The Yarn Show: Chicago YarnCon
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sara Ware, one of the founders of Chicago YarnCon. Sara, and her counterpart Natalia, saw a hole in the Chicago scene left by more commercial yarn festivals happening outside the city, and decided to create one of their own. Now, Chicago YarnCon is one of the largest independent and locally produced fiber festivals in the nation!
Yours in yarn,
Gus: Tell me about the history of the Chicago YarnCon?
Sara: In 2007, Natalia Uribe Wilson and I were a pair of Chicago knitters and otherwise crafty ladies who found themselves seeking out local producers of yarn. The larger, national yarn companies held annual events in the suburbs, but there was nothing in the city for crafters who wanted easy access to quality fiber.
Inspired in part by local craft fairs, DIY Trunk Show, and Renegade Craft Fair, Natalia and I came up with the idea for a fiber fair that focused on independent, locally produced fiber goods. The name YarnCon came easily, since we both tend naturally toward geekiness. Lindy Sinclair was a volunteer at the original YarnCon in the fall of 2007, and after a stint together at Yarn School in Harveyville, Kansas, in 2008, we three became fast friends. Lindy was brought on as an official organizer in 2011.
Celebrating its 10th birthday in 2017, YarnCon is the premier market for independent producers of yarn and fiber for knitting, crochet, spinning, and weaving. Nearly 2,000 fiber enthusiasts visit YarnCon each year, ready to shop at the booths of 60 vendors from around the country, learn a new skill in a workshop, or just spend time with friends in a friendly community atmosphere.
Gus: Pretend you talking to someone who has never been to your fiber festival, what would you highlight as your “WOW” attractions?
Sara: YarnCon is known for its incredible variety of independent fiber artisans – people who hand-dye or spin their own yarns and roving, and who make gorgeous fiber in small batches. We also give out goodie bags, often with limited-edition colorways from our very own vendors, to the first 50 people who walk through the door each day. Now there are fans who camp out for hours before the doors open, just so they can snag a goodie bag.
Something else that’s fun about YarnCon is the food trucks! We partner with several gourmet food trucks to ensure that our shoppers don’t have to leave the show just because they’re hungry. This year, we also have a wonderful new sponsor, local roaster Dark Matter Coffee, who will be serving coffee to everyone at YarnCon.
Gus: What are your biggest festival do’s and don’ts for enjoying your fiber festival?
Sara: DO: Sign up online for workshops and classes. Many fill up before the first day of the show.
DON’T: Forget to bring the family! YarnCon is a family-friendly fair, with events and classes for kids as well as their grown-ups.
Ready to buy your ticket and reserve a spot in a class? See all the event details below. When you’re there, make sure to say “hi” to Sara and the YarnCon team!
April 1st – 2nd
Chicago Journeyman Plumbers Union Hall
1340 W Washington St., Chicago, Illinois 60607