Class Registration is Live!

And we are so excited about this year’s line-up, and we think you will be too! You can register right here at https://www.yarncon.com/classes/

We have new spinning classes, along with the basics; you can learn new crochet techniques; add new bind-offs to your skill set, and new and better ways to weave in the those ends (yes, please!!); ever run into garter tabs in a shawl pattern, but had no idea, we have you covered; carding; dyeing (an annual favorite, better hurry, that one sells out every year); seriously, don’t take my word for it. Go check it out for yourselves, and sign up for our fun and informative workshops. After all, you will want to sit down and learn some new skills for all the wonderful new yarn and fiber you just purchased from our outstanding vendors.

Just over a month to go before our 10th YarnCon, and we are counting down the days! What are you looking forward to at this year’s YarnCon?

Samantha teaching Intro to Dyeing at YarnCon 2013 

 

Introducing #Yarnstallation!

Hi friends, I know things have been quiet around here, but we wanted to let you know about something exciting one of our volunteers, Cathy Turley, has been working on called #Yarnstallation! What is #Yarnstallation? Here is what Cathy has to say about it (and I will say a tiny bit more at the end):

WHAT

This summer, local artists, community members and volunteers will create a yarn installation (aka yarnbomb) at the Annex at a series of weekly community gatherings.

The public is invited. There is no charge to attend.

This fall, the yarn installation will be exhibited and funds will be raised for arts education at Wells Community Academy, a Chicago public high school.

WHO

We are seeking like-minded individuals to attend the #Yarnstallation community gatherings and to donate time or materials. Knitting or crochet skills are not required.

HOW

Here are ways to get involved:

 Come to the weekly gatherings and invite your friends.

 Volunteer to teach knitting, crochet, weaving, i-cord making or pompom making.

 Donate materials (yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, pomp-pomp and i-cord makers, etc.)

 Donate knitted or crocheted pieces (especially rectangles and flowers) to be part of the installation: any color, size, or shape shape – even clean sweaters!

 Donate fine hand-crafted work or luxury yarn to be included in the silent auction.

 Attend the Exhibition & Fundraiser Party on October 7, 2016.

WHEN

#Yarnstallation Community Maker Sessions Every Wednesday, July 13- August 31 5:30 to 7:30pm

WHERE

Events will be held at the Annex: 1620 W. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL

The Annex is a cultural, content and advertising agency, and part of Havas Worldwide.

To get involved, email me, Cathy Turley: cathy.turley@havasww.com.

Thank you!

***********

It looks like they are off to a great start, Cathy sent us some pictures from the opening, which I sadly had to miss at the last minute.  The events are every Wednesday through August 31st, 5:30-7:30pm at the Annex, 1620 W Chicago Ave. Check out this link for more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/yarnstallation-tickets-26333549355IMG_6632

Felting Fun Workshops

There is more to working with fiber than yarn. Before if becomes yarn, and even after it has been worked up, it can be felted into all kinds of fun and useful objects. This year we are offering three different workshops that will teach how to make the most of felt!

Denise Handwerker will be teaching two workshops of making the most of old sweaters that need a new life. In Sweater Hoarders Road to Freedom she will teach you how to turn old wool sweaters into felt, and demonstrate some of the fun things you can make with your new felt.

Denise pic

Already know how to make the felt? Learn how to turn your felt into a great new pair of slippers in Old Sweaters to New Slippers.

Green & Grey Slippers

For the kids (young and old alike) Renée Jones will be teaching Wash Those Woolies for Kids: Felting Handmade Soaps. The felted soap bars are fun, quick, and easy to make. Besides making great gifts, they are a great way to teach children about the properties of animal fibers and where wool comes from.

YarnCon is a week away, pre-register for classes now so you secure a seat!

Workshop spotlights: Make your yarn!

Learning new stitches and techniques is grand, and I highly recommend it! Yet, there is more to learn about yarn than how to use it, what about how to make it and how to customize it? We are here to help with a number of fabulous workshops!

Let’s start at the beginning (well, not quite the beginning, we cannot bring sheep into the Plumbers Union Hall!) We have some great spinning instructors that can take you from learning to spin your spindle and draft your fiber, all the way through making amazing art yarns that will be like no others out there.

Vera Videnovich is well known to many YarnCon regulars, and even taught yours truly how to spin on a spinning wheel. She has been teaching DIY Handspinning since our second YarnCon, and we are always happy when she can join us (this woman is seriously busy teaching and organizing craft shows all over town, so I am not kidding about being lucky!) In her class you will learn to use, and even make, a drop spindle, and the basics of wheel spinning. If you have ever been curious about spinning, but not sure where to start, start with Vera.

4022774540_b5e5b15a1c_o

Vera teaching DIY Handspinning at YarnCon 2009

This year we are introducing a spinning class for the kids, so bring them along for a fun and hands on introduction to spinning with Susan Eiseman Levitin in her Spinning for Kids class.

_MG_3276

For those who already know the basics, and are ready to learn to make new kinds of yarn we have classes by two more of our YarnCon veterans, Emily Wohlscheid and Renée Jones. Emily will be teaching Spinning from Fleece & Locks and Handspun Enhancements.

Wohlscheid_Handspun Enhancements3 Wohlscheid_Spinning From Fleece and Locks1 Wohlscheid_Headshot

Renée will get you to work your core in Work Out Your Core! aka Corespinning 101. In these classes you will learn so much about all those interesting fibers and locks, and how to make core-spun yarns and bee-hives, and so many other cool and lovely things! Bring your wheels and your imaginations!

Maybe you already have the yarn, but it needs color! We are always happy to welcome back the ever popular Samantha Lynn! On both Saturday and Sunday she will take you through the basics of acid dyeing (not scary, I promise! think Kool-aid!) in Dyeing I: Kool-Aid Dyes and in Dyeing II: Acid Dyes. These classes sell out every year, so hurry up and register. You will not be disappointed. Plus, thanks to a generous donation by Wool2Dye4 the yarn for the class has already been provided! How Kool is that? (see what I did there?)

Samantha teaching Intro to Dyeing at YarnCon 2013

Samantha teaching Intro to Dyeing at YarnCon 2013

All this and more, at YarnCon 2016!

Teacher Spotlight: Corrina Ferguson

We are very excited to welcome a new teacher to our lineup this year: Corrina Ferguson, coming all the way from Jacksonville, Florida! (As a Chicagoan, I would not mind being the one to visit her right now!)

cferguson-profile-pic

Corrina is teaching Fancy Finishes for Knitted Lace on both Saturday and Sunday morning, and it looks like a great way to spend a hour before shopping for yarn! Take your knitting to a fancier, more lovely level by adding beautiful finishing touches to your lace projects. Techniques will include: lace bind-offs, extra stretchy bind-offs, picot bind-offs, crochet loop bind-offs, and manipulating the last few rows of knitting to provide extra stretch for dramatic lace edgings.

cferguson-fancyfinishes-evanthe cferguson-fancyfinishes-jovia

Teacher Spotlights: Theresa Schabes and Kathy Kelly

Today I introduce two teachers who are YarnCon veterans, Theresa Schabes and Kathy Kelly. Both have been teaching workshops at YarnCon for years, and we are always happy to have them back.

Schabes_Theresa

Theresa will take you all the way from turning a thrift store sweater back into yarn (The Thrifty Knitter,) knitting some fine entrelac patterns (Intro to Entrelac,) and finishing any pattern in a professional and secure way (Finishing School: Weaving in Ends and Finishing School: Blocking.)

Entrelac ScarfSchabes_thriftyknitter1End-to-End or Means to an End

****

ME6242

Kathy has been teaching Tunisian Crochet with us for years, and we love her approach. She start with with Beginning Tunisian Crochet, and then offers a second class for those who want to try out their new skills, or for those with the basics already under their belt. This year’s applied offering is the Three Color Tunisian Lace Cowl.

Kelly_BeginningTunisianCrochetThreeColorTunisianLaceCowl2

Sign up before they fill up! You’ll be glad you did.

Teacher Spotlight: Miriam Felton

Along with an amazing group of vendors, YarnCon is also host to some great teachers, and I want to introduce this year’s lineup, starting with Miriam Felton. Those of you who take classes on Craftsy might recognize Miriam from her Lace Shawl Design class. We are fortunate to have her in person this year at YarnCon!

Parker1

Perhaps you already know how to do a bit of lace knitting, but fear of making mistakes is keeping you from doing more? Miriam can teach you how to overcome that fear in her class: Fearless Lace Knitting: How to Fix Mistakes.

LaceMistakes

Maybe you are a sock knitter, but who wants to wear hand-knit socks in the Summer? The answer is to make footies! Footie Socks for EVERYONEComfy to hang out in, awesome under your clogs, and a great use for leftover sock yarn!

FootieSocks10FootieSocks8

 

Workshop sneak-peek

I don’t know about you guys, but even (or maybe especially) as an organizer, I can’t stop staring the beautiful goodies our vendors are preparing for YarnCon this year! But, as we all know, YarnCon is not just about the wonderful fiber goodness our vendors have for sale, it is also about learning new ways to put that fiber to use, and we have some great workshops lined up for you.

We are hard at work getting the registration system ready (new and improved, go Team YarnCon!) and we will let you know in the next few days when it goes live. Perhaps you would like a hint of what is in store? OK!

Miriam Felton (http://www.miriamfelton.com/) will teach you how to fix mistakes in your lace knitting, and how to make footie socks everyone can wear and enjoy.

Maybe you are just about done knitting a lace shawl, but you want a really special bind-off for it. Corrina Ferguson (http://picnicknits.com/) will be teaching a variety of ways to bind off lace shawls and shawlettes, to make that project extra special.

We are so pleased that Theresa Schabes (http://woolly-wits.blogspot.com/) will be joining us again this year to teach four classes, with something for everyone. You can learn ways to recycle yarn, entrelac, how to weave in ends, and how to block your finished projects.

If you are interested in learning how to spin yarn, you can’t go wrong with a class from Vera Videnovich! She will teach you the basics of both drop spindle and wheel spinning. You can show up not knowing the first thing about it, and leave with hand-made yarn. Trust me, I was one of her students!

If you already know how to spin, and want to take it to the next level, we have you covered. Emily Wohlscheid (http://www.bricolagestudios.blogspot.com/) will be teaching how to spin from fleece and locks (and then you will know what to do with those amazing locks you saw the vendors selling,) and how to add enhancements to your hand-spun yarn. And Renée Jones (https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBunnyBadger) will be teaching a class on corespinning! The possibilities are endless!

Maybe you know some kids who would like to learn to spin? Susan Levitin will be teaching kids how to spin yarn, on both Saturday and Sunday.

Spinning is not the only thing you can do with all of that fiber. Renée Jones will be teaching kids and adults how to make hand-felted soaps, and will be teaching about animal fibers in the process.

Speaking of felt, Denise Handwerker (http://www.feltwerker.com/) is back with brand-new classes on how to recycle wool sweaters into lovely and useful felt creations, and a class on how to take that old sweater and turn it into a warm pair of felt slippers!

So much talk about knitting, spinning and felt, but what about crochet? Kathy Kelly has you covered with two classes about Tunisian Crochet. In her first class she will teach you how to do it, and in the second class you can learn how to make a three-color Tunisian lace cowl.

Speaking of color, our workshop line-up would not be complete without classes that teach you to use color. Susan Levitin can teach you to play with color and learn how to make colors work together. And if you want to dye that yarn yourself, you can’t go wrong with Samantha Lynn’s dyeing workshops! She teaches two workshops, one with Kool-aid dyes (yes, you read that correctly) and one with traditional acid dyes. They are always a hit, and fill up quickly.

So, while you plan your fiber shopping budget, leave some room for some mad new skills to take your crafting to the next level.

 

YarnCon: Past and Future

As I excitedly added the link to the Request for Workshop Proposals application to the front page of our website today, I got to thinking about how every year I tweak the process just a bit (thanks to the great feedback from our teachers!) and just how far we have come since our first show in October of 2007. That’s right, for those of you who have not been with us since the beginning, we used to be a one day show in October. Although you won’t really see it if you attend YarnCon, there have been some big changes recently behind the scenes. I want to tell you about those changes and where we are heading, but I feel like talking about how we got started should come first. I can get really chatty when it comes to talking about the past, (just ask my adviser about my Master’s thesis! Yikes!) so I will try to not overdo it.

Past:

In the Summer of 2007, Sara came to me with an idea. Let’s start a yarn craft fair, like Renegade, but just for yarn. She already had a name for it: YarnCon, like the comic-cons, but again, for yarn. I thought it was just crazy enough to work, and said yes. That summer we started an LLC called Yarny Goodness to be YarnCon’s parent company, and to give us room to grow. I think that before we even had the first show under our belts, we were already looking ahead for what else we could do with this idea of gathering fiber artists. We talked about magazines, online market places, other events throughout the year, and dreamed while we got our first show up and running. That October, we held our first YarnCon at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, with 25 vendors, a couple of free workshops run by friends who volunteered, and a photography project in the corner which was the idea of a local knitter and blogger named Franklin Habit. It was the 1000 Knitters Project, and we gave him a corner to set up his photobooth. We also had a book signing (Susan Strawn’s Knitting America) and the author sold out of her books before the day was over. At least 2 of our vendors were yarn stores, one of which has since closed, and the other has changed hands. We broke even, and in our minds it was a huge success, and the reviews were very positive. I think we had almost 300 shoppers that day.

YarnCon 2007 at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse

YarnCon 2007 at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse

With the exception of 2012, we’ve hosted YarnCon every year since 2007. First in October, then  in April after the move to the new location. It has grown from a one day show in a park district auditorium to a two-day affair in the Plumber’s Union Hall, with a large parking lot and loading docks and elevators. We quickly brought on one of our first volunteers, Lindy, to help us run the show (she was already helping so much it only made sense to make it official!)

Our first year at the Plumbers Union Hall

Our first year at the Plumbers Union Hall

But, we never stopped thinking about what else we could do.

Future:

Still with me? Excellent! As I mentioned earlier, we had created an LLC to manage the show. But, we still had this desire to do more throughout the year. YarnCon does a good job of paying for itself, but not much more, since we try hard to make it affordable for both our vendors and our community (what other yarn show has free admission?) So, what to do? Last Summer, Sara and I started looking for a location to work out of, and hopefully share with other fiber artists. A place where we could hold workshops and events all year long. In the process of figuring this out, we came to the conclusion that the best way to approach this is as a not for profit. We talked to Lindy and some other very smart yarny people in our community and decided to create a new non-profit: The Society for the Lost Arts (or SLA for short.) Now we can use this new organization to raise funds not only to host more programming during the rest of the year, but also to host YarnCon! After so many years of being first a 2 person and then a 3 person team, we now have a Board of people who care about the fiber arts community in Chicago as much as we do, and who love learning and teaching about some of the older art forms we all love. Let’s face it, knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, this stuff is not new. And if we don’t keep sharing it, learning about it, doing it out where people can see us and get excited, it can be forgotten. Right now the fiber arts are hot, and we love it! We want to contribute with shared knowledge, and a shared space to spread the knowledge, and to share the tools we need to make the things we love.

Exciting, right? How can  you help? One way to is share this (lengthy) post and spread the word. The other is by contributing to the Society for the Lost Arts. We want to keep YarnCon as it is, an affordable venue for talented fiber artists, so in order to add programming and a shared space we need to make money in other ways. We will soon be sharing all kinds of sponsorship opportunities, and upcoming programs. But, in the meantime, if you can, please head over to http://societyforthelostarts.org/support-our-work/ and contribute whatever you can. We have a tiny space now to hold our looms, spinning wheel, sewing machines, and even antique printing presses, but we want to move into a space that we can share with all of you. Please help make this a reality for all of us. Thanks!

The show maybe months away, but planning is underway!

With the Winter Holidays upon us, even imagining Spring seems like an exercise in futility (have I mentioned I am not keen on Winter?), but as far as team YarnCon is concerned, April is right around the corner.

The deadline for Workshop proposals is this Friday, December 12, so if you would like to teach at YarnCon, please head over to https://www.yarncon.com/?page_id=313 and get us your proposal post haste.

We are already taking vendor applications, and it is never too soon to apply. We are taking applications until February 1, 2015, which is sooner than you think, so head on over to https://www.yarncon.com/?page_id=125 and show us what you make! And please spread the word to anyone you might think has some yarny talents to share.

In the meantime, happy crafting, and happy holidays!