Crawlin’ around North Texas
Annual shopping event beckons fiber artists
By Sonia Duggan
Not even record high temperatures and the never-ending threat of COVID-19 will stop members of the fiber arts community from attending an annual favorite junket to check out local yarn shops this month.
The third annual North Texas Yarn Crawl offers a unique opportunity to explore other communities — and support yarn shops — throughout the Metroplex for 10 days while spending time with friends or meeting new ones.
Twelve yarn shops participated in the event in 2020, said organizer Ginger Hayes, owner of The Knittery in McKinney. Despite getting a late start in planning this year’s event, Hayes said they’ve had a great response
and have the most shops ever committed to participate this month.
For the first seven years of its history the event was known as the DFW Yarn Crawl and wasn’t owned by yarn shopkeepers. Then,
after DFW organizers decided to step back from hosting the event, Hayes traveled to Austin bringing back ideas from the Hill Country and asked if yarn store owners wanted to host the event themselves.
In 2019 the event became the North Texas Yarn Crawl, and while the name may have changed, the spirit and the locale of the experience has not.
The 15 participating shops, some urban, some not, are all unique and carry a range of inventory. They are located in a 250-mile radius all over North Texas — as far north as Whitesboro, as far south as Waxahachie, as far east as Farmersville and as far west as Fort Worth.
If the thought of hand-dyed wool and alpaca makes you sweat rather than swoon, maybe this isn’t your jam, but it certainly is for the hundreds of crafters already planning for the big event.
Participants will have the opportunity to “crawl” from Sept. 10 – 19 this year. If you’re new to the experience, a yarn crawl is a multi-day event where those in the fiber arts community travel from yarn shop to yarn shop, sampling wares, winning prizes and enjoying a shopping road trip with friends.
“It’s 15 shops over 10 days,” says Hayes, “you can go during the week and still get a lot of the trunk shows and special things going on during the crawl without dealing with crowds.”
Registration is simple and can be completed online at northtexasyarncrawl.com or at participating stores in advance. All shops give out a pin-back button to attach to the coveted canvas logo bag — in a turquoise color this year — that often sells out prior to the crawl.
“I expect we will sell out of 750 bags,” Hayes said. “It’s reasonable to say we could have 1,000 people.”
Shop owners order the number of bags they want in advance. Yarn and You owner Stacy Acevedo said she bought the most yarn crawl bags ever this year and “started preselling on the 10th.”
Another item — the travel guide — is key to the crawl. Attendees can pick up the free booklets at the first shop on the route.
Mary Berry, owner of Fancy Fibers in downtown Farmersville, a shop dedicated to the art of weaving, spinning dyeing and hooking, said she has been busy selling the advertising that pays for the printing of the travel guide. In the guide, each shop has their own page, often with photos and brands/types of merchandise sold, so attendees can plan ahead to see what they have, says Berry.
Prizes and giveaways sweeten the pot for participants. There is a “passport” on one page in the guide that is stamped at each location, and at the end of the crawl, there will be 15 names drawn from the list of people that turn in the passport and prizes will be given out — one at each shop says Hayes. In addition, all shops have door prizes, which are given out on each day of the crawl.
“We usually get things from our sponsors,” Berry said. “It’s a really big event.”
For those who prefer to travel in a group, the DFW Handknitters Guild has a 40-passenger bus that will meet in Dallas at the Best Little Retreat Center on Beltline Road. The first weekend, the bus will take participants on the north route, then the following Saturday, Sept. 18, the bus will take the south route.
The bus runs a fairly tight schedule, says Berry, but attendees have the opportunity to “see what’s new, what’s on sale, what trunk shows there are, and then go on to their next destination.”
Unlike all the other crawl destinations, Farmersville is unique because three shops, Fancy Fibers, Yarn and You and Fiber Circle, on the square are participating once again this year. In the Travel Guide on each merchant’s ad page, each one offers suggestions for eating and shopping while in town. As a result, downtown businesses will also benefit from the daily influx of visitors.
The last two years of the crawl have been steady said Acevedo of her experience. In 2020, “everybody wanted to get out so bad, we didn’t get a single slow day for the entire week,” she said. “I think this year is going to be even bigger.”
Shop owners work long hours and are required to be open every day during the crawl. In addition, special events are planned to showcase local independent artists, those without brick and mortar shops that normally would not be stocked in store, at trunk shows during the crawl.
“It’s (a lot of) work to keep a local yarn shop open,” Berry said. “You’ve got to have something unique to your shop that brings people in.”
The Fancy Fibers owner said she plans to take the whole front portion of her store and convert it into a large trunk show area to display the works of Sharpin Designs, a crocheter and artist who hand-dyes yarn, as well as a big, 6-rack display of the last remaining Brooks Farm Yarn, a former DFW Fiber Fest vendor.
“I want to honor her (Brooks) and have the last of her hand dyed yarn here,” Berry said.
Since shopping often makes people hungry and thirsty, Berry said she plans to set up a coffee bar and sell pies from Pieville, a Farmersville favorite.
Next door at Acevedo’s shop, the Yarn and You owner is hosting “Knitflix and Chill” the first Friday night of the crawl and plans to set up a big screen projector in the second-floor apartment of her building. As for her trunk shows, Acevedo said she is highlighting visiting fiber artists, anywhere from four to six each weekend, a pottery vendor and a book signing by Lisa Hennessy, author of “Knit, Pray, Share.”
Whether you’re a knitter, crocheter, rug hooker, weaver, or any other type of fiber artist, the North Texas Yarn Crawl offers a unique opportunity to discover the joy of the hunt and the reason behind its saying, “It’s not fall without the crawl.”
“You’re going to find something different in every shop,” Berry said. “We all consider ourselves one big community.”