The Los Angeles area knitting community will stitch itself together once again this weekend as thousands of knitters, crocheters and weavers hit up dozens of locally owned shops for the 2018 Yarn Crawl.
As they fan out throughout the southland to see new stores, pick up patterns and meet artisans they will likely end up at Santa Monica’s Compatto Yarn Salon tonight, where owner Bonnie Davidoff holds the popular annual “fastest knitter” contest.
“It’s really fun,” Davidoff said of the contest that begins at 6 p.m. at the store at 2112 Wilshire. The winner walks away with a beautiful new set of knitting needles.
Compatto is one of twenty-six stores participating in the crawl between April 19 and 22, offering games, snacks, prizes and an opportunity to meet the designers behind patterns and hand-dyed materials. Knitters print out passports and hope to win prizes while meeting other enthusiasts who’ve embraced the tactile in the time of tech.
At noon Thursday, Davidoff will host Jeane de Coster from Elemental Affects Yarn and designer Pam Powers. On Saturday, Compatto will host Mira Cole of Baah! Yarn at 10 a.m.
“People love her. She’s one of the gurus,” Davidoff said. The shop stocks up on bagels every year in anticipation of hungry crowds as knitters see how many stores they can visit in one day.
“The event is both an opportunity for discovery and delight, and also a resilient hurrah against the onslaught of e-commerce activity that is crushing small businesses, in particular brick and mortar retail,” said Lesley Roberts, with Ocean Park Studio marketing and strategy. Santa Monica-based Wildfiber Studio is also participating in the Yarn Crawl. Today Heather of Ewe Ewe yarns will be demonstrating brioche knitting and showcasing a shawl.
While the annual Yarn Crawl is a great way to meet new knitters, Davidoff says a steady schedule of classes has her committed clients coming back every week. The word Compatto is Italian for close-knit. The shop is known for its monthly “block parties” where a group of knitters or crocheters meets to learn a new stitch for a blanket square. Over the course of nine months, the group makes an entire blanket, which is finished in the last class.
Davidoff and her associates are always willing to help customers with any issues they have along the way.
“If you buy our yarn we’re going to see you through your project,” Davidoff said. Still, she says her business has struggled to compete with cheap yarns sold on the internet. “You gotta be smarter all the time. All of us do.”
On a recent morning in the shop, knitters waited for the doors to open to ensure their favorite spot on the couch as they worked on their blankets and scarves.
“I’m not an amazing knitter but I always have to do something with my hands,” said a customer from Brentwood named Ellen who walked inside to pick up her loom. Ellen had recently taken a weaving class with her mother-in-law and decided to pick it up as another hobby. “I have a ton of projects. It’s so much fun.”
Crawlers can print out passports and learn more about special events at shops around Los Angeles at layarncrawl.org.