Sarah Walor photo
When Shannon Gingras finds a wool sweater at a second-hand store, she sees an opportunity. The Richmond crafter makes embellished fingerless gloves from the sleeves of old 100 percent wool and cashmere sweaters that she finds at thrift stores and yard sales.
"They all kind of shrink a little bit differently," she says of the sweaters, which she felts in the hot-water cycle of her washing machine. "I think that's the excitement of it, that you never really know what you're going to get." The 36-year-old owner of Shannon by Hand ( 359-8713 or shannonbyhand.com ) makes the gloves at her Westhampton home studio. After she cuts them out, she's left with tiny pieces of felted sweaters that she uses to make appliqués — flowers and colorful circles that she adds to the top of the gloves forma little bit of decoration. She sells the gloves ($24 to $30) and other homemade recycled crafts on her website, at Living at Libbie and Grove, and in the Fan at Strawberry Fields Flowers and Gifts.
Also at Strawberry Fields, Marty Mitchell sells felted scarves for $40 that she makes from upcycled wool sweaters. After felting the sweaters, she cuts them into equal-sized colorful circles that then get stitched together to create scarves.
The 52-year-old Fan resident had been collecting wool for years when she came up with the idea for the scarves. "I find the sweaters at next to nothing," Mitchell says. "It's kind of like a game, to figure out how to make it for very little money and how to make it quick."
Mitchell also turns old sweaters into pillows, baby booties and even wigs.
"I made a wig out of a sweater just the other day," Mitchell says. "It kind of looks like something Marie Antoinette would wear."