The first weekend in April, I was able to participate in two different fiber-focused events: the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop and Chicago’s YarnCon. Last week, I wrote about the shop hop. In this post, I’ll continue to relate my adventures of the weekend as I moved on to Chicago.
The Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop was held April 4-7; YarnCon was April 7 & 8. I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to have for YarnCon since I would have to drive from Minneapolis to Chicago in between my attendance at the two events. As it turned out, the shop hop took less time than I expected, so I arrived in the Chicago area on Friday evening.
A Stop on the Way
Madison, Wisconsin is located between Minneapolis and Chicago, and makes a nice place to stop for a break. I’ve looked for yarn shops in the city before, but most of them are not located near the interstate.
I had been hoping to check out KnitCircus Yarns on the southwest side of Madison (not near the highway) for several months and now, I finally had the opportunity. KnitCircus is known for their gradient yarn cakes – balls of yarn that are dyed to gradually flow from one color to another.
KnitCircus offers occasional dyeing classes for those who would like the experience of creating their own yarn. Although the classes are held in the dye studio, they are done after hours, so participants cannot watch the experts at work during the class. I asked about touring the dye studio – arrangements could be made, but the artists would be careful to protect their secret dyeing methods.
Although they recently moved to a larger showroom, the shop was filled to the brim with yarn. It was great to be able to see their entire line along with knit and crochet samples of several yarns. I was on my way to another yarn event, so I decided not to purchase yarn at this stop.
What is YarnCon?
Although the name may be confusing or odd-sounding (it is to me), YarnCon is a small fiber festival with a commendable focus. The event’s priority is on independent locally-produced fiber. Some of the booths represented farms that raise animals for wool or alpaca fiber. Other booths represent spinners, dyers, or pattern designers.
There were about sixty vendors showcasing their products. From what I could tell, they were all from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, or Michigan,
The show offered several classes, although I decided not to participate in them because I wasn’t sure of my schedule.
The promoters advertised that the first fifty people in the door would receive a goody bag, so I planned to arrive before the doors opened. I did, but there was already a line. A rumor was passed along that people were in line at 8 am, even though the event didn’t start until 10 am. An organizer was counting visitors as we all walked through the door – I was number 202. I’ll have to get there much earlier next year, if I want the goody bag.
My Favorite Vendors
I had met the friendly cousins from Brenda and Heather Yarns at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago and was glad to see them again at YarnCon. They are from Seymour, Indiana, and sell hand-dyed self-striping and gradient yarn.
Francofille Knits, which is now CardinalFiberCo, is from the small town of Monon, Indiana, less than an hour from where I live. The owner, Devan, was especially nice and helpful to this fellow Hoosier interested in learning to dye. I was glad to support her by purchasing yarn.
My friend from Illinois is a huge fan of Leading Men Fiber Arts – also from Illinois (Clinton). I’ve purchased their yarn once before, but couldn’t resist purchasing more of their gorgeous yarn this time.
Twisted Fiber Art from Mason, Michigan, has been at larger shows, including Stitches Midwest. I’ve always admired their yarn, so earlier this spring I ordered some from their website. Their booths at the shows display the most beautiful samples!
Other favorites were Northern Bee Studio, Oink Pigments, Lorna’s Laces, and Bumblebee Acres Fiber Farm.
I had never been to YarnCon, so I had no idea what to expect. When I walked in, I was reminded of craft fairs I use to attend in school gyms. This event was held in a gym or all purpose room and was smaller than I thought it would be. I spent a couple hours there, although I would have stayed longer if I was with my daughter or a friend. Since I was alone, I shopped quickly.
As soon as I arrived, I started walking through the vendor area. I went up and down each aisle, looking and touching any yarn that attracted my attention. After my first walk-through, I went back to the vendors that I found especially enticing. I visited with the vendors and made my purchases.
Although the festival was comparatively small, I found the quality of vendors to be outstanding. I would gladly visit again next year, although I might like to take a couple classes in order to extend the day.
Overall, I had a good time – the grand finale of a great fiber-focused weekend!