Last chance to pre-register for classes

Woo! It’s almost time for YarnCon! Natalia’s minivan is chock full of gear so Team YarnCon can start setting up the floors for our vendors. We have three levels of vendors! Ground level, main hall, and the balcony, and don’t forget the vendors in the hall outside the main hall! We are putting amazing fiber artists everywhere we can because they are just so good! And don’t forget to enjoy some delicious Dark Matter Coffee at the coffee bar next to the ground level vendors. Yum!

Natalia has crammed all the set up gear into her van, and is ready to layout the floors for our vendors!

Along with filling the building up with vendors, our classes are filling up with students, and we are thrilled! A number of classes have sold out, and many only have a seat or two left, so if you have been putting off signing up, time is running out! You can still sign up online right here:
https://www.yarncon.com/classes/ until Friday at 6pm Central time, after that, any seats still open will be available at the show, but for cash or check only.

Don’t forget to stop by our low-tech selfie station by the stage in the main hall! Please tag us with #yarncon and have fun, like this:

So many of us got into this picture that the whole frame made an appearance!

We’ll see you this weekend at YarnCon!

Getting to YarnCon

One more week to YarnCon! We are guessing many of you are planning your trip, and we are here to help. (You can see the direction page here: https://www.yarncon.com/directions/ )

YarnCon is held in the Plumbers Union Hall, and it has a fairly large parking lot (both the lot and admission are free, yeay!!), but it’s not limitless. So, we have a few suggestions.

Plumbers union wrench sign with YarnCon logo
We always love seeing our logo on the Plumbers Union Wrench sign next to the parking lot!

One of the reasons we choose to host YarnCon right in the middle of the city, instead of at one of the large convention centers in the suburbs is that we want everyone to be able to come, whether they can drive over or not. We are close to public transportation (about a third of a mile from the Ashland Green Line stop, and only .2 miles from the Madison and Loomis bus stop) and close to the Kennedy Expressway (I90). If you are in the Western Suburbs, for example, you can take the Metra into the Ogilvie Station, and take the Madison (20) Bus over to Loomis. If you live not too far from downtown, you could bike over. Or, you could share a Lyft or other ride-share/taxi over. Lots of options, and that’s what we wanted. Lots of ways for everyone who likes yarn to come and be part of the community.

That brings us back to parking. If you can carpool, please do. We know the parking lot will fill up, and we know street parking can get tight. There isn’t much we can do about that. So, please plan accordingly, we would hate to see not being able to park easily get in the way of a fun day at YarnCon.

We look forward to seeing you at YarnCon next weekend! Safe travels!

Check out our Vendors!

Are you getting excited about YarnCon? It’s a week and half away, and maybe you want to check out our vendors in advance of the show? You can always check out our Vendors page to see who is coming this year, but if looking at the logos is a little hard on you, or you just prefer a written list, we made a table for your use.

2 Guys Yarn2 Guys Yarn
912 Yarn912 Yarn
AJHC WoolsAJHC Wools
Apothefaery Luxury FibersApothefaery Luxury Fibers
Backyard FibersBackyard Fibers
BaH YarnsBrenda and Heather Yarns
Beautiful SysterBeautiful Syster
Black Cat FibersBlack Cat Fibers
Bumblebee Acres FarmBumblebee Acres Farm
BunnyBadger FibersBunnyBadger Fibers
Bur Oak StudioBur Oak Studio
Carpooln/a
Chasing AcornsChasing Acorns
cjkoho Designscjkoho Designs
Considered ClothConsidered Cloth
Cooperative PressCooperative Press
Critical Sheep YarnCritical Sheep Yarn
Daizie KnitsDaizie Knits
DarnYarnMNDarnYarnMN
Deitricks' Alpaca RanchDeitricks' Alpaca Ranch
Dimensions ButtonsDimensions Buttons
Esther's PlaceEsther's Place
Fairy Tale KnitsFairy Tale Knits
Fiber AddictionFiber Addiction
FiberstoryFiberstory
Good for Ewe YarnGood for Ewe Yarn
Grinning GargoyleGrinning Gargoyle
Heavenly KnitchetHeavenly Knitchet
Heidi & LanaHeidi & Lana
Honey Girl FarmsHoney Girl Farms
Hopkins Sewing StudioHopkins Sewing Studio
Hummingbird MoonThe Hummingbird Moon
I Feel Like DyeingI Feel Like Dyeing
Icemelon's StashIcemelon's Stash
Indian Lake ArtisansIndian Lake Artisans
JelbyJelby
KnitspinKnitspin
Knitting NotionsKnitting Notions
Leading Men Fiber ArtsLeading Men Fiber Arts
Lisa Whiting ArtistLisa Whiting Artist
Lorna's LacesLorna's Laces
MayBea CraftedMayBea Crafted
MidMitten DesignsMidMitten Designs
Mochimochi LandMochimochi Land
ModeKnitYarnModeKnit Yarn
Mondo MojoMondo Mojo
Nebula Fiber CollectiveNebula Fiber Collective
Northern Bee StudioNorthern Bee Studio
Oink PigmentsOink Pigments
OMG Yarn (Balls)OMG Yarn (Balls)
Operation Chemo ComfortOperation Chemo Comfort
Orange Jellyfish DreamOrange Jellyfish Dream
Passion YarnsPassion Yarns
River's Edge Fiber ArtsRiver's Edge Fiber Arts
Sassy SongstressSassy Songstress Yarns
Shirsty Cat DesignsShirsty Cat Designs
Spinning Chicken StudioSpinning Chicken Studio
The Miller GirlsThe Miller Girls
TLD Design CenterTLD Design Center
Toad HollowToad Hollow
Twisted Fiber ArtTwisted Fiber Art
V YarnsV Yarns
Why Knot FibersWhy Knot Fibers
Wild StitchersWild Stitchers
WoolpierogiWoolpierogi
Yarn Geek FibersYarn Geek Fibers
Yarn HollowYarn Hollow

We hope that helps! Don’t forget, we will have vendors on three levels this year! You can find them on the ground floor, in aroma distance of the Dark Matter Coffee and Tea bar (and hot cocoa if you are so inclined); in the main hall on the second floor; and in the balcony. All three areas are accessible by stairs and elevator, and there is a ramp to the ground floor area.

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.

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.

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!

YarnCon: Past and Future

As I excitedly added the link to the Request for Workshop Proposals application to the front page of our website today, I got to thinking about how every year I tweak the process just a bit (thanks to the great feedback from our teachers!) and just how far we have come since our first show in October of 2007. That’s right, for those of you who have not been with us since the beginning, we used to be a one day show in October. Although you won’t really see it if you attend YarnCon, there have been some big changes recently behind the scenes. I want to tell you about those changes and where we are heading, but I feel like talking about how we got started should come first. I can get really chatty when it comes to talking about the past, (just ask my adviser about my Master’s thesis! Yikes!) so I will try to not overdo it.

Past:

In the Summer of 2007, Sara came to me with an idea. Let’s start a yarn craft fair, like Renegade, but just for yarn. She already had a name for it: YarnCon, like the comic-cons, but again, for yarn. I thought it was just crazy enough to work, and said yes. That summer we started an LLC called Yarny Goodness to be YarnCon’s parent company, and to give us room to grow. I think that before we even had the first show under our belts, we were already looking ahead for what else we could do with this idea of gathering fiber artists. We talked about magazines, online market places, other events throughout the year, and dreamed while we got our first show up and running. That October, we held our first YarnCon at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, with 25 vendors, a couple of free workshops run by friends who volunteered, and a photography project in the corner which was the idea of a local knitter and blogger named Franklin Habit. It was the 1000 Knitters Project, and we gave him a corner to set up his photobooth. We also had a book signing (Susan Strawn’s Knitting America) and the author sold out of her books before the day was over. At least 2 of our vendors were yarn stores, one of which has since closed, and the other has changed hands. We broke even, and in our minds it was a huge success, and the reviews were very positive. I think we had almost 300 shoppers that day.

YarnCon 2007 at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse

YarnCon 2007 at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse

With the exception of 2012, we’ve hosted YarnCon every year since 2007. First in October, then  in April after the move to the new location. It has grown from a one day show in a park district auditorium to a two-day affair in the Plumber’s Union Hall, with a large parking lot and loading docks and elevators. We quickly brought on one of our first volunteers, Lindy, to help us run the show (she was already helping so much it only made sense to make it official!)

Our first year at the Plumbers Union Hall

Our first year at the Plumbers Union Hall

But, we never stopped thinking about what else we could do.

Future:

Still with me? Excellent! As I mentioned earlier, we had created an LLC to manage the show. But, we still had this desire to do more throughout the year. YarnCon does a good job of paying for itself, but not much more, since we try hard to make it affordable for both our vendors and our community (what other yarn show has free admission?) So, what to do? Last Summer, Sara and I started looking for a location to work out of, and hopefully share with other fiber artists. A place where we could hold workshops and events all year long. In the process of figuring this out, we came to the conclusion that the best way to approach this is as a not for profit. We talked to Lindy and some other very smart yarny people in our community and decided to create a new non-profit: The Society for the Lost Arts (or SLA for short.) Now we can use this new organization to raise funds not only to host more programming during the rest of the year, but also to host YarnCon! After so many years of being first a 2 person and then a 3 person team, we now have a Board of people who care about the fiber arts community in Chicago as much as we do, and who love learning and teaching about some of the older art forms we all love. Let’s face it, knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning, this stuff is not new. And if we don’t keep sharing it, learning about it, doing it out where people can see us and get excited, it can be forgotten. Right now the fiber arts are hot, and we love it! We want to contribute with shared knowledge, and a shared space to spread the knowledge, and to share the tools we need to make the things we love.

Exciting, right? How can  you help? One way to is share this (lengthy) post and spread the word. The other is by contributing to the Society for the Lost Arts. We want to keep YarnCon as it is, an affordable venue for talented fiber artists, so in order to add programming and a shared space we need to make money in other ways. We will soon be sharing all kinds of sponsorship opportunities, and upcoming programs. But, in the meantime, if you can, please head over to http://societyforthelostarts.org/support-our-work/ and contribute whatever you can. We have a tiny space now to hold our looms, spinning wheel, sewing machines, and even antique printing presses, but we want to move into a space that we can share with all of you. Please help make this a reality for all of us. Thanks!