Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Every year we try something new to make each YarnCon better than the one before. Some changes are in the inner workings, and hopefully you won’t even notice. Others we really want you to notice, and this year’s change is one of those.

A view of the main hall and balcony from the stage.

We are a small, but growing fiber festival, and this year we received more applications than we thought possible (thanks for the love!) Although we still had the sad job of turning a lot of really great artists down, we decided to try to add a few more this year, meaning this year we will have the most vendors ever at YarnCon! (I mean, just look at this list! (https://www.yarncon.com/vendors-2/ ) But, where will we put them all?

The balcony (accessible by stairs and elevator) is hopping with shoppers.

So glad you asked! Now you can shop in the main ball room on the second floor, up in the beautiful balcony in the ball room, and downstairs in the hall with the coffee bar. What? Coffee and more yarny goodness? You read that right!

The Coffee Bar, and some of last year’s organizations spreading the word. If you could turn your gaze to the right, you would see vendors this year!

Stop by the bar* for some delicious Dark Matter coffee, or choose from a fine selection of teas or hot cocoa, and then check out the vendors and guilds in the room! You can also have your yarn wound into a cake for you for instant yarn gratification, and then sit and start swatching. All of this in one room!

And just outside this room, we still have tables and chairs so you can enjoy a tasty lunch from some of our food trucks, and play with your new yarn. You will also find the YarnCon Merchandise table, Operation Chemo Comfort, and don’t forget the raffle tickets!

Speaking of don’t forget, we still have spaces available in a few of our classes, but tickets are selling fast! You can find more information about our brilliant teachers, and what classes are still available here:
https://www.yarncon.com/classes/

*Did you know JFK had a drink at that very bar? He did! Yarn, coffee, and some history. We have it all!

That’s so wirecore!

So, you have knit with wool (or some kind of fiber), and maybe you have knit with wire, but have you tried the combination of the two?

Wirecore yarn is what it sounds like, it is fiber spun around a wire core. The beauty of knitting with wire is you can make jewelry and sculptural objects with it. Once you add fiber, you get the same features of knitting with wire, but with the look and color of yarn.

wirecore yarn and tools
Wirecore yarn and tools

Emily Wohlscheid spins up some beautiful wirecore yarn, and in Knit Wirecore Jewelry she will teach you how to make jewelry and accessories with it. For this class, you don’t have to spin your own, Emily will be selling kits for the class.

Wirecore jewelry
Wirecore jewelry
Finished wirecore necklace
Finished wirecore necklace

Bring your knitting needles and your imagination, and learn to make jewelry at YarnCon!

You spin me right round

Right round like a spinning wheel, baby.

Let’s delve into the spinning classes, shall we? We have a great variety to offer you, so let’s start with the very basics.

If you are curious about spinning, and have either not tried it before, or tried, and you just couldn’t get the swing of it, DIY Handspinning with Vera Videnovich is the class for you. This class is offered on both Saturday and Sunday, and in it you learn the basics of spinning on drop spindles. You don’t even need to have a spindle yet, Vera will show you how to make your own with common household objects, or items easy to pick up at your local hardware store. She also introduces the basics of spinning on a spinning wheel. (We have a few student wheels that will be available in case you want to give it a try.)

DIY Spinning class
Vera has been teaching at YarnCon since our second year, back at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Circa 2008.

Do you already know how to spin, and are ready to learn some new skills? Heavenly Bresser has classes for you! Let’s start with fiber preparation. Of course you can buy fiber ready to spin from, and that’s fantastic, but maybe you want to blend your own colors, or you have seen those pretty rolags, and want to know how to make your own; Blending Boards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly is the class you want to take.

blending board
Preparing a rolag from a blending board
Finished Rolags
Finished rolags

What about controlling your color while spinning? Just because your fiber is ready to spin, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more choices to make. How do you create yarn that self stripes, that gradually changes color, and how do you ply those singles and maintain your desired effect? Heavenly teaches you how to create a subtly self-striping yarn in Color Control with Fractal Spinning.

fractal spun bobbins
Bobbins ready to be plied in Fractal Spinning
Fractal Spun Yarn
Fractal Spun Yarn

How about art yarn? Have you seen those pretty beehives and wondered how to spin those up? Heavenly shows you how in Art Yarn: Bubbly Beehives.

spinning beehives
Spinning beehives

Just look at the amazing yarn you can make! Vera and Heavenly will make spinning a pleasure, we hope you will check these classes out, and sign up while there are still seats open.

We do want to make one important note about our spinning classes this year. Spinning classes will be held on the stage this year (just like old times!) There are a few steps up to the stage, so if stairs are a problem, please let me know. We hope to have these workshops back in a classroom next year once work on the building is complete.

Make it uniquely yours

When you wander the aisles at YarnCon, it is hard not to be inspired by the beautifully hand-dyed yarns. And every dyer creates colors that are uniquely theirs. But how do they do it? And it’s not just dyeing yarn, what about all the gorgeous batts, roving, top, braids, etc., just waiting to be transformed by your hands into yarn or felted art. But how does it all work? How do you dye yarn or fiber so that it is color-fast, and approximates what you have in mind? How do you transform that unspun fiber into yarn, and how much equipment do you even need to make it happen?

We have answers! To be more precise, our teachers have the answers, and they are waiting to teach you their methods to you at YarnCon.

Let’s say dyeing yarn is what you want to explore. Samantha Lynn can teach you to dye yarn, even with something easily accessible like Kool-Aid! And thanks to a generous donation by Wool2Dye4, the yarn will be provided for you! These are fun, and short workshops, leaving you time for other classes and shopping, and you go home with a baggie of yarn you dyed yourself! She has two classes, Dyeing I (the one with the Kool-Aid dyed yarn) and Dyeing II which explores professional acid dyes (believe it or not, Kool-Aid does count as an acid dye, so don’t let the name intimidate you.)

Dyeing with Samantha Lynn
One of Samantha’s dyeing workshops from 2014

Our next post will delve into the many spinning workshops we have in store for you. We can take you from never having tried it at all in our DIY Handspinning classes with Vera Videnovich (Vera taught Natalia how to spin on a wheel, and let’s just say her fiber stash is starting to rival the yarn stash) to blending your own fibers with Heavenly Bresser (take classes with her now while you can still get into them, she was just accepted to teach at Stitches Midwest, and once more people get to know her, she is going to be in demand big-time!), or even learn to make wire-core jewelry with Emily Wohlscheid.

DIY Spinning class
Vera has been teaching at YarnCon since our second year, back at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. Circa 2008.

Let’s talk steeks.

I know, I know, the very idea of cutting our freshly knit or crocheted sweater breaks us out into a cold sweat. So much so, that many of us prefer to stitch our sweater in pieces over doing it in the round and taking scissors to it. But, think about the time it saves, and so much less purling for those who prefer the knit stitch. If you have ever thought about learning how to steek your sweaters, but were too nervous to jump in, then Lori is here to help.

Freshly steeked sweater.

Lori Grady is teaching Cut Your Knitting: Steeks on Saturday at 1pm. Spend the morning checking out all the yarn, fiber, and accessories, and then do something for yourself, learn a new skill! It’s a lot less scary with an expert to show you how.

Getting ready for the big cut!

Interested in taking a class, but with less cutting involved? You are in luck, we still have spaces in our spinning and dyeing classes. More on that in our next post! Stay tuned!

PS Don’t delay on signing up, a few of our classes have already sold out!!

YarnCon is a month away, and we have updates!

Hard to believe it is already well into March with such cold weather, but hey, we’re stitchers, we know how to do cold. (Spring, we want you anyway, please hurry!)

YarnCon is just a month away, and we thought it would be a good time to remind you to sign up for workshops before the class you want is sold out (some already are, so get on it!) We still have spaces left in our fantastic spinning and dyeing classes, look for our next post with more information on those classes, or head over to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/yarncon-2019-tickets-55954541540 to read the descriptions and sign up.

This is just one thing you can learn how to do if you sign up for Art Yarn:Bubbly Beehives by Heavenly Bresser.

We also want to share our superb list of vendors for 2019, now with more vendors than ever before! https://www.yarncon.com/vendors-2/

We have one more fun thing to share with you! We teamed up with Threadless to offer something many of you have requested in the past: hoodies! We also added some coffee mugs (traditional and travel), and stickers! You can buy your YarnCon gear, and come to the show in style right here: https://yarncon.threadless.com/

Available in other colors as well!

We are really excited to once again be offering Dark Matter coffee, thanks to their amazing support! See us at the beautiful bar downstairs for all of your hot coffee (and tea) needs.

Keep an eye on the blog, we’ll keep updating you on what to look forward to at YarnCon as the date approaches.

Teacher Spotlight: Kathy Kelly and Tunisian Crochet

It’s time for another guest blog post, this time by long-time YarnCon teacher, Kathy Kelly. Kathy has been teaching Tunisian Crochet at YarnCon for 5 years now, and her classes are always a hit. Her workshops range from beginner level classes, to more advanced techniques. But, Kelly can tell  you herself, so I will turn it over to her.

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly

 
Hi, Kathy Kelly here. This my 5th year teaching at YarnCon and I’m excited to be conducting a brand-new workshop on Corner-to-Corner Crochet, or C2C. It’s a great technique for making square and rectangular projects that have a unique look and feel. Think scarves, wraps, capes, baby blankets, and afghans, as well as motifs.

C2C crochet

Corner to Corner Crochet

 
We’ll be working diagonally using the box stitch, which takes projects in the beautiful new cake and gradient yarns to a new level! We’ll also make a 2-color design sample that can be used as a coaster, or as a first motif in a larger project. For this class you’ll need to know how to double crochet and chain. 

C2C heart

Corner to Corner Heart

 
I’m also teaching a Beginning Tunisian Crochet class that requires no prior crochet experience, but if you know how to crochet a chain and work into it, all the better. Once you’ve taken the beginning class, you’ll be ready for the Tunisian Lace Class where we’ll explore a new way to create unique projects you’ll love.

Tunisian Lace scarf

Tunisian Lace scarf

You can sign up here:

C2C Crochet 

https://www.yarncon.com/c2c-crochet/

Beginning Tunisian Crochet

https://www.yarncon.com/beginning-tunisian-crochet/

Introduction to Tunisian Crochet Lace

https://www.yarncon.com/intro-tunisian-lace/

You can find me on Ravelry as Vibeskat, and check my blog at crochetbird.wordpress.com.

Teacher Spotlight: Andi Smith gives us a sneak peek at bag making

Full disclosure here: I love project bags, and have gotten picky about them over the years. I might have crossed the line into a collector (I know I am not alone here.) There are some great bag makers, and Andi Smith is definitely amongst the greatest. And, she is offering to teach you how she does it at YarnCon this year in her Sew Your Own Project Bag Class! You can bring  your own sewing machine (we will even safely stash it for you so you can shop before and after class unencumbered), or borrow one of ours. There are still seats available for this class, and we can’t recommend it enough. Not to mention, if we know Andi, and we do since she is a YarnCon veteran, you will have so much fun! Enough from me, I will turn it over to Andi!

 

I love matching a project bag to yarn, to my mood, and to particularly to a friend. What began as gift giving, soon grew into a small business, and then selling at Fiber Festivals throughout the country. 
 
 
I’ve sewn thousands, and like to hope that each one is an improvement on the last. Each season, I modify things, improve the designs, spend months finding attractive fabrics, always with a polka dot lining. I don’t quite remember how that started, but it’s tradition now, it adds a little whimsy, and never fails to make me smile when I open up a bag and see dots peering out at me. 
 
Andi's project bag 
 
Last year, a friend asked if I’d consider teaching her how to make bags, and of course I said yes. I love to teach, and enjoy the challenge of thinking through all the steps, determining how to share knowledge to all types of learners. 
 
At this point, I’ve streamlined the process for my bags, and taught my friend how I did so; the shortcuts, the tips and tricks, how to avoid pitfalls, and how to fix mistakes. 
 
I’ll teach you how to get the most out of your cut of fabric, to perfect zippers each and every time.  How to choose the right materials, and methods that will ensure your bags last for years, I hope this class will be a springboard for all of you to create your own bags, and give you the confidence to sew like the wind. 
 

Seriously, go sign up! Here’s the link: https://www.yarncon.com/sew-your-own-bag/

Teacher Spotlight: Emily Wohlscheid’s spinning workshops

Today we are pleased as can be to have Emily Wohlscheid take over the blogging duties! She will be talking about her spinning workshops, Try Spinning Bouclé, and Drop Spindle World Tour. You can see more of Emily’s work on Instagram, where she is @bricolagestudios and her online store, Bricolage Studios. And now, here is Emily!

 

Hi YarnCon fans, Emily Wohlscheid here! When Natalia asked me to write this I sat down and the first thing I thought was, “Holy cow! This is my 5th year teaching at YarnCon!” I started my involvement with YarnCon when it was still held at the fieldhouse* and I have been so thrilled to watch it grow and change over the years. I love YarnCon so much!  The excitement and energy that surround it and how absolutely fabulous the organizers and volunteers are at the show makes it easy to come back year after year. I’ve always used this show as my kickoff to teaching new workshops because the vibe is so great that my nerves melt away (mostly.) This year I am offering two spinning workshops. I am incredibly excited to finally be sharing my favorite materials and techniques for making complicated loopy textural yarns as a short form workshop in my Try Spinning Bouclé.

try spinning boucle

 


My other offering this year is the result of my explorations with various drop spindles in the past year. I was determined to learn how to wrap my Turkish spindle in that beautiful God’s eye patterns I was seeing spindlers post on Instagram and wondered why I hadn’t been spinning on spindles more in general as I worked through it. I also began to play with more simplistic drop spindles like the Scottish dealgan that had been intriguing me and the primitive Peruvian spindle a dear friend brought back for me. Drop Spindle World Tour is the results of these explorations. I know it was intimidating for me to invest in and try some new spindles, but with guidance and the permission to explore, I hope to share that wonder with several more spinners in this laid back exploratory workshop! 
 
drop spindle world tour
 
I can’t wait to see you all at YarnCon! 
 
*Natalia’s note: The Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, back when YarnCon was a one day affair from 2007-2011.

Teacher Spotlight: Javier Jara talks about Brioche

We are excited to bring you a guest blog post today by one of our teachers, Javier Jara. Javier is teaching Introduction to Brioche Knitting, and will tell you more about why you should take his class. Without further ado, I bring you Javier!

It’s all about brioche!

Hi everyone, Javier here, your favorite Chicagoan brioche teacher also known as “thejavioriginal” on Instagram and Ravelry.  I’m super excited about teaching at YarnCon for the first time! Brioche is probably one of my favorite knitting techniques and I can’t wait to share it with you! Let me tell some of the reasons why I love brioche so much. First of all, brioche can make a very versatile fabric that is REVERSIBLE. This is a huge advantage, so no right or wrong sides! Secondly, taking advantage of interesting yarns and needle combinations, you can either achieve a more classic and squishy ribbing look or a more modern lacy look. Imagine using different yarn textures and colors to make fabulous accessories that will be the envy of everyone such as the “Javi’s first brioche scarf”. Finally, during the last two years we have seen brioche go mainstream and the brioche designs keep getting better! There are so many choices to not only make shawls and scarfs but also beautiful garments with fascinating shapes by using different combinations of decreases and increases. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the brioche family? So, come and join me at YarnCon and learn the basic concepts of one and two-color brioche. After this class, you will have the necessary tools to continue your amazing brioche journey!

Javi's first brioche scarf