Tag Archives: Toronto

My favourite time of year

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Every fall, L and I make a point of choosing a day and going on some crazy walk around part of the city to look at all the fall colours. One of the best things about Toronto is that its downtown is criss-crossed by ravines, which are open to the public and allow you to walk between very different parts of the city without having to deal with (or often, even hear) traffic. It’s like a secret world, and it’s really, really lovely.

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We walked down the Beltline Trail to the Evergreen Brickworks, an area that used to be a quarry and brick factory but a few years ago was repurposed into a public park with interpretive trails, event spaces, and community classes about gardening, green living, etc. It’s somewhere I’ve been wanting to get to for years, but never have, and Sunday was the perfect day.

View of the city centre from the back of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

View of the city centre from the side of the old quarry, with the Brickworks buildings in the foreground. You just just see the CN Tower over to the right.

It rained just about all day Saturday and then for most of Monday, but Sunday was one of those glorious fall days when it’s hot in the sun and cool in the shade (ideal sweater weather!) and all the colours pop. So, so lovely. L mapped our walk after we got home and we wandered for about 8.5 kilometres (a little over 5 miles) and considering that most of it was in the woods, that’s not bad considering we never left the city.

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Knitting-wise, I took full advantage of our rainy Saturday.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

For once, it occurred to me to take before and after shots at the beginning of the weekend.

The first Saltburn sock is a couple of repeats away from the toe, so I should be starting the second one this weekend. Charade is also marching right along – something about two-row repeats feels super speedy, despite 72-stitch rows – and I’m really enjoying watching the colours progress. There is definitely some colour spiralling (too soon to say whether it will flash or just maintain this steady turn) at this stitch-count, but it’s slow enough that I don’t think I mind. I’m just an inch or so from dividing for the heel of the first sock.

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How was your weekend? Is it fall where you are?

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Some new craftiness

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Okay, maybe that should be crafty-ness, but whatever. The point is, this week I got out my sewing machine (an amazing Christmas gift from my parents this year) and made something useful. I had been wanting to make napkins for a while, but there wasn’t a pressing need, so I put it off and put it off. Then, my parents visited on the weekend and, since my mum rented a car, I suggested we go to Parkdale, and specifically, the workroom. (My mum also visited the shop, where she picked out two skeins of yarn that I will turn into socks for her.)

It is so fun choosing fabric.

It is so fun choosing fabric.

I can 100% get there on public transit without much ordeal, but somehow it always felt like it was going to take my whole day, and it’s been cold, and, well, in the winter you can always find an excuse. We went, though, and I had some fun picking out fabric. I will admit that I expected that fabric to sit around the house for a while before I got around to using it, but then I cast on for a rather overdue baby sweater (the baby has not been born yet, but still) and realized I didn’t have a project bag for it. I know I could have used a Ziploc or something, but I hate doing that. Clearly, this was the perfect opportunity to get sewing.

I was going to wing it, but then realized I could probably do a quick(ish) Google search for a pattern and end up with something useable instead. After going down the rabbit hole of sewing blogs, I came out with this great tutorial by Jeni at In Colour Order. I was a bit nervous, since unlike with knitting, fixing sewing mistakes is not so easy, but I read carefully, measured everything twice, and followed exactly what she said, and, well, judge for yourself:

I am foolishly proud of this.  (The lining is royal blue.)

I am foolishly proud of this. (The lining is royal blue.)

I chose to practice on some fat quarters I bought ages ago, in case it was a disaster, but since it wasn’t I think a few more bags will be made this weekend featuring my new fabric. I also bought some quilt batting, so I can add a needle-proof layer for sock bags. This one is more than large enough for the baby sweater, and would comfortably fit a large shawl or fair isle project. I am quite pleased.

I promise that there is no danger of this turning into a sewing blog, but it might pop up now and again. We don’t live in a big enough apartment for me to get into quilting, but small blocks? Yeah, that could happen… Ahem. Speaking of knitting and baby sweaters, though, what do you think of this? I love the yarn, but I’m worried it’s knitting up too dark (we don’t know the baby’s gender yet). Thoughts?

It will be the Puerperium Cardigan.

It will be the Puerperium Cardigan.

Lots of snow means lots of knitting

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I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, which meant that every winter we’d get close to a dozen snow days (one year, we had so many school was almost extended into the summer to make up for it). Snow days were, of course, the best, and usually an excuse to sleep late and be lazy all day (except when we were little and then they were an excuse for a lot of playing). Living in Toronto, we don’t tend to get much snow, and working at a newspaper, my workplace is never closed because of weather.

Last week, though, Toronto got hit. That same big storm that barrelled through the the East Coast hit us first, and although we didn’t get quite as much snow, we got a lot (over a foot!). It mostly came on Friday and, yes, I had to work, but waking up on Saturday to a city that was still digging out meant that everything was quite and beautiful and wintry. If that combination doesn’t fill you with the desire to knit, well, I don’t know what does.

After long grey days, snow really brightens everything up.

After long grey days, snow really brightens everything up.

L was busy marking assignments, so while we did go walking around in the snow and admiring how much prettier the city is in the snow – it was one of those perfect winter weekends, with a bright blue sky and no wind and snow everywhere – I spent the majority of the weekend happily knitting and listening to Tina Fey read Bossypants.

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I was was a little all over the place knitting-wise, but here’s what I occupied my needles most:

I wish I'd taken a photo on Saturday morning, because I just about doubled the size of my Woodstove cardigan.

I wish I’d taken a photo on Saturday morning, because I just about doubled the size of my Woodstove Season cardigan.

I can sometimes be a reactionary knitter, thus, a new hat. This is Scrollwork by Irini Dmitrieva and I'm knitting it out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume.

I can sometimes be a reactionary knitter, thus, a new hat. This is Scrollwork by Irini Dmitrieva and I’m knitting it out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Plume.

And, last but not least, I'm making good progress on my Everyday Socks. They're good TV knitting, and with the cold, I'm extra motivated to get another pair of socks finished.

And, last but not least, I’m making good progress on my Everyday Socks. They’re good TV knitting, and with the cold, I’m extra motivated to get another pair of socks finished.

A little all over the place maybe, but I like variety; it keeps me interested and helps ensure my hands don’t get tired or sore. Those cables are addictive, though, and if it’s still cold out when I finish that hat I will probably cast on right away for the matching cowl!

Big, exciting news

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Remember before, when I was knitting fingerless gloves that weren’t for me, but I said they were “for an upcoming fun something”? Well, that something has just about arrived, so here it is: There’s a new yarn shop opening in Toronto, and I’m helping. The shop is being opened by Claudia Quintanilla, and it’s called EweKnit (as in “you-knit,” not “ew, knit?”).

Oh, you thought I was done with the fingerless gloves? Nope! Details here.

My role isn’t huge, but I have to say that helping start a business – and a knitting business, at that – is exciting and daunting and exhausting and wonderful. Essentially, my job at the moment is to run the advertising campaign (something I’m totally new to and finding hugely interesting) and help set things up in the shop. Once we’re open, I’ll continue doing the advertising, as well as start and run a blog, work in the shop, and teach some classes. I am beyond excited.

This all came about, weirdly, because the National Post, where I work as a copy editor, announced in May that it will be cutting its copy desk in the near-ish future. This means that I will be out of a job, as will the rest of my colleagues, and while that hasn’t happened yet, I was feeling some pressure to figure stuff out. I mentioned this to Natalie (formerly of Lettuce Knit), and when Claudia asked Natalie to help with the store, and then decided they needed a third person as well, Natalie asked if I was interested. I was, and I met with Claudia at the beginning of July, and it all went from there.

The only reason I didn’t mention any of this earlier is because it seemed almost too good to be true (I mean, I get to work in a yarn shop, keep my current job for as long as it exists, get paid to knit some interesting stuff, and squish pretty yarns? Pinch me.) and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t before I said anything. That, and I wanted to make sure my bosses at work knew about this, since sometimes they read the blog.

So, what does any of this matter to you (besides, hopefully, acting as an explanation for my erratic blogging)? Well, first of all, you’re all invited to the shop’s grand opening, which is this week! If you’re in Toronto, please drop in – check out the yarn, have a glass of wine, and come say hi (the proper invite is below). Secondly, I would like to assure you that I am still knitting – knitting like crazy, even – and that this blog will return to its usual assortment of posts after this crazy week is over.

A Proper Mother’s Day

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I don’t have kids, but it was my birthday yesterday, and since I’m the oldest that means Mother’s Day this year fell on the actual anniversary of my mum becoming a mother. In the year I was born my birthday was actually a couple of days after Mother’s Day, so my poor mum had to wait a whole year for it. Now though, I like to think that the waiting has paid off.  Unfortunately, what with my parents living in Nova Scotia and me living in Toronto, I didn’t get to see my mum over the weekend – instead, L and I did birthday stuff.

I had to work yesterday (I’m a copy editor at the National Post, and since there’s a Monday paper, I have to go in on Sundays to work on it), so we did birthday stuff on Saturday. As t turned out, the weather was so lovely all weekend that either day was basically the dream of a Spring-born. Obviously we had to take advantage of the 20C weather, so we bicycled to Kensington market, bought picnic supplies and then bicycled down to Toronto Island (well, we took the ferry, but you know what I mean).

One of my favourite things about the ferry is its life jacket ceiling. So reassuring.

We spent the afternoon on the Island, eating a lot of delicious bread and cheese, bicycling around, tossing a Frisbee, and admiring the lovely houses. Then we bicycled home (it’s just about 8 km each way to the ferry, entirely downhill there and thus, entirely uphill back, so it wasn’t as lazy a day as it felt). After a nap, we went out to meet some friends for drinks and dinner and, I have to say, it was just the kind of low-key fun day that I always hope my birthday is going to be.

Our bicycles resting under a Norwegian maple (according to the sign) while we ate our picnic.

I didn’t get any knitting time on Saturday, though, so on Sunday I went with L to a Frisbee practice before work and while he ran drills I sat in the sunshine and knit. Remember those 67 stitches I cast on last week? Well, they are (hopefully) going to turn into the Autumn Leaves Stole by Jared Flood (rav link). I’m really enjoying the knitting and it has been flying along (I’ve had about two hours total to work on it and I’m halfway through the first chart) and then yesterday, while I was knitting in the sun, I realized something was wrong.

Can you spot the errors?

Can you see it? There on the right – the garter stitch border is not, shall we say, consistent. I do this when I swatch sometimes (you know, forget to knit the last X number of stitches on a purl row) and I thought I was catching myself as I went along, but apparently not. I’m planning to give this to my mum for Christmas (I am starting early this year!), so while I might have decided I didn’t care that much if it was for me, I decided that I should rip it back and do it properly for my mum. Have you ever ripped back lace knitting? It’s terrifying, what with all those yarn-overs and k2togs and whatnot.

So many live stitches – thank goodness Ganymede was otherwise occupied.

I ripped back 10 rows (there’s no picture, because I was too tense) and then, when I picked up the stitches, I only had 61. I counted again. Still 6 short. I checked, and there were no obvious dropped stitches, all my yarn-overs had survived, but there were definitely only 61 stitches where there should have been 67. I decided to start working the chart, since I assumed it would become clear where the missing stitches at least should have been, and yes, when I hit the middle of the first leaf (where it’s slip1, k2tog, psso), there was no stitch to slip. I found the dropped stitch (which had basically melted away), picked it up and kept going. Sure enough, this was the case for every leaf but one. I’ve now reknit those ten rows, plus two, and I’m pleased I decided to rip back when I did, rather than waffling as I continued to knit, which is what usually happens.

Totally worth it, right?

An hour’s work just to end up back at the beginning. Oh well. By the time I get to the end I’ll be glad I did it.

City of Craft is an enabler

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The City of Craft Spring show was on Saturday, and you can bet Wendy and I had a countdown going. We got there shortly after doors opened and man oh man, the talent blooming in Toronto is just astounding. I have always loved going to craft-type shows where local artists sell their work, but since I began knitting in ernest I have developed a whole new appreciation for the ingenuity, dedication, and type committed to the work.

This is all a lead-in to say that it was a morning of purchases galore. I don’t shop much in my normal life, so I don’t mind splurging every once in a while, especially when it’s one beautiful handmade things – or things with which to make beautiful, handmade things. This is the beauty of the City of Craft setup: not only are you presented with gorgeous finished pieces, but crafters are notorious enablers, so you can fill your boots with supplies too.

Here’s what I got:

1 pound of fabric bits and two little bags of vintage buttons from The Workroom:

Green fabric! Check out those guitars...

Blue fabric! I love the elephants.

Buttons that have pairs.

Buttons that don't match.

I have no real plan for these except that I will need buttons for the sweater I’m knitting and I think some of the fabric might become napkins.

More vintage buttons from a vendor whose name I have completely forgotten (is it you? Please let me know):

Six unmatched buttons in a similar colour, in a similar size.

A lovely little notions pouch from Bookhou, whose prints I’ve been admiring for years (I also bought a little cloth wallet, but it’s in my purse in the other room and I’m being lazy):

Notions pouch!

These did not come with it.

And, drumroll please, a needle roll from Knotted Nest:

Unrolled.

Rolled up.

A drumroll for a needle roll might seem a bit over the top, but I have been looking for one of these (ie: one that’s pretty and interesting AND holds several sizes/types of needle) for months, to no avail. And I don’t mean casually looking. I mean scouring Etsy and knit shops and blogs. So, thank you Knotted Nest for ending my search in such a beautiful and satisfying manner.

Aside1 : When I got home and proudly showed L all of my purchases, he sort of looked on with casual interest until I got to the needle roll and then he said, “Oh no.”
Me: What?
Him: I guess it’s serious.
Me: What?
Him: You’re really serious about knitting.
Me: Well, yes. Also, this doesn’t mean I have more needles, just that they’ll be better organized.
Him: Still. Now it’s serious. You’re a knitter.

Aside 2: When we were leaving, Nicole (who was working the door) asked to see what we bought. One glance into my bag and she laughed. “You like green, huh?”

And that, my friends, is what we call a positive result!

My Favourite Time of Year

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When I was a kid (and really, to this day, even though I’m not there) my parents’ backyard was filled with cherry trees. There was the big, old original one, and then, thanks to squirrels, birds, and raccoons, nearly a dozen smaller ones all over the property. Combine those with two mature old pear trees and let me tell you, early Spring was a flurry of blossoms. I miss that clear statement of change and waking up now that I’m not home, so when I saw on Twitter last week that the cherry blossoms were out in High Park, L and I made a plan.

On Saturday morning we bicycled over. It was overcast and not very warm, but there were still lots of people there and the trees were overflowing with frothy clouds of white and pink blossoms. It rained on Saturday night and most of Sunday, so I can only assume the flowers have been trampled. If you didn’t get to see them (or you’re far away and don’t have fruit trees of your own), here’s a taste of High Park in full-on Sakura blossom glory.

Overcast skies do not set off white blossoms to their advantage. But nonetheless, lovely, no?

I think this train is hilarious.

I prefer not to look at the skyscrapers when I'm in the park, but I do love the juxtaposition.

After our walk through the park we went to Roncesvalles for coffee and to pick up paczki (delicious Polish doughnuts) and homemade pierogie. Not bad for a Saturday, I’d say – especially since it also involved some very productive knitting time, of which, more later.