By Wyndi Veigel
With temperatures well over 100 degrees, the last thing that sounds appealing is being up to one’s neck in wool, alpaca and other fibers but that is exactly what is happening this August as over 700 yarn-lovers participate in the 6th Annual DFW Yarn Crawl.
Fifteen destinations ranging from Ft Worth to Lindale, and Farmersville to Plano will showcase the wide variety of yarn shops, spinning mills, alpaca ranches, yarn dyers and commercial sweater manufacturing that North Texas has to offer.
Cindy Telisak, owner of Jacob’s Reward Farm in Parker, started the event six years ago after realizing the DFW Metroplex was one of few large cities that didn’t have a yarn crawl.
In essence, a yarn crawl is a multi-day event where knitters and crocheters travel from yarn shop to yarn shop, sampling wares, winning prizes and enjoying a shopping road trip with friends.
“Many yarn crawlers save up for months for this opportunity to get out of their ruts and see what far flung shops have to offer in the way of new yarns, projects, and a joyful sense of community,” Telisak said.
Every shop has its own personality, range of inventory, and draw – some are in the city, others in the country, some are posh and some are down-home.
“The stitchers have incentive to see everything out there –they are eligible for very nice prizes, depending on how many of the seventeen shops they visit. In this way, they find out exactly what’s out there when they get an itch to stitch. Plus, it’s just loads of fun,” she said.
Another important part of the crawl is simply to encourage people to shop local.
Since Telisak has many friends that are creative she realized there was a market for those to see what was new in the industry. She also has several friends who own their own businesses, so she is well aware of the struggles they go through to keep small businesses alive.
Telisak wanted to present a way that would benefit them both.
“My goal is to lead new shoppers to the local businesses that can really use a boost going into the holiday craft season,” she said. “Several shop owners have told me that in just a few years, the Yarn Crawl accounts for a significant percentage of their total annual revenue.”
Sponsors also help provide prizes and defray costs, and everyone wins.
The talents and products of local independent artists, those without brick and mortar shops, also get the chance to showcase their creations at trunk shows around town during the crawl.
Though Telisak doesn’t focus on selling items during the crawl, she hosts many independent artists at her farm where she raises sheep for wool.
Just to the north, Farmersville is home to Fiber Circle, the largest yarn shop in Texas, and Fancy Fibers, a complete spinning, weaving and dyeing business offering equipment, lessons and fibers collected from animals on their farm.
“Last year, over 450 shoppers came to town during the 10 day event and I expect that number to grow this year,” Diane Piwko, owner of Fiber Circle said. “It was a nice boost to the economy of our town as many people took the time to shop the downtown stores and enjoy a meal in our unique restaurants.”
As one attraction, residents are warned not to be surprised at the presence of a pair of 7-foot knitting needles in front of Piwko’s store.
“The tricky part was making a yarn bulky enough to be knitted on the giant needles. I used a vintage, 1960s toy knitting machine to knit over 60 skeins of yarn into a tube and then stuffed that tube by Navajo plying a thicker yarn inside,” Piwko said.
Other anticipated events include PJ and Pizza parties each Friday night, a make-it-and-take-it lariat necklace workshop, and a trunk show featuring hand-dyed yarns by Abby Owens of Twisted Owl Fiber Studio, a Longview business with ties to Farmersville.
“Abby’s aunt came into the store years ago and mentioned her niece had just stated a small business dying yarn. I fell in love with the speckled technique being used, a trendy way of blending colors in hand-dyed yarns that commercial manufacturers cannot do, and also welcomed the opportunity to help a new, small business get started,” Piwko said.
Shoppers will also be able to get a headstart on their Christmas wish lists by sampling over a dozen types of knitting needles at Fiber Circle’s tasting table.
With McKinney Knittery and Jacob’s Reward Farm also participating, three Collin County destinations can be reached within a 20-mile drive. Just south of Collin County, there are three more participating stores, two in Dallas and one in Grand Prairie.
Other than Farmersville, Piwko said she only knows of two other places in the U.S. where there is a weaving store and a yarn store located within a block of each other – Portland, Maine and Vancouver, Wash.
Local residents are encouraged to stop by and bring their children to all of the stores, which will be open every day from Aug. 18 through Aug. 27.
“Encouraging the next generation to pursue a hobby, whether in fiber, wood working, or any other activity that combines artistic, mental and hand coordination creates a foundation with health benefits and fills their time productively. That is a terrific thing about the fiber community, it is very sharing of it knowledge,” Piwko said.
No yarn about it: This is a big deal
Daily events throughout the duration of the crawl make the event even more fun for participants. Starting Aug. 18, there are multiple fun activities. First there is a Stitch N’ Pitch fundraising night at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. The event is $20 and includes a game ticket, unlimited hot dogs, bratwurst, chips, peanuts, Dr. Pepper products, a limited edition Roughriders souvenir and a Roughriders game program. A portion of the ticket sales benefits Stitch N’ Pitch.
Also on tap, Telesiak will host a Bad Poetry Day where participants can bring an original bad poem for 10 percent off any sock yarn.
Fiber Circle will host a PJ party into the night (really the morning) as it goes until 2 a.m. Saturday. There will be food and plenty of fun. There will be a repeat of this PJ party the following Friday, Aug. 25 as well.
The Knitting Fairy, a yarn store in Grand Prairie, will host a trunk show from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. featuring Karen Robinson of Karen Dawn Designs.
Saturday, Aug. 19 seven events are happening at participating vendors. The Artful Bead, Fiber Lady, Jacob’s Reward Farm, Knitting Fairy, McKinney Knittery, Tia Dana and Yarn and Stitches are all hosting trunk shows. Cynthia’s Corner in Gainesville is offering 10 percent off orange yarn that day.
August 20, there are four more trunk shows featured at the yarn shops. Trunk shows give knitters and crocheters the opportunity to view and purchase special offerings by designers and weavers that normally would not be stocked in store.
These events and much more continue daily throughout the duration of the Yarn Crawl and all information is posted on their website.
For those interested in the yarn crawl, part of the fun is collecting stamps on your passport from each participating vendor. The more stamps one collects, the more opportunities that person will have to win prizes. Each person who collects 17 stamps will be eligible to be entered in the Grand Prize drawing and will win a free t-shirt. The Grand Prize winner will receive a full weekend of classes at the Spring 2018 Fiber Fest. There are ample opportunities for crawlers to win prizes for second through fifth place drawings, At-Large drawings and much more.
Because part of fun of shopping involves eating, there’s also a restaurant guide and an accessibility guide to help crawlers along their journey.
For more information go to www.dfwyarncrawl.com.
Sonia Duggan also contributed to this story