My yarn shop time was limited while we were on vacation, but I did manage to squeeze in a quick trip to Romni Wools right in the heart of the city. I had posted an inquiry about "can't miss" yarn shops in Toronto and mentioned that the only thing I was specifically looking for was a line of fingering-weight non-itchy yarn that came in a wide enough variety of colors that I could pick 3 shades of the same color. Brilliant Raveler Iammo recommended I visit Romni Wools and said something along the lines of "If it exists, you will find it there."
She wasn't kidding! First off, this place is big. Like as big as as the Big Box craft store in my city big. Plus, once you've gone through the whole shop and you think you're done, you realize that there's a basement that is also stuffed to the gills. And that brings me to the one drawback of this shop. It is stuffed to the gills. I am by no means a neat freak, but I did get have the uncomfortable feeling of having stumbled into a real life episode of Hoarders when I entered this place. They may very well have an organizational system at this shop - I was just too overwhelmed to figure it out. And I actually didn't see much of the thing I am most likely to buy - lovely skeins of unique sock yarn. (I have no doubt that it was in there some where....I just didn't have the fortitude to find it.) They did have every weight of yarn under the sun, and probably every fiber, and I did find exactly what I was looking for as far as my specific need goes. But the place is really, really overwhelming. Even more so when you know your family is waiting patiently for you in a coffee shop down the street and you want to get in and out in well under an hour.
My goal for souvenir yarn shopping was to focus mostly on things that I couldn't get in the United States. Guess what. The world is a very small place, especially the world between the US and Canada. The vast majority of the yarns I saw at Romni were the same things I see in yarn stores across the Midwest. And that's not a bad thing - they are lovely yarns! But I was a little surprised that I didn't see more differences in the selection.
I didn't spend much time in the basement, though I would have if I had more time to spend there. It was mostly full of fiber for spinning (which, I currently don't know how to do although one of my LYS owners has made it her mission to get me to learn, so I figure it's only a matter of time), and giant cones of solid-colored yarn as well as crochet thread.
I agree with Iammo - if you find yourself in Toronto, you must go to Romni Wool. And you seriously must give yourself at least 3 hours if you really want to look around and see all they have to offer. Also, if you have any trouble being in confined spaces or being around chaos, you might want to take a Xanax before you arrive.
Now for the fun stuff......here's what actually got to come home with me:
Yes, I can get madelinetosh sock yarn in my area, and I often order it on the web, but I'm not usually around a display of it that gives me so many color options to choose from in person. So I picked up the lovely Charcoal and Mourning Dove colorways and think they look great together. Not sure what they'll be, but I love the way the gray highlights the gray in the blue skein. I think they were made for each other.
These two natural tones, Luster and Weathered Frame make a nice combo as well. I'm envisioning something for winter here - maybe a hat & glove set? Maybe a big color work-y hood or scarf? I don't know, but I can already tell it'll be pretty.
And here's my successful specific requisition: three different shades of blue, all in a soft, 100% merino, fingering-weight yarn. Two of the colors are Sublime (which I can also buy around here), and the third is Filatura di Crosa Zarina, a brand I wasn't familiar with. Their fiber content is identical and their yardage to weight ratio is practically identical as well, so they'll work great together. In fact, I just started the project I had in mind for them last week, and am already about 75% finished. Since it's a transitional-weather piece, I'll be happy to have it done just as the weather here is starting to become a bit more reasonable.
My only regret with Romni is that I wasn't able to meet up with Iammo, who offered to take me there herself. I was really looking forward to meeting her, but since my kids each had a day over vacation where they weren't feeling very well, that really threw a wrench into the works as far as us trying to visit some touristy spots while we were there, so suddenly we had to pack as much as possible into 3 days instead of the 5 we had planned for. I knew I'd get to stop by the shop if we were in the area and I was lucky, but I wasn't sure when (or if) it would happen. Perhaps I'll be up that way again sometime, Mo, and you'll kindly let me take you up on the offer then. Or, if you ever happen to be passing through Central Illinois, I'll be happy to show you the yarn shop sights in my area - although I assure you that nothing here can compare to the Romni experience!