LOS ANGELES COUNTY, USA, 2022-Mar-10 — /EPR Network/ — CELEBRATING TEN YEARS, the L.A. County Yarn Crawl (www.layarncrawl.org) is trying to keep its six regional communities of Los Angeles County knit together in comfort in what continues to be a challenging time. With the four-day live event return slated for March 24-27, 2022 10 AM – 6 PM, the 143 mile radius adventure is welcoming interest from locals, tourists, and multi-generational fiber arts enthusiasts after a two-year absence. From Downtown Los Angeles, Los Feliz, Long Beach, Bellflower, Redondo Beach, Inglewood, Santa Monica, Brentwood, to Encino, Valley Village, Pasadena, La Verne and Claremont, the fifteen women-owned small businesses participating are uniting to remind everyone that “yarn brings people together” with the power to stitch creativity, community, education and the collective minds and hearts of all those needing to feel part of something bigger than just the yarn itself.
From quarantine to healing, shop owners like Annette Corsino of Inglewood’s The Knitting Tree L.A. (www.theknittingtreela.com
) concur. “I believe in the healing power of the fiber arts and have witnessed it over and over again. I have learned that there is a thriving fiber arts community that spans all economic, racial and community boundaries and it is a vital part of cultural arts, especially in a city as diverse as Los Angeles. Many of the fiber arts have been handed down generation to generation and reflect different inspirations, color, and structure. It is a medium of hands working in prayers, support, friendship, idealism, joy and hope into each stitch. Traditionally, the fiber arts are created in groups that foster family and community, where people of all kinds come together with a common interest. One of the most important aspects of education is exposure to ways of life different from your own. That’s how we learn and expand our view of the world, creating understanding, compassion, and empathy,” declares Corsino.
All fifteen of the participating yarn shops in the 10th celebration of L.A. County Yarn Crawl acknowledges healing through yarn has been ongoing, even before COVID. The county’s shop-wide knitting and crocheting classes which served many in education, also served those needing refuge, as much as learning. For Jennifer Wenger-Turchen, owner of Jennifer Knits in Brentwood (www.jenniferknits.com
), it is all about what her store symbolizes – friendship, community, creativity and human touch, particularly in a tech-filled society. From those working through PTSD to cancer-survivors, she’s had all kinds of knitters in her shop. “We literally have people tell us every day that knitting saved their life with both new and old clients. We have felt so much love and support during this icky time! We’ve created a community and friends; and we’ve shown people they can relax and have fun with fiber,” Wenger-Turchen explains.
Education is a common theme and important element of the fiber arts industry and yarn is important to traditional education as well. L.A. County’s yarn shops are serving students, teachers, faculty, stressed out executives working both remotely and those suffering with anxiety returning to the work place. Local students are uniting, even from rival colleges to have friendly knit-offs. College faculty see yarn both in and out of the classroom as a powerful experience.
University of La Verne professor Linda Bartelts who dared to take on the trek of the 143 mile L.A. County Yarn Crawl in 2019 knows this well. Being is an essential educator in contact with several hundred students per week she understands yarn’s stress-relieving and healing benefits while staying connected to her currently is staying connected to her yarn community. “Some of my students knit and some of them knit during class (in person and on Zoom). I go to “drop-ins” at BUKU Yarns every Thursday night and some of my students will show up. In fact, two of them showed up last night! My son went to the Webb Schools in Claremont for high school and they actually taught the students how to knit as a stress reliever. It was fun to see students walk around with their knitting – some would even walk and knit!” says Bartelt who plans on returning as a Yarn Crawler to the L.A. County Yarn Crawl’s 10th celebration.
Bartelt’s go-to-shop in La Verne, BUKU Yarns (www.buku-yarns.com
) is part of the San Gabriel Valley leg of the L.A. County Yarn Crawl. Shop owner Amanda Rios who will be participating in her fifth crawl sees the healing and bonding power of yarn first hand. “I really love to see the younger generations interested and wanting to learn. I feel like teaching someone to make something beautiful and useful with their hands is one of the best lifelong gifts you can give. I really love this community, that’s what keeps me going year after year, the people. I love hearing from customers about how comfortable and welcomed they felt from their first time walking into the shop. If that’s the case, then I’ve done my job,” states Rios.
Also echoing this sentiment is L’Atelier (www.latelier.com
) owner Karen Damskey celebrating forty-six years in the fiber arts business in the Riviera Village of Redondo Beach plus a second location L’Atelier on Ventura in Encino with both shops participating in the 2022 L.A. Yarn Crawl. The French word L’Atelier, translates to mean “The Workshop” and she has always seen her ‘workshop’ job as an active hub for all things yarn and design, and the power of yarn healing. “One of my clients lost her husband. She was working on a sweater for him and wanted to return all the unused yarns. She had completed ¾ of the sweater. I took her aside and suggested that she finish the sweater for herself. She had knit all of her love of “Tom” into it and it was sad to see her abandon it. She broke out with a big smile and we worked together to make some simple changes that would allow her to complete the garment for herself. The joy and love on her face told the story. Working with yarn and creating new designs connects me to my soul. For me knitting is a journal, whatever I’m working on will in the future trigger what was happening at that moment in my life. Creating gives me mindfulness, and balance,” elaborates Damskey.
Balance is key to yarn healing for both the shop owner as well as the community that it serves. Bellflower’s Candace Broeker of Stitches in Time Yarn (www.stitchesintimeyarn.com
) sees yarn’s full-circle healing loop for her community and herself in the same breath. “I have had more than one person tell me they would not have made it through a terrible life event if it were not for my shop and the other regulars who have become friends. Knitting is how I de-stress and comfort myself as well as how I make a living, so I didn’t need to keep my passion alive (amid pandemic), it’s ALWAYS alive. Most commonly folks were and are really appreciative that I am still here for the help and community. For years my students have told me how important it is to them to have my shop to visit, to receive help and for the companionship and friends they make,” shares Broeker.
During the past five years Pasadena’s Wollhaus (www.wollhaus.com
) has witnessed that The L.A. yarn community is very diverse. “We hope to see a fearless community of new and returning knitters and crocheters eager to learn with the exploration of new techniques such as color work, courage to try new things, new generation of younger knitters, and fashion movement. We’re located near the Pasadena City College and Caltech campuses. We have faculty (including scientists), staff, and students as customers. Recently one of our regulars defended her doctoral dissertation and invited us to watch over Zoom. We were so touched when she completed her presentation and included a special slide thanking Wollhaus for providing her with emotional yarn support during her PhD pursuit!” share owners Kathi Snodgrass and Ulli Shrober.
Kat Coyle, shop owner of Los Feliz’ The Little Knittery (www.thelittleknittery.com
), finds yarn healing in yarn conversations both globally and locally in L.A. Her “craftivism” career milestones include collaborating with Krista Suh and Jayna Zwieman, designing the Pussyhat for the 2017 Women’s March and being part of The Welcome Blanket. Zwieman asked her to design a blanket pattern for her project that gives blankets to immigrant families. Being part of global outreach larger conversations continued through the pandemic providing additional yarn story moments with her customers day-to-day which perpetuates healing. “I enjoy working and creating with yarn. I consider my yarn store my happy place. The people that shop at The Little Knittery are warm and supportive. Working with yarn has been a way to express myself creatively and at the same time has been a vehicle to connect with community,” states Coyle.
The yarn shops became more than just a haven for owners to indulge in their fiber arts passion, it was all about self-care and self-love as a shop, shop owner, industry and fiber community. For Gina Carlson owner of Claremont’s Yarnaholic Store™ & Boutique (www.yarnaholicstore.com
)looking at this big picture relationship means understanding its importance. “I love to educate people on the history of this art medium. There are so many disciplines tied to this industry. The creative ways that our yarn vendors/partners worked to be flexible to help yarn store owners helped me to say, ‘I can survive.’ It’s important to want to create, so it is important for yarn stores to make it through this time. We offer a special experience through our expertise, time, and our love to help someone else to find that passion and ability to create. That helps all of us to stay motivated. People will enjoy the simple act of being out and going to multiple yarn stores over the course of the four days during this year’s crawl, when they have been deprived for almost two years and will probably be more appreciative of this experience being available,” shares Carlson
Phebie Day Lozano owner of Phebie’s NeedleArt (www.phebie.com
) in Claremont looks at the Yarn Crawl ahead to be a pathway from being quarantined seeing the unprecedented, to emerging back into community. “As someone who has been involved in the fiber arts community for over 30 years, the past two years have been unlike anything I have ever experienced. Fortunately, knitting and crocheting helped many of my customers get through the quarantine. I am sure that the upcoming Yarn Crawl will be a welcome return to normalcy for those returning customers. I do think that people who began knitting and crocheting during the quarantine will be interested in participating and seeing the variety of products, projects and ideas out there,” states Lozano.
For L.A. Yarn Crawl President Maridee Dangcil, who happens to own area’s only mobile shop, The Yarnover Truck (www.yarnovertruck.com
), yarn became a way in which she created her own methods for dealing with the balance of health, life, and later entrepreneurship stress, intertwining yarn as her therapy. “For me, knitting and crocheting are meditative! The simple act of counting stitches would calm me down and after just a few minutes,
I could go back and face the next project on my To Do list. I have learned that there is a very large and thriving yarn community in Los Angeles County. I think working with yarn gives people the chance to be creative and try new and different things. Since we opened to in-person shopping again in July of 2021, we’ve been seeing more and more of our regulars venture out and just about everyone has expressed their happiness in being able to touch and feel yarn in person again. Everyone really missed that!” states Dangcil.
Santa Monica owners Claudia Seizer and Teri Artinyan of Wildfiber Studio (www.wildfiberstudio.com
) are happy to be open again to in-person customers to witness the healing aspect of what yarn can do in the community. “The greatest part of being a yarn shop owner is getting to spread the love of yarn, knitting and crochet to all people. We take particular joy in seeing the excitement of someone who has just discovered knitting or crochet. We know the possibilities and can’t wait for them to discover the things they can accomplish. Working with yarn allows us all to express our creative selves. It is the common thread we have with the world of fiber enthusiasts.”
At the Mezzanine Level of California’s largest 22,000 sq. foot book seller, The Last Bookstore in Downtown L.A. you’ll find Gather DTLA (www.togatherdtla.com
) yarn shop owner Tifanee Taylor who ironically could not gather in the traditional sense during the COVID pandemic. Gather DTLA had participated packing 100 lunches for the Downtown Women’s Center just a month prior to the 2020 L.A. County Yarn Crawl being postponed. Yarn’s healing is a united energy of global proportions and owning a yarn shop that attracts tourists from all over the world, she never strays from the community where she ultimately found her own belonging as she continues serving her community. “I moved here in December of 2014, and started coming to Gather’s Sunday Social because I was looking for ‘my people,’ and didn’t know anyone in L.A. aside from my husband. A couple months later, Evi, who had opened the shop in 2012, decided she needed to close it. I asked if I could buy it from her instead, and we made it work. I’m so glad to have been able to keep it open, Gather is a really special place inside of an absolutely magical bookstore. L.A.is an enormous city, and I think it is fantastic that there are so many yarn shops. Each shop has it’s own personality, and everyone can find a couple shops which suit them.”
“L.A.’s yarn community is just that – a community. We have customers who are in therapy and have had their therapist suggest it as a means to cope with things they are going through. There are schools now that have incorporated knitting into their curricula. Studies have been done on children who had a tough time focusing on school and studying, but when they were knitting while listening to a lecture, they were able to better focus on what was said. We find peace in working with yarn. Yes, even if that yarn becomes a big knot we would still suffer through it just to work with it. We love the expression and the peace it brings,” state Dawn Stancarone & Sherri Andrews of Valley Village’s The Altered Stitch (www.thealteredstitch.com
Sandra Carter, Michelle Nash and Carla Hubbart found themselves making a very unexpected commitment to becoming business partners and yarn shop owners during COVID. Alamitos Bay Yarn Company’s (www.yarncompany.com
)name and long-running reputation for twenty-two years has been a staple in the Long Beach community for many fiber arts enthusiasts. When the former owners decided to take a long-overdue and well-deserved road to retirement, Carter, Nash and Hubbart understood the shop’s long important legacy for the Long Beach area. “We did not want to see Alamitos Bay Yarn Company close. It’s special – it’s a community. The greatest part of owning this shop is listening to customers share with us what the shop means to them. Having our shop here has shown us how much the yarn community appreciates good quality yarn,” shares Hubbart.
Keeping communities looped into a multi-generational past time is no easy task for the Fiber Arts Industry, however, when small businesses unite for the same common cause, the result is a community found for both avid and newbie crafters alike. The twenty women shop owners whose 273 combined years of yarn business ownership experience shared their thoughts on the healing aspects of fiber arts, understanding its bigger purpose. It is with these collective thoughts they have hope for continued healing in the City of Angels and for all of their respective yarn communities coming together in the name of the fiber art industry. “We want all crawlers to feel safe and know we’re looking out for them as they crawl from shop to shop. There is a very large and thriving yarn community in Los Angeles County. Working with yarn gives people the chance to be creative and try new and different things and we’re here to welcome both new and veteran crawlers into our fiber arts community,” states Maridee Dangcil, President of the L.A. County Yarn Crawl.
Traditionally every year since the Yarn Crawl’s inception, the shops give away free patterns to crawlers as a regular feature of the Yarn Crawl using their featured yarn, which is the only yarn that each shop can have on sale during the event. This year the featured yarns will be available for sale at a 15 percent discount. Plus this first-time Treasure Hunt pattern giveaway is available in both knit and crochet and is on top of what the crawl regularly features as celebratory incentive to enjoy the ten years of crawling through L.A. County. The patterns are free available for download https://layarncrawl.org/pages/treasure-hunt-patterns.
The 10th L.A. Yarn Crawl will be bringing a mix of old and new to the event. Returning will be the classic crawl popular passport prize promotion, where each of the fifteen shops will feature a $300 gift basket prize. To enter crawl participants will drop their completed passports with stamps from the Yarn Crawl sprawl of shops visited: https://layarncrawl.org/pages/about-the-la-yarn-crawl
The L.A. County Yarn Crawl’s group of unique shops are committed toward educating and teaching yarn crafts. The purpose of the event is to create awareness by bringing together the Los Angeles community in the fiber arts all while creating friendships, inspiring creativity, projects, and memories to last a lifetime. For event details, COVID safety protocol and more information on the L.A. County Yarn Crawl 2022 please go to https://layarncrawl.org/
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