Gather together

April 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Gather 1Gather 2I’d heard of an art walk and a pub crawl, but never a yarn crawl before last weekend when I stumbled upon the event during a visit to The Last Bookstore. Seeing that the tiny yarn shop on the mezzanine was open, I went upstairs to check it out and found myself in a Very Busy Place.

Gather 3Seems that L.A. County’s local yarn shops (known simply as LYS to those of the knitting persuasion) banded together to promote their emporia by sponsoring said crawl April 11 to 14. Gather, the shop at The Last Bookstore, was one of 32 participants. You could get a “passport” –a sheet of paper with LYS names and addresses printed within small squares–stamped at every store you visited, then possibly win prizes by leaving it at the last shop you visited.

I kept my passport; it’s a terrific guide to the many and varied knitteries hereabouts. Turns out you can shop for yarn & accessories from Claremont and Glendora, to Whittier, Bellflower, Santa Clarita, Torrance and Tarzana. Who knew?

Which gets me wondering: the LYS phenomenon began about the same time that women’s bookstores were taking a nosedive. Do you suppose there’s a correlation? Feminism’s fire transmuted via worsted wool and #7 needles into the DIY (do it yourself) movement? Much less overtly political (“the personal is the political” notwithstanding), but resistance to stultifying norms nonetheless. DIY hasn’t meant simply replicating Martha Stewart place settings (or cupcake decorations or whatever); it’s renewed appreciation for handcrafted items and creativity, and represents a turn away from the mass produced “stuff” that crowds our lives.

IMG_2170A sweater, even a scarf, takes time and patience to knit and finish. That alone qualifies it as countercultural. Then there are offshoots such as yarn bombing–appropriating public spaces for unexpected and unexplained displays of handiwork. And what about the high concept work of artists such as Masaki Koizumi who actually handknits playgrounds!

I don’t think I can make a case for the DIY movement as daughter of second wave feminism. It’s more like a godchild. But neither do I underestimate the possibilities that open up when women gather together. They’re probably doing more than K1, P2.

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