A knitting adventure? Is that an oxymoron? I can assure you, it’s not. (Contrary to the border guard who giggled on my explanation of the trips purpose.) I know- because this weekend I had one. An international adventure of epic proportions. I went to Toronto for the More Big Girls Knit Book Launch at Lettuce Knit! Which just so happened to coincide with the DKC Knitters Frolic. (Yes- the border guard also thought that explanation equally, HILARIOUS.)
I know, I know- I went to the first launch and wrote about it already. What can I say? It was such an amazing experience, I wanted more. That’s exactly what I got. MORE. More of the same- and yet, something even better.
What really struck me this time, was the people and the knitting community that is Toronto. Planning a trip to Lettuce Knit- was a thrill. I’m a long time reader (ok ,stalker) of YarnHarlot, Amy, Jillian,(- a fellow Michigander- but in her heart, she’s Torontonian) Jen, now also- Indigodragonfly and a number of other Torontonian knit blogs…all of whom are Lettuce Knit regulars, and share their incredible experiences there with readers. Ocassional skeptic that I am, I had wondered if it was all hype. I wondered “Could it really be that great?” I also wondered how the regulars would respond to a loud, foreign invader.
Actually- I was a little (ok, a lot) nervous. I mean- these people actually know each other! They have a history together. I didn’t want to feel like a third wheel- or a party crasher. Worse yet, I didn’t want to feel like a knit-reject. Clicks (or should I say cliques?) are an international phenomenon… one I’ve experienced before, and don’t like. But not this weekend. Not with these knitters and not at this shop. By the end of the evening- I felt like one of the girls. ( except I talk funny, apparently…)
I should back up a bit. The day had started much earlier, however, at the Frolic. I met Danielle and Indigodragonfly and we were quick to hit it off. Danielle and I could just about keep pace with each other in the verbal arena. (I think we near wore out Indigodragonfly!) And at one of the first booths we visited together, Indigodragonfly and I discovered we’re fibre (that spelling is for my new Canadian friends) twins! (Which could have led to fibre fights, but didn’t, as we’re both, quite sweet.) We quickly developed a rather symbiotic relationship- helping each other choose and buy, yarn.
Between the Frolic and the launch party- we hung out for a bit and talked – then I was invited to dinner at “The Big Fat Burrito”. The infamous haunt of Lettuce Knitters! I had the most incredible steak burrito- which I shared with a homeless guy. (politics aside- we have to find an answer (answers) to homelessness…just sayin’ ) Then, we walked to the shop for the launch.
Lettuce Knit is located in Kensington Market. Which- is just that- an amazing “find everything and then some ” kind of neighborhood/market. The doors are open- goods of all sorts are displayed on racks and stands on the street. There are luscious fruit stands are on every corner. (At one stand the mangos were so irresistible- that a little guy, probably 4 or so, kept swiping one off the table, to try for a taste. his mom kept putting them back and telling him “no”. However, the tiny brilliant and innovative comedian, kept reaching for another. FInally, in a Mom’s desperate move of distraction- she held his arms over his head, laughing. The brilliant creativity of Kensington must have rubbed off on him- as he immediately leaned forward, mouth open, and bit a mango “”bobbing for apples” style! (I immediately fell in love with him, and would have tucked him into my bag had it not already contained a lifetimes worth of yarn!)
Kensington Market was a sensory overload of the very best kind, no sense was left un-touched. My nose was treated to a caucophony of aromas. (A pretty good trick, as I lost much of that sense, to a nose job years ago) Scents shifted from delightful to obnoxious within just a few feet. The scent of fresh (well, mostly fresh ) fish, bread, fruit, meat and humanity all created a perfume that will be forever etched in my mind and entitled “Kensington Market #5.” (Maybe not marketable, but definitely un-forgettable.)
In addition to sights, textures and scents- there was music both lyrical and lingual, everywhere! It poured from the doorways, sound systems and from street performers. Voices added to the music with a bass beat of barter and chatter. It was amazing. It was life, concentrated. I think it was there, that I fell in love with Toronto. (I was also glad to have someone leading me around, or I’d have wandered aimlessly -albeit contentedly- for weeks!)
Still nervous- (I was, anyways) we made our way through people and sights. I thought maybe it was the burrito when my stomach flip-flopped as we came up to the street that houses Lettuce Knit. It wasn’t the burrito- it was nerves. Then, I saw it. There were knitters everywhere, on every step of the porch and on chairs, in both the front and backyard! knitters were smiling, chatting (and knitting- of course) and helping with projects and color choices. There were kids eating cupcakes, giggling and performing. (kids love an audience, and in these knitters they sure had one!) There was much passing of babies, and I could just about hear ovaries bursting with ripened eggs at the sight of them. (They were truly, that cute)
The atmosphere was great, energetic and fun. It was like Sesame Street came to life. (If Sesame Street suddenly became a bit PG 13.) I started shopping as soon as I got in the door, ok maybe a second or two before actually getting IN the door. The shop is tiny- but LOADED with the very best of knitterly goods.
Soon- a fabulous Irish band arrived, and started playing the most beautiful music! Within minutes of arriving women were again transformed by the designers magic. There were cupcakes. There were sweaters. (Yes- the Bountiful Bohus will also eventually be mine) There were door prizes! (I won the most incredible Jordana Paige Knit bag!-see pics) There were knitters everywhere. It was fabulous.
Beyond the shopping potential and pure eye-candy of the place, there was a pervasive feeling of home. My nerves over how these knitters would receive an outsider, were totally unfounded. It was an amazing group. Everyone I met, had a story, design sense, a sense of humor and or creativity that was remarkable, and they were quick to share them. A hotbed of design and designers surrounded me. I had a few questions about patterns (as every yarn I saw was begging to be immediately knit-up) when I threw them out to the group- each was met with, “Well, ask____ she’s over there, she designed it!” I was amazed, and a little (ok, a lot) awe-struck.
After my visit, I think I have a better understanding of knit-community and what it can be. I can see how this atmosphere of synergy, encouragement and creativity have birthed so many designers and artists of color, texture and word. I was sad to leave Lettuce Knit– the Knitty crew and MBGK Team . I will miss them and the Toronto they daily enjoy. But, they’ve inspired me to get involved in my local knit community and see what it can become. I mean- if Canadians can tolerate me… maybe a few Americans can as well!)
More after I catch up on laundry– (is that even possible? Probably only if my family spends a few days in a nudist camp- which ain’t happening…)
PS- HAPPY BIRTHDAY DENNY!