In early November of each year, yarn vultures can be spotted on the coast of Northern California. These large scavenging birds spend summers up in northern Alaska and Canada, cooling their wings and knitting felted slippers, boucle wrist bands, and lacy ribbon tank tops. Not just knitting vultures, these creative crafters also make other handmade non-knitted items. Baked and canned yummies, jewelry, pottery, sewn hand bags, stitch markers, Viking cards and plushies – you name it and they’ve made it!
As the weather cools and the sun moves lower in the sky, these graceful birds fly south with their finished objects and handmade gifts. In the midst of this migratory journey, they alight in the Outer Sunset near Ocean Beach in San Francisco where they stop to replenish their yarn stashes and to socialize with their friends. Some bring food or drinks to share, if they so desire.
In a time honored tradition, the yarn vultures establish their pecking order then circle the table of yarn one by one, carefully selecting their victims. Some vultures shed many feathers and leave feeling lighter, able to fly faster and arrive sooner at the winter breeding ground. Other vultures with thinner coats take extra yarn to stay warm on the long flight.
At the end of the afternoon, each vulture soars off alone, clutching their handmade gifts and new-to-them yarn in their talons. The flight may be a solitary journey but they will meet again each Tuesday night at their regular feeding ground, knitting up their new yarn and enjoying the company of their fellow yarn vultures.
– Reported by Tracey, who despite her concerted efforts flew home with more yarn than she brought.