Sunday, October 04, 2009

Knitting Sprawl - Toronto, Ontario

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we did attend one knit night in Toronto itself. It was the evening after spending the day in Hamilton. I also mentioned that it was a little too much to try to get two groups in on one day - I was pretty fried by the end of that day but I really wanted to get the inner city perspective on things and that night was our only free evening. So, we rushed back from Hamilton, sat still for a couple of minutes and set Finn and Lucy up with some snacks and some television (I'm not proud) and headed off to Lettuce Knit in the heart of Kensington Market.

Ok, so I feel like I need to make some kind of statement here. I found Lettuce Knit to be a fantastic yarn store that I would be beyond thrilled to have in my neighborhood. The owner is very, very sweet and was as helpful and kind as anyone could reasonably expect to be, or maybe more. But the truth is, I really didn't want to go to their knit night but it was the only one that fit our schedule. I didn't want to go because I know that Stephanie Pearl McPhee goes to that knit night. I love Stephanie's blog as much as the next knitter and I especially love how she has, pretty much single-handedly, given knitters permission to feel very proud of their craft in a very public way. I admire her immensely for that. But I had this project to do and I didn't want to be mistaken for a Yarn Harlot groupie and, frankly, I just didn't want to deal with any weirdness around her celebrity that strangers coming to knit night might bring out.

That said...

Kensington Market is kind of like the Toronto version of the East Village only with funkier, more wooden, low rise architecture. I'll be honest - it was hard not to roll my eyes. The hipster scene felt a little contrived after the amazing Hamilton experience: blind Croatian women knitting and offering to take Sonya to the German Club to meet men, ukulele bands, people dealing with cancer and other illness with grace and dignity. All that all felt so real and amazing. Kensington Market felt so silly in comparison. I know on another day, under other circumstances, I would have totally loved every minute of it so I am not judging it (or I am not judging it now in retrospect. I was totally judging it then). I am just saying that, on that evening, after that day's experiences, I was viewing the whole scene through a very jaded (and tired) lens and it was coming up short. Way short.

It wasn't a very good place to start the conversation. I did manage to get a little dialogue going but it was hard. Understandably, the knitters themselves were a bit jaded and possibly a bit protective of their group and its members, which yes, included knitting celerbrit(ies). The mixture of my "get over yourself" attitude and their "we don't need you" attitude was not so good. The whole thing was just hard and a little weird and a little awkward and not really a whole lot of fun for anyone.

I'm sorry. It was me, Toronto, not you.

(Needless to say, I didn't take any photographs.)


OfTroy said...

but that is part of community too.

unfortunately all groups, or societies aren't good.

Family values is the cry of the right.. but we've seen the worst of family values (most recently in China, where a 'family' decides it wants to prosper, and waters down the milk, and then fills with any old thing to make it look good.

so what YOU or YOUR family get sick.. His (her) family prosper.

groups might not star out self centeredly, but... things happen.

there are open communities..(and gated ones!) there are inviting communities, and closed ones.

Its good to see the good, but its also important to see the bad.. (or perhaps just the less good)

city people are different than suburban--for a whole bunch of reasons.. and exploring those differences is good too.

Robyn said...

Of course you are correct Helen in saying that not all communities are good or open or welcoming. And I did experience a spectrum of openness. What I wanted to convey was that the group didn't go well, which it really did not, and that (in retrospect), I see how much my own attitude contributed to that. Yes, I think that particular group was a tough nut to crack from the get-go for all sorts of reasons - the location, the presence of knitting celebrities, etc., but really, I could have done better.

That said, the whole Toronto thing is very interesting to me and probably worth another post...