About ten years ago, the first TTC Knitalong happened, and it was a fairly small affair run by a couple of enthusiastic women in the Toronto knitting community. It ran for a couple of years but then lapsed as the volunteers organizing it moved away or moved on, and about five years ago it was picked up again, the organization spearheaded largely by knitters Michelle and Joyce (sans blog). I’ve been involved as a team captain and general co-organizer for most of that time, and I remember after the revived event happened a few years ago we all sort of looked around at each other and said, “you know, we have to make sure this happens again next year.” And it has kept going, and astonishingly gets not just bigger but better every year.
This year we had a few challenges up the ante for our enthusiastic participants – the weather forecast was warm (35C+ with the humidex), and the actual TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) which helps us get around from yarn shop to yarn shop on the day, suddenly started a bunch of streetcar track repairs that would divert major routes and affect every single TTC Knitalong team on the day. People were still gung-ho anyway! I think we were all flagging a bit by the end of the day, and I’m not going to lie, I’ve never been so glad to see a cold beer in my whole life. By the time the dust settled and it was just the captains sitting around when it was all over, I think we were reduced to sentences like, “I bought yarn good pretty. Drink beer now.”
(I think my new goal in life is to be as awesome as we all look in this picture – snagged from Michelle’s photostream. It is such an irony that all of us are friends and yet hardly see each other at all on the day of the event.)
I was a captain on the Green Team this year, which routed from Lettuce Knit to Knit Cafe, Purple Purl, and Romni Wools. It was a great group and also really neat to see both familiar faces and new ones, and many who had never been to some of these Toronto stores. A lot of folks register from out of town and use the day as an introduction to the knitting retailers in the Toronto area. I think one of the best parts of the day was seeing the reactions of people who set foot in Romni Wools for the first time. (It is big.) The familiar shops are always welcoming and although July carries the risk of warm weather, it is also a time when many places have sales, and so we benefitted from a few of those on the day.
A few things stood out for me upon later reflection (yesterday I was just about good for sitting and knitting and that was it), after the event. One was how valuable it has been to experience this kind of event from the inside-out, so to speak. There were thirteen team captains this year and all of us had a job. From printing route maps to inviting prize sponsors to participate, to getting in touch with the shops and making buttons for everyone to wear during the event, we were all doing something to make it happen. Everyone has a skill and a piece of expertise that gets used somewhere. The event is the result of many many hours of work, and a result which carries a pretty prominent profile that we all respect a great deal. But at the same time, man, we are all regular knitters. We do this because we love knitting and want to experience a day with knitters and to help raise a bit of money for charity in the process.
It’s also always very affirming to be in the presence of a group of knitters for a day, who have absolutely no qualms about trouping around the largest city in Canada with bold tote bags and knitting in hand, chatting and knitting away and being extremely visible with their craft. We do so much of our craft in isolation, even though we are connected through the internet, and roaming with a group of knitters in public for a day is an experience I really think every knitter should have at least once in their lives. It reminds us that we really are connected to a lot of other human beings through our craft, and reminds people who see us that, why yes, knitting is still going on – quite strongly, actually.
(And also we get to buy a bunch of yarn and that’s pretty great too.)
The bare minimum things you need for a TTC Knitalong or similar event? Yarn shops, knitters, and a way to get them from place to place. I hope that your city has something similar, and if not, that local folks can get on that. And if you can’t do that, well, Toronto knitting shops would be happy to see you for a day!
Thanks to everyone for knitting with us on Saturday, and happy yarn-snuggling to all.