Confession of a “Knovice Knitter”

September 13, 2014


I had always thought beginner knitters were restricted to the aisles of brightly colored acrylic yarn in the big craft stores.  Beautiful yarn shops were only for the “experts” who used words like:  fiber, drape,  fabric, fingering and intarsia. They knew complex codes like: CO48 work *k2,p2,ssk,k1, repeat from * for 5cm ending on WS.  They read charts, and of course they never made mistakes.  I have since changed my mind.

One October day I decided to make a scarf for my son in his school colors (how hard could it be?).  I stopped at my local craft store and picked up some orange and black acrylic yarn and a pair of knitting needles. I stood in the store reading through a book on how to “cast on”.  By the time I returned home, my memory was failing and I did the best I could at getting the stitches onto the needle. I began to knit back and forth using the basic knit stitch that my Aunt Mary had taught me as a child. Frustration soon set in as I watched my scarf become wider and then narrower. What was happening? I pulled it all out and started over only to have the same thing happen again!   I needed help.

My first stop was the home of my 86 year old neighbor, because after all most people over 80 must know how to knit!, right?  She smiled at me and my mess, said she had no idea how to knit, but her grand-daughter in Boston was an excellent knitter.  Well a trip to Boston wasn’t in the cards, so that’s when I mustered the courage to walk into String Theory Yarn Co. and  plead for help.   It was one of the best decisions I ever made!

In about 15 mins. a lovely woman explained to me what was going wrong and how to fix it.

There I was, sitting at the same table with other knitters… the “experts”.   Guess what?  Those “experts” dropped stitches, miscounted rows, asked for help, and ripped stuff out – JUST LIKE ME!

There are loads of knitting books and You Tube videos to help you learn to knit, but String Theory offers a great class for beginners called “Knitting 101″ , taught by experienced knitters who will actually help you hold your needles the right way!!  Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.


Now that it’s football season and scarf weather seems to be returning early this year, I’m going to make another scarf; on the first try I hope!    I’m picking up some Malabrigo Rios in Glazed Carrot and Paris Night, (which in man speak are Chicago Bears colors).  What are your team colors?  String Theory carries a wonderful assortment of worsted weight, washable yarn in many different colors.  Stop in and browse around.

Here are a few easy scarf projects to consider:

ewe ewe scarf

The Ewe Ewe Scarf is a fun, easy garter stitch project.

wicked easy

If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to practice your knits and purls, how about giving the Wicked Easy Scarf a try.

rivalry scarf

Want to practice color changing (no, you don’t knot off each row)?  The Rivalry Scarf would be perfect.

Finally, the thing that scared me the most; the table filled with “experts”, is now what I love most about String Theory. It’s a great way to spend time with others, commiserate, exchange ideas, etc.   Because of my work schedule it’s easier for me to visit the shop  on Wednesdays, and usually I have the table to myself.  Come join me, I’d love to have some company!  By the way, the french word for Beginner is Débutant… do we dare start a Débutant knitting group on Wednesdays?  I’ll let my fellow beginners decide.

Linda (a Knovice Knitter)

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New Classes for Fall

September 1, 2014

pow mitts campanula earth and sky

Top 10 Reasons to take a class(or two) at String Theory

  1. You need a challenge – stretching your brain, keeps you young
  2. You’d love to meet new people – we have the nicest customers at String Theory
  3. You need a good excuse to get out of the house – we know how that is….
  4. Double pointed needles baffle you.
  5. You’ve always wanted to learn to crochet.
  6. You bought yarn on vacation this summer and now you can’t figure out the pattern – try Kristen’s Pick Your Project class on Tuesday evenings.
  7. You could use a little “peer pressure” to get those gifts made for Christmas
  8. Our instructors are knowledgeable – they love sharing their favorite tips
  9. Our instructors are patient.
  10. Our instructors make classes fun.

Our instructors have put together a great schedule for this Fall. So grab a cup of coffee and your calendar.  When you figure out your schedule, stop by the store or call 630 469-6085 to register.

Don’t let the kids have all the “Back to School” fun!

Sign up one (or more) of our classes before Sunday, September 7 to receive a 10% discount.

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Chicago Yarn Crawl August 2 – 10

August 1, 2014

Every year, the Chicago Yarn Crawl gives us the opportunity to introduce ourselves to new customers.  As they walk through the shop, I want people to see that our mission goes beyond getting more people to knit and crochet.  We want more people to knit or crochet with good yarn.

It is a busy time and “crawlers” are often in and out quickly since they have a lot of ground to cover, so I try to communicate the essence of String Theory with our free pattern.


This year, I designed a cowl with Be Sweet’s Bamboo and Medium Brushed Mohair.  I love the sheen and drape of the Bamboo and the weightless warmth of the Mohair.  And I love the contrast, when I put them together.

be sweet ladies

But really good yarns are not only wonderful as they move through your fingers, they also have a story to tell.

Be Sweet works with several job creation groups that give artisans the confidence and the means to support themselves and their families in otherwise economically depressed regions. The groups have grown to include almost 200 artisans, mostly female of the Xhosa tribe who live in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape.

Many of the women now depend on the work for their survival and with the help of creative program directors, the artisans are in stable environments where they can earn a fair wage, learn new skills, and enjoy their work. This makes a huge difference to a person and a community. 

Take a look at this short video to see the women in action.

Your purchase of Be Sweet yarns make this possible.



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Yipes Stripes: Mystery revealed

July 27, 2014

Yipes Stripes in Ewe Ewe Wooly Worsted

Every June String Theory hosts a Mystery Knitalong. We usually have more than 70 people who are willing (even eager) to start a project without knowing what it will be.   I’ve discovered that when people don’t know what they are making, I can get them to try all sorts of things, so I’ve taken this opportunity to introduce people to new techniques – nothing too difficult, just something that they might not have tried before.


This year’s project was Yipes Stripes by Ann Weaver.  Along the way we learned about folded hems, braids, slipped stitches and a two color bind off.  It has been great fun to see how different the same project looks when made in different colors.  Also, please notice that while most people used the same yarn, needle size and pattern, their cowls came out dramatically different in size.


We even had some exciting variations.  Notice the hat on the left.  So very clever!


And Bobbie adapted Beth’s Handshake mitten pattern to make Yipes Stripes mittens.

Take a look at our Ravelry group for more inspiration.  I hope next year you will join us!

I love the many aspects of the mystery knit along. I love being part of a group knitting the same thing, learning new techniques and skills, mastering new levels of skills I already know AND the suspense of not knowing what you are making. It’s also lots of fun telling people (with a straight face) you have no idea what you are knitting when asked.  testimonial from happy participant


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Incredible Yarn Sale starts July 23, 2014

July 24, 2014


Yarn Clearance and Stash Sale

Thursday July 24 – Sunday July 27

The yarn sale this year is HUGE.

Every year our customers clean out their closets and bring us the yarn they are no longer in love with for our annual Stash Sale. We all know “one person’s stash is another person’s treasure.”  We have so much to sell this year, we ran out of boxes and baskets and bins.

Here are a couple of the deals:

  • $100 worth of handpainted cashmere for $20.
  • 1800 yards of windspun wool – naturally dyed for $60
  • lots and lots and lots of Noro
  • novelty yarn for necklaces for $3

Whether you are looking for an incredible deal on an exquisite handpaint or some cheap stuff for crafting with the kids, you are going to find it here. We’ve got  yarns in every weight and fiber you can imagine. People have dropped off books and needles and project bags.

If there is anything left on Sunday, it will be 50% off.

Discounts up to 75%

Not only are we selling our customers’ stash, but we are also clearing out String Theory yarns too. The new yarns for fall are already starting to arrive and there just isn’t any more room. Hundreds of balls of yarn have been discounted up to 75%.  Wools, alpaca, mohair, cottons and silks  – something in every weight.

Discounts will increase every day of the sale, so come early and come often.

The block in front of the store will be closed to traffic on Thursday and Friday for Glen Ellyn’s Sidewalk Sale.  Please check the map for alternative parking.

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Christmas in July | Wednesday July 9th, 7 – 9pm

July 6, 2014


Christmas in July Open House
Wednesday, July 9
7 – 9pm
no tickets necessary – everyone welcome

‘Tis the season to start making gifts.  To inspire you, we’re having a party.  We’ll have Christmas cookies, holiday music and our top gift ideas on display.

10% off all purchases!

Start now, it feels so good to be one step ahead of the season.

Don’t celebrate Christmas?  Please stop by anyway.  Who doesn’t love a Christmas cookie?

Take a look at the fun we had a couple of years ago.

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Stash Sale starts July 24th

July 3, 2014

cartoon for stash sale

Part of the fun of knitting and crocheting is collecting the yarn: the colors, the feel, the smell, the possibilities…. You don’t even have to turn it into anything to enjoy it.

But as time passes, tastes change. It might be time to reevaluate.
Do you love it?
Do the colors sing to you?
Do the possibilities excite you?

If not, I encourage you to curate your collection. If you love it, keep it. If not, pass it on to someone else who will.

And it just so happens that our annual Stash Sale starts on Thursday, July 24th. Here’s how it goes:

  • You drop off your stash all packaged pretty and priced.
  • We sell it.
  • You get store credit for whatever sells.
  • Whatever doesn’t sell gets donated to a local charity.

So, go through your stash and pull out all those projects that you no longer want to make, or that handpainted silk in a questionable color, or that acrylic that you inherited from your friend’s mother-in-law.

  1. Package similar yarns in ziplock bags: If you’ve got three skeins of the same yarn but they’re different colors – put them in one bag together. If you’ve got odds and ends of novelty yarns – put them in one bag together. If you’ve got odd balls of different yarns but similar colors – put them in one bag together.
  2. Put a price on your bags (think garage sale, about 1/2 of the original price).
  3. Put a description on your bags (approximate yardage, fiber content, what it would be good for…)
  4. You do not need to put your name on every item. We will add an individual barcode sticker to track your items.
  5. Bring everything in by Tuesday, July 22.

Life is too short to maintain a stash that you doesn’t doesn’t make your heart sing.

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Make that Old Sweater/Coat/Chair Look Like New!

June 5, 2014

Sweater pills and fuzz balls are a fact of life. Even the most expensive kinds of knits are susceptible! And what about that favourite sweater, the one that used to make you feel so great… you simply can’t part with it, so now it’s become weekend-wear only.

Last year, we discovered the Lilly Brush, which we still love.  This amazing brush gently removes pills from natural fibers, but once you add acrylic or nylon to the mix, the fiber is too tough for the Lilly Brush.  When I was at market in May, other store owners were raving about the Gleener, so I decided to give it a try.  It works!





This is a sweater that is 50/50 wool/acrylic blend ( I know you are surprised I own such a thing – me too!) Anyway the pills came off so easily that I tried it on a skirt that was pilling, a fabric bag, and my winter coat!  All good. My pictures aren’t so professional, so take a look at these.

Gleener has three fabric-sensitive edges, so you can use it to remove pills and fuzz from almost any kind of garment. Stop by the store and we’ll show you how it works.


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Stephen & Steven Tour stopping at String Theory

May 31, 2014

steven and stephen tour


The Dynamic Duo of Stephen West and StevenBe, two of knitting’s hottest rock stars, are coming to String Theory on August 3 and 4!

We’ve got three options for you to choose from. Take a look below and decide which one(s) are right for you. At all three events you will have an opportunity to meet the designers, ooh and aah over samples and purchase yarns dyed for the occasion.

You can register online or stop by the store. Space is limited, so don’t delay.

Wear a Stephen West or StevenBe design made with yarns purchased at String Theory to any of the events and receive a $10 coupon towards your purchase.

This is going to be such a blast; I hope you can join us!


Can’t wait to see how this will look on me!

Wine & Cheese with Stephen & Steven
Sunday August 3 5:00 – 7:00pm
Cost: $35

Treat yourself to an evening with Stephen West and StevenBe as they take you on a tour of their “Best of” Trunk Show. They’ll have samples of their most successful styles and their newest collections using their custom dyed yarns (also available for purchase). Consult with the inspiration masters to find the perfect yarn combinations for your favorites.

REGISTER for Wine & Cheese

westknits shawls

Shawl Design with Stephen & Steven
Monday August 4 1:00 – 4:00pm
Cost: $75

You might have to take the afternoon off work, but it will be worth it.

Shawl Design is for people who are willing to experiment. Tap into the creative genius of Stephen West and StevenBe to design your own shawl. Experience the magic of mixology, taking a variety of yarns from different labels, weights and contents to create a magical and unique accessory.

Start with a garter tab cast-on and learn different methods of creating angles and edges. Combine these different methods to customize your own design. Get advice on the perfect yarns to complete your vision and get started.

REGISTER NOW for Shawl Design

stephen_headshotstevenbe headshot2

Tips & Tricks with Stephen & Steven
Monday August 4 6:00 – 9:00pm
Cost: $75

We’ll serve snacks, since you’ll be missing dinner.

Get the inside scoop on what to knit from this fall’s hot trends and start now! Take a look at Stephen West and StevenBe’s most successful styles. Try some on. Pick your favorite and begin.

Learn tips for combining yarns, selecting colors, mastering the garter tab cast on, strategically placing markers and much, much more.

REGISTER NOW  for Tips & Tricks 



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What’s New: Milk + Honey Lotion Bars

May 28, 2014


I know, we love our LoLo bars, but when I was in Indianapolis, I stopped by this booth and I found the scent of honey intoxicating and then saw the bee intricately carved into the top of the bar and I couldn’t resist.

These bars are made by hand in Sante Fe, using local beeswax, locally-grown, organic, skin-healing calendula flowers, and scented only using plant-based essential oils–no chemical fragrances ever! We have lemongrass, lavender and unscented, my favorite because the scent of the beeswax comes through. Just pop the bar out of the tin and apply to dry hands, cracked heals, rough elbows – anywhere that needs a little loving care. It even works on sunburn!

Visiting friends or family this summer? Pick up a few bars for hostess gifts.


I really wasn’t going to get the Anywhere Balm, but they gave me a sample and I found myself opening the tin to apply a bit to my cuticles and then my lips and then just to enjoy a little aromatherapy (lavender mint!) and I decided you were going to need this too.

Added bonus: when you finish the balm, clean out the tin and use it for stitch markers.

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