Thanksgiving through Christmas
Help us make our Sixth Annual Scarf Market a success.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, String Theory sells scarves that have been knit, crocheted, woven and donated by you.
We’ve started to receive many beautiful scarves, but we need more. We accept scarves, shawls and cowls in any yarn:acrylic, novelty, silk, wool. Soft scarves sell first. They must be handmade and never worn. If you would attach the yarn label to the scarf, that will help us with pricing and washing instructions.
Every year I get questions about how big the scarf should be. A good average is 5″ x 60″. Of course kid’s scarves can be shorter (and should be machine washable).
Please consider making us a scarf or two. We will turn your time into a cash donation for a local organization committed to helping our community.No Comments
If you’ve been in the shop recently, I’m sure you have noticed Lisa’s amazing shawl hanging from our giant knitting needle near the back of the store. It’s hard to miss and feels more like an art piece to me.
The pattern is Glacier Sweep by Stephen West, and Lisa made it out of gorgeous, bright skeins of La Jolla fingering weight by Baah. It’s truly stunning and something that really inspired me. I fell in love with the alternating “sweeps” of garter stitch sections… they reminded me of waves and movement.
Stephen West is considered by many to be a “rockstar” in the world of pattern design. Could I, a knovice knitter, figure out a Stephen West pattern? How hard could it be? I skimmed over the pattern. Hmmm… garter stitch, check. Stockinett, check. Yarn overs, check. Short rows… short rows..huh? What’s a short row? Yikes. (In moments like this, one has the opportunity to squelch their beginner knitter fears and “just do it”). Ironically, the “sweep” that I loved so much – that made me think of soft waves, is only achieved using “short rows”. Time to dive in and learn something new!
I bought the pattern and picked out some yarn in colors that reminded me of the Caribbean sea. I asked for a little help getting started because you start by making a tiny icord, or by making a garter tab, and picking up stitches. (I always thought a garter tab was something you hooked a nylon stocking to- not so).
After a bit of coaching, I was happily knitting…… Then ripping. Then knitting. Then ripping. This knit/rip pattern repeated itself until I realized they make stitch markers and row counters for a reason! After ripping for the fourth time, and finally knitting without making a counting error (thanks to my markers and counter), I decided it was time to thread my tapestry needle with a long strand of yarn and run it though the stitches on my needle, that way if my counting skills failed me again, all my “good” knitting could be saved and I would just have to rip to the strand holding the stitches without guessing. This, my knovice knitting friends, is called a “Life Line”- and it saved me! It can be used any time in your knitting, and as you can see in the photo I will be using it more than once. (I probably won’t need it as long as it’s there… insurance).
I’m enjoying working on this shawl and I hope it turns out as beautiful as Lisa’s!
All good knitters were “knovice knitters” once. Right?
Speaking of squelching “beginner knitter fears”, Tina has never knitted a sweater before, but she’s all ready to participate in NaKniSweMo. She’s purchased her yarn and was working on her swatch. You go girl!
Mary Jane is getting braver too- She decided she wanted a little more color in her Albers Cowl by Ann Weaver. So,with a little help from Joan and some Wednesday knitting friends, she found just the right shade of pink to make her cowl “pop”!
Stop by on Wednesday and see how we’re all progressing. We always make room at the table and you may look up at Lisa’s shawl and feel inspired too!
You may know November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but did you know it’s also National Knit a Sweater Month (NaKniSweMo)? Pronounced Nanny-Sway-Moe, the goal is to start an adult-size sweater on November 1st and finish it by November 30.
It may sound crazy, but it’s easier than you think! String Theory is holding a NaKniSweMo knitalong event throughout November. We’ll help you pick your project, figure out your size and gauge, and guide you through the trickier bits. If you’ve never knit a sweater before, this is a great place to start!
Did we mention there will be fabulous prizes?
GRAND PRIZE: A sweater’s worth of yarn! Buy your yarn between now and November 1st and finish your sweater by December 1, and you’ll be entered to win back your yarn purchase as a gift certificate! (Please save your receipt!)
MORE GREAT PRIZES will be given away! We’ll have giveaways on Instagram, Facebook, and Ravelry, random drawings, and more!
HOW IT WORKS
In NaKniWriMo, you write 50,000 words in one month. In NaKniSweMo, you knit 50,000 stitches in one month! You can prepare your project and swatch before November 1, but you don’t cast on until the big day. You have all 30 days of November to finish your sweater.
What does 50,000 stitches look like? Adult-sized long sleeve sweaters in yarn up to a chunky size are almost all 50,000 stitches or more. If you are a size XS, you may want to pick a yarn that’s a little thinner and/or something long-sleeved in order to get 50,000.
Cast-on Breakfast: Ready, set, go! We know you’ll want to get the earliest possible start. Join us for a social morning of casting on our sweaters, complete with delicious coffee and treats. Bring your swatch to be entered in a special prize drawing. November 1, 8:30-10:00 AM
NaKniKnitalong: Come sit with us on Thursday nights to work on your sweater. We’ll help you through any rough spots and cheer on your progress. We will also talk about the finer points of sweater knitting, from increases to button bands to seaming and blocking. Thursdays in November 7-9 PM (no KAL on Thanksgiving day)
Wrap Party: Needles down, everyone! Let’s celebrate our beautiful finished sweaters, give away some awesome prizes, and have fun. December 1, 7:00 – 9:00pm
THE FINE PRINT
The only criteria for your pattern is that it must be at least 50,000 stitches. Most adult sweaters qualify.
To participate, your yarn must be purchased at String Theory. You can use String Theory yarn from your stash, but if you purchase your yarn between now and Nov. 1, you’ll be eligible to win our Grand Prize.
None of the events are “mandatory” – you can participate even if you can’t make it! Just be sure to bring in your finished sweater (or send a photo!) by December 1 to be eligible for the grand prize!
A “finished” sweater is one that is in one piece and functional. (We will look the other way if you haven’t blocked it or missed some yarn ends!)
You are honor bound to start on November 1 and finish on or before November 30.No Comments
Our Wednesday group is off to a great start! I loved watching fellow knovice knitters begin new projects.
I wonder if anyone noticed the thought bubble over my head, as I looked around the table. It read: “Sheesh- does it ever go smoothly for a knovice knitter?” Well, the honest answer is: Sometimes… but usually not. However, with a bit of guidance, a little perseverance, and a boat load of encouragement, we eventually overcome the little things that trip us up.
Pat started a nice little scarf project called Garter Not Scarf . She chose to do it in Spud & Chloe “Toast” (I love the S&C names- so fun!) She was happy with the pattern once we novices realized yf meant “bring yarn to front” … I bet you can guess what yb meant! She loved the softness of the Spud & Chloe wool/cotton blend in her hands as she casted on. The tricky part was keeping those stitches from sliding off size 10 aluminum needles. Once she switched over to a set of ChiaoGoo bamboo needles, she became a knitting machine!
As Pat continued her scarf, JoRene was across the table starting Sonnensegel, a gorgeous shawl/scarf wrap. JoRene picked a gorgeous package of fingering weight Wonderland yarn mini skeins by frabjous fibers (there are some beautiful color combos to choose from at the shop), and for her repeating stripe she chose the uber delicious Shibui Cloud – a gorgeous lace weight, silk/mohair combo (think skinny like thread). JoRene had no trouble starting out with the fingering weight yarn but her happy face was slowly disappearing once she started with Cloud. After unknitting and pulling teeny mohair stitches apart, she checked the pattern again. She was using a size 2 needle (suggested by the yarn manufacturer, but much smaller than the pattern suggested). I loved watching her smile return as she knit the next row onto the larger needles. Her Sonnensegal wrap is going to be stunning and she’s going to finish a lot faster on those larger needles! Woohoo!
Picking out the correct knitting needles is not always easy. Find what works for you and what works with the yarn you’re using; there are a lot of options. Metal, wood, bamboo, plastic, straight, circular, etc.etc. you may have to try a few to find out.
In my first post I used the word débutante, a french word for “beginner”. In my mind the word Débutante conjures up images of white gloves, pearls and ‘coming out’ parties. So go ahead and throw on your pearls if you’d like, “come out” and join some novice knitters as we kibitz on Wednesdays. We serve up platters of encouragement!
Btw, no need for the white gloves, it’s challenging enough without them!
-Linda (Knovice Knitter)No Comments
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:
The Ewe Ewe Scarf is a fun, easy garter stitch project.
If you’re feeling more adventurous and want to practice your knits and purls, how about giving the Wicked Easy Scarf a try.
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)No Comments
Top 10 Reasons to take a class(or two) at String Theory
- You need a challenge – stretching your brain, keeps you young
- You’d love to meet new people – we have the nicest customers at String Theory
- You need a good excuse to get out of the house – we know how that is….
- Double pointed needles baffle you.
- You’ve always wanted to learn to crochet.
- 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.
- You could use a little “peer pressure” to get those gifts made for Christmas
- Our instructors are knowledgeable – they love sharing their favorite tips
- Our instructors are patient.
- 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.No Comments
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.
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.
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
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.No Comments
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.No Comments