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Claremont shops woven into L.A. County Yarn Crawl

By Savannah Munoz | Special to the Courier

Fiber artists flocked to Claremont recently in search of one of the world’s most innovative inventions: yarn.

Thirteen yarn shops hosted the 11th annual Los Angeles County Yarn Crawl in late April, including two right here in Claremont, Phebie’s Needleart and Yarnaholic.

A yarn crawl is similar to a bar crawl: each shop has yarn skein raffles, gives out free patterns, hosts craft classes, and connects participants with local fiber artists and pattern makers.

The crawl “opens people’s eyes to what options there are,” said Claremonter Kaerry Van Frank. She has attended the L.A. County Yarn Crawl since it started in 2010. “They all have a different twist, and they have a different focus on what kind of yarn they carry.”

Each shop weaves their own fiber arts story through their products, classes, and other offerings. It all reflects who each owner is and what matters to them and their customers, from the local weather climate to which yarn makers they support. This makes it easy for the shops, which are all female-owned, to collaborate and organize without fear of competition.

“The atmosphere in every store is going to be different,” said Phebie’s Needleart owner Phebie Day-Lozano. “A lot of the owner’s personality is exhibited in what you do, and in the fibers that you are carrying.”

Day-Lozano has owned her Claremont Packing House shop since 1989. To get to Phebie’s, you have to climb a set of stairs that are decorated with knitted pieces. The room is small, but skein filled shelves surround you. She also sells other craft supplies such as beads, embroidery threads, and books.

“I’m a low key individual,” Day-Lozano said. “I like to make people feel free to explore. And I like to feel that I am giving them a service.”

Up the street on Foothill Boulevard, Yarnaholic owner Gina Carlson has set up shop in a cozy red cottage. She used to work a few doors down at Bourgee Boutique when her mother owned it but decided to strike out on her own and open Yarnaholic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yarnaholic continues to be a family affair; Carlson’s family helped her set up for the yarn crawl and manage customers, two of whom drove 65 miles just to visit the store.

“The yarn crawl is a time to … reconnect with the excitement that yarn brings,” Carlson said.

She’s intentional about which yarn and yarn makers she works with. From men to the LGBTQ community to women of color, Carlson showcases a diverse array.

“Women of color who are creating yarns and developing yarns certainly are great because this industry did not have a huge presence of women of color when we first started,” she said.

For centuries, fiber arts have brought people, especially women, together through knitting circles, sewing circles, quilting bees, and yarn crawls. These social events give people a chance to create both garments and friendships.

Lately, Day-Lozano has noticed a new generation of crafters at her shop.

“I’m pleased because now I see younger people, like college-aged kids coming in here, and a lot of them are teaching themselves how to crochet on social media,” she said. “They’re very clever, and they can teach themselves.”

Crochet seems to be what’s trending with young people right now, Day-Lozano said. People are learning how to make stuffed animals, cardigans, and more through short step-by-step TikTok videos. In fact, videos using the #crochet hashtag on TikTok have amassed 17.4 billion views, easily surpassing #knitting’s three billion.

But nothing beats having an experienced teacher show you the ropes (or yarn skeins) in real life.

“We can educate you on the product and on how to use the product,” Day-Lozano said.

Interested in learning how to do a fiber craft like knitting or crochet? Check out Phebie’s Needlearts website for their class schedule, or make a one-on-one appointment with Yarnaholic to view their yarn offerings.

“We are available to provide help,” Day-Lozano said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or experienced.”

Savannah Munoz is a local writer and fiber crafter.

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