Wrap-Up: Trip to The Little Knittery/LA Yarn Crawl 2019

Last week I went on a “little” adventure to The Little Knittery in Los Angeles, where I did spinning demos for the end of the two-week long LA County Yarn Crawl. If you follow me on Instagram, then you may know that I’ve been itching to go to LA to meet the folks at TLK for some time, so this was a special trip. Unfortunately my friend who works there, Hayley, was out of town that week so we couldn’t meet in person. I guess I’ll just have to go back again soon!

The five and a half hour flight out of Dulles wasn’t too bad (I live near Washington, DC). I haven’t flown cross-country in about 10 years and about 18 since I’ve been to LA. Wow, things have changed a lot except for the people movers at the airport. I paid extra for a “preferred” seat thinking I would get a high boarding priority and who knows what, but to my dismay it was all a money grab. I was still in Boarding Group 4 in a middle seat, and I got hassled about my perfectly regulation-sized carry-on bag possibly not fitting because we were packed like sardines. It fit in the overhead bin just fine, but that kind of ticked me off. I later laughed about it with the nice lady sitting next to me on the plane, and we took a picture of the only free food they offered - the world’s smallest bag of mini pretzels. Oh United, you are a huge rip-off, but at least you were on time.

My other mistake was that it took four hours to get from the airport to my hotel in Koreatown. It was almost a 45 minute wait to get on the Super Shuttle and three plus hour actual ride there. Note to self: do not take Super Shuttle, even if you get a “deal” on Expedia, and don’t reserve a no-name random hotel waaaay out of the way, even if it’s cheaper and I think it’s closer to the destination. I literally got a “three hour tour” of Hollywood, UCLA, and the freeway. By the way, what’s up with all those scooters everywhere?

To my disappointment, my hotel was really crappy and they didn’t have a restaurant or cafe or anything open, so I got some Knott’s Berry Farm cookies from the vending machine. I was too frazzled to try to walk anywhere and it was getting dark, so I called Expedia to arrange a new hotel for the rest of my trip and went to bed early.

I’m not a morning person at all, but because I was still on East coast time, I woke up around 5:30 am and got ready for my big day. Breakfast consisted of snacks I had in my carry-on bag and a Starbucks Frappuccino from the vending machine. Always bring snacks!

My day was starting to brighten up as I made my way to the cute Los Feliz section of LA. An interesting side note: I had never heard anyone say “Los Feliz” before, but I took five years of Spanish in school and assumed it’s pronounced “Los Fey-LEASE”. Wrong. I was laughed at and admonished by the shuttle driver who pronounced it like “Los Felix”. There’s an interesting article I found when searching for answers as to why this perfectly normal Spanish name is being mangled. If you’re interested in linguistics, or just how Americans ruin everything, check it out. I can’t bring myself to say it that way. I feel like I’m saying “kay-sah-dilla” or “tor-tilla” or something goofy like that. Spanish speakers should weigh in. It reminds of when I went to college in Worcester, MA where locals say “Wus-tah”. You can always tell an out-of-towner if they say “Wore-chest-er”. What do you think? Say it like the locals? Anyway, back in LA…

Luckily Kat opened the shop in the morning, and I caught an Uber there in a jiffy. The space is vibrant and happy, a kind of yarn paradise with elegant artistic displays, and brightly-colored yarn, yarn, yarn to die for. I was met with the smiling faces of Kat and Makiko who also works there. Also among the greeters was Makiko’s cutie-pie dog, Cheri, quietly minding the shop from her throne of honor. I plunked myself down on a comfy chair in the back and took out all the goodies I brought with me to share for my demo.

The Little Knittery

First two photos credit: The Little Knittery on Instagram

There’s a long backstory (I’ll save for another time) as to how I met Kat and TLK came to carry my yarn, but in a round-about way it was through the Pussyhat Project. Kat created the pattern for the iconic hat, which many people including myself knitted and shared with others for the post-election Women’s March. Here are some amazing images from the project adorning the shop:

I was pretty hungry at this point since I missed breakfast, so I popped on over to the restaurant down the street from the shop, Fred 62, and had Jonnycakes, of all things. If you’re not familiar, they are a traditional griddle/pan cake from Rhode Island (where I grew up) made from whitecap flint cornmeal, and something you never see outside of the state. They were a rare nostalgic treat for me, although my mom makes them better, ha-ha. A random fact: My parents were co-chairs of the “Society for the Propagation of the Jonnycake Tradition in Rhode Island” which published a now out-of-print cookbook that I treasure. If you want a tasty, simple gluten-free breakfast, try them with maple syrup (I love them with strawberries, yum!). They also had the best fresh fruit that I can remember eating (pretty much ever). It’s amazing how good things taste if it’s not shipped thousands of miles away before you buy it. Here’s some Jonnycake info for ya. Oh, remember to get the oil really hot and sizzling before plunking the batter in the griddle and have the smoke detector hush button on standby.

Eman showing off her knitting project
My new pins

OK, back to yarn…

One of the most special things about TLK is the sense of community and welcoming atmosphere. When I got back to the shop, people were starting to come in and were hanging out chatting, learning how to knit, and working on their projects. I met some fantastic people (including some customers that I was eager to meet in person) and shared stories about our backgrounds and how we got into the fiber world. Some people were visiting for the Yarn Crawl, others were regulars like Eman, who just learned how to knit a few weeks ago when she first came to visit LA. She was working on several projects including these baby booties (pictured) and already has developed some serious knitting skills.

Marathon yarn crawlers, Janice Ogata and Natalie Welts, stopped in and captured some great moments. Pictured are: friend of the shop and fabulous knitter Ramona in her gorgeous purple sweater, Kat learning to spin, multi-talented Maria, who picked up spinning like a prodigy, and me cuddling some of my yarn. Other visitors to the shop included the owners of Black Cat Custom Yarn, who were visiting from Canada and very kindly gave me a pin to add to my collection. (photos below courtesy of Janice on Instagram)

My main goal for the day was to teach handspinning on a drop spindle and hope that at least one person would want to pick it up. I sometimes worry if anyone will show up, never mind want to spin, but I find that people are fascinated with the process and it’s approachable/low tech enough that folks will usually give it a try. I was pleased with how many did, and I think a few got hooked. Job accomplished!

Kat had a Majacraft Rose wheel that needed some love, so she worked on corespinning with one of my rainbow art batts. Even though it’s an advanced technique, she got the hang of it pretty quickly and did a beautiful job. But I’m not surprised because she’s an expert knitter! So much talent!

Like all good things, the day came to a close and I had to say farewell to my yarn friends at TLK. I’m so grateful to Kat and Haley for setting up the event and to everyone who came out. I had such a blast, and I hope the folks who tried spinning did too! I can’t wait to visit again.

Part 2

If you’re wondering what happened with the hotel, I ended up going to the Sheraton Universal, which is within walking distance to Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and City Walk. I had been there for work about 18 years ago and I’m glad I remembered the hotel because it was a fantastic place to stay and didn’t take too long to get to from the shop. I’ve wanted to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for ages but couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so this was a perfect opportunity to go on my free day Saturday. The hotel is newly renovated and I had a fantastic view of Universal from my window. I got room service and enjoyed a delicious real dinner then went to bed early.

Still on Eastern time, I woke up a dawn, got a Starbucks coffee at the mini cafe in the lobby, then headed out to the theme park bright and early. The two hotels at Universal have a shuttle that runs to/from the park about every 15 minutes so it’s pretty convenient. The Harry Potter part was really fun and well designed. I was happy to see all the people decked out in their Harry Potter robes and shirts. I waited about 40 minutes to get a wand at Ollivander's Wand Shop Show, which turned out to just be an Ollivander actor picking one person out from the crowd and some special effects in a dark room with about 25 people crammed inside. After the lucky participant gives back the show wand, they spit you out into the gift shop. The show was cute but not a personalized experience like I had expected. Still, I bought an interactive wand for about 50 bucks and went out to try it at some of the places on the map. It’s not something I would spend that much money on again, but hey, I was on vacation. I also checked out all the knitted things in the multitudes of gift shops in Hogsmeade. Most were acrylic except some “Made in Scotland” wool blend sweaters/jumpers. Maybe I will knit my own Weasley “initial” sweater. I also wanted a robe, but for $110 I passed it up. I ended up buying some chocolate frogs and other goodies at Honeydukes and had lunch at The Three Broomsticks. They had an outside patio where I ate while looking at Hogwarts castle and listening to Harry Potter theme music piped in from the park. Some of it’s from the end credits of the movies and was kind of sentimental (cue me trying not to imagine it’s the end of term at Hogwarts in real life and getting all sniffly).

One thing I noticed was a “cotton candy” display in the window of Honeydukes. I moved in for a closer look and sure enough it was pink wool roving! I kind of want to make something like that for my house! The shop display details were amazing and a lot were animated or worked with the interactive “magic” wands. I love the part in the movie where Molly Weasley has a magical self-knitting sweater and they had a similar display high up on at shelf of one of the shops, but sadly it wasn’t moving.

After I had enough of the Harry Potter rides and shopping, I went out to the other parts of the park and did the Studio Tour. That took about an hour to get in, but was pretty fun. The tour includes “thrill” ride style parts with 3-D effects where you get jostled in the trolley cars and then go through the backlot while listening to the tour guide and pre-recorded videos about the Studio’s films and history. It’s actually a pretty fun attraction. I’m amazed at the effects and how far the technology has come for some of these rides since I went to Universal Studios Florida in the early 1990’s.

My flight wasn’t until 9:30 pm Sunday so I went back to City Walk for lunch and shopped for a bit while I waited to go to the airport. If/when I go back I would 1) not get a red eye flight home 2) spend just one day at Universal and maybe go to Disneyland for the other day 3) splurge on United Lounge again for a long airport wait.

Overall that part of my trip was a lot of fun and I’m glad it worked out. I still have the Harry Potter soundtrack score “The Friends” in my head. Until next term…