Have a ball at the 10th annual L.A. County Yarn Crawl
by Andrew Alonzo | firstname.lastname@example.org
On Tuesday, Yarnaholic owner Gina Carlson and two of her closest colleagues, including Martha May, worked tirelessly to get knick-knacks, clothes and bundles of yarn out of boxes and up on the walls of the small-scale Foothill Boulevard boutique.
Just one-and-a-quarter-miles away at Phebie’s Needle Art in the Claremont Packing House, sewing veteran and store owner Phebie Day-Lozano refreshed her employees on how to ring up customers quickly and accurately using the store’s old school point-of-sale system.
Both store owners—along with 13 other women-owned businesses—were preparing for the 10th Los Angeles County Yarn Crawl, a four-day event established in 2010, which celebrates yarn-centric businesses and everything yarn, knitting and crochet-related.
“As a knitter … it’s equivalent to a child going to a candy store,” May said, as she stocked a shelf. “You get to explore different shops, different kinds of yarns, different patterns and you get to meet people.”
In addition to showcasing the various mainstream and independent yarns these businesses supply, participating shops will also offer crochet classes, ceramics courses, knit-offs, surprises and giveaways for participants to invoke their creative knitting sides.
This year’s celebration of the fiber arts opened at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 24 and will conclude Sunday, March 27 at 6 p.m. The crawl, open for all ages, is hosted thanks to the combined efforts of the 15 unique yarn shops, which together also form the similarly named nonprofit organization, the L.A. County Yarn Crawl.
“The Yarn Crawl I think is a great way to show that yarn stores are not in competition [with one another]. We all bring something unique to their communities,” Carlson said.
One of the great things about this crawl is that it prompts people from all across Southern California to go to the participating yarn shops, and to take in the notable and slight differences of each store’s offerings, according to Carlson.
The 10th edition of the crawl is the first time this event has been held since its crochet wings were clipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The event was, and still is, a great way for the businesses to garner exposure in the community, according to Day-Lozano and Carlson.
“Really, it’s about education and how do we tie this [yarn crawl] to the greater parts of the world, right?” Carlson said. “Women in Uruguay are dying yarn, so by supporting [those women], we’re supporting them create a sustainable livelihood for themselves in another country.” A majority of Carlson’s yarn vendors are women-based organizations that work to better the Earth.
“The information that we can share about what we’re doing … helping women find sustainable work. So, I hope those are the stories that people are hearing on the Yarn Crawl aside from the fun stuff,” Carlson added.
Two years without the crawl have been tough, not only for the two Claremont-based yarn businesses, but for all 15 to stay afloat since it garners the businesses so much attention.
“Unfortunately … we started with almost 30 yarn stores 10 years ago [as a part of the Yarn Crawl] and it has dwindled down to only 15 participating this year,” Day-Lozano said. “It’s because a lot of the stores closed and stopped [operations due to COVID-19], but we’re lucky to still have that number and it’s great for us to work together to expose people to what we have.”
While both owners were able to ride out COVID-19, thanks to customer support, and eventually reopen, each took a different path to survive.
Carlson took the approach most businesses did during the height of the COVID-19 closures, shifting to an online model after the pandemic closed her storefront’s doors. She focused strictly on web orders and Zoom classes on how to knit, while Day-Lozano relied on her regulars to help her weather the COVID storm.
“I did not do online because I’m not too social … savvy,” Day-Lozano said. “What I did was I had my regular customers … call me and say ‘Okay I need 10 skeins of this yarn.’ And I’d pack it up, put it outside the door, they slipped the check under the door and took their yarn. And that’s how we managed [for two years].”
Day-Lozano was one of the founders and participants 2010’s original Yarn Crawl. The 84-year-old hopes she has a few more Yarn Crawls in her before officially hanging up her knitting needles.
For Carlson, this Yarn Crawl will be her eighth showing, and will also serve as her grand reopening of Yarnaholic following two years of pandemic storefront closures and moving from its second location, 240 W. Foothill Blvd., to its third and location, which is next door.
Carlson hopes to maintain her pandemic model of Zoom classes and online ordering, while also throwing the storefront experience into the mix. Once the Yarn Crawl concludes, the self-described yarnaholic hopes to establish regular store hours again, which will be posted at a later date on her website, yarnaholicstore.com.
To keep up with Phebie’s Needle Art or to participate in one of her in-person knitting courses, visit phebie.com. You may also visit her various social media pages such as Twitter and Instagram searching the username @Phebies_NeedleArt.
The crawl spans a 143-mile radius, featuring 13 greater Los Angeles communities including Downtown Los Angeles, Los Feliz, Long Beach, Bellflower, Redondo Beach, Inglewood,
Santa Monica, Brentwood, Encino, Valley Village, Pasadena, La Verne and Claremont. Yarn enthusiasts are encouraged to stop by all 15 participating yarn stores to gather stamps for their 2022 yarn crawl passport. Those who visit between nine and 15 stores will be entered in various raffles.
Details about the raffles can be found online. Further information also about this year’s Yarn Crawl, including locations and contact details for participating businesses, can be found at layarncrawl.org.
Yarnaholic is located at 242 W. Foothill Boulevard; Phebie’s Needle Art is at 532 W. First Street, Suite 210.
Day-Lozano emphasized that it’s easy for new or upcoming yarn stores to join the L.A. County Yarn Crawl.
“All they have to do is be willing to join the group,” Day-Lorenzo said. “If any new store wants to grow, this is the place for them to grow.”