Every year, String Theory Yarn Company owner Janet Avila encourages her patrons to make scarves to donate for sale in her yarn shop, located in Glen Ellyn, so the money raised can go to a local charity. In her fifth year, Avila's idea is still going strong and getting stronger as the years pass. Her fifth annual Scarf Market, held from Thanksgiving to Christmas this year, is raising money for HOPE Fair Housing Center this season.
Avila ran across the concept from a clothing store in the United Kingdom, and thought it could work for scarves in a yarn shop as well. “We’d been looking for a way to give back to the community during the holidays and this seemed perfect," says Avila. "People love the fact that they can get a boutique style scarf that has been hand made with such good will. It is a gift that gives back.” Scarves range in price from $25 to $75, and every dollar raised goes directly to the featured charity that year. In the weekend after Thanksgiving alone, String Theory raised over $1,000 for the charity by selling scarves.
Rest assured, however, that there are still plenty of scarves for purchase at the store. With upwards of 200 scarves being donated each year, there is an excellent selection of scarves for men, women, children, and unisex accessories for purchase. In previous years, the Scarf Market has extended all the way to New Year's Day, however with most of the scarves purchased before Christmas, the Market will close on Christmas Eve this year.
The scarves are donated in several different ways. Some longtime customers of String Theory make an individual contribution, while others are part of ministries which collect scarves from their entire group. Other customers who have relocated, and some who have just heard about the project, ship their handmade scarves from as far away as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Occasionally, employees of String Theory arrive at work to find an anonymous scarf donation on their doorstep.
Previous beneficiaries of Scarf Market have included PADS, Family Shelter Service, the People’s Resource Center, and Dupage Homeownership Center, where over $20,000 has been raised in the previous four years. This year's charity, HOPE Fair Housing Center, aims to eliminate discrimination in the housing process and works to ensure that no family is turned away for housing due to their race, skin color, religion, and whether or not they have children, among other discriminatory factors. “Much of the success can be attributed to the benefiting organizations that work so hard to get the word out," says Avila.
The scarves are impressively crafted as well. Many of the donors try to use their best fibers and most beautiful stitch patterns so the scarves fetch as much money as possible for the charity. Luxurious wool and silk blends, alpaca fibers, and sweeping colorways adorn the posts at String Theory this time of year, and the patterns range from basic stitches to ruffles and ribs to intricate lace patterns, to ensure there is something for everyone on a shopper's holiday gift-giving list.
This holiday season, giving back is as easy as purchasing a handmade scarf from the String Theory Yarn Company, located on Main Street in Glen Ellyn. Donations can also be made directly to the charity by going to HOPE's website, and more information can be found on String Theory's website as well. The store is open every day except Mondays through Christmas.