THE OML EXPERIENCE
I sit here in my yarn room after just dropping Toni (TL Yarn Crafts) off at the airport, and I am sad. Actually, to be honest; I’m bawling. The Calgary; Our Maker Life event is finally coming to a close and I am feeling all the feels. Like a chunk of my soul is leaving with every plane that takes off, as my new and old friends leave my city and head back to their respective homes.
I want to first express my ultimate gratitude to the Our Maker Life team. Though it’s “only a yarn lovers networking event” where people from all over the world come to hang out for a day and meet and mingle; it’s so much more. It’s the chance to meet the people who you have admired and loved and followed on social media, a place to meet new makers that you’ve never met before, and a place where you can finally meet the people who you talk to almost every damn day on apps and instead meet IRL and hug and cry and laugh and squeal together. The friends I have made, and the people that I have met at this past weekends event will forever stay in my heart, and to the OML team, I say: THANK YOU.
If you haven’t heard about Our Maker Life - essentially it’s a networking event that happens once a year around July for makers, fibre enthusiasts and all types of yarny small biz owners. Essentially if you like to knit, crochet or craft - this organization is for you. Each year the community follows along and votes for the next spot for the event to land, and showcases makers journeys throughout the year. This year was my hometown of Calgary AB, Canada. It’s been in New York, Toronto, Chicago, and now my city.
This year I was invited to be a key note speaker, and I can’t even begin to tell you how honoured I am to have been asked to even play a role in this wonderful event. I got to share the stage with Stephanie from All About Ami (whoot whoot Alberta pride!), as well as the amazing Laura from Jimmy Beans Wool (holy crap - she is amazing!), and so many others. Throughout the day we had icebreakers, tons of yummy food, heard from the speakers, and also had a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in the fibre community.
So I figure in this post I’ll just tell you all the thangs we got up to and how the event went. (PS if you have photos of us together - please send them to me on IG or firstname.lastname@example.org so I can add them to this blog post!)
PRE OML DAYS
In the days leading up to OML I got to sneak in some time with the founders. Nathan from Loops N Threads and I got together on the Monday, and I got to see Kelly from Knit Brooks and Heather from hooks.and.needles on Tuesday. On Wednesday is where I slammed out an upcoming pattern, sent it to testers and finished up my powerpoint for my talk on the Saturday. Big shout out to my lovely friend Erin for making it look so good! If you don’t know - I work full time while also doing Knitatude. So I wanted to talk about how I balance life, work, family and my side hustle, as I know so many others out there are doing the same. Whether that is with work, school, family, or being a stay at home mom and running our own businesses, it’s a struggle and I wanted to share my experience and some tips.
I feel like Thursday was when it started to sink in that OML was actually happening. I picked up Toni (TL Yarn Crafts) and Sarah (Slp.made) from the airport and from that moment on the week just zoomed by. I host a weekly knit night here in Calgary on Thursdays (6:30-9 at Weeds Cafe if you’re ever in town!), and I knew I wanted to expand it for everyone coming into OML early. So we booked out Cabin Brewing, as I knew it would be busaaay. Even with 15 minutes to closing time we still had 53 makers mixing and mingling. We had an absolute blast! Summit Rd Fibres came in with a bunch of hand dyed yarn for everyone to grab a skein. How freaking sweet is she!? This is also where the debate on how to say “Sorry” came to be. Canadians say “soh-ry”, and Americans say “S-aw-ry”. So if you’re watching the recap of the keynote presentations (whenever they come out), this is where you will get the inside joke with the audience. The Canadian way is obviously the correct pronunciation.
I finally got to meet the likes of: @oneofakate, @entagledinfibers, @morthunder (omigosh I love this gal), @amenagerieofstitches, @mavencrafted, @folkandfibreco, @littleredknits, @coco.crochet.lee, @hooksandhummingbirds, @evelynandpeter (finally!), as soooo many more! The rest of the day consisted of randomly inviting people over for puppy snuggles at my house, going out for dinner, and then going to surprise Jake from Kenyarn. It ended with chatting until the wee hours of the morning at their Air bnb!
This was also the first place that I finally got to have everyone together from Maker Strong. I had met Toni before at the Toronto OML event, but I finally got to meet Melissa from Woods and Wool and I couldn’t be more excited to have us all in one place finally! If you don’t know, Maker Strong is a community that we three gals came up with that focuses on the education on creating and sustaining a fibre related business. (Join our FB group here.) I love these ladies and they are always there for any single problem that I have, or when I just need to vent. They keep my grounded!
Got to bed: 1:30 AM.
The yarn crawl! We have so many yarn stores in Calgary that we had a lot to get through! We hit Stash (my fav!), Yarn Twisters, Pudding and The Knitting Room. There are actually quite a few more yarn stores in Calgary, but we couldn’t get to them all. I’m not going to lie, I am still super butthurt that Jake from Ken Yarn wouldn’t sing with me on the bus, even though I did get him to try and sing later on in the evening. The rest of the day consisted of getting pizza from Without Papers, going bowling, and then drinks and food at Hayden Block! I apparently only got photos with Jake that day. Whoops s-oh-rry!
Got into bed: 1 AM
SATURDAY - EVENT DAY
Event day! This day was amazing. From hanging out and meeting everyone through ice breakers, to lunch and good chats - the event day was insane. I’m so honoured to have gotten the chance to speak at this event. I may have swore a few times, I may have cried a bit and told people I was on my period, and I may have made an ass out of myself, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Stephanie from All About Ami spoke as well, and it was amazing to learn from her experience of being a blogger. How she made it her full time job, and how she is able to raise two wonderful little girls with her amazing husband Ryan.
We also got to hear from Laura who is the owner of Jimmy Beans Wool. This woman is so down to earth and put my swearing habits to shame! I loved her speech and I can’t wait to work more with her and Jimmy Beans in the future. Hearing her story was so heartwarming and real, and I am so thankful I got to listen to it.
I’m also honoured to have been asking to be part of their panel. This year the panel was focused on diversity and inclusivity, and though I originally declined due to being too nervous of saying the wrong thing, I’m glad I changed my mind and did it. To talk about such a hard/raw/emotional, but extremely important conversation in a welcoming and open, safe environment and community made me realize that we are all just trying to be our best, and be better than we were before. Jewell from North Knits (and founder of OML) said at the beginning of the day “You may have fear, but you are also fearless”, and this struck home especially at this time in the day. It was amazing to hear the words and opinions from Toni, Jake, Nathan, Stephanie, Jewell and many of the other participants in the audience. Special thanks to Lionbrand, Knitcrate, Annie’s and Koigu and Jimmy Beans Wool for lending their voices to the discussion as well! These topics (as we also talked about size inclusivity, and social media anxiety) are so important in our community, and they need to be talked about and conversations opened.
At the end of the day we all headed out for dinner and drinks and laughed the night away.
Toni and I got home: 10:30pm
Went to bed: 1 due to ripping open our swag bags! (#bushed)
Whenever anyone asks what to do when you come to Calgary, any Calgarian will say “Leave and go to the mountains”, and that’s exactly what we did. Though we may have hit every damn fucking struggle bus hurdle to get there, a group of us went to High tea at Lake Louise (Reminder to go on a week day - weekends are NUTS) and Banff before booking it home. It was so sad leaving Melissa and her mom (Woods and Wool + Country Road Crafter), Janine (Capital.crochet), Breanne (Breanne_buchanan), and saying goodbye once more to one of my besties Laura from White Willow Wearables knowing I wouldn’t see them the next day. The mountains did not disappoint, and I can’t wait to take more of you back to them!
Got to bed: 1AM from too much giggling with TL Yarn Crafts
Involves me dropping off Toni at the airport and realizing that it’s all over. A one day event, surrounded by a weeks worth of laughs, cries, fun and friends - old and new. I cannot believe OML is over - it feels surreal. So now I will go to bed and sleep for the next billion days, and gear up for next year… because if tickets sell out as fast as they did this year (in less than 17 minutes - with the first 100/140 sold in the first minute), and I don’t get a ticket I will be PISSED!
Ciao friends! If you haven’t given me a follow - come say hi on Instagram, and if you have any photos of us from the event, send them through there or email (email@example.com). Till next time!