee, food, and free WiFi. There were a couple of people sitting at tables sipping their java and computing away on their laptops. They seemed oblivious to the yarn. Odd that. When I first saw the Noro sock yarn, I was less than impressed. Oh sure, it has those gorgeous colours, it is Kureyon after all, but it has that nasty hard hand. Single ply and somewhat coarse in the skein it really didn't appeal. Crocheted into a shawl it felt absolutely crunchy. Undeterred, Kat bought a ball and started knitting right away. Wonder of wonders the stuff transformed into an entirely acceptable fabric on her 2.5mm needles. I had to have some. Last purchase of the trip. Noro Kureyon Sock yarn; 70% wool, 30% nylon; 100g/420m; col no. S92 which showed blue, green, teal and black on the outside and promised purple, red, yellow and orange on the inside.
The socks? I finished them on the plane home.
Thank you again to everyone in Toronto who dropped anything into that envelope of kindness, who greeted me with such warmth, who showed me their lovely yarns, and all who knit a round for me. I had an absolutely wonderful time.
PS: If you have a blog, please let me know in the comments what it is. I'd love to be able to read and stay in touch that way. Or, if you like, you can friend me on Ravelry. I am KnitTwoTogether there.