Portland, Oregon’s Rose City Yarn Crawl is Every Knitting Lover’s Dream

knitting-1430153_960_720The record for the most people knitting simultaneously happened in September 2012 in Royal Albert Hall, London, when 3,083 people knitted together for 15 minutes. However, that record may soon be beat by the Rose City Yarn Crawl knitters, who congregate in the greater Portland area every year to celebrate the four-day knitting extravaganza.

The Rose City Yarn Crawl involves thousands upon thousands of knitters, crocheters, and spinners getting their ‘passports’ stamped as they try to visit every one of the 13 participating fabric and knitting shops. If they manage to hit every one, they’ll be entered to win a grand prize. Each store involved has sales and incentives for buyers to attend, purchase some materials, and get their passports stamped.

The tradition was born in 2009 and has developed into a citywide celebration. The last event, which ran from March 2 to March 5, was expected to be the biggest one yet. Last year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl had 4,500 attendees, and over the four days, participating stores documented more than 17,100 customers.

One of the main benefits of the yarn crawl is the economic stimulation it provides.

“The Rose City Yarn Crawl generates as much revenue in four days as we do during the entire holiday season,” says Jackie Kraybill, owner of Northwest Wools in Multnomah Village.

But it’s not just craft shops that see higher profits during this event.

“Each shop has a few shops and restaurants they recommend in their neighborhood on the Rose City Yarn Crawl website, but also anything between where the Crawlers parked the car or got off TriMet and the yarn shop sees an uptick in sales that weekend,” says J.J. Foster, Yarn Crawl spokeswoman. “It has a huge ripple effect.”

As straight-forward as the Rose City Yarn Crawl’s agenda seems, there are still some confused folks who think alcohol is involved. But while a DUI can leave you with a criminal record that could affect your employment prospects, ability to obtain loans, and future opportunities, a yarn crawl will leave you with nothing but once-in-a-lifetime memories and handmade knitted goods and fabrics.

Another motivator for people to attend this event is the prospect of buying gifts for friends or family.

“Even if I can’t spend a lot, I know that posting pics of where I’ve been and buying small gifts that I’d be buying for friends anyhow is something that I can do,” says Vancouver resident Kristine Beeson, who’s been attending the event since 2010. “The potential of prizes is nice — I did win one year — but I’m not going specifically to try for those. The thought that I could make some yarny connections while I’m out and about makes me smile. I always wear something eye-catching and sometimes my own designs with cards to give out.”

For anyone who’s considering sending some newly acquired crafts to friends, remember to choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. Paperboard or corrugated fiberboard boxes are considered the best for contents that weigh up to 10 pounds. An even better idea, though, may be to bring friends next year and show them what the Rose City Yarn Crawl is all about because for many, knitting is more than just a hobby.

“The aunt that taught me to knit left a legacy of beautifully handmade items that I still cherish,” says Crawl participant Barb Marold of West Linn. “My mom as well. These are not ‘things,’ but a piece of their earthly soul and heart.”

Marold sees the event as “a gathering of like-minded right-brainers keeping an important culture/craft meaningful, purposeful and current.”

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