Boutique fiber arts and knitting supply store Dye Hard Yarns closed shop at its Westgate location to move to a larger space in the heart of the Oak Park Arts District. The new spot on Harrison Street, conveniently situated across from Buzz Café, will have a studio complete with sink, tables, space for pots and pans, and one or two large steam cabinets for indie artists to dye their yarns.
"Indie dyers are very small, typically one-person operations," said Dye Hard Yarns owner Chastity Dunlap, an indie dyer. "We don't start with studio space; we start with our basement or our garage, whatever little space you have that you can carve out so you can dye." Dunlap sells her own hand-dyed yarns in the store under the name Kitty Pride Fibers.
"Having a dedicated studio space where you can come and dye is a godsend," she said.
To use the studio, indie dyers pay a small membership fee. Dunlap has yet to decide pricing, but the fee will be small enough to ensure indie dyers can make a profit. They will also be able to purchase yarns at wholesale cost through Dunlap and sell their wares at Dye Hard Yarns.
Dunlap also teaches dying classes, typically with 4-6 people per class, so each student gets an individualized, one-on-one experience. She intends to expand the array of classes offered by bringing in guest instructors to teach other fiber arts, such as crochet, macramé and knitting.
"Knitting is so relaxing and it's such a wonderful experience to share with other people, to just be around other people," Dunlap said.
She wants to create a welcoming, supportive community within the store that promotes diversity, intersectionality and inclusion of all people.
Allegations arose in 2019 of white supremacy and racism in the fiber arts community on Instagram and knitting websites. The problem became so severe and so un-ignorable, that Ravelry, a hugely popular social network dedicated purely to fiber arts, imposed a ban on designs and posts supportive of the Trump administration. The policy reads, "Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy."
At Dye Hard Yarns there is no place for bigotry or intolerance. "I stand for a safe space and welcome space for everybody," said Dunlap. "It doesn't matter if they're a person of color, not a person of color, disabled, not disabled, sexuality — none of that matters. You are welcome here." Dye Hard Yarns also invites people of all ages.
Dye Hard Yarns hosts "Fiber Fun Nights" on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. wherein people of all skill levels and backgrounds can come and work on projects and chat with each other about current events, politics, work and more. Last Wednesday, Dye Hard Yarns hosted its final "Fiber Fun Night" at the Westgate location.
Although Dunlap has yet to determine when the new Dye Hard Yarns will officially open its doors for business, she is "absolutely thrilled' about the move to Harrison St. "I can't wait to put down roots and become a part of the Arts District," she said. "I know my customers will love the new location just as much as I do."
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