ReConsumerEyes - Sweater Chop Shops

I teach “Sweater Chop Shops” – day-long workshops, using discarded wool sweaters to make new sweaters.  This technique is simple, using only scissors and basic hand sewing stitches with yarn and big needles.  The use of all tools and materials for the day are included in the price and there is no experience necessary.

Students typically finish a sweater to wear home and have experienced a making process easy to replicate with accessible and affordable tools and materials.  It is interesting to hear how people use what they have learned in my workshop as they venture back into their everyday.  Carry over skills range from basic fabric cutting and hand sewing, to thinking about clothing, cloth and consumption differently.  Then comes empowerment, a sense of accomplishment and realization of new possibilities.  Plus they have a really cool sweater to walk around wearing, feeling proud.The technique I teach was a personal epiphany in the late 1980's when it occurred to me that thrift shops were FULL of wonderful useful cloth, disguised as wrong sized, out dated, or otherwise unfashionable clothing.  Cheaper and much more interesting to buy than cloth at traditional fabric buying venues, this discovery turned into a business for me.  Initially this business was production oriented, growing to employ 40 and supply more than 350 stores internationally with completely handmade in the USA, completely recycled wares ranging from blankets, to rugs, clothing and accessories.

After years of running a wholesale manufacturing company, in 2008, I was offered a life change.  Embarking on a new path returned me to my first love - being a maker.  It was tantamount that the impact of my passion did not diminish as the output of my business returned to that of one.  I have published a teaching book The Sweater Chop Shop and have a full schedule of workshops.  Settings range from my studio, to Art Centers, Corporate classrooms, and craft rooms in private homes and are either half or full day in length.  Subject matter includes Potholder Rug Weaving, Sweater Making, Scarf/Blanket Making, Recycled Cotton Tee Shirt Garment Making, Flowers, Wreaths and more.  There are three full-day public Sweater Chop Shops on my calendar this fall.  September 23 in my Pittsfield, MA studio, November 3, at the Guilford Art Center in Guilford, CT and on November 17, at Eileen Fisher Headquarters in Irvington, NY.

ReConsumerEyes is a weekly column I write to shed light on simple ideas to help lessen our load on our sweet planet Earth.  It is my passion and commitment to inspire change in our consumption habits. Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.  I enjoy learning about ideas you might have to incorporate here.