Public Knitting is a Thing Now

Public Knitting is a Thing Now
Artisano Bakery in etobicoke

Artisano Bakery in Etobicoke, Ontario is pioneering the movement of people knitting in public.

There’s a group of knitters that gather at Artisano Bakery in Etobicoke, Ontario every second Tuesday of the month. These “hobby textile workers” congregate here to share knitting tips, techniques, patterns and passion for their craft. On rare occasions they’ll even share yarns from their stash bags.

Each with different skills and abilities, attendees (mostly women) gather here to swap stories and notes on the subject of knitting. This group is what’s left of the West Toronto Knitter’s Guild which started in 1986, and went until 2004 when the Internet matured enough that crafters found better ways to connect online.

Today things have really changed. Nowadays even these very traditional knitters go online to scour websites like Ravelry and Yarnspirations to get free knitting patterns for their next projects, and to purchase hard-to-find knitting accessories. Artisano Bakery offers free wireless internet, and more than one knitter in the group has a device open on the table. But despite how the web has changed the scene, the group still gathers here to show off their latest creations, make donations to various charities, and discuss upcoming events.knitting group in artisano bakery

This group is mentioned first in the Knitting Groups of Toronto article published in Toronto is Awesome December 2014. Each month the ladies update each other on their past, present and future knitting projects.

Experienced and Amateur Groups

Diane is envied by all for her skill and ability to weave together dark coloured sock weight yarn, which is a step thicker than lace weight, and thicker still than cobweb lace weight. This particular yarn is hard to find in North America right now because it doesn’t sell very well anymore.

Not many folks still darn the holes in their socks, and many of the popular brands stopped selling this category. The major yarn makers are embracing the crafters who prefer thicker fuller yarns that will yield a warm and fuzzy sense of accomplishment.knittingcircle1

Among the ladies was Enid who was stood out because she was crocheting instead of knitting. She was busy making small squares for an Afghan blanket to be donated to a woman’s shelter in Brampton through Warming Families. This charity project is part of the One Heart Foundation and is a 100% volunteer project that delivers blankets and other warm items to the homeless and displaced families. Enid is an Area Volunteers who knits but also functions to coordinate efforts to supply local Domestic Violence Shelters, Homeless Shelters and Nursing Homes.

Toronto Hook-ups

Enid and other crochet enthusiasts can access a like-minded network of crafters that exist online under the memorable name of Toronto Hook-Ups. All the ladies in the group laughed when Val and Enid recollected how the Metro Toronto Convention Center once hosted Toronto Hook-Ups crochet related convention on the same Saturday as The All About Sex Show, and how many of the seniors got turned around in that much bigger event, and really raised some eyebrows when they asked where they could find Toronto Hook-Ups.crochet-afghan1

While I snapped pictures, the group continued knitting and nattering away, and its worth remembering that the Tuesday night meet up used to be called Knit and Natter. The gals talking about how they each learned knitting, and famous speed-knitting competitions, and the conversation soon turned to yarn bombing.

Val explained that yarn bombing is not a hostile act done quickly or in anger, but a time consuming exercise of love to make a knitted article to decorate a common object and transform it into a thing of beauty. The installation should be done at night and without ceremony, anonymously. “You should write about that” Val said.

The most talked about and admired annual knitting contest within this bunch was the Sheep to Shawl competition at The Royal Winter Fair which lets a live audience watch as teams of spinners take raw wool and make a beautiful shawl in under four hours. Anyone who competes in that event earns veteran status, as winning the competition would bring the highest honour.

Are you just starting out in knitting?

The ladies at the table spoke of how they each started in the craft. While some learned knitting from friends or family, still others confessed to taking classes at craft stores. “Nowadays people just watch Learn to Knit videos on YouTube“, said Val.

“Anyone that wants to come and pull up a chair is always welcome here’, says Gloria “Every second Tuesday night of the month, Artisano sets up this room for us – they square up the tables and put a reserved sign on it.“ The ladies eat dinner there and knit and natter from six to nine. After you buy the first one, it’s a bottomless cup of coffee. This venue is fully accessible and so is the knitting group; simply having your own knitting needles and yarn is all that’s required to join.