Sierra Nevada Yarn Crawl | Join the knitting resurgence

Yarn Refuge. | Kayla Anderson

With America’s resurgence in knitting, yarn crawls have been happening all over the U.S. as a way for knitters to connect. The first Sierra Nevada Yarn Crawl with 11 participating shops in Tahoe, as well as a few stops in Reno, Grass Valley, Auburn, Graeagle and Placerville, will take place from Sept. 19 to 22.

“People are interested again in doing something with their hands. We’re knitting as a way to put down the phone; it’s a great alternative to looking at a screen and it’s a way to connect with other generations.” — Kelly Wallis, Atelier

The art of knitting has been around since the late 1500s; nowadays it is done more as a hobby than out of necessity. Early on, handknitting became a popular way to make warm accessories; the first-known knitted textiles were socks, gloves and cushion covers for royal families. In the 1920s, knitwear was largely associated with new-age fashions; home knitting picked up steam when World War I ended. As craft shops started to crop up offering yarn, tools and patterns, new colors and styles were introduced. The interest in knitting surged and dipped over the years as clothing technologies evolved, but currently handknitting is on the rise again — this time as part of the 21st Century handmade revolution.

Click on Events Calendar for more knitting events

“It’s in my opinion that people are interested again in doing something with their hands. It’s therapeutic, soothing, healing and can be challenging,” says Atelier’s event and workshop manager Kelly Wallis. “Before people were knitting out of necessity, especially during the Depression. Knitters were innovative, intuitive, making things out of what little they had. Now we’re knitting as a way to put down the phone; it’s a great alternative to looking at a screen and it’s a way to connect with other generations.”

Think of it as a non-intrusive activity — you can literally knit anywhere. It’s also extremely gratifying finishing something and you have something tangible to show for it. The knitting community has increasingly become more innovative in promoting knitting and it’s fun to see designers using traditional knitting techniques to create fashionable wear.

“How cool is it to not only design, but actually make your own clothes? Knitting makes that possible to do,” says Wallis.

Walking into the Yarn Refuge in Reno, Nev., feels like being in a simple, bright, and colorful World Market with one exception: you can sit on the furniture. Yarns and fibers from independent dyers fill the surrounding walls from floor to ceiling; handknitted garments show what is possible. Couches are in the middle of the room offering knitters a comfy place to sit and knit. Near the back of the shop is a long table where Tony DeGeiso is working on a gradient yarn shawl based on an example he saw on Ravelry, a database for knitters and crocheters. The shimmering colors and fibers he’s using ensure that there will be no other shawl like it. Yarn Refuge offers free advice to knitters stuck on a project or faced with a specific knitting challenge.

Yarn Refuge customer service representative Susan Boyd says that knitting has changed over past years; it seems like it’s more of a form of artistic expression.

“I think generations in the past knitted out of necessity, but now people knit out of passion. And it’s meditative when you knit; it takes you to a calm, happy place. People are expressing themselves through yarn and with the fibers and vibrance, which now includes silk, yak, alpaca,” Boyd says.

At that moment, Arkaik Fibres owner Jay Gerbel comes in to refill his stock. He provides small-batch, hand-dyed fibers.

“Only a few shops carry his yarns,” Boyd says, emphasizing that Yarn Refuge supports independent dyers. Above his selection, a line of skeins of Storyteller yarn made by South Lake Tahoe’s Knits & Knots are also on display.

“Years ago, there were only a few basic colors available but now it’s an explosion of fibers and colors. People come in and see our selection and go ‘Oh, my gosh, look at the things I can make,’” Boyd says.

During the free, four-day Yarn Crawl, each shop will offer exclusive yarns, discounts and a free pattern to try out. Participants may also download a passport get it stamped at each shop that they visit for a chance to win prizes. |

Sierra Nevada Yarn Crawl
Sept. 19-22 | Area venues

Knit & Sip
Sept. 19-22 | 5-7 p.m.
Alibi Ale Works | Truckee


Knitting Group
Tuesdays | 4 p.m.
Atelier | Truckee

String Together
1st & 3rd Wednesdays | 1 p.m.
Tahoe City Library

Wine & Wool Wednesdays
Every other Wednesday (Sept. 25 next date) | 5:30 p.m.
Glasses Wine Bar | Incline Village, Nev.

Fiber Art Fridays
Fridays | 1 p.m.
South Lake Tahoe Library