Great cities offer fantastic travel experiences - people, food, museums, parks, civic buildings, markets, transit and traffic - all right there outside the door of your hotel. 'Love it!

Last weekend, acting as tour guides, we waded into our own city with one-thing-after-the-other intensity we usually only undertake when we're away and I have to say it was just great fun.

(Drafting this post I surprised myself at how many spots we managed to visit in a couple of days.)

Friday evening we dined in the revolving restaurant "360" at the CN Tower. (One of the 7 wonders of the modern world pictured on the right below...

Toronto Island (on the left) our harbour and the downtown waterfront punctuated by the CN Tower on a stunningly perfect cool spring morning.
With that overview fresh in our minds we set out Saturday morning to explore things at ground level.

Our first stop - the St. Lawrence Market - named "best market in the world" by National Geographic. Back bacon sandwiches are a breakfast tradition there. Canadian butter tarts and nanaimo bars also made their way onto our "strolling menu". (It may have been a bit early in the day for these treats but its important to immerse yourself in the local cuisine!)

'Being a "tourist" I didn't buy groceries but I was tempted by these beautiful bluish-green duck eggs...

Fragrant locally roasted, fair trade organic coffee...

And these pointy beauties...

Never mind the cheeses, seafood, meats, sausage, rice, grains etc. etc. etc. also on offer!

After the market we toured the waterfront east of downtown (Over the course of the weekend we'd eventually see the central and western bits too.)

A sun drenched walk along the Boardwalk in the Beach
Then it was off to explore a few of the 55 great neighbourhoods in the city; strolling residential streets and checking out their local shops. (By weekend's close we managed to visit 15 in all)

We also hit a couple of look out points.  The one pictured below is high above the Don River Valley overlooking the Evergreen Brick Works (which we toured after leaving the Lookout).

The Brickworks was the source for much of the traditional red brick of Toronto homes but once its quarries were exhausted it sat, abandoned and derelict for years until Evergreen and the City of Toronto teamed up to re purpose it into a bustling hub of Green commerce with a revolving schedule of farmer, Etsy and antique/vintage markets,  a children's garden, off leash dog park, extensive walking trails and about a millionty other things that change with the seasons.

Post Brickworks we headed to another repurposed industrial property - the  Hiram Walker Distillery (built almost entirely of red brick) in the neighbourhood of "Corktown" where love seemed to be in the air.

LOVED lunch at "Cluny" (can't recommend it highly enough!)

 Then, LOVED a coffee-to-go from Balzacs'...

Walking around with coffees in hand we couldn't help but see these two clearly loved each other...

And this group, was of course, all about the love...

One of three weddings we saw over our Saturday wanderings.
Then it was on to the main downtown shopping area at The Eaton Centre to check out a certain flock of flying geese , and as we went I couldn't help noticing how funky our skyscrapers are getting...

Next we turned to government buildings...

 Old and New City Halls...

The latter, of course home to the Toronto Sign...

Then it was on up University Avenue past the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Courts, the Ontario Parliament Building at Queen's Park all en route to a tour of  the amazing "Hogwarts-ian" Hart House at the University of Toronto.

From there we walked the quiet, treed length of the Philosopher's Walk ravine between, the Faculty of Music and Royal Conservatory of Music and the Gothic Revival buildings of Trinity College before leaving the University grounds to emerge onto Bloor Street at the Royal Ontario Museum where Daniel Libeskind has fused its traditional architecture with some pretty modern ideas...

Next, east along Bloor - where the luxury branded shops cluster then to Yorkville, checking out its unlikely mix of chic renovated Victorian homes, condo buildings and bustling patio restaurants before finally finishing our day at Canada's largest Public Reference Library.

We headed home after that - a dog needed walking - our friends 'heading to the Entertainment District for dinner at "Luma in the Toronto International Film Festival "Lightbox". 

And that was just Saturday!

Sunday morning, also gloriously sunny, we started in the empty-on-the-weekend Financial District checking out some of the bank towers (why not cover a bank building with gold impregnated glass right?).

To really understand this area of the city we headed down into the underground "neighbourhood" of the PATH - the world's largest network of  underground shopping it also connects subway, hotels, trains, office towers, condos and music halls and its really handy for just getting from "A" to "B" when the weather isn't great.

Then it was off to tour more neighbourhoods, passing through our "fairgrounds", High Park (the biggest in the city) and its residential surroundings before a walk through what's been called the second "coolest" street in the world - West Queen West.

As noon approached, there were planes to catch . It was time to wind up our Toronto tour.

Just as we'd started with a food market so too we ended with one - this time peeking into a gorgeous second story Loblaws Grocery on Queen Street where we naturally found store brand butter tarts and nanaimo bars prominently displayed - bearing out our assurances these treats are a "thing" in Canada.

It was a great two day adventure in our own backyard and it has us ready and primed for this coming weekend when My Beloved and I will be the ones taking rather than giving a tour, this time, of London with Number One Son acting as guide. (I'm looking forward to the trip but as a mom, have to say, really excited to see our "boy" for the first time since Christmas!)

Which reminds me...I've got some packing to organize - 'best to start with "travel knitting" right?

Thanks for dropping by and today taking this little tour of our town with me!


"Pro" Baking Tip

After letting bread rise for the final time it best to remove plastic wrap before baking...

"Granola Round", Flavoured Breads by Linda Collister

...Because it's quite fiddly picking it off afterwards. (At least this loaf - for weekend toasting and honey drizzling is almost clean!)

Have a good weekend. That's what I'm planning to do. Thanks for dropping by!


And this why I need a dog...

The FO's of recent months have led to piles of patterns, receipts, remnants, labels and valuable project notes cluttering up my space and my brian.

Yesterday, I finished filing the whole works away into my little archive, clearing the decks and my mind for spring/summer knitting, travel and yet-to-be-thought-of new projects.


Early this morning, feeling newly free of creative encumbrance, I dove into researching yarn shops in London ahead of our trip there in May. As I surfed I was sucked into a swirling vortex of inspiration that quickly escalated into crazed clicking and planning where, in less than half an hour from starting to research British yarn I was mentally sewing myself a new wardrobe from scratch.

Because here's the thing...

Big British brands like Debbie Bliss and Rowan have long been in our LYS's and now, newly available breed-specific British yarns are for sale in Toronto too.  So I do not need to spend time in London shopping with British pounds to buy yarn I could pick up with Canadian dollars half an hour from home any time I want.


London shops are featuring yarns from this side of the pond. Again, I'm not looking to buy yarn in London dyed by Torontonian Viola or Koigu from Ontario or the likes of American Quince and Co. either.

None of this will stop me making a trip to Loop for goodness sakes but for that all I need is a map to the shop from our hotel.

Instead of doing that and saying "job done" I pour another coffee and start looking at British fabrics... which lead me to Merchant and Mills... which led to their "Workbook" pattern collections... which led to the idea of a home sewn wardrobe...

Time to step away from the computer.

And as I reluctantly do, there he is, steadily staring his silent reminder what we need to do is exercise. There may be only so many hours is in a day but at least a couple of them need to be spent moving.

I may want to spend all my time on other things like trying my hand at making this oilskin jacket in this or yardage of dress weight Irish linen  and maybe an indie British pattern to go with it but what I need to see to first is that I spend a good couple of hours up and out and moving briskly in fresh air every day.

If I do, I can actually make more stuff because being fit and healthy gives me more energy and it means what I make is smaller/cheaper and quicker and so for less money.

And this is why I need a dog...

Off we go!


A week for "Plan B" 's

A "Plan B" will not be necessary for My Elmont (wet blocking showed the sleeve will work as is). So, with it being much closer to completion than Daelyn it "wins" the  "what will I knit next" lottery.

I'd love to have it done to take along to London at the end of the month when we go to see Number One Son. We'll see how things go this week then I'll know better.

These felted slippers, knit in Briggs and Little Country Roving a couple of weeks ago do need a "Plan B"...

They were HUGE to start with. Machine felting (many trips through the washer and dryer) did shrink them but not enough to fit me and I think they're about as small as they're going to go.

So Plan B will be to find bigger feet for them. My Beloved's might do the trick. 'Hard to say just yet because they've dried into pretty wonky shapes so I'll need to wet them again and get them to dry in the shape of a shoe and then we'll make the call.


The "Gift for the Girls" Blanket (A whole Plan B project) is feeling like its suddenly gone from looking like a scarf to the beginnings of a nice sized throw.

These knits, the task of nailing down travel knitting and a plan for shopping at Loop if I manage to make it there while in London are my knitting list for the week. What are you up to?


Eeeny Meeny Miney Moe

Post op issues and our persistent "wintery weather mix" have had me knitting, sewing, cooking, baking bread and working with the dog at home for weeks now.

Its been refreshingly quiet (and delicious!).

Thing is, its about to get warmer and busier. The garden will be needing attention (because there won't be snow falling on it every week), the cottage will open (because the ice will break up, go off the lake and allow us to access the cottage, as we must, by boat), we have some travel planned and there are dog trials to do with Hudson.

I need to get organized if I'm going to have knitting going as well.

So as I lower the setting on blanket knitting from "boil" to "simmer" I'm reacquainting myself with with "My Elmont" and "Daelyn" - two great sweater projects I'd like to get back to after setting them aside months ago.

Fingering weight Elmont had me worried the first sleeve was too narrow but is it really? What if I blocked what I've got and everything was fine and I had a piece that was half finished just sitting there waiting? 'Need to get to the bottom of that question.

Then there's Daelyn, in the most magically coloured/thick/thin Noro yarn ever. (Have to admit that yarn is calling to me!)

The top down hit the ground running format was too demanding of attention during an otherwise busy/distracted period so that's how it got shuffled off into hibernation. Right now though, the yarn's little hits of colour would be so fun to see on the needles...

It's time to be wearing rather than knitting these - 'time to take some time, dig into those project bags and decide which one I'll attend to first. There's a project for the weekend.

'Hope you have a good one!


Gift for the Girls

The wedding gift blanket is progressing.

Meanwhile I mourn the blanket that was to be but won't (at least not immediately).

Darling Daughter says the current one is just exactly what  the recipients will like/relate to so I need to focus on having that vs. something for me. (This is so much harder than it should be for an otherwise mature adult hmmmm...)

I've finished knitting three of the nine balls so I'm 30% in and feel like that's a decent head start.

A week and half working loooong rows has been hard on my hands and caused no end of knotting up across my shoulders so I'm switching up how I knit row by row.

On the straight knitted rows I'm working Continental style.

Purls rows; throwing with my hand atop the right needle.

Combination knit, purl rows; throwing with my right hand in a pencil grip.

Plus I'm making a point of getting up/moving around more aiming to knit just one ball per week into the thing.

At that rate it will still be finished before summer/weeks before the wedding.

Meanwhile I'm hatching a plan to make a spot for some kind of commemorative label in the final garter border. It could be something I knit into it or something maybe felted and applied or maybe hand embroidered/duplicate stitched.

It could include simple graphics copied from the wedding invitation or a heart with initials, the date of the wedding?...not sure yet. Still lots of time to think on that.

Little amusements all..."small things for small minds" they say.


Buenos Aries Throw FO

Last post for this one - I promise!

Pattern: "Bulky Throw" by Heidi Gustad
Source: Free Ravelry Download
Size: 45" x 52"
Yarn: Natural Argentinian Thick and Thin Wool Yarn
Source: Buenos Aries Yarn District November 2015
Colour: Natural, Undyed Cream
Needles: 15mm, 47" Circular
Start: December 29, 2015 Finish: February 27, 2016
Modifications: Added randomly placed rows of Reverse Stocking Stitch

This single ball of locally produced roving would have been a great souvenir for me of our visit to Buenos Aries last autumn but with My Beloved's encouragement (and the extra bag he tucked into his luggage to accommodate a larger yarn purchase) I brought home enough authentic, local yarn to make even better souvenirs we can all enjoy for years to come.

I hesitated to knit the yarn for this bulky throw right away as I loved just looking at it rolled in huge balls...

Then, after knitting the first couple of balls I let the project linger again as I enjoyed the sight of it in another room, tumbling out of this rustic basket...

When I finally knit it up the combined size of needles and yarn meant moving my whole arm from the shoulder for every stitch but the airy lightness of the yarn meant it wasn't as tiring as stitching Briggs and Little "Super" into a Double Knit Dog Mat.

It sure yielded something a whole lot loftier too!

Every step in the process was pure pleasure. Now, all finished, I couldn't be happier with the result. I love the way it looks.

'Had to encourage him to lie on this, then tell him to stay. It probably makes him feel hot just looking at it.

Everyone in the house loves the way it feels - like it has some kind of internal power source kicking out heat. I'm predicting arguments over who gets to use this one on cold winter nights!


Angora Cowl FO

Pattern: "Amalia Cowl" by TheKnitterInMimi FO
Source: Free Ravelry Download
Yarn: Cream - Orkney Angora St. Magnus DK
            Lavender - Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK
Needles: 3.75 mm 16" circular
Start: February 13 Finish: March 23, 2016
Modifications: None

A straightforward little pattern just high and wide enough to fit neatly into the collar of a coat. Ingenious how the bottom garter stitch edge, with its wider gauge than the stockinette above it, gives the fit some needed flare at the bottom allowing it to settle onto the shoulders a bit without ever changing the number of stitches.

Then the 2x2 rib at the top does an equally important job of preventing the stockinette from rolling over under the chin.

I hunted for a cowl pattern to "go" with these DROPS design mittens for quite a while.

When I saw the "X"'s and zig zags in this design I liked how they were similar to the ones featured on the back of the mittens without being a literal match.

What is a perfect match though is the appearance of the softer than soft marled lavender and cream with how the baby merino/silk/angora yarns feel agains the skin.

I think it's pretty and cozy in a perfectly "early spring"  kind of way and I love that its made using remnants and a free pattern.

Just one of those projects where everything comes together. Nice.

And nice of you to drop by today - thanks!


Back to the Drawing Board

Just a note before getting to the meat of the matter - I'm feeling oh so responsible taking time and care to both plan and swatch and then, when swatching revealed something other than "what a great idea", I didn't whine, instead listened to the thing and moved on, better informed and hopeful of an improved outcome. How many, many years its taken me toe realize the value in such an approach! Better late than never though.

I'm told by my Review Committee (Darling Daughter - close friend of recipients),  my swatch for "Welsh Blanket" is "dingy" and I concede, it is. Important not to take offence that unlike me, she doesn't mourn the need to let go of one vision for another. She's quite free of passion for creative pursuits - more of a mechanic than an artist - and so just calls 'em as she sees 'em.

To me though, in that dinginess is the feeling of well worn denim - useful, comfortable, practical, ready for years of use filled with kids and dogs and family life.

For young women just starting out , thrilled with the prospect of a shiny, new, first married home" I get it might read instead a bit "university dorm".

Importantly I'm also told it doesn't look like something the recipients would choose for themselves if they saw it in a shop.

So back to Ravelry, where "Nebraska Throw" jumps out from among my favourites. Quince and Co. patterns have a rustic delicacy about them that to me feels quietly feminine, young and fresh - just what I'm looking for. "Committee" says absolutely perfect!

Then I focussed on searching superwash yarn (Committee says that would be preferable) in the rustic colours of the wedding invitation. 'Can't go wrong with those can I? Committee says "great idea!"

So I ended up with a less graphic design, hopefully to stand the test of time across many years of married bliss.

The web told me only Eweknit had enough Berroco Vintage "Oats" and "Douglas Fir" in stock so off we went and picked it up then I came home and cast on before the bulk of the snow started to fall yesterday.

None of this means I'll be returning the original yarn I picked up at Romni of course!

As soon as it seemed the Welsh Blanket was doomed My Beloved requested a "Dunaway" scarf in the blue yarn. (He's been coveting one since seeing the navy version Darling Daughter knit as a Christmas gift.)

As for the natural, buff coloured "baby" yarn, of which there's about 800 meters, it might become a rustic baby wrap of some kind...like a "Kelpie" shawl knit in a square or a vintage baby piece. Time will tell.

So "The King is dead, long live the King".  One project was swatched right out the window, another project cast on to take its place.

And there's new yarn and knitting aspirations in the house to boot.

All something to ruminate on while I bathe and groom a certain grimy cream poodle today.

Thanks for dropping by!


A Most Successful Outing

Yesterday, I did the rounds of my usual yarn shop haunts....

Starting with Romni Wools to hunt up yarn for a mosaic stitch "Welsh Blanket"  -  a wedding gift, for the couple who've asked Darling Daughter to be in their August wedding party.

This is what I bought...

...and I feel pretty sure its going to look great - having help selecting the colours from designer Kiomy Burgin who is no stranger to fantastic colourwork (and works at Romni!) and, importantly, being of the same age range as the Brides-to-Be, could advise on something more "Millennial" than "Boomer".

We considered yarns from the DK, Worsted and Aran sections, as she explained the variances in yarns mean that, for example, lighter, loftier Arans can work with a beefy DK etc. depending on the technique used to combine them.

As we crouched over a basket, contemplating options I asked her whether yarn dominance exerts itself or could be used to affect the look of mosaic knitting and therefore balance mixed yarns of different sizes but before she had time to answer, none other than colour work and mosaic designer Barbara Gregory, a former member of the Romni team, seemed to materialize behind her with a bright "hello there" and an explanation that, because there is only one colour being carried across any single row in mosaic knitting, yarn dominance is absent from it.

The two of them then talked a bit about pairing yarns and referenced the difference between actual weight and what I think they called "label weight". In other words, two seasoned yarn experts discussing the fact you shouldn't rely exclusively on the information on a yarn label when deciding on the suitability of a yarn for a particular application. There's a sobering thought eh?

All the more reason to seek good advice on yarn when you're considering something you've never done/worked with before.

All the more reason for me to then feel good about what I would buy because I couldn't have asked for better, more informed advice. I had a little knitting "dream team" right there helping me!

After that, obviously confident with my 20 balls of DK, I headed off from Romni to visit Eweknit. It is the most beautiful yarn store ever  but I wasn't looking for yarn there, rather yesterday, I forced myself to focus on their selection of fabrics.

Darling Daughter's Bride's maid muslin is now complete so I'm going to "dip my toe" in the home sewing pond a bit deeper and sew up a simple top to go with a linen cardi called Jessamine, the yarn for which I picked up at my next destination - Knit-O-Matic - where Quince and Co. Kestral just arrived this week.

I've planned a linen something-or-other several spring times in the past but I've always left buying the yarn too late and run up against insufficient stock by the time I was ready to make a purchase.

Not this year though! I left Knit-O-Matic with ten skeins of this crisp, chainnette, tape-like, 100% organic linen yarn. I love how it goes with one of the cotton prints I bought at Eweknit.

Yup, a successful outing indeed. Thanks for dropping by - have a great weekend!