During the recent DIY Trunk Show I caught up with three very different participants (the other interviews can be found here and here) and asked them a few questions. One such participant was Allyson Dykhuizen, a knitter who strives to make her craft both accessible and social through the Sweatshop of Love.
How did you first get involved with knitting?
I had a teacher in high school who knit and loved knitting, and my friends and I thought it was really cool, so we got lessons after school, like an after school class.
So, then what brought you to start Sweatshop of Love?
I was graduating from college and I didn’t have anything to do, so I started teaching [knitting classes] and now I pretty much solely support myself on the sweatshop.
It’s just me, so whatever I can do, whatever time I can devote – I love it so, it’s easy to keep making stuff.
So where are you located? Where do you teach classes?
I teach classes mainly in Logan Square. But sometimes people hire me to teach classes in other places around Chicago.
How did you get involved with the DIY Trunk Show?
This is my first time I’ve been here. It’s kind of hard to get in, especially if you’re lumped into “knit wear”, as there a lot of people doing knit wear and similar things. But I’ve been coming to every single one since I’ve been in Chicago and I used it as part of a yarn crawl last year. We shopped and then went to a bunch of yarn shops in the area. It was a fun event.
Do you participate in the Renegade Craft Fair as well?
I did do Renegade this year, for the first time too.
Is that even harder to get in?
Renegade only takes about thirty percent of people that apply and this takes about fifty. So, Renegade’s bigger and people come from all over.
Do you do any other shows besides these two?
I haven’t. I just got into making the kits this year. I’ve been pretty teaching-based before. Now that I’ve gotten into pattern writing and started putting together the knitting kits, I have more of a product to sell than before. So, that’s why I’ve been doing the craft show circuit.
What inspired you to start making the kits?
I got more into pattern writing. And it made sense for me to start selling them and putting together kits because alot of my students have a hard time…[coming up with] what materials…[they] need to make a project. So, that’s why I thought, “Oh, well I’ll put everything together – make it easy.”
Finally, if you could change one thing about the Chicago craft scene what would it be?
I don’t think I would change anything about the Chicago craft scene. It’s really varied, accepting, inclusive, fun, fresh, and interesting. There are things I would change about the knitting scene in Chicago, but the craft scene is doing just fine.
Allyson hosts various group knitting and crocheting sessions, workshops, and a knitting book club every month. Dates and locations can be found through the Sweatshop of Love website.