Yarn lovers celebrate ten years of the Los Angeles Yarn Crawl

After being canceled for two years due to the pandemic, the Yarn Crawl makes its entrance once again.

By Natalie Metcalf, Staff Writer

Alice Neal relaxes “beach side” as she acts as traffic control for the expected line. Domenica Angeles will also assist through out the weekend as the truck visits other Yarn Crawl locations. (Photo by Jose Callejas/The Valley Star)

The Los Angeles Yarn Crawl battled the 80 degree heat as participants joined the event for the first time in three years.

The LA Yarn Crawl, hosted from March 24-27, is an annual event created for knitters to spend time with fellow yarn lovers. The crawl was open to knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers and felters. Before the pandemic, 26 yarn stores around the city participated in the event. Only 15 small business yarn shops joined the festivities this year. The Altered Stitch entered their first yarn crawl, bringing in fiber enthusiasts from all over LA county. L’Atelier – a veteran of the event located in Encino – has participated in the crawl for nine out of the ten years.

“It’s great to be able to support these shops,” said L’Atelier customer Kim Stockemer. “The sad part is that there used to be a lot more knitting shops around the area and they all closed down.”

L’Atelier has two locations in California, both participating in the Yarn Crawl this year. The yarn shop was decked out with new colors of yarn, free patterns and a raffle for the celebration. The family owned business displayed a yarn-wrapped alpaca sitting in front of the store, holding Ukraine’s national flower — the sunflower – in support of the warring nation.

A yarn-wrapped llama holds a sunflower in front of the Encino yarn shop, L'Atelier. (Photo by Ava Rosate/The Valley Star)

“This is a friendly atmosphere and a workplace,” said L’Atelier store manager Theresa Damskey.

L’Atelier is French for “the workplace.” Customers can sit and practice knitting, work on projects or take a class in the store.

L’Atelier welcomes experienced knitters and beginners alike. According to Medaal, the yarn crawl brings in new customers, keeping art alive. Old and new crawlers shared their joy of knitting with the owners of L’Atelier by talking about current knitting and crochet projects. The group provides advice to excel in their knitting experience.

Most knitters who attended the crawl described knitting as “therapeutic” and “relaxing.” According to Mental Health America, knitting can lower blood pressure and reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness and isolation. Knitting can strengthen mental health as well, allowing knitters to give back to their community.

Stockemer and three of her yarn-loving friends knit for charity at St. Charles Borromeo, a church in North Hollywood. David Lasher – a yarn community supporter – talked about women knitting socks, sweaters, and hats for soldiers in WWI.

The Altered Stitch, a store located in Valley Village, was founded in 2014 by Leah SK Davidson. Co-owners Dawn Stancarone and Sherrie Andrews took over the yarn store in 2019. The shop originally planned to participate in the crawl in 2020, but COVID-19 abruptly halted the yarn crawl.

Customers supported The Altered Stitch by purchasing gift cards to the store. In order to keep the store in business, Stancarone and Andrews both work day jobs. Andrews is an archaeologist and Stancarone is an HR director.

The store also allows opportunities for small online businesses to sell their yarn. Jessica Tallent is the owner of Purls and Postulates, an online yarn shop that arranges trunk shows at The Altered Stitch. The trunk show allows yarn lovers to see products that are not normally on display. In celebration of this year’s Yarn Crawl, Purls and Postulates and The Altered Stitch created a brunch-themed yarn named Serotonin Sunrise.

Owner Maridee Dangcil’s yarn truck is fully stocked with yarn in preparation for this year’s Yarn Crawl event. Those participating in the event are given a ‘passport’ that can be stamped by different businesses and can be redeemed for prizes towards the end of this 4-day event. Her truck was spotted in the Valley Village neighborhood on Thursday, March 24. (Photo by Isaiah Zarco/The Valley Star)

“[My favorite part is] seeing all the crawlers, especially after not being able to do this for two years,” said Maridee Dangcil, the President of the LA Yarn Crawl. “It’s seeing all the people on the truck having them enjoy all the free yarn we have to offer. That’s the most fun for me – all the people.”

Dangcil was also the president of the organization before COVID-19 hit. This year she wanted to make sure that the annual crawl came back with a “gusto.” The Yarn Crawl President can knit and crochet, having been taught by her grandmother when she was younger. Dangcil describes herself as an active crafter.

“Every shop I’ve talked to is having a great year. All the crawlers are so exciting,” said Dangcil. “I feel like I’ve done my job.”