10-Year Celebrations and Other Thoughts

A lot can change in ten years.

Ten years ago, I was single. Childless. Spent my disposable income on, well, yarn.

Flash forward to now:  I’m happily married. We have three children. I still love yarn, but disposable income and free time to knit are largely things of the past (and, I hope, the future; this too shall pass).

Ten years ago, there was no YarnCon. Can you even imagine?

And yet in 2017, we’ll celebrate our tenth show. So much can change.

This month, in preparing for a knitting/dry-felting class I’m teaching at my children’s school, I visited one of our longtime YarnCon vendors, Esther’s Place. I needed some wool for the kids to use in needle felting, but really I wanted an excuse for a quick trip out of the city on a gorgeous spring day.

Mother and daughter team Donna and Natasha have transformed a lovely Victorian house in Big Rock, IL, into a colorful playhouse for fiber fanatics. Lush roving dyed in every shade and whimsical felted creatures are all around. I was drawn to the curly fleece locks dyed like little rainbows. My three-year-old instantly spotted the needle-felted Star Wars figures. It’s a fun place.


And guess what? Esther’s Place has been around for a decade. Another ten-year celebration! In fact, this weekend they’re hosting a Farm Days Open House to commemorate. If you’re in the western Chicagoland suburbs (and even if you’re not), head out to Big Rock this weekend for some fibery farm fun.


Donna Lehrer and Natasha Lehrer Lewis

Newsflash: Kids Love Wool

Armed with a pound of roving dyed in 16 distinct colors, a bulk order of felting needles and foam pads, and a basket of cookie cutters, I made my way to the Chicago Free School, where two of my kids attend.

We talked briefly about how felting works: how the wool fibers are built to cling to each other, and that with a little help from an absurdly sharp and skinny needle, we can mold and sculpt the wool into shapes.

They loved it. They dove right in.


There’s something about working with your hands, feeling the fuzzy wool and blending different colors together, and yes, stabbing something with a sharp object, that kids just GET. (Incredibly, in a room of kids ranging in age from 7 to 13, we only had one pricked finger.) As someone who works in the fiber world, I’m so gratified and rewarded at how excited these kids are about working with wool.



We started out with simple cookie cutter shapes this week, and next week we’ll explore creating landscapes on flat felt “canvases,” as well as sculpting 3D objects and figures.



Such a fun time.

Have you taught kids to knit, crochet, spin, or felt? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.





Vendor Spotlight: A Riot of Color, Brew City Yarns

Welcome to YarnCon week! Are you as excited as we are?

While the blog will be packed full of info this week, we wanted to introduce you to two more vendors you’ll see this weekend. Last year’s attendees will almost certainly remember Susan of A Riot of Color, with her space-age purple spinning wheel! A Riot of Color returns this year (we can’t vouch for the wheel), with her palette of wild and fun hues. Susan will be teaching classes in Playing With Color and Spinning for Kids as well, so you can get a close-up view.

Brew City Yarns makes their YarnCon debut with another wild range of saturated color with a pop-culture twist. Their rotating monthly themes keep things lively!

riotofcolor2A Riot of Color

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
We dye vivid colors that make your heart sing!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
We will have Four Elements kits — four mini skeins inspired by earth, air, fire, and water — perfect for color work, and kits to make “My Head’s in a Whirl” hats, a two-color worsted hat with a horizontal cable brim.

Brew City YarnsBrew City Yarns

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
Brew City Yarns is a family business that specializes in hand-painted artisan yarns. Each month we release a new theme of yarns that includes full skeins and mini-skein sets. Past months have included: My Little Pony, Star Wars, and Disney Villains. Our April theme is inspired by the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Because we carry so many yarn bases, from laceweight to bulky, if you see a color you would like made on a certain base, we will ship it to you for free if ordered at YarnCon. There are also many fiber and kits that we keep exclusively for fiber shows.


Vendor Spotlight: Deitricks’ Alpaca Ranch, Esther’s Place

We welcome back two returning vendors in today’s post!

Deitricks’ Alpaca Ranch brings their own naturally colored alpaca fiber in all the pettable forms you can think of; yarn and fiber, along with plenty of finished items.

If you’ve never tried needle felting (and especially if you have), the Esther’s Place booth is always a fun hangout. Loads of demos, kits, and felting tools for all skill ranges, plus fiber in every shade for concocting your own creations.

Dietricks' Alpaca RanchDeitricks’ Alpaca Ranch

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
We are a family farm currently home to 70 huacaya alpacas (and growing!), raising our own luxurious alpaca fiber. We are dedicated to bringing the most environmentally friendly/sustainable fiber to our clients in all natural colors; we don’t dye. We offer our own farm-raised fiber made into yarn, roving, felt, fiber batts, hand woven rugs, hand knit hats, gloves, scarves, cowls, raw fiber and more!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Yarn! Yarn! Yarn!


Esther's PlaceEsther’s Place

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
Great selection of hand dyed merino top roving..hand blended batts and needle felting kits and supplies!! Free demos…a fun booth to visit!!

Any special or featured products you want to share?

Needle felting kits and supplies of all types:


Vendor Spotlight: Resheeped 4 Ewe, Mondo Mojo

Resheeped 4 Ewe is a new name on the vendors list, but the wares — and the face behind them — will be familiar to longtime attendees. Formed by Carmen of The Green Yarn Company, Resheeped 4 Ewe continues to offer reclaimed yarns that might otherwise have gone to waste. Carmen’s added new products to the lineup, too, including her own handspun!

Mondo Mojo debuts at YarnCon with glass buttons, some of which are truly tiny works of art. Like little jewel decorations for your own handcrafted beauties.

Resheeped 4 EweResheeped 4 Ewe

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
Resheeped 4 Ewe is a company started up by Carmen Ballman after The Green Yarn Company closed. Carmen brings customers the same great recycled yarns and fair trade items as before, but now offers hand-spun and dyed yarns, along with a few of Carmen’s favorite yarns.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Reclaimed and then hand-dyed 100% wool sport:


My own handspun (shown here in Mesa):

Mondo MojoMondo Mojo

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
I make glass buttons.

Any special or featured products you want to share?

Vendor Spotlight: Dragonfly Fibers, Cottage Stitches

Two more first-time YarnCon vendors to introduce today!

The first will be no stranger to many of you; Dragonfly Fibers’ gorgeous colorways are beloved by designers and crafters alike. But we are thrilled to welcome them in person this year, making the trek from Maryland to meet all of you!

Cottage Stitches brings their cute vintage style to YarnCon, with an assortment of finished home accessories, plus tools for your own fibery endeavors.

Dragonfly FibersDragonfly Fibers

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
At Dragonfly Fibers we create bright, vibrant, rich colors on scrumptious yarns and fibers. We hand paint every skein using all the colors of the rainbow. You’ll find bright greens, rich purples, and variegated yarns in sometimes shocking color combinations.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
“Masterpiece Knits: The Modern Collection,” published in February, is the first publication by Dragonfly Fibers. Fifteen bold new patterns in exciting new yarn colors based on modern works of art. The Dragonfly team started by selecting paintings that represent the full color spectrum of modern art. We created colorways and challenged a talented group of knitwear designers to create new pieces inspired by both the paintings and the colorway. The results are a fabulous new book celebrating the intersection of color and modern art. A fractal shawl designed by Toby Roxane Barna inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s poppies, a pair of Rothko-inspired hats by Rosi G., Picasso-esque socks by Fatimah Hinds, Tanis Gray’s colorwork cowl that is an homage to Warhol and Marilyn Monroe and more!

Cottage StitchesCottage Stitches

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?

I crochet and knit handmade decor and accessories as well as sell supplies for crocheting and knitting, all in a vintage, whimsical style.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Hand Painted “Toadstool” Knitting Needles:


Knitting Needle Gauges:


Vendor Spotlight: Posh Fibers, Hopkins Sewing Studio

Not one, but TWO vendors new to YarnCon to introduce to you today!

Posh Fibers makes its fiber show world premiere, with a line of alpaca and alpaca blends sourced and spun domestically. Penelope is an alpaca farmer herself, so really knows how to get the most out of this super-soft fiber!

Hopkins Sewing Studio is bringing project bags with panache. Emonieiesha knits and crochets as well as sews, so she makes bags that she would want to use to stay organized, as well as stylish.

Posh FibersPosh Fibers

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
Making the shift from alpaca farmer to dyer of fabulous alpaca yarn! All of my yarns are 100% sourced and spun in the US, and dyed in my Michigan home! Each yarn is a carefully thought out blend of alpaca and other natural fibers, like silk, bamboo, mohair, wool and nylon, spun into weights from lace to DK.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
This is our debut show! Free gift with every purchase of $50 or more: a project bag and links to patterns that have been tested with our yarns!



Hopkins Sewing StudioHopkins Sewing Studio

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?

Unique fabrics, and project bags that feature:

  • Snap Yarn Guides so you can remove your project (Snap Yarn Guides allow you to keep the project *inside* your bag)
  • Pocket for your iPad or pattern
  • Pocket for Pen or pencil
  • Attached snap pockets for your notions

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Here’s a look at my large project bag:

Vendor Spotlight: Lindsay Streem DIY, Spinning Chicken Studio

Whether or not you crochet, Lindsay Streem’s booth is definitely worth a stop. She’s loaded up with tools, supplies and patterns for the avid hook wielder, to be sure, though most of her supplies have craft-crossover appeal. She also creates lovely crocheted jewelry and accessories that anyone can enjoy, no assembly required!

Spinning Chicken Studio returns for a second year in the mini-booth section. All of Sonji’s yarns are spindle-spun (!!), and you can see the care taken in every detail. Each of her skeins is a self-contained work of art.

Lindsay Streem DesignsLindsay Streem DIY

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
I am a crochet designer based in Chicago, with over 25 years of experience. My crocheted jewelry has been featured in Family Circle, Easy Crochet, 1000 Jewelry Inspirations, Jewelry with a Hook, and most recently Interweave Crochet (Winter 2015). My patterns can be found on Ravelry, Craftsy and in my Etsy shop. I also create unique accessories using crochet and recycled felt that are sold online and in boutiques around the country.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
The majority of my DIY products are geared toward crocheters, like my roll-up hook pouches, but I also carry a big selection of buttons, purse handles and other tools for all fiber arts.


spinningchicken2Spinning Chicken Studio

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
All my yarn is spun and plied on spindles. I LOVE LOVE LOVE making yarn from start to finish…washing and dyeing fibers, combing or carding them (of course, once in a while I am seduced by someone else’s incredible dyed roving or art batt) and spinning it all on spindles. I tried wheel spinning; in fact, I have 3 in a closet because whenever my friend goes on a trip and sees a wheel she brings it back for me (how thoughtful is that?), but I truly enjoy making beautiful one-of-a-kind yarn the slow way, and I believe you will be glad that I do too!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
I went crazy for turquoise this year, so it’s in a lot of the yarns. I think my signature yarn is one of colorful bamboo shreds carded with natural alpaca and spun into a textural sport weight(ish) single.

Vendor Spotlight: Sophie’s Toes, Backyard Fibers

Sophie’s Toes and YarnCon go way back, and we remain HUGE fans of Emily’s color style and mad dyeing skillz. Their new Magic Balls make gorgeous multicolored scarves, cowls, and baby sweaters, without all those pesky ends to weave in.

Backyard Fibers, based right here in the city, debuts this year with a line of yarns that are 100% USA made, from sheep to skein. The company just launched last summer, so we’re really looking forward to seeing what they have to share!

Sophie's Toes Sock YarnSophie’s Toes

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
Hand dyed sock yarn and colorful kits, including Magic Balls, Ombre Gradient kits and mini skeins!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Magic Balls…150 gms (that’s like 1.5 skeins of the merino sock yarn, 100% superwash merino fingering weight) in 15 colors, carefully selected to make a fun patchwork scarf, or whatever your imagination dreams up!


backyardBackyard Fibers

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
All of our yarn is made in the USA.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
SoSoft yarn bulky naturally colored merino, a limited edition:

 Hand-dyed fingering weight merino:


Vendor Spotlight: Daizie Knits, MayBea Crafted

Daizie Knits’ 3D-printed spindles were a sensation last year, and we’re happy to welcome them back — both DK and the spindles. Owner Jennifer (who also happily answers to “Daizie” when you see her around) specializes in extra-smooshy fibers and bright color combinations. Check out her podcast to see if she’ll tip her hand on what else she plans to bring along!

MayBea Crafted makes their YarnCon debut with a range of bags and fabrics that will make your head spin (one of her fabrics even glows in the dark)! Tanya cranks out bags and knitting patterns from her Michigan studio that we’re pretty psyched to introduce to all of you.

Daizie KnitsDaizie Knits

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
We specialize in hand dyed yarns and fibers. We offer yarns from lace weight to worsted with a mix of different fibers and blends. After partnering up with Madhatter Ideas, we also offer 3D printed Turkish spindles.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
3D printed spindles…

…and hand dyed yarns and fiber:


Dewy Sock in “Smell the Roses”


maybeaMayBea Crafted

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
As a new vendor, I’m most excited for the opportunity for everyone to see my work. I am beyond excited to spend the weekend with all of you; Make sure you stop in my booth and say hi!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
I’ll be debuting a collection of new knitting patterns, but my project bags will be new to many attendees too. My Poppins bags have been a local favorite, because of the quirky fabrics I select, and because they are so well made. A friend calls hers a Tardis bag because they are “bigger on the inside” and can hold a surprising amount of stuff.

Vendor Spotlight: Cooperative Press, Handmade Hollows

The YarnCon market is awash in yarn and fiber of all colors, weights, and content, but once you have materials in hand, what to DO with all of it? Independent publisher Cooperative Press has a few ideas for you. Returning for a third consecutive year, CP’s pattern books cover socks to shawls, drawing inspiration from pop culture and historical figures. Whether you’re looking for a pattern for a steampunk style top hat or a sweet children’s story starring a pair of yarn shop dogs, Shannon Okey and her traveling book fair have you covered.

Handmade Hollows debuted in the mini-booth area in 2015, and we’re thrilled to welcome Alice back this year into a full-size space of her own. Combining her love of fiber with her mad ceramics skills, her products range from bitty buttons to skeins of her own handspun. We can’t wait to see how she’ll fill her larger space this year!

Cooperative PressCooperative Press

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
We’re a fully independent publishing company dedicated to bringing the best knitting designers to you!

Any special or featured products you want to share?
Our most recent book Spilly Jane Knits Mittens is just right for chilly Chicago!

Handmade HollowsHandmade Hollows

What would you MOST like YarnCon shoppers to know about you?
While my first love is pottery, a few years ago I discovered the fiber world and found I could make and use ceramic tools for fiber arts. I also discovered how much I enjoy taking a fleece straight off a sheep, adding a bit here and there, and making it into shiny, colorful yarn.

Any special or featured products you want to share?
My new yarn bowls:

Also I’ll be bringing rolags this year: