The World Famous Crochet Museum
61855 29 Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, California
Tucked into a small assortment of shops located along a stretch of the 29 Palms Highway that runs along the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, the World Famous Crochet Museum could best be described as a world within a world within a world, and the museum has achieved a level of acclaim and notoriety that belies both its humble beginnings and the isolated and stark beauty of its Mojave Desert location.
The road to Joshua Tree
I had been meaning to go to the World Famous Crochet Museum since I first learned of it in August of 2011, but my trips to Southern California were infrequent, and I often had a particular purpose, so there was no time to go, but recently, I arrived in Southern California and had a day with nothing planned, so I got in touch with Joni.
Joni and I went to the same schools from the time we were twelve until we graduated from high school. Our fathers (who both died relatively young) had been good friends, and in recent years, we have picked up our friendship where theirs left off. So when I finally had the time to drive to Joshua Tree to see the museum, I couldn’t think of anyone better to come along for the adventure.
Otis Gordon Sports Park, Duarte, California
The first thing we had to figure out was where to meet up, and since Joni lives in the LA area, and I do not, I left the particulars up to her. After triangulating the distances from the hotel where I was staying and where she lives, she texted me directions to our meet up: the Otis Gordon Sports Park in Duarte, California.
Both east and north of where I was staying, getting to the park only required that I get on the 105 East, merge onto the 605 North, and then take one exit with minimal turns to get to our meeting place, and from there we were to park one vehicle and continue our eastward travels.
With just 115 miles between us and our destination, we headed east, first on the 210 and then on Interstate 10. Shortly before we reached the turn off for Route 62 (aka 29 Palms Highway) that would take us to our destination, we went through the San Gorgonio Pass where we were treated to the sight of a windmill farm:
and soon after that, we reached the turn off for 29 Palms Highway.
Joshua Tree or bust
The sight of the windmill farm made me think that we were in for a very magical experience, and as the miles between us and the museum grew fewer and fewer, I wondered what exactly we would see when we arrived.
Would it be worth the time spent to get there? Would we think that we should have done something else?
In short order there would answers to both questions.
Yes it was worth the time, and no, we should not have done something else.
The world within a world within a world
Because the World Famous Crochet Museum is nestled into the back of a large lot that houses multiple shops, we were not able to see it from the highway, but a quick right onto El Reposo Circle followed by another right at the corner of Division Street brought us to the parking lot:
The chainlink fence had been decorated with a number of crochet afghans which, while they had faded in the sun, had retained their original charm if not color, and with my phone camera at the ready, I was able to get my first photo of the museum:
From the outside the museum seemed to be everything I had thought it would be and when I entered it, I soon learned that it was even more.
Two unusual birthday gifts
One year, Shari Elf — Art Queen and future curator of the World Famous Crochet Museum — received not one, but two crochet poodles from a friend as a birthday gift.
That seemingly small act was the beginning of a journey that would take Ms. Elf to, among other places, Kansas City, and along the way she collected more crochet pieces.
Eventually Shari and her crochet collection found their way to Joshua Tree, California and the establishment of the museum.
The permanent collection
Like many things, crochet has fashions that wax and wane. Granny squares come and go, and then come back again. Crochet ripple afghans are all the rage until they aren’t, and so it goes.
Everything starts somewhere, and while the museum got its start with just two crochet poodles, the collection has grown to include watermelon slices:
A crochet banana split:
A collection of crochet clowns:
An aluminum can tote constructed in a fashion similar to that used to make the once popular beer can hats:
Two crochet mermaids:
A collection of crocheted ears of corn like the ones my cousin Lois kept in her kitchen
And an all-seeing and all-knowing crochet eye watching over everyone and everything:
There were so many interesting crochet objects at the World Famous Crochet Museum it was easy to get lost in them all, and I did:
Meeting Shari Elf, the Art Queen
We were lucky in that Shari Elf, the Art Queen and curator of the World Famous Crochet Museum collection was on site when we were there, and we got to meet her and do some shopping in her gallery which is conveniently located right next to the museum.
She was gracious enough to talk to us in between helping other customers, and while the traffic wasn’t heavy, it was constant.
In fact, Joni and I met a fellow crochet devotee who took this photo of the two of us on a bench in front of one side of the museum:
Making time for your dreams
The biggest lesson I learned from my World Famous Crochet Museum is this:
You need to make time for your dreams.
They don’t need to be big dreams; they don’t need to take a lot of time, but that act of moving forward and achieving one, feels like a literal dream come true.
And if it happens that going to the World Famous Crochet Museum is one of your dreams, you will never regret stopping by and getting yourself something like this: