The Steel Valley Yarn Crawl (SVYC) is in full swing right now, and heading towards it's end - (It runs Aug. 3rd through the 12th). For some of you it was a new experience. Maybe you have participated every year. Perhaps this year you planned not to visit every shop and plotted your route very deliberately, with lunch and side trips on the schedule. And as always, there are some of you who aren't familiar with the yarn crawl concept.
The SVYC is a yarn shop specific, regional, shop hop. It runs for 10 days - so we can cover two full weekends. During those 10 days participants visit all, or as many, of the shops as they can. This year there were 11 shops participating, in alphabetical order they are: Bo-Peep Fine Yarns, us, Dyed in the Wool, Kathy's Kreations, Kid Ewe Knot, McWalker Yarns, Raggz Fiber Art, Ross Farm Mercantile, Sewickley Yarns, Tonidale Yarn & Needle Craft, and Yarns by Design. The shops are spread out over the greater Pittsburgh region, Darn Yarn is the farthest north / west; Ross Farm Mercantile is the southernmost, located in Washington, PA; Raggz, BoPeep, and Kathy's Kreations are all easternly, out in or towards the Ligonier area. The remaining shops are clustered more closely to Pittsburgh.
Many people love shop hops/crawls because they expose them to shops that they might not normally visit, especially when the shop hop/crawl cover a fair amount of distance geographically. And this is true of the SVYC too. There are a number of stitchers that I only see during the crawl, because their "home shop" is out in Ligonier, or one of the other more distant locations. That doesn't mean they don't like Darn Yarn, it's just not an easy, everyday trip. While all of the shops are in, or near to Pittsburgh, when plotted on a map, the SVYC covers a large area! You might not think twice about making the occasional trip to Pittsburgh for a show or event, but it's not often that many of us are willing or able to make the same trip regularly just to shop at a specialty store. And that's why the SVYC and events like it are so popular, they give people an excuse to make those trips.
As mentioned, there are 11 shops participating in this year's SVYC. Unlike when you shop at box stores, where you know what to expect, regardless of the location, all of the SVYC shops have different personalities. We don't have the same inventory, atmosphere, or preferences. Some of us are in quaint little towns, some are in trendy shopping centers, some are rural, some are more urban. These differences are what make the SVYC experience unique.
We also get a number of participants who are from Ohio or West Virginia. They often use the crawl as a way to spend time with their stitching friends while traveling to shops that are out of their regular circle of travel or in a nearby region they don't often get to visit. Conversely, I know a few people who enjoy participating in crawls in other states for similar reasons. It's fun to see what's happening, or what is popular, in the fiber world outside of your own circle. It's also a great way to plan a staycation or a mini vacation around an interest or passion.
As a participating shop, we see quite a large number of new faces over the course of the crawl - and quite a few familiar ones too. This year there were many new stitchers traveling with the friend or family member who recently taught them how to crochet or knit. It's always fun to share our love of yarn and fiber with others and a yarn crawl is a great way to introduce a new stitcher to the larger fiber community. This is one of my favorite things about the yarn crawl - encouraging new stitchers!
As with any event here in town, we tend to answer the same questions over and over again during the SVYC (yes, we moved in January. We've been here since 2012...). As mentioned previously, for many, the crawl is the first time they visit Darn Yarn; so it's only natural they have questions. Trends also develop, which I've yet to be able to predict. Books, yarn bowls, and bags are popular this year. Last year it was knitting needles and notions.
While many of you love the SVYC and other yarn crawls, there are also a number of you who don't love them or can't participate. And that's ok. Some people don't like to travel or drive over a certain distance. Some have daily routines that can't be changed. For some the extra stimulation and new options can be overwhelming. Some don't have flexible work schedules or have family matters that need tended to. For some a yarn crawl is a financial strain and therefore stressful.
We're thankful for each one of you - whether you were on the crawl or not. We enjoy meeting all the new people and sharing Darn Yarn with them. However, without our regular local patrons, we wouldn't be able to participate in the SVYC or many other events. Classes don't get filled with people traveling from afar. People don't travel long distances to attend groups. Each one of you, the annual visitors, seasonal shoppers, and regulars, makes up a much larger community that is very important to us at Darn Yarn. Thank you for stopping and being a part of your local yarn shop.