I spent a week in Toronto at the beginning of the month and having heard it was a great place for yarn shops, I decided to check out a few recommendations (in between trips to the baseball and Niagara Falls).
And I found the reputations was well deserved and they held up the city's reputation for friendliness.
First up was Lettuce Knit about which I'd heard good things from more than one knitter. So when I checked out the website it was a shock to discover I would be visiting on the first day of the shop's closing down sale.
This is a real pity because the staff were charming and when I introduced myself were very helpful, showing lots of Canadian yarn (either grown or dyed in the country).
Here I was introduced to Topsy Farms wool - very sheepy, lanolin rich and beautifully dyed as well as very good value especially in the sale. It is approximately an aran weight and I look forward to create something cosy with my five skeins.
But much as I loved the Topsy skeins, it was a skein from Northbound Knitting that had caught my eye as soon as I walked in. I was very glad that this mix of browns, blues and grey in a sock yarn fitted the Canadian only criteria I'd set for my yarn souvenirs.
Lettuce Knits had one other great feature to recommend it. A set of chairs outside which meant Mr Penguin could enjoy the sunshine and watch the activities of Kensington Market's pedestrian Sunday while I checked out the yarnie goodness.
From a closing to an opening. When I visited EweKnit, the team was still unpacking in the new store they's just reopened in that day. It was fun visit when I even managed to answer a question about some yarn I've worked with at home and had a chance to look all round this large space which is perfect for workshops.
EweKnit seemed to carry more mainstream brands than Lettuce Knits but it still had some Canadian options among them some SweetGeorgia yarns. I've seen a little SweetGeorgia at shows in the UK but it was more affordable in the Canada, so I treated myself to a skein of Toughlove Sock in the Spring Garden colourway which made me think of suffragettes.
The final stop on my tour was to Romni Wools which was complete contrast to EweKnit. Every square foot of this shop is stuffed with yarn making it amazing to explore. I was lucky enough to have guide, on a quiet Wednesday afternoon, who showed me round all the Canadian stock.
In return I shared my views on Baa Ram Ewe yarns because the team had just unpacked their first shipment - luckily I've been trying some out recently and Romni even stocks my favourite colourway. I also admired their planning on placing the Baa Ram Ewe stock opposite some from West Yorkshire Spinners to create a Yorkshire section - it turned out to be coincidence (not anymore!).
The staff were very informative about Canadian yarns and produced lots for me to squish and admire. In the end I choose some purple Fleece Artist Nor'East to make a cowl and a skein of Hand Maiden Sea Lace (silk and sea cell) in seaweedy colours (perfect for someone as obsessed with seaside inspired shawls as me).
All in all I would recommend any knitter travelling to Toronto to set aside some time to visit a knitting shop or two (there are more) - and leaves a little space in their luggage for a few momentoes.
I'll report back on how the yarn behaved in due course.