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!

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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!

A Damn Fine YarnContest: FAQs & Rules

Hey, yarn friends! We’ve already had an enthusiastic response to the contest announcement for the Damn Fine YarnContest, and folks have raised some good questions. Thanks, all! 

Here are some things you might want to know about the Damn Fine YarnContest:

  • Everyone is eligible to enter, excluding judges and organizers. It would be hard to explain if we made off with all the prizes.
  • You may enter up to three items per category (let’s not overwhelm our awesome judges!).
  • Items may be entered in more than one category (i.e., a toy made out of handspun yarn could be entered in both the Toy and Handspun categories).
  • Entries may be knitted, crocheted, woven, or felted.
  • The Handspun category must be made of yarn spun by the entrant. No restrictions on yarn used in any other category.
  • Sorry, no photos accepted. Judges have to be able to see the quality of your work in person.
  • Entries must be brought in person to the contest table at YarnCon on the designated day for your category:
    • Saturday 4/2, Drop off from 10am-2pm:
      • Best Twin Peaks Prop
      • Best Accessory
      • Best Use of Handspun
    • Sunday 4/3, Drop off from 10am-12pm:
      • Best Garment
      • Best Toy
    • Note: Entries in Sunday categories may be dropped off Saturday, but must be picked up Sunday after judging (see below).
  • Pickup
    • Best Twin Peak Prop, Best Accessory, Best Use of Handspun entries: may be picked up Saturday 4/2 between 3pm and 5pm.
    • Best Garment, Best Toy entries: may be picked up Sunday 4/3 between 1:30pm and 3pm.
    • All entries must be picked up by Sunday at 3pm, when YarnCon closes. Any entries not picked up by then will be held until 4/17 at YarnCon sponsors:
  • Entrants agree that pictures of their work may be posted on social media; winners’ names may also be posted.
  • There is no fee for entry; this is all purely for fun. You will have to fill out a small form for each item entered and be OK with us pinning it to your entry, though.
  • All judges’ decisions are final.

Still curious about something? Let us know! 

T-shirts & Bag Pre-order

Not everyone wants to stand in line just for the chance to get a YarnCon goodie bag. Good news; you can get your hands on this year’s tote bag by pre-order for $12! Work + Shelter made us these cute organic cotton totes, screened with a HUGE YarnCon logo and with a boxy bottom to help it stand up when it’s full; you know, like when you’re stuffing it with your YarnCon purchases.

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(If you want goodies IN the bag, you’ll still have to score one of the first 50 places in line at opening on Saturday and Sunday for the variety of vendor coupons and treats included. No shortcuts there!)

For more information on Work + Shelter’s program to empower women and alleviate poverty with fair trade job training and personal support, check out their website.

We’re also making another limited run of YarnCon t-shirts, which you can order until Saturday, March 19 for pickup at YarnCon. Two styles, with sizes from XS-4XL. We’ll have limited stock at the event, so if you want a shirt, get your order in!

 

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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

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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.

Eight. Days. Away.

YarnCon is only eight days away. SO SOON. Are you ready? It’s go time, people.

As you probably know, we give out goodie bags to the first 50 shoppers to waltz through the door each day, and there’s always a long line of eager folks ready to snag one. But what you might not know is that this year’s bags will include YARN. Not just any yarn, but custom YarnCon-inspired colorways created by 10 veteran YarnCon vendors just for this year’s show! For a tantalizing preview of these luscious lovelies, head over to our Facebook page — we’re highlighting one a day through April 17.

Also new this year:  FOOD TRUCKS. We’re lining up a great fleet of food trucks for your dining pleasure, and it’s going to be delicious. As always, we’ll have coffee for sale inside; this year’s vendor is one of our southside neighbors, Greenline Coffee. We’re excited to welcome them to YarnCon!

Want to wear your YarnCon pride year-round? By popular demand, we’ve opened a YarnCon shop with t-shirts and other fun things. Our pre-sale has ended, but you can still order online and have it shipped. Or buy one at the show and save shipping costs!

Don’t want to wait in line for a goodie bag? Need one of those t-shirts but can’t shell out for one? Become a YarnCon volunteer and we’ll reward you with one of each. Sign up now for a three-hour shift, and along with the thanks of a grateful YarnCon team, you’ll come away with swag.

See you at the show!

Mochimochi Land and YarnCon!

GnomeDiplomacy

Like making toys? YarnCon is partnering up with Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land to build a cohort of gnome ambassadors for her next art installation! Anna is headed to South Korea in May with a gnome-themed project, and we’re going to help her.

Why gnomes? Gnomes are big players in Mochimochi Land; some say they’re the glue that holds Mochimochi Land together. And while gnomes are familiar to us in the West, they’re relatively unknown in Asia, so we want to introduce the idea of the gnome, which to us represents tradition, playfulness, and magic. (Just like knitting!)

YarnCon will host a Gnome Creation Station, supplied with yarn, needles, hooks, and a pattern to make a gnome for Anna. Every gnome you make will earn you a chance in our annual prize drawing, with goodies from YarnCon vendors, sponsors, and friends.

For the full scoop, including pattern links, how to spread the word, and how to participate even if you can’t make YarnCon, check out the full project outline here. There’s Gno Place like Gnome!

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!

Shopping and teaching, oh my!

Hey yarnies, I’ve got a couple of quick updates for you! First of all, Vogue Knitting Live comes back to Chicago this weekend, and you can get a 50% discount on the admission to the Marketplace and for any classes that still have space left. If you want the discount, head over to https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ereg/newreg.php?eventid=90619&discountcode=FB50MP. A number of our regular YarnCon vendors will be selling their lovely wares at the Vogue Marketplace, so go and show them (and all of the vendors) some love!

Next, and even more exciting to me, is that we have put out the Request for Proposals for workshops for YarnCon 2015, which means that serious planning has begun! If you, or someone you know, is interested in teaching at YarnCon in April, all the information you need is right here: https://www.yarncon.com/?page_id=313. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us, and please feel free to spread the word! As always, if you have any other questions, you can always contact me at natalia@yarncon.com.

Happy crafting!