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Crafty Guide to Southern California


by Susan Beal

Southern California may be better known for its beaches, star sightings, and relentlessly perfect weather, but there are tons of crafty resources here too - great shops, classes, museums, stitch n bitch meetups, and bazaars galore. I've listed some of my favorite spots below!

Crafty Community
Bring your knitting, crochet, tatting, beading, quilting, embroidery, papercraft, scrapbooking, darning, be-dazzling, pot-holder making, needlepoint, drop spinning, lace making, towel mending, and any other craft you're working on to Los Angeles Church of Craft meetings! The group meets monthly, usually at the Mudpuppy Cafe (4219 Figueroa St, 323-223-4500). Join their mailing list for updates.

Stitch n Bitch Los Angeles meets every Tuesday at the Talking Stick Lounge (1630 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, 310-450-6052) for an open knitting and crochet night. The SnB LA yahoo group also lists meetings and events all over the L.A. area, including Hollywood, Glendale, and the Valley. SnB Long Beach meets every Wednesday at the Viento y Agua Gallery (4007 E. 4th St.). Further south, SnB San Diego meets every Monday night at Influx (1948 Broadway in Golden Hill). A North County SnB chapter also meets on Tuesdays at the E Street Cafe (130 W. E Street, Encinitas, 760-230- 2038). There are also SnB chapters in Orange County, Santa Barbara, and at UC-Irvine.

Knitting and Crocheting Supplies
Despite the delightfully warm weather, Southern California has no shortage of great (air-conditioned) yarn stores!

In the Valley, Stitch Cafe (12443 Magnolia Blvd, 818-980-1234) offers free tutoring plus more in-depth classes in crochet, spinning, and felting. They even serve sandwiches!

La Knitterie Parisienne (12642 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, 818-766-1515) has floor-to-ceiling displays of yarn, plus buttons, magazines, patterns and accessories.

In addition to classes and trunk shows, Unwind (818 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, 818-840-0800) features cool extras like wireless internet and Camp Knit and Crochet (classes for kids 8-12). Bonus points if you recognize the shop from Six Feet Under--Ruth comes here to knit.

In Santa Monica, Stitches from the Heart (3306 Pico Blvd, 866-472-6903) is an amazing all-volunteer-run yarn shop. All the money raised goes to their charity organization, which donates knitted and crocheted items to preemie babies. Wildfiber (1453 E 14th St., 310-458-2748) offers unexpected classes in wearable art, incorporating freeform crochet and other techniques. Also check out Yarns Unlimited if you're in the neighborhood (828 Pico Blvd #1, 310-395-3880).

On the west side of L.A., I love Knit Cafe (8441 Melrose Ave, 323-658-5648) - they are so friendly, and their yarn selection is really nice - lots of imports! Suss Design (7350 Beverly Blvd, 323-954-9650) sells unique house-designed yarns, patterns, and kits. The Knitters Studio (8118 W. 3rd St., 323-655-6487) offers swanky knitting parties as well as workshops and classes.

In Hollywood, check out Black Sheep Knittery (6324 Yucca St., 323-464-2253), and in Silver Lake, stop by Edna Hart Boutique and Knittery (2941 Rowena Ave, 323-661-4070) for super cute jewelry, handbags, and knitting supplies and classes on the east side.

In Orange County, Strands and Stitches (1516 PCH, Laguna Beach, 949-497-KNIT) offers free knitting and needlepoint workshops each week. Yarn Lady (24371 Avenida de la Carlota Suite M 1&2, Laguna Hills, 949-770-7809) has 50% off bag sales a few times a year! And Velona Yarn (5701-M Santa Ana Canyon Blvd, Anaheim Hills, 714-974-1570) has tons of yarn and basic supplies galore.

Beads, Fabric, and Craft Supplies

Downtown L.A. is an incredible source of jewelry-making and sewing supplies, but there are tons of cool stores all over Southern California. Jewelry Source.com has a huge list of California bead stores in alphabetical order on their website. Bead Source LA has 6 brick-and-mortar locations as well as a huge online catalog. The jewelry district in downtown Los Angeles is amazing. Just wander around the Hill and Olive streets area, especially near 7th Avenue. There are dozens of shops carrying jewelry-making supplies, beads, and display and packaging materials. I recommend taking the subway downtown to both the fashion and jewelry districts - parking is kind of a hassle.

The Bead Boutique (8313 W 3rd Street, 323-966-5880) hosts beginning to advanced jewelry-making classes, with 10% off any purchase the day you take a class.

In Orange County, Beads Beads (949 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, 714-639-1611) has a great selection of cool stuff.

Filmbiz.com has very handy lists of bead, fabric, and notion stores and wardrobe and costume resources. Here's another giant listing of L.A. fabric stores online - most are downtown in the fashion district. Check out the few blocks around 9th Avenue, especially between Maple and San Julian streets. You'll find dozens of fabric stores specializing in stretch, laces, buttons, trims, and everything in between, and many of them are dollar-a-yard shops.

The mother ship is indisputably Michael Levine (920 Maple Ave., 213-622-6259), which has an incredible selection of all things sewing-related. Check out their upholstery and home fabrics store across the street, too. West of downtown, F&S Fabrics (10624 W Pico Blvd, 310-441-2477) has three buildings of new and vintage fabrics!

Of course there are plenty of JoAnn Fabrics and Michaels locations all over the L.A. area, too. And there are two Pearl Paint stores: Los Angeles (1250 S. La Cienega Blvd., 310-854-4900) and Huntington Beach (7227 Edinger, 714-903-5100).

Art and Craft
The Craft and Folk Art Museum (5814 Wilshire Blvd., 323-937-4230) has rotating craft exhibitions and a remarkable gift shop. Admission is free on the first Wednesday of the month. Through August 14, Machine Project (1220-D Alvarado St, 213-483-8761) is showing "Crocheting the Hyperbolic Plane," curated by The Institute for Figuring. Nearly 50 crocheted models that "initially appear to be colorful cozies for Christmas ornaments are actually precise 3-D diagrams of post-Euclidian, post Newtonian space" (LA Times). Wow.

Otis College of Art and Design (9045 Lincoln Blvd, 310-665-6800) offers non-credit craft classes like machine knitting, glass etching and jewelry design.

The Art Bar in the Santa Ana Artists Village (209 N. Broadway, 714-558-2445) offers hands-on classes and open studio hours. There are art openings and open studios on the first Saturday of every month in Santa Ana, too.

The next Contemporary Crafts Market takes place at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium from November 4-6.

And Bazaar Bizarre is a great place to sell your own work, or buy cool handmade holiday presents.

Thanks so much to the crafty girls of L.A. and the O.C. for their fabulous suggestions!

Susan Beal is a crafty writer, editor and jewelry designer who divides her time between Portland and Los Angeles. Check out more of her how-tos and cool handmade stuff at susanstars.com and PDX Super Crafty.com.