The Back Story
I ride the subway here in Toronto a lot. It can feel like I’m that little package being shoved into the pneumatic tube, sucked up and plonked out somewhere else in the city. I understand why in some parts of the world the subway is refereed to as The Tube.
To alleviate the boredom and general malaise that can arise from riding the subway, I try to knit whenever physically possible. This practice has led to many great conversations with fellow knitters and at times mini-knitting lessons while we wait for some unknown delay to clear.
Like many fibre artists I don’t just knit. I also hand spin my own yarns (both literally and metaphorically), which means that my stash includes loads of hand spun, hand dyed yarns along side all the knitting projects I’ve completed.
As someone who enjoys the simplicity of minimalism and the fun of making beautiful hats, mitts, scarves, cowls, gloves, sweaters, shawls, socks, shrugs…you see where I’m going here. I can’t stop spinning and knitting, but I can’t possibly bear to keep all this hand spun yarn and hand knit projects in my home.
The Best Decisions Are Made Over Coffee
This past holiday season, on a whim, I decided to take some of the plethora of Subway Knitting I was accumulating and chuck it up on line for friends and family to view and/or buy. I decided, literally while drinking my morning coffee, that the pieces wouldn’t be overly expensive, they would contribute to ethical fashion and that the bulk of any funds I collected would go to support two causes I care deeply about: people experiencing homelessness and our local fibreshed.
Supporting The Lennie Project
In my other life I teach at Ryerson University on the topic of Homelessness in Canada. This is how I became aware of The Lennie Project, an upcycling, community-based initiative by Nathalie-Roze Fischer that remakes sweaters into warm winter wear for those facing a life without housing. I love this project and decided that like any grassroots initiative a little money would likely be needed. So, $10 from every Subway Knits goes directly to The Lennie Project.
Supporting Our Fibreshed
The promotion of ethical fashion and the success of our local fibreshed is near and dear to my heart. For fun, I travel around the countryside interviewing millers, producers, farmers, shepherds and artisans who are working within our Upper Canada Fibreshed. All of the hand spun I use in #TheSubwayKnits comes from my stash of local fibres. It only makes sense that $10 from every Subway Knit goes to supporting local fibre producers, aka buying more fibre to make more Subway Knits! I think we could call this “closed loop” production.
Supporting Our Community
But wait! I’ve just added another awesome, community supporting layer to the project. If you are a supporter of Subway Knits and you live in Toronto, instead of mailing the item to you, I will have it hand delivered by the lovely folks of A-Way Express. This social enterprise uses public transit and employs folks that have survived mental health challenges and face serious discrimination in the workplace.
And that, my dear readers, is the essence of #TheSubwayKnits. I hand spin, sometimes dye and always knit up beautiful local fibres and you get to wear them. Every item is $30. I post images of the latest #TheSubwayKnits on Instagram and you get to shout out “That’s so mine!”. Then you head on over to the Peace Flag House Mercantile.
Do I take orders?
Yes, I do. I will make something to your specifications (aka 3 kid’s hats for an 18mth, 2 year and 4 year old with fold-over brims and pompoms) and I can offer light (creamy white), medium (light gray and brown) and dark (dark gray, dark brown and black) natural, undyed colours.
(Sometimes I’ll get creative in the studio and put out some lovely knits with hand dyed yarns (follow me on Instagram!), but mostly I use the colours of natural fibres).
The response to #TheSubwayKnits has been nothing less than terrific. Likely because we are fabulous humyns and Warm Hearts = Warm Heads.
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