Eliminating spas, movies (as the one of obvious interest had yet to release), and physical activity left me with very few options. Well, options that I found to be innovative anyway. Back and forth I would debate with myself regarding tufting as a potential activity, first justifying its value as a new DIY pursuit, then rejecting it on the basis of cost and resulting level of satisfaction. "Would it be an activity capable of being enjoyed equally?"
Eventually, seeing as any other activity seemed to pale in comparison, I bit the bullet and booked a slot at ZuoZuo Tufting & Fluid Bear. Of all the businesses I had so carefully reviewed, the Richmond Hill establishment prevailed as the most reasonable choice: Etobicoke, Yonge/Sheppard, and Yonge/Lawrence were compact and did not offer parking; Scarborough was unnecessarily far with few POIs, if any, in the surrounding vicinity.
This time around, I'd add my name to the waitlist just before setting out (and pray that all would go according to plan).
Hurriedly, I joined the waitlist a second time, using my name and the sleepy polar bear's contact number. The wait time was an estimated 45-59 minutes.
Another chimed in. "I got the notification, but we still have to wait!"
I approached one of the staff to inquire of the waitlist status, then was directed a lady with short black hair. A tablet resided in her hand, likely assisting in queue management. Bracing myself to be rejected, I stated my case: "I put my name on the waitlist received the notification. It's a table for two."
The lady skimmed the list, found my name towards the top, but refused to confirm the exact wait time to be conservative.
Back outside I went. The adjacent Joy Noodle Cafe was proposed as an alternative, but the sleepy polar bear was reluctant to accept. "Let's wait ten minutes then see."
"Okay, but my booking is at 12 PM." I cautioned.
A swift yet thorough Lysol wipe later, we settled in beside a couple nearing retirement age. The man looked over at us with a slight animosity. "Why were they seated first instead of them?!"
I looked over to my right, where their friends were supposedly waiting.
His wife responded calmly, "Because they (the friends) are a party of three."
On the other hand, the Black Truffle Scrambled Egg was fabulous. Jiggly, golden ripples with a shroomy accent for seasoning, it was unanimously deemed the singly most decadent component of the meal. Its underlying foundation of crustless white toast paired splendidly with the egg, though was enjoyed to a lesser degree due to my bread overdose of late.
Also leaving a prominent impression was the Iced Hong Kong Milk with Traditional Ding Ding Candy. Wonderfully flavourful and velvety, I never knew HK Milk Tea could pair so well with milk foam and honeycomb candy.
The bulk of the studio comprised of tufting stations, while three smaller rooms were fitted along the window. These appeared to be dedicated for pompom crafts, jewellery-making, and fluid bear painting.
For the first ten minutes, we merely hovered about, waiting for our presence to be acknowledged. The staff, a team of five, held a hurried meeting before proceeding with next steps. Then, we, along with the other two customers, were seated at the middle of the studio while tables with canvases were moved into one of three smaller rooms. The sleepy polar bear and I would, by chance, obtain our private space for projector use. The demo canvas by the front of the facility was set up for use by the other team.
The sleepy polar bear finished tracing on the smaller 50 cm x 50 cm canvas far sooner than I did. My compact bag project would entail four rectangular panels across a 70 cm x 70 cm canvas, which one of the staff members assisted in outlining for me. As I knelt down to begin tracing, I became aware of the fine details I would later be responsible for: tiny, asymmetrical blobs were far from beginner level, especially with thin borders.
A brief learning curve is associated with the tufting gun. To ensure complete penetration of the yarn through the canvas, one ought first position the gun at ninety degrees to the canvas, press to insert the blade through weaves, then hold the trigger while navigating upwards. Once the blade was inserted, the gun could be swivelled to any angle, as long as it remained in the same plane and the black lever on the bottom pointed downwards (not following the direction of movement). Maintaining this hand arrangement for angled tufts was more challenging than I thought, so instead of risking occasionally loose threads, I opted for lines and points. This enabled me to keep the gun upright, though demanded very controlled, short bursts of yarn.
Over the span of 6-7 hours, I had kneeled, slouched, gripped, sighed, and, of course, "tuft"d it out to realize my design dreams. After five hours in, the sleepy polar bear had finished. Meanwhile, I had turned to happy tunes and grin-inducing podcasts to power me through the remainder of my Sulley cow print. Of the 12 PM slot, I was the last to finish. The duo across from us had picked a large rug and worked tirelessly into the evening hours, just as we did. But even they finished first. With a late start and some colour choice errors, I finished around the 7:30 PM mark.
YouTube content had warned that the tufting process would be dusty, thus encouraging mask use throughout. Frankly, the yarn was found to shed less than expected; in contrast, it was the sticky, dusty floors that one ought be cognizant of. Nylon apparel is ideal for this activity.
I replenished fluid levels with two cups of barley tea from the gooseneck kettle placed at our table. The tea was, unofficially, the second-best thing to be delivered.