Travel Guide: Toronto

My first impression of Toronto was blue glass studded with bright fall foliage. As you drive in from the airport, the first buildings to greet you once you actually get in to the city are tall, modern, glass skyscrapers, and behind that, the blue of the Great Lakes. We went at the perfect time of year: the air was crisp and the small deciduous trees planted in the well-landscaped green spaces between buildings were fiery shades of orange and yellow and red. It was stunningly beautiful.

We stayed in the financial district, which feels like you’re in the middle of everything when you arrive on a Friday afternoon—the sidewalks and underground tunnels are bustling, restaurants and bars are full of business people—but it’s deceptive. Come Saturday morning we discovered this is not the best area of town to spend a weekend—75% of businesses in the area shut down when the working crowd goes home.

IMG_4390I love that the city’s districts are very distinct. You know exactly when you’ve crossed the street from Chinatown to the Fashion District. Toronto is very walkable, with wide sidewalks and ample opportunities to cross busy streets—and everyone obeys walk signals. (Although Andrew attributes that to innate Canadian niceness). I loved the public art and design throughout the city and definitely could have spent another afternoon walking aimlessly, admiring it all!

IMG_4387We spent our evenings in the King West neighborhood, which seems to be pretty hip, but not over run with 20-something hipsters. (Man, I sound like a crotchety old lady.) Great restaurants abound and there’s a great nightlife scene—with plenty of taxis to get you home. We did have to wait in line to get in to the bar—the locals we were with said that if we had arrived before 10:00 we would have been good to go.

 

Highlights

Where to go: I spent some significant time in the fashion district. Every other store front seems to be a massive fabric store. I loved King Textiles—with roll upon roll upon roll of fabric (and real fashion designers placing orders!), it reminded me of Mood from Project Runway.

IMG_4380What to do: Lots of people told us about a giant mall near our hotel. I’m not usually a big mall shopper, but after a couple months in Bermuda, chain stores (and Auntie Anne’s!) are starting to become a welcome, American-feeling sight. We didn’t go to the CN Tower, but I’m kind of wishing we had—however, I’ve heard the food is not very good in the restaurant at the top, so best to just imbibe a cocktail and the view!

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Where to eat: We had some absolutely fantastic meals in Toronto—and yes, don’t worry we had poutine. I absolutely loved Sansotei Ramen. They have a handful of dishes that are really just very slight variations on pork belly ramen—I love when a restaurant is so sure of what they’re doing, they only offer you what they make best. Another standout was Buca—an Italian place in King West. The atmosphere is amazing, and so is the suckling pig! (Oh, and the cheese tray… mmmm… cheese….)

IMG_4370 copyEditor’s Note: This first guide is pretty short since we were only in town for the weekend. Do you have Toronto tips? Please feel free to share in the comments or send me an email! Interested in writing a travel guide? Email me at kristink_64@yahoo.com.

Biscuit Scout

Photo courtesy of fibesquad.wordpress.com

Have you experienced the phenomenon? You’re walking around your town and all of a sudden you see an everyday object covered in something bright… and fuzzy? No, it’s not graffiti, it’s yarn bombing.

Photo courtesy of twilighttaggers.blogspot.com

South African artist Lynn of Biscuit Scout has taken this idea to the next level, creating practical items for the home with whimsical knit covers. From light fixtures to armchairs, her modern chunky knitting style could make the perfect addition to your living room. Here she gives us a glimpse at how she got started, her challenges and advice.

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
My washing machine was really old and had rust marks down its front. It looked very shabby and I was trying to figure out how to disguise it. I couldn’t paint it. I didn’t have a sewing machine to sew an outfit for it so I thought I’d knit one! I knew how to knit but hadn’t done since I was a teenager. I lied when I went to buy the wool – I said I needed enough to knit a blanket. And that started me up this path of knitting large things.

Do you intend for your pieces to be functional or simply function as sculpture?
A bit of both – a knitted article is not suitable for high traffic.

How difficult is it to mold your knitting to a 3-D form?
My Mom taught me to knit when I was about 6 years old. The beauty of knitting with wool is that it stretches so can be moulded to fit once you have the basic dimensions and shapes.

How are your materials sourced?
I’ve found a range of local wools which have a lot of natural colours which I like to work with. I’ve only worked with these and have recently added a range of beautiful and brighter colour cottons (Vinni’s) which are hand dyed by previously unemployed women.

How has your work evolved?
I’m still finding new things to knit. I’m busy sewing my first knitted handbag together at the moment. I hope to finish it today.

What is your greatest challenge?
The shipping costs from South Africa. Yikes!

What inspires you?
This may sound corny, but there is inspiration everywhere – it just depends on how you look at things.
Tell us about your etsy business.
My friend Shelley told me about Etsy about 4 years ago. I joined in April last year. I would love this to be my full time job, but as it takes so much time to knit each object, the finished project is quite expensive and this limits my sales. And then there’s the shipping costs!

Aside from your etsy shop, where can readers find your work?
www.biscuitscout.com (for South African readers – prices in Rands)

What advice do you have for new etsians?
Enjoy the community. There are so many amazing, talented and friendly people on Etsy.