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

 

Workshop Spotlight: Sew Your Own Project Bag!

So, this is a yarn show, and this is a sewing class? Yes! And this is important. Sometimes you need to sew in a lining, or a zipper, or maybe you have a bit of beautiful fabric in your stash (come on now fiber people, fiber stashes can cover A LOT of bases) and you want to make your own project bag with it. This is the class for you. In this class you learn to make your own project bag with one of the best, our own Andi Smith, and the skills you will learn will help you in all kinds of sewing applications. 

We have a classroom reserved for this class, so please bring your sewing machine with you, and we can stash it safely for you. If you don’t have a machine, we will have a few you can borrow. All you need are basic sewing machine skills, black and white thread, and scissors. 

I don’t know about you, but I have almost as much of a bag stash as a yarn stash, so being able to make my own sounds like a pretty good idea. Sign up for Andi’s Sew Your Own Project Bag, and visit her at the Cooperative Press booth.

 

Time to Sign up for Classes!

I can tell you are excited about signing up for classes at YarnCon this year. How can I tell? You folks have started registering before I could even make the announcement! I love it! And there is so much to love this year! I’ve linked to all of the classes below, so you can get right to it. Given how many requests I have gotten about the classes this year, you don’t want to wait until the last minute, trust me. For the full line up, head on over to: https://www.yarncon.com/classes/

Andi Smith is back, and this time she is bringing her sewing machine to teach you how to make your own boxy project bags in her Sew Your Own Project Bag class! Javier Jara is going to introduce you to Brioche, and when you’re done you will know how to block it to perfection if you take Adrienne Ku’s Blocking class. We are super excited to welcome Annie Modesitt to YarnCon, and she will be teaching Directional increase and decrease basics, cabling without a needle (something Natalia, who always loses her cable needle needs to learn!), and combination knitting basics. We have a great lineup of spinning teachers to take you from introducing you to the basics all the way to spinning Bouclé. Vera Videnovich will teach you how to spin and even make your own drop spindle, Heavenly Bresser will get you Thinking Outside the Braid and Prepping like a pro, and Emily Wohlscheid will take you on a Drop Spindle World Tour, and teach you spin Bouclé. Samantha Lynn is back with her acid dyeing workshops (Dyeing I and Dyeing II) throughout the weekend; in one hour you can learn the basics of acid dyeing and go home with your own hand-dyed yarn, with yarn provided to YarnCon by Wool2Dye4. We’re very happy to have veteran YarnCon teacher, Kathy Kelly with us again this year to teach Tunisian Crochet, Tunisian Crochet Lace, and corner to corner crochet to help you expand your crochet skills. And for the sock lovers we have long time YarnCon vendor, Jenn Watkins helping you choose the right sock heel for your project, and learn more about the variety of sock heels in her Sock Heels Sampling class. And because this is YarnCon, and we can make yarn out of all kinds of things, we are really excited to welcome back Musa Macenyane who will be teaching how to plarn (yes, plarn!) a change purse. Her purses are super cute, you will be amazed at what you can do with old shopping bags.

I will be back to talk about each of our teachers and their classes in more detail over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Our Common Thread…

…And What You Should Know.

While preparing for YarnCon, I am often listening to public radio (I being Natalia), listening to news of the world, what’s happening in the White House and here in Chicago. One of the things I love about Chicago, as segregated as it is, is its diversity. That is a big reason for keeping YarnCon in the heart of the city. We want everyone to be able to come, people with cars and without. You can get to the Plumbers Union Hall via public transit, or even by bicycle if you are so inclined, but it is still easy enough to get to from the expressway. Everyone can come.

That means there will be lots of different types of people, and all types of people are welcome at YarnCon. All of them. And we want all of them to feel welcome. To feel included. We all have a common thread (excuse the pun) and that is yarn. We are all here for the yarn. We all like to work with it, look at it, play with it, smell it, squish it, make it, make with it, etc. 

Why am I reminding you of this? Aren’t yarny people generally cool, you might ask? I hope so. I like to think so. But, sometimes we all need reminders, and last year we were reminded when one of our visitors was made to feel less than welcome. We handled that privately, and this blog post is not for pointing fingers or laying blame. It is a reminder to be our best selves, and to treat those that look different from ourselves, be they of a different race, gender, religion, or anything else you can think of, exactly the way we would want to be treated.

We expect this of our vendors, our teachers, of ourselves, our volunteers, and our visitors. Be kind, and come and enjoy the beautiful handiwork of our artisans. Artisans, please treat our guests with kindness, some came from great distances, and others are our neighbors, and we are happy to see them all. 

And if you ever feel that you have been treated unfairly, please come to one of the organizers. We take this seriously. (Now, let’s have some yarny fun!)

 

Thank you to Ysolda for the Sticker!

 

Community Cast On

Today we bring you a blog post written by Society for the Lost Arts Board member, and designer at Lisa Lucia (http://www.lisaluciaknits.com/), Lisa Whiting. She will be bring her Community Cast On knitting performance piece to YarnCon this year, and will tell you all about it below. Thanks, Lisa!

*********************

Back in 2005, I was living in Detroit, going to school at the Center For Creative Studies and working at a Yarn Shop, City Knits. It was in this time that I combined my love of art making and my love of knitting together in one huge piece, “Community Cast-On”. I documented it in a blog which is still up to this day.

The blog, http://communitycaston.blogspot.com/,  documented the progress of this performance knitting piece conceived by me, Lisa Whiting, BFA, (CCS 2005) and assistant manager of City Knits. “Community Cast-on: A Knitting Circle” engaged eight knitters and 16 hands simultaneously knitting around a 16 foot circle to create a giant tubular soft sculpture. The piece was cast-on at Noon July 2, 2005 to kick-off the Knit Fest at City Knits, using yarn donated by Cascade Yarns and needles donated by Skacel Needles.
 

At the time I chose ecological wool in various natural shades to reflect the diversity of our community and region. The piece was not about the product itself, but the proximity of people, who may be strangers, working closely together as neighbors to create a community. The sculpture was the evidence of the joint effort to create something beautiful and meaningful with the simple elements of sticks and string. The performance traveled to several area festivals throughout that summer, and was bound off in a celebration at The Detroit Institute of Arts in September 2005. Knitters of all skill levels were invited to jump in and knit a round (or portion thereof) and are invited to donate in any amount to the Stitch to WIN campaign.

Fast forward to today, having been engrossed in a amazingly inclusive knitting community here in Chicago, I have been wanting to recreate this piece with my current community of friends and adopted YarnCon family. I was super excited to share this idea of resurrecting this piece with Natalia and she and the other Yarny folks of YarnCon all agreed in this day and age where communities are split down political, racial, and religious lines, it is now more than ever that we need art that brings us all together. 

 So I am inviting you, my knitters, my family, to come and sit and knit a row with me as we start a new “Community Cast-On” the weekend of YarnCon, April 1st and 2nd. We didn’t get a chance to have yarn donated like I did for the original piece, however, let’s make this all a true community effort. Bring your scrap yarn, or yarns you want to donate, so we can make this version of the piece the technicolor dream knit that represents all of us. We are not just black and white, we are every color of the rainbow and this piece will reflect the hues of all of us, together, working for a common goal, unity!  Donations of Yarn will be used for this piece. Donations of money will go to local charity (TBD) that brings diversity and unity to our Chicago communities.

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!

Damn Fine YarnContest – Meet Your Judges!

(We let Great Northern Knits co-author Leah Coccari-Swift have the mic today to fill you in on the latest for next weekend’s contest! Are you cooking up something fun to enter?)

Hello, fiber lovers! I’m here to tell you a little about each of our wonderful Damn Fine YarnContest judges, so you can get to know us before the Big Weekend. Each of us will be judging one of 5 categories, and coming together to decide on our pick for the Best in Show prize. Read on, won’t you? We can’t wait to see what you’re gonna submit!

 

Best Twin Peaks Prop Judge: Leah Coccari-Swift (that’s me)
Leah Log Lady
You may be wondering about the “presented by… Great Northern” aspect of this contest. Great Northern is my upcoming Kickstarter-funded knitting book with Teresa Gregorio, inspired by the early 90’s TV show Twin Peaks. The show was groundbreaking in many ways, and also happens to feature some amazing knitwear. The iconography of Twin Peaks lends itself nicely to yarn-crafted items, and I can’t wait to see what folks come up with for this category! Check out Great Northern here, and you can find my blog here. I can’t wait to see you at the show!

 

Best Garment Judge: Lisa Whiting
Lisa
Lisa is a talented artist, knitwear designer, and creative director at the super-popular yarn subscription club Yarnbox. Her designs have been featured in many magazines and on TV, and she created one of my all-time favorite kid’s hat patterns, the adorable Kitty Hat for Blue Sky Alpacas. We’re delighted to have Lisa judging the garment category, as she’ll bring her creative eye and keen aesthetic sense to the task! You can find Lisa’s website here.

 

Best Use of Handspun Judge: Vera Videnovich
Vera
Vera is an amazing spinner, knitter, designer, and grower of superb vegetables. Her farm produces veggies in the warm season and wool from her sheep in the cool season (shorn and spun by Vera!). The love and care she dedicates to her creations results in beautiful produce, stunning knitwear (check out her men’s sweaters!) and luscious yarn. Vera’s spinning and design expertise will serve her well as judge for this category! Follow her on Instagram here.

(Ed note: Vera is our resident spinning guru; she taught all three YarnCon organizers how to spin. You can learn from her too next weekend in her DIY Handspinning classes!)

 

Best Toy Judge: Anna Hrachovec
Anna
Anna is an artist, designer, author, animator, and all-around creative force. Anna’s wonderful Mochimochi Land patterns are incredibly popular for good reason, they are incredibly cute and addictive to knit! Anna’s fantastic sense of color and design make each of her tiny, anthropomorphized creations a true work of adorable art, and we’re thrilled to have her as the toy judge! You can find Mochimochi Land on the web here, and Anna’s website here.

 

Best Accessory Judge: Allyson Dykhuizen
Allyson
Allyson is a designer, editor, author, and kick-ass lady. Holla Knits, her online magazine, is in its 5th year of producing challenging, unique, fashionable patterns. Allyson has been featured in magazines, co-authored the wonderful book Midwestern Knits last year, and is currently working on the 1Knit1Chicago kit club, which is producing fabulous original patterns. Her technical skills and design savvy make her an ideal accessories judge. Check out Allyson’s blog here.

All 5 of us will judge “Best in Show”!

When entries are dropped off, they will be photographed, posted on Instagram, and tagged with #damnfineyarncontest. For those of you who won’t be able to make the show, you can still see all the amazing work online… heart and comment on your favorite! The judges will take this into consideration when making their decision. Remember, judges’ decisions are final, and will be made according to their discretion; the amount of weight they give to online votes is up to the judge!

So, are you digging through your FOs yet?

 

Next week, we’ll be sharing a peek at the prizes in each category, and the big kahuna… Best In Show!