Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 39 - Fun in Canada

I woke up Monday in Canada. Other than their milk being in plastic bags instead of jugs, so far I hadn’t found much difference between Canada and the states yet. And with Monday being a day at home, it didn’t look likely that I would that day. Gail drove in to spend the pre-conference time with us. She’d be staying nearby at her mom’s but would be spending the days with us. Since Cindy was teaching hand piecing to Eileen, Gail and I got busy dyeing. I’d brought some bare yarn and kool aid from home and we had fun playing with colors. With frequent stops for tea and butter tarts (a Canadian pastry that Gail had made), the day was over in a flash.

Tuesday was Toronto. After watching Rookie Blue every summer for a few years, I was excited to see the city. Our destination was Queen Street – their main shopping drag and location of Romni Wools, which I’d heard about on Ravelry. We poked into shops along the way but Romni’s was the first one we spent any time in. Go figure. They have a bargain basement that despite looking a mess, is actually quite well organized. I spent most of my time in the sock yarn section, finding lots of fun sport weight yarns and a few fingering weight. Shocking! I did throw a couple of non-sock yarns in for good measure downstairs and then went upstairs for a couple that weren’t on sale. This store was wonderful and we all left with tons of yarn.

The next big hit was the Japanese paper store, where I scored yet more stocking stuffers. We got burgers for lunch and I had my first ever poutine, which is French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy and is a favorite of Aaron, Carolyn’s son. Nothing wrong with poutine! Yum. After hitting the other yarn shop on Queen Street, we were winding down for the day when I dug in my tote to find my camera. What did I find but a skein of yarn that I’d apparently stolen! I was mortified and had to assume it fell into my bag while I was shopping at Romni. It was a lace weight, unlabeled skein, which I pointed out was nothing I’d have chosen had I actually stolen something. They kidded me mercilessly for being a thief for the rest of the trip. We went home to Eileen’s version of snack supper (I had explained that I frequently had cheese, crackers and Guinness after a long day of shopping), which looked like something from a magazine. After more Outlander, we all went to bed tired but happy after our fruitful yarn shopping.

Wednesday was another quilting day for Eileen and Cindy so Gail and I happily knitted all day. We were leaving on Thursday so did some repacking that night. Sam, Eileen’s husband, is a big Survivor fan so much to the chagrin of everyone but me, we watched the premiere instead of more Outlander.

There was no rush on Thursday because it was a 3 hour ride and we didn’t have to be there until dinner. Our first stop was another yarn shop where I restrained myself and only bought 2 skeins. Then we drove across Ontario, stopping for lunch in a small town only to be abandoned by our waitress so we left hungry after 20 minutes. We did grab a sausage roll in a bakery to tide us over and arrived at the B&B mid-afternoon. We checked in and were about to head out to dinner when Sue called and asked us to wait. After our happy reunion, she took us to a wonderful restaurant – Woodpecker in Port Elgin (one town west where she lives.) We had a fun cheese plate that was reminiscent of France then most of us had appetizers instead of main courses. Then it was back to the B&B to meet everyone else. It was clearly a good group, which is typical for knitters. The four of us had been assigned to the family suite, which meant Eileen and Gail were sharing a double bed and Cindy and I were in the twins outside their room. The sink was in our room and the teeny, tiny bathroom was off our room so it was a good thing we were all tired and could sleep through anything. When it comes down to it, as long as I’m comfy and the room is clean (it was), I’m fine. I don’t need a queen size bed and Jacuzzi. Really.

After a wonderful breakfast at the B&B, we all walked up the street to the arts center for our first class, which was dyeing with Jeffi of Shaniknits. We had fun taking turns playing with the dyes and I LOVE the skein I dyed. Just as we finished, lunch arrived. Then it was back to the B&B for our afternoon classes. No one but me had wanted to do the transform a sock class so Sue and I just sat at a table in the back garden and did them while chatting. What it involved was taking a long tube that had been knit on a sock machine, cutting it in half, adding a toe to one end, a cuff to the other and cutting a hole for an afterthought heel. Cool, right? I enjoyed it. Dinner was at a funky little restaurant called Saffron, that had a menu that covered tons of ethnic cuisines, from Thai to Caribbean. I had some wonderful Jamaican chicken croquettes. Yum. Then it was across the street for my first time in Sue’s shop – Docknits. She had knitting themed cupcakes and an entire yarn shop to plow through. She even let me slog through some bins in her back room when the yarn I’d asked about wasn’t out yet. I did some damage but left with a happy bag of yarn. I’ll call it supporting both my friend and the local economy. Yeah, that’s what it was. : )

Saturday was an all day class on color play. It involved some overly complicated “pick colors of yarn from your inspiration picture,” which of course I didn’t have. After another yummy lunch, we actually got to the knitting. I loved the concept, which I may use with some socks down the line, and got a little swatch done but the class could have been better. We had some free time that afternoon so checked out the local outlet (bought nothing) then walked on the beach a bit. I was surprised that there are no waves in the great lakes. I was assured there were some during storms but no tidal activity. Hmmm… Anyway, we had dinner back at the arts center then knitted in the common room at the B&B. The retreat was basically over, which was too fast.

We had a late breakfast on Sunday then headed to Sue’s store with most everyone from the retreat. I stayed there knitting while Gail, Eileen and Cindy shopped the main drag and we lingered until 1:00 so I could check in for my flight the next day. Then it was back on the road home to Eileen’s. We had more delicious soup (homemade tomato from her garden harvest) and grilled cheese for supper then watched more Outlander. Cindy and I packed before bed because we’d be leaving at the crack of dawn.

The week was over so fast but I had a wonderful time. I never did find much different, except for the milk in bags. Check it out! It's never fly in the US. Too messy on the shelf. Anyway, in discussing the retreat, we decided it was as much fun as our more expensive European trips because it’s really all about knitting with friends. And since this was way cheaper, it might have me reevaluating my future travel. Don’t hold me to that though because if Jean and Philip plan a Scotland trip, I’ll be there in a flash. 

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