Three San Fernando Valley Women-owned Businesses Stitch Against Yarn Business Pandemic Odds Returning To 10th L.A. County Yarn Crawl March 24-27, 2022

Top Quote Encino’s L’Atelier on Ventura, Valley Village’s The Altered Stitch and The Yarnover Truck represent the San Fernando Valley leg of the L.A. County Yarn Crawl's 10th Celebration 143 mile crawl across L.A. County. Whether you're a local, a tourist, or a staycationer - this road trippin' 4-day e vent is fun for everyone who loves yarn, shopping, fashion and adventure. End Quote
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (1888PressRelease) February 17, 2022 - Running a business, staying in business and surviving in business during a pandemic is tough for everyone. Fiber arts business entrepreneurship keeps stitching along in the San Fernando Valley with the long-yarn thread journey of Karen Damskey of L’Atelier on Ventura (17205 #A Ventura Blvd., Encino), Maridee Dangcil’s mobile Yarnover Truck, and The Altered Stitch (12443 Magnolia Ave., Valley Village) with owners Dawn Stancarone and Sherri Andrews. These hardworking women business owners are part of the 15 participating yarn shops across 143 miles of Greater Los Angeles’ six communities in the official comeback of the 10th L.A. County Yarn Crawl event making its triumphant return March 24-27, 2022 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

    While these tireless businesses make blanketing the fiber arts market appear easy, everybody knows that entrepreneurship is not, especially in the unprecedented shutdown of COVID. The approach to economic survival as a retail business is different for everyone based on their circumstances, whether one is a brick and mortar, an online business, or … a mobile one!

    Small and mighty at just 107-square feet, The Yarnover Truck is the only mobile truck yarn shop in the L.A. County Yarn Crawl, bringing a different experience to yarn crawlers. During the four-day live event as yarn crawlers themselves drive to the fourteen other brick and mortars, The Yarnover truck will be celebrating its 9th anniversary of selling hand-dyed yarns with a different stop each of the four days. No one is happier to be rolling forward once again than its owner Minneapolis, Minnesota-born Maridee Dangcil.

    “The Yarnover Truck had to close to shoppers during COVID and went 100% online until July of 2021. Prior to the March 2020 L.A. County Yarn Crawl being postponed at the start of the pandemic, we had a majority of products online but in April of 2020 we added just about everything else so we could continue to sell while still being at home,” Dangcil explains.

    In quarantine, in addition to adding more products to her online store Dangcil also offered Virtual Stitch Groups (VSG) via Zoom, which is something that she now plans to continue indefinitely. The VSG turned out to be a way to check in on project progress and the needs of her customers, while adding a new creative spark to her interactions. Pre-pandemic engagement included weaving a yarn community on-the-road through appearances traveling hundreds of miles all over Southern California. Dangcil’s quick-pivoting, innovation and creativity proved to problem-solve many pandemic/quarantine issues, while creating something new with added support from her customers with the creation of the VSGs.

    “My customers had all been super supportive during the shut-down. So many of them told me they made purchases from me online to help keep me going. We have 15-25 people attending these gatherings. We've had a couple of different make-alongs within the group and we share yarns and patterns that we love. The Yarnover Truck was always too small for me to have a weekly stitch group, but since so many became comfortable with Zoom, we now have a great and active group. This will be the Yarnover Truck’s 9th crawl. It's going to be a great weekend and we look forward to welcoming all those who love fiber and yarn-crafting into our shops! I feel like everyone is starved for human interaction! We've missed each other so much, being around our "people" who love yarn and fiber as much as we do! Plus they've missed being able to touch and feel what they are buying,” shares Dangcil.

    Adding to the online creative VSG, Dangcil also found a way to give back during the pandemic, which grew camaraderie, while crocheting a “City of Angels” community with her “Give A Skein” program. She further explains what brought about this idea.

    “In May of 2020, with so many out of work with money tight, we wanted everyone to have the enjoyment of working with yarn. We encouraged those who could not afford to buy yarn to reach out and take advantage. We sent them out a skein of yarn of some yarns and colors we had discontinued. We even had some of our customers offer to buy a skein for someone else. Over the next two months we gave away almost 20 skeins and most of these were paid for by other customers. It was a great way for many of us to share our love of yarn crafts!”

    Dangcil’s fiber arts road to the truck’s manifestation all started with her own introduction and interaction with yarn as a twelve-year old while combatting hospital boredom after a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. Her grandmother introduced to crocheting. Little did she predict the ‘granny squares’ she initially stitched would eventually lead her to a life with yarn, and in 2018 creating her own pattern for the Kings Cross Stoll shawl. Motoring outside of her truck’s GPS system to see beyond the brick and mortar, Dangcil looped herself into her mobile venture after getting an itch to leave her movie studio position. Asked by a career coach to describe her perfect job, she produced five pages of ideas which eventually steered her toward truck ownership first with a business partner, then becoming a solopreneur rolling out on her own. She continues driving forward new ideas, new communities both online and on the road, which became part of her pandemic pivot.

    “I know my customers missed being able to touch and feel yarn in person but I worked super hard to help them in matching colors when shopping online. We all know that computer colors can all be set differently and you sometimes just never know if what you're buying is actually going to match the photo. I use all natural light when I shoot product photos and work really hard to ensure the color is correct. Plus, I'm always available to help match colors. I do this in a couple of different ways. First, I'll send photos of color pairings plus we offer Virtual Shopping via Zoom. Customers can schedule an appointment with me and I'll be on the Truck with two cameras set-up. They can ask to see different colors together to help them make their choices,” Dangcil explains.

    Now that she has returned to in-person customer interaction, she is looking forward to the L.A. County Yarn Crawl. Dangcil who is also the crawl’s president has hopes in what the crawl’s mission will carry forward as she looks ahead to the future and the next generation, “Since we don't have room to do much teaching, I just hope others will share their love of fiber arts. All knitters and crocheters should teach at least one other person to keep our crafts alive and thriving.”

    The Yarnover Truck will begin its yarn crawl journey in the San Fernando Valley joining The Altered Stitch onsite in Valley Village on Day One of the L.A. County Yarn Crawl, Thursday, March 24h 2022. She will be making three other appearances Friday, March 25th at the Alamitos Bay Yarn Company (Long Beach); Saturday, March 26th at The Knitting Tree L.A. (Inglewood), and Sunday March 27th at BUKU Yarns (La Verne).

    While the first day of the crawl will have Dangcil and her Yarnover Truck onsite at The Altered Stitch, inside its owners Brooklyn native, Dawn Stancarone and Burbank native, Sherri Andrews, are celebrating their third year in yarn business ownership after taking the reins of the ten year old San Fernando Valley brick and mortar in 2019. Entering the 2022 event with a brand new store front awning, this will be Stancarone and Andrews’ “first official” L.A. County Yarn Crawl since the 2020 crawl was cancelled due the pandemic. The Altered Stitch store however, had participated since the crawl’s inception. Entrepreneurship, new business ownership and navigating COVID was a rollercoaster ride for the two new business owners.

    “We took over from the previous owners in June of 2019. It took some time for us to get our feet under us – and then just as things were starting to pick up, Covid-19 hit. We had to change our business model a bit (OK, quite a bit!), refocusing our efforts to quickly build up our online store, while trying to reach out via social media and newsletters to let people know we were and are still here for them. It's been frustrating for some of our customers to adapt to the new world, but many have and we along with them. For those who couldn't navigate the technical world we would help with calls and video chats. We also got many calls from people who are just beginning to crochet or knit and needed to learn as well. Some people just needed a project to focus on to get them through the lockdowns. We started offering on-line classes, meet ups, and video shopping. It's been a difficult time, but we’re happy to report that somehow, we are still managing to get by,” explain Stancarone and Andrews.

    Not as alone as they might have thought while weaving their way into new territory, their managing to get by as a small business was made a tad easier due to both fiber arts community support and yarn’s “bigger purpose.” Stancarone and Andrews soon discovered this relationship was much like yarn needing needles… one doesn’t work without the other. They both required purpose and community - in turn, the community needed the business to exist as a yarn haven.

    “The support from customers was amazing. We received calls offering to buy gift cards to keep us going, purchases over the phone or the internet, just whatever they could do to help. We even had customers ask us to give the gift cards they bought to someone else who might need it! Customers sent notes and called to check on us and some even sent us handmade masks too! We got a call from someone who had a 40-year friend in an elder-care home whose only joy is to crochet. He purchased yarn from us over the phone, and we hand-delivered it to his friend in the nursing home. We continue to provide that support for him to this day. He has made many blankets and is so happy. Our customers and the whole yarn community have always been so supportive,” adds Andrews who was first introduced to yarn by a friend to help her get through the stress of experiencing a family hospice situation.

    “What the quarantine confirmed for us is that knitting keeps us sane! Most everyone we have talked to said they were surprised by how working with fiber helped them, and specifically how having knitting or crochet with them really saved the day. When we are stressed or worried about things, knitting helps us get centered; it is almost meditative. We both have a bit of a panic when we find ourselves places where we may get stuck without our knitting. We always carry projects with us – some people have lucky socks or worry stones or breathing techniques, but we have yarn and needles!” exclaims Stancarone who first began knitting nine years ago with her son’s encouragement when they first took a class together.

    Participating in her 9th L.A. County Yarn Crawl, San Fernando Valley’s native Karen Damskey is a fiber arts long-hauler in business for 46 years with L’Atelier L’Atelier on Ventura in Encino is part of the San Fernando Valley regional leg. Entrepreneurship is never easy, but with her two family-owned and operated yarn shop locations participating in this year’s Yarn Crawl, Damskey reveals how the family works together to make it happen.
    “I rely upon my daughter-in-law, Theresa Damskey to handle much of the store operations for both the Encino location and L’Atelier Riviera Village located in Redondo Beach. She also has been the face and primary model for L’Atelier having been a part of the business since the age of 15. Theresa is married to my son Michael who is the integral graphic designer, IT, webmaster, and online coordinator and my daughter, Meredith Dikdan is the CFO. She and her daughters can be seen modeling many of L’Atelier’s exclusive designs. It is truly a family affair and together we hope to bring it forward well into the 21st century,” shares Damskey.

    When the 2020 Yarn Crawl was postponed due to the pandemic, like all of the yarn shops forced to examine their passion, most businesses focused on what they needed to do, and L’Atelier had to double that effort spreading efforts between the locations.

    “I’m a business. I have two (business) five year leases… It’s called survival,” explains Damskey who had to pivot to stay connected to her community, aware of the ever-changing challenges as a business owner.

    Surviving as a retailer with a family that stays together and works together, L’Atelier can attribute its success to a strong foundation of hard work with the entities’ supporting staff Robyn, Randy, Cora and Marisol in balancing what customers need in reliability to meet their needs. Firmly believing in continuous contact, during the pandemic, Damskey demonstrated how customer service was the key to staying connected, often calling clients directly and checking in on them. Her personal cell phone was connected to both shop’s phone lines, allowing her to promptly respond to calls and emails to meet her customer’s needs.

    Damskey, who is often referred to as the poster child of reinvention, is no stranger to change. From adding ready-to-wear clothing boutiques to both of her locations, expanding her client base, pivoting as a business to accommodate customers with safety as a priority, she is accustomed to pivoting. Once again, Damskey reinvented the way her store does outreach and engagement by adding unconventional promotions and ways to keep connected beyond just ZOOM. This required her to go against the pandemic odds of success by putting on her ‘out-of-the-box’ entrepreneurial creative hat literally offering a box.

    Throughout 2021 the store created a Magical Mystery Box Tour as a way to engage with its customers. Each month a special box containing projects is revealed on a special ZOOM meeting for the 60 people who signed up. The box recipients could then click for patterns, and watch a YouTube video to see again the reveal the contents of the box with several ways to participate in fun new knitting projects, all of which is part of the Magical Mystery Tour section of their website. While her offering may seem like its own Schrödinger's cat box situation of not knowing what you get until you open it, for L’Atelier, it was a creative risk worth taking that proved to be successful to its long standing yarn community. Damskey’s very own “Club L’Atelier” Membership Community celebrating 42 years continues offering great savings, patterns and special promotional offers. The club itself has changed and morphed with the times as much as Damskey has with her business and is an integral part of what Damskey attributes to staying in business.

    When the pandemic restrictions set in, L’atelier relied heavily upon reinvention strategy with club memberships which features include: Sweater of the Month, Sunday Night Delight, and Spotlight, which all have their own membership perks. “It is always about the experience, which is the one thing brick and mortar stores have over online. We can make your visit to us something to remember. We can connect with you and become friends. We did this online creatively when we couldn’t do it in person. As restrictions lifted we allow limited number of clients with appointments to come in. We are now open, but masked of course,” states Damskey who plans to offer a new round of boxes toward L.A. County knitters at the 2022 Yarn Crawl.

    Damskey’s constant motivation to keep thinking outside of boxes even when she is creating them online for her clientele is part of her artistic nature. This has remained a consistent part of her own belief system which has kept her developing new ways to connect by common threads. “Knitters, crocheters, needle workers, beaders etc. all share the same passion, we love fiber and the important connectivity of creating, and sharing the value of art,” declares Damskey.

    The three yarn shops in the San Fernando Valley may have had different beginnings, but they all ended up on the same yarn business road to success stitching their passion for creating with yarn into an entrepreneurial pathway. While creatively combatting the pandemic’s effect on retail business amid the struggle, the Altered Stitch’s Stancarone sums up the scenario best…

    “Covid-19 was, and continues to be, a tough thing to navigate, no doubt, and it’s been the one big thing that everyone has shared at the same time – that much is true. However, this has just been layered on top of the struggles that people already have every day. Somehow, a little stitching helps us see the beauty in life. No matter the battle or struggle you have, it is one thing that you can control, that you can manipulate and make into something you want rather than having something thrust upon you. It’s that thing we can count on, watch grow, and develop. It also brings us together, because it’s something we can share no matter where we come from or how we grew up. It’s that “community” of creating things and letting all the other stuff in the world just fall away because we feel the joy of just having finished that last stitch on a project we had been working on for literally a year.”

    The Altered Stitch, Yarnover Truck, and L’Atelier on Ventura make up the San Fernando Valley yarn community and will join in as part of the 15 yarn shops participating from the Westside, South Bay, Long Beach, Downtown Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley for the L.A. County Yarn Crawl 2022. They hope to entice next generation newcomers and loyal yarn enthusiasts alike making things together to keep fiber arts culture alive.

    The 10th L.A. Yarn Crawl will be bringing a mix of old and new to the event. Returning will be the classic crawl popular passport prize promotion, where each of the fifteen shops will feature a $300 gift basket prize. To enter crawl participants will drop their completed passports with stamps from the Yarn Crawl sprawl of shops visited: Other prize level components will feature general crawl prizes with a certain number of shops visited. In addition to the free patterns given away as a regular feature of the crawl each year, to celebrate the 10th crawl will be a first-time additional Treasure Hunt pattern giveaway in both knit and crochet.

    The L.A. County Yarn Crawl’s group of unique shops are committed toward educating and teaching yarn crafts. The purpose of the event is to create awareness by bringing together the Los Angeles community in the fiber arts all while creating friendships, inspiring creativity, projects, and memories to last a lifetime. For event details, COVID safety protocol and more information on the L.A. County Yarn Crawl 2022 please go to or email layarncrawl ( @ ) gmail dot com For all media interview and photo requests contact event publicist Stacey Kumagai of Media Monster Communications, Inc. at 818.506.8675 mediamonster ( @ ) yahoo dot com