So, tell me about YarnCon…

So, here we are with another YarnCon almost upon us.  But not just another YarnCon, a new YarnCon, made with yarn ripped out from the old one, and re-knit in a new gauge.  OK, enough with the knitting analogies, and on to what is new, what is old, and what is YarnCon!

What is new is the location, the time of year, and the length of the event. Although we will miss the wonderful staff and beautiful murals at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, we have outgrown that space. We are excited about our new venue, with amenities both vendors and attendees have asked for; we are now at the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Hall, a lovely and large space in the historic Randolph Street Market District – West Loop area. It is minutes from Downtown Chicago, easily accessible by public transit, and right off of the expressway.  And it has its own parking lot!  Parking was a huge problem at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, and we made easy parking, and proximity to public transit a priority when searching for our new venue.

We also moved YarnCon from the Fall to the Spring.  When we started YarnCon, we thought Fall was the obvious time to have a show dedicated to making things with yarn. Everyone else seems to think so too, and the season has become too crowded with fantastic fiber festivals.  Our vendors were having a heck of a time choosing where to go with so many shows.  Then we realized, to anyone who loves yarn enough to attend shows dedicated to it, all seasons are crafting seasons.  I’ve seen a hundred people gathered in the hot June sun in Chicago’s Millennium Park to knit in public; no season will stop those who love to create with yarn.  So, we decided to spring ahead to Spring.  YarnCon will be on April 6-7, 2013, Saturday from 11-7 and Sunday from 11-4.  Oh yes, that was the other change!  We’ve gone from a one-day affair to a two-day affair.  Double the YarnCon!

OK, so that covers the where and when, now for the what.  What is YarnCon?  I bring this up because I have been thinking about it quite a bit lately.  Not just because we are working like mad to get everything ready, but also because the wonderful folks at the Windy City Knitting Guild (are you a knitter?  Then you should join!) have invited us to come an speak to them about YarnCon on Tuesday, February 19, 2013.  You don’t have to be a member to attend the meeting, so why not come and check it out?  I’ve done a little public speaking, and I always prepare the same way, by obsessing over the subject for weeks, and preparing for it at the last minute.  In my obsessing, I started to ask myself, how do I explain what YarnCon is, and what it means to me?

The simple answer is that YarnCon is an independent fiber festival dedicated to the yarny-arts.  We consider the yarny-arts to include everything from prepared roving and batts, (undyed or dyed); spindles and wheels; hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns; knitting, crochet and weaving patterns, tools and finished objects; and of course the accessories that make all that work easier and more beautiful, like hand-made buttons, project bags, you get the idea.  In order to promote the yarny-arts, we have created an event in which people can come and buy hand-made goods from the makers themselves, and learn from them as well in the workshops they offer, or just by talking to them.  Most of our workshops are offered by people who also sell what they make, so they have a lot of experience, and they love what they do.  (Speaking of workshops, we are always looking for people to share their knowledge, if you are interested in teaching at YarnCon, please contact us at and we will get you all the details.)  Because we know how much you want to try out that yarn you just bought, or hang out an have lunch and crochet a few more rows before you go back to shop some more, we always set aside some space for lounging around with yarn, and yarn-enthusiasts (or your spouse who came because you asked so nicely.)  Plus, Heartland Cafe is always on hand to sell you a delicious lunch, without having to trek up to Rogers Park to get it.

That’s the what of YarnCon.  But YarnCon is more than that, at least to me.  Through YarnCon I have found a community, and communities, of people who come together to share a common interest.  There are knitting circles all over town of course, and the regulars at the local yarn stores who meet once a week.  But once a year, all those groups come together in one place to support the people who create beautiful goods for their crafts, and take lessons to further their skills.  And most of all to spend an afternoon immersed in a hobby that means the world to them, and share that with their friends, friendships often formed at the LYS, or the stitching circle, or by attending and volunteering at YarnCon.

YarnCon is about conscientious consumerism. Our focus for YarnCon is on handmade goods for yarn lovers, by yarn lovers. We feel there needs to be a place for the small scale fiber artist, small mills, woolly animal raisers, and those who make accessories and tools for working with fiber to sell directly to the public. We see YarnCon as that place. It is important for those who buy and use these goods to connect with those who produce them. We think it is much more meaningful to work with yarn spun and dyed by a person you met than by a mill overseas. You can personally ask about the sheep or alpaca that fiber came from, you can ask the spinner how those particular yarns will hold up in different projects. You can ask questions about a pattern you are interested in and have them answered by the author. This is not anonymous consumerism. This is a yarny community coming together.

I hope you will join us as we continue on this fantastic journey.  In the meantime, here is a little blast from the past, a picture from our first YarnCon, in 2007:


YarnCon, 2007



  1. Has there been a group rate negotiated at a hotel anywhere?

  2. Patti Ratterree says

    Is there an admission fee for YarnCon? If so how much?

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