Felted Woolies are things made from reclaimed, recycled wool. I find wool at thrift stores and garage sales. I clean it, felt it or unravel it, and make new things. I seem to have a bit of trouble focusing on just one project--so I make a lot of different things, practical and not so practical.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

SCORE at VOA !!!

I've tried to limit my time in the thrift stores these days.  I don't need any more wool.  I need to use what I have.  But, I'm allowing myself to go to the "half-price" on everything day at my favorite local VOA  (Volunteers of America) store.  It is the last Tuesday of the month.  It was been crazy last month, and today.  Next month, as the last sale day before Christmas will be even busier, I expect.   I can't figure out where all the stuff comes from.  People wheel cart after cart after cart out of the store, and the racks are still full.

I found many many beautiful pieces of wool--a gold and black check skirt, pleated, very lightweight, and a size 20.  There must be more than three yards of fabric.  I've already had one piece of it in the washing machine and it is making beautiful lightweight felt.  Gold and black check--really small checks?  So unusual.  It will be fabulous for so many things.  Right now I'm thinking snowman scarves.   Three yards worth of snowman scarves?  Never.  But something fabulous. 

An old old old black boucle coat.  I'm thinking really classy hats.  Or stuffed animals.  Or owls.   It is too small for me, and pretty worn.  It may be a shame to cut it.  I'll look at it carefully before I do. 

Two sweaters I will wear.  

And finally, a winter white merino cape thing.  Beautiful yarn.  I've already unraveled one panel.  The collar was like an attached scarf.  Once I detached it, I have a scarf.   The softest, prettiest, warmest scarf.  I think I'm keeping it for me.  The rest of the yarn will be for sale eventually on Etsy.  It is so soft.  It needs to be a baby sweater...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inspiration from success

I'm feeling particularly inspired to sew these days because a store in town is selling my things.  It is such a joy to get a call--"Do you have any more pumpkins?   I've sold them all.  Bring me more."  The store owner likes my things, and her store has a funky, not quite perfect, colorful, random vibe that is really comfortable for me.  She tells me to raise my prices, not lower them.  (I can't raise them as high as she wants me to.  I just can't.)  She buys some things out right, others she is waiting to pay for until they sell, but splitting the cost 60/40.  I get 60 she takes 40.  That seems really fair to me.  I'll see how it works out.  She has a lot of small things in the store, but also some fairly expensive items.  She recently moved her store from the suburbs to the "Arts" district of Columbus, and it she has had great success the first few months.  The name of the store is "Adore" and the sign inside the door says "Find things you adore."  If you are ever in town, stop by 745 North High Street!

I'm inspired to make things that take a bit more time because I'll have a place to sell them.

A few more stores like this--maybe in a few different cities-- and I'll be busy all the time--AND--set for my retirement!

I added the quote to the above right on blog today.  It is perfect.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thoughts on Crafting

As I sit, unraveling and deconstructing wool sweaters and other wool clothing, I think of the people that put it together in the first place.  Most of it, well, all of it, is made somewhere else.  China is the most common place for modern clothing, vintage finds come from a greater variety of places. Perhaps  I'll start making note of where each piece was constructed.  Most of the sweaters are knit by machine, and sewn together with a chain stitch that is very easy to undo if you start in the right place.  The tricky places are where lots of pieces meet--under the arms, top of shoulder, etc.  I can imagine a woman sitting at the chain stitch machine who has done the job so many times she can get all those pieces to line up just right quickly and easily.  I wonder what she is paid?  A pittance, I suspect.  I think of her as I try to price the items I make.  Do I try to match the other prices on Etsy?  Do I try to price under others?  Does the value of my hat seem greater it I charge more?  Does it seem "cheap" if I charge less?   It is the same hat--but marketing is much more about perceived value than real value.   Is my time really worth any more than the pittance that woman was paid? 

I'm getting the raw materials I'm using for very little.  I've had very good luck at church garage sales over the summer.  I try to go during the last hour.  Most churches are raising money for a service or mission project, but during the last hour they just want to get rid of the items left.  I've bought bags full of wool for 2.00.  That is pounds of yarn, or enough felt for 8 hat and mitten sets, with a lot left over for birds, ornaments, flowers, etc. etc.    So all I really need to charge for is my time and creativity.  I'm not looking to get rich off this adventure.  I'm just looking to make up for part of the pay I'll lose when, and if, I retire.   So, when I wait to contribute to the mission or service project so I can get the most wool for my few dollars, I feel a bit of guilt.  It is more than offset by the virtue I feel as I reuse great wool--wool that is left behind after everyone else has been through the piles of clothes at the garage sale.  I even have clothing from a church clothing give-away.  A friend waits 'till the event is over, and saves the wool for me.  She says nobody wants the wool sweaters since they can't be thrown in the wash as easily as synthetics.  So, in a way, wool has a lesser perceived value than synthetic to the demographic that can't afford to send clothes to the dry cleaners. 

The store that has purchased some of my things sits right across the street from the 10,000 Villages store in Columbus.   In a really really small way, I'm in direct competition with artisans from all over the world that rely on their crafting income for basic necessities.  I'm just looking to supplement an adequate retirement check.  (Of course, if I can supplement that check, I'll have money to spend at 10,000 Villages...)  Now I'm starting to over think.  So I'll stop. 

Finally, I have a very real connection to the woman at the factory sewing machine, making a pittance, because she needs that pittance.  That woman, or in my case girl, was my mother.  My mother left school at 13 to do piece-work at home, and a year later, when she was finally old enough, she started work in a clothing factory outside Philadelphia.  It was 1931.  She gave her entire paycheck to her dad until she was 20.  She finally left home and went to high school when she was 21.  How much has changed in our world since then.    I choose to sit at my sewing machine.  In fact, I find it the most soothing, satisfying thing I've done in the past few years.  Well, second to playing the violin.  If I wanted to work in a clothing factory, I couldn't find one.  And I wouldn't be able to regulate the temperature, listen to the music I want to, take a break when I want, or fuss over which buttons to put where.

This is what I think about as I craft. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Hybrid hats

Here are just a few of my new hats, made from sweaters, with just a bit of hand knitting to give them shape. I love how easy this is.

I've made some with cuffs, because that is warmer, and some without the cuff, because that seems more "stylish." What do you prefer? Do you want a cuff for warmth, or a beanie without cuff for style. I'll be sewing flowers to the girls and woman's hats, or at least to some of them.

The only drawback to this technique is that you have no control over the size of the hat. Once you choose the sweater, you can only make the size of hat that sweater will make. So, if you want a particular size, you need to measure the sweater first, and fall in love with the stripe or color or pattern or yarn weight second...