What does a Toronto factory yarn-bombing look like?

The address was a bit off the beaten path and squirreled away down a narrow pathway. From the outside, 50 Bartlett Ave. (more recently known as the Lanehouse real estate project) has all the usual markers of a character-ridden factory, but inside, the industrial bones of the space are obvious, as are the three scantily clad models frolicking on swings dangling from the tall ceilings—and even batting around coloured yarn.

That’s right: yarn. In fact, the evening was billed as a yarn-bombing. Don’t feel too bad if you can’t instantly imagine the concept—it is, in the words of Kim Graham, a “soft anarchy” intended to reclaim the space. Why soft? Well, because it’s yarn. And because it comments on a space without destroying it.

It’s an international phenomenon that goes by many names—including the too-precious Kniffiti—and is gaining traction in New York. Toronto is late to the game on this count, but the work of yarn-bombing collective Bissell Bomber, gently draped around the warm wooden beams of the space, was a beautiful introduction. Unobstrusive, humble, and a can't-help-but-smile moment when you glimpse it.

The evening also served another purpose—to cement the property’s history in the area. The building was once the site of a yarn factory (and it all becomes clear). The models wore undergarments by Bloordale’s own Sartoria, crafted from upcycled cashmere and merino sweaters. Portuguese tarts were slated to arrive later in the evening.

And let’s take a moment to talk about the food, courtesy of County General. The opening of their much-anticipated Bloordale outpost, County Paradise, is expected in about a year, but I can report that their menu mainstays tasted just as good north of Bloor. Dispensed among the growing throng throughout the evening was the succulent chicken thigh sandwich, accented by avocado chutney and the cilantro that gets me every time, devilled eggs, pork rillettes and onion bhaji.  

But of course, the real draw was the space itself. As a tease of what future owners can expect, Audax Architecture and Nivek Remas designed a two-storey model loft that was, well, stunning. Think a marriage between luxury and bookishness—and taupe. 

“The idea was to reclaim the building in its raw space,” says Gary Eisen, of Curated Properties. Condos don’t have a soul, he intimates, but "this has a soul.” Let’s hope there are more projects like this in Toronto’s increasingly sky-scraping future.  

The Lanehouse showroom is located at 50 Bartlett Ave.