I had the privilege and pleasure of taking a roadtrip to Chicago with my Frog Pond Fiber Arts group. My friend, Elizabeth, heard on Ravelry about free tours of the Lorna's Laces factory in Chicago. She contacted them and arranged all the details for our group to tour the factory. We more than met the minimum of 12 people needed for the tour. Early yesterday morning, we met to pile into three vehicles to make the 2 hour drive to Chicago. I was so excited about going that I woke up at 5:45 am---two hours before I had to be at the meetup point. LOL!
Traffic wasn't bad and with an I-Pass in each vehicle we zoomed through the toll booths. We arrived at Lorna's about with twenty minutes to spare. It's not much to see from the outside. You enter the building from a loading zone in the back of a warehouse. The road behind it is more like an alley with the L train running on tracks overhead. The noise as the trains went by every few minutes was deafening.
Here is a picture of a few of us waiting by the entrance. Then we went inside, up the stairs and down the hall to Lorna's. As I was taking the second picture Beth Casey, owner of Lorna's Laces, opened the door to invite us inside. (Double click on the pictures for a closer look.)
The business is run out of two very large rooms. Beth showed us samples of all the yarns they make and explained the history of the business. It was originally started by Lorna Miser, who sold it to Beth in 2003.
See all the racks of drying yarn? And the bins of shop orders being worked on along the walls?
Beth gave us a demo of how they dye the yarn. There are only 10 skeins in each dye lot. She starts with dry skeins of yarn spread out on the table. Colors are mixed with hot water and a little dish soap. Each color is poured on, massaged in, and turned over until there is even coverage. Then repeated until all colors are used. The dyed skeins are then moved to a steamer to steam for 40 minutes. Once cooled, they are put into a washing machine to be rinsed (but not agitated) until all the loose dye is gone. (She told us that all of their superwash yarns can be safely put through the washer and dryer.) Then the skeins are hung from PVC pipes to dry. Stand fans speed the drying process.
After the tour, they handed us plastic bags and turned us loose on 3 tables piled high with millend yarns. We each headed to the checkout with stuffed bags to make our purchases. There wasn't a whole lot left on the tables by the time everyone was finished choosing yarn. LOL!
We packed our lunches and ate in the car to save time for a yarn shop crawl. After eating, we drove across town to Knitting Workshop and Soutache to shop for more yarn and buttons. Our last stop was Loopy Yarns. We just missed Franklin's book signing for It Itches at that shop the evening before.
I enjoyed visiting the Chicago yarn shops to see what they had. I did succumb to temptation at Loopy to buy just one more skein of merino/tencel in a gorgeous colorway. Otherwise, I did all my yarn shopping at Lorna's.
We turned our vehicles toward home and drove off into the sunset. LOL!