Fair Thee Well!

Right up there with Christmas, my annual outing to the Knitters’ Fair with mom ranks as one of my favourite days of the year. We figured out that we’ve attended every year since 1994, without exception, but for 2002 when B and I left for our Moab trip that very day (what were we thinking?! now, I’d simply request a one day delay in departure!). We’ve had every kind of weather from blistering sunshine to freezing rain over the years – today is sunny and warm-ish.

this year's ensemble...

I make it a point to always wear a handknit sweater to the fair. Since Bingemans is a deep-freeze air-conditioned, I’m not overdressed! See this sweater? Mom actually made this one for me, and it dates back to likely Grade 9 or 10…so it’s a good 25 years old, and still going strong! One of my comfy favourites. Recognize the tights from Florida?! Knitters’ Fair attendees can be a tad on the … unique side, shall we say, so my tights fit right in! Yes, they look summery, but I figure the dark green sweater “brings out the autumn” in them.

Before I left, I made sure I had my money stash of cash – no budget for today!

being my own personal bank machine!

I also took stock of my current knitting projects. Here you go:

1) baby blanket in misti alpaca variegated yarn...

2) baby blanket in noro's sekku yarn - completely mind-bending lace; love it!

3) a waiting-in-the-queue baby blanket to be made of noro's kureyon yarn

Only three projects?! It’s lean times right now! 🙂

The fair opens at 9:30 a.m. Mom and I arrived at 9:40 a.m., and the line up was out the door! We also only found parking wayyyyy in the back 40…this fair is a highlight in the knitting community!

ready and eager to get going!

We have our method of exploration down to a science. We pick up the map of vendors…

the fair occupies two full ballrooms at bingemans

…then start with one of the rooms. We do a tour of the perimeter, then weave up and down the interior rows.

wide aisles make for easier roaming than in earlier years at other venues when you'd really be squeezed while browsing

We don’t make purchases on the first go-’round UNLESS we see an extraordinary bargoon that may not last if we leave it. Works for us!

the purple purl, my go-to yarn store in TO, and their spacious corner domain

My eagle eye spotted the Noro Sekku yarn from Project #2, above, in the Purple Purl’s  collection…just this week, I had been thinking I could use a couple more balls of yarn for this project. A quick phone call to B to confirm my dye lot (I walked him through finding exactly what I was looking for!)…

handy dandy blackberry-to-blackberry communication!

 and – BINGO! Scored two more balls of yarn – at 20% off, to boot!

now that i have six balls of yarn for this project, it seriously could take me 12+ months to complete!

Shortly thereafter, mom spied a great deal on yarn for her pet projects: prayer shawls for her church group, and blankets for Project Linus.

as long as you only need a few balls of a dye lot or colour, you can walk away with a super deal

Here’s just a sample of the beautiful yarn displays that scream, “buy me! buy me!”…

so pleasing to the eye!

Trends noticed this year: shrugs or cropped sweaters are big; sweater jackets with a unique pin/brooch at the front; colourful zippered tote bags for transporting your knitting (more and more knitters are taking our craft out of the house and into the general public – have you noticed?!). On the way out: patterned socks and textured scarves; fingerless gloves (which were huge last year).

The fair is a great source if you’re searching for unique yarns:

i've used bamboo yarn before, it's ok; the soy yarn felt very soft

don't think i'll try hemp yarn anytime soon - it felt like twine!

Also noticed:

The Needle Emporium staff modeled amaaaaaazing shawls:

don't think i'll attempt: i like a challenge but i prefer lace to working with colour

…and one of my all-time favourite fair participants:

i've completed several projects from philosopher's wool over the years - they spin their own yarn and design their own patterns. true "knitting hippies!"

Don’t say knitters don’t have a sense of humour!

luuuuv! (don't know this woman, i simply stopped her, admired her shirt, and asked for a photo! apparently, i can find this online...

came soooo close to purchasing this t! it's organic and fair-trade as well as super funny...but i need another t like a whole in my head...

Without fail, I meet people I know every year. This year I missed my friend Sue, who I know from the store, but did cross paths with:

me, janet, her mom - i met janet about 20 years ago at the y; see her about once a month in the 'hood, now!

brenda, a regular at the store run club sunday mornings; running and knitting united!

We completed 1.5 rounds of the vendors, then needed a lunch break. We dropped off purchases at the car and retrieved lunch. (We always bring our own because Bingeman’s supplies the catering…need I say more??! blech for you out-of-towners!).

improvement noted: over the years, more table space has been provided. much appreciated!

Over lunch, we discussed the purchases we still wished to make, vendors to revisit.

We agreed that this fitted sweater had “MOM” written all over it. As per tradition, mom made the purchase, I shall do the knitting.

knit in the softest of peruvian wools, the back features lace detailing...

note the shawl collar - i love working these types of patterns! this will be fun!

And me? This year, I decided to put all my birds in one basket (or whatever the metaphor is…all my stones in one boot?! haha!). After perusing all the gorgeous colours, textures and options, I decided on…

oops - no comment right now as i am busy wiping the drool off my fingers...

Qu’est-ce que c’est? Only 100% SILK yarn, made in Canada, hand-dyed…and $42 a skein (gulp). Will turn this into a baby blanket…for a baby who doesn’t burp, puke, pee or dribble. Anyone know of any ROYALTY expecting a baby? Celeb at TIFF? Just joking. I could not pass up the TACTILE and CREATIVE PLEASURE this project will bring me. I envision another INSANELY DETAILED lace pattern that will rock my eyeballs.

this shade is called "stormy" and is mildly variegated

And secrets!!!

can't disclose what's in the paper bag...because certain princesses' parents frequent this blog!

All in all, a highly successful day. I have enough projects to last a few weeks for quite a while (especially since I am knitting LESS since I stopped drinking Diet Coke – it’s just not as much fun. 😦 Like peanut butter plain on bread with no honey or jam :(), and enough variety to keep things interesting (note: I never have less than two projects on the go at once).

I feel so fortunate that this fair is a mere 10 minute drive from home. Seriously, shoppers come from all over Ontario, by busload from the States…this is the real deal for impassioned knitters. Will end this entry now cuz…it’s time to knit!! (and watch Mad Men!).

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  • Brenda  On September 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Hey Cathy, don’t be afraid to try the hemp yarn, it really softens up when you wash it, at least that’s what I’ve been told. I felt it too and was surprised by the texture. Nice pic of you and me.

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