Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marvelous Mittens

Hello everyone and Hola! to my new Spanish-speaking followers.

If you have checked in lately, you may have noticed that I have not blogged for a month. That's because I have been busy with a new project. After coaxing on the part of some of my ravelry friends, I started an etsy shop. For those of you who do not know what an esty shop is, here is an online definition.

Etsy is a social commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items as well as art and craft supplies. These items cover a wide range including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, edibles, bath & beauty products, quilts, nick-knacks and toys.

As a test, I started a shop featuring one product line: mittens. Here is an example of my mittens.

The mittens are made from repurposed wool sweaters that I rescue from thrift shops. I bring the sweaters home to wash and dry them. This is what is known as the felting process. As the wool sweaters shrink up, the fibers mesh together and become more dense and often more lush. This felted wool is perfect for beautiful, soft, warm mittens. Of course some of the sweaters I buy are already felted (unintentionally) and that is why they were donated. This week, for instance, I purchased a beautiful striped Abercrombie & Fitch sweater that someone presumably loved but, probably assuming it was acrylic, the sweater was washed and it shrunk up. The sweater, though no longer useful for wearing, will now become about five pairs of Marvelous Mittens.

Once the sweaters are felted, the next step is to cut the ribbing from the sleeves and main body. Next the sleeves, backs and fronts are cut away at the seams. The four pieces are now flattened and serve as wool fabric from which three pattern pieces are cut. Once cut, the pieces are sewn together. The ribbing that was cut from the sweater is used for the cuffs and a set of matching buttons are hand sewn on to complete the mittens.
Sometimes it takes a parts of two or three different sweaters to complete a single pair of mittens. Here on the left is the photo of the same pair of mittens but in this view one of the palm-side mittens is shown. You can see that two colors of solid blue were cut from other sweaters to complete the pair mittens. I have used green colors on the palm side with this same striped knit pattern which illustrates that the same sweater can yield different color combinations for an interesting variety of choices.

I started making mittens from sweaters in 2009 with the intent of selling them at a few holiday fairs. I sent a pair to my Aunt Margaret in another state to match a hat I had knitted for her birthday several months before. Aunt Margaret liked her pair so much she ordered ten pairs from me. After she received her order, she took the box of mittens with her to the dog park where she let her little dog, Mac, play with other dogs while she visited with her many lady friends whose dogs were also there to romp and play. Soon I was filling orders from her friends and sending mittens across the miles as gifts to their family in other states or for their own personal use.

This season I had about several pairs mittens left from last year as well as some I had sewn in the early months of the year to be ready for the next winter. In all, I think I had about 50-75 pairs on hand. I sent one pair to a ravelry friend as part of a "From Trash to Treasure" personal exchange. That friend coaxed me share a photo of my mittens with the other women in the same group. I did and that's when some of the women suggested I start an online shop through etsy and one even gave me some pointers about getting started.

Here are a few more pairs of mittens for you to see a little variety. Up to this week I have been making mittens in three sizes: small, medium and large. The small size fits grade school children, the medium fits ladies and teens, the large fits men and older teen boys. In the past few days I added two more sizes: preschool (3-5 year olds) and toddler (18 month-3 year olds).

Starting up a shop was confusing and overwhelming at first. There were so many decisions to make. One of the most difficult was coming up with a name. Every shop name I tried seemed to have already been taken. Finally my husband said, "Marvelous Mittens!" And so it was. After that I had to write a bio, make up a shop banner, choose all kinds of perimeters like shipping information, and so on. Taking photos of the items and writing up descriptions took some time. Finally, I was up with my banner which gave me a "store front" and a few pairs of mittens. To my surprise, a few orders started coming in and I began shipping mittens to various states in the U.S. and to Canada, too.

Addendum: Happy Ending!
I am happy to report that, unbeknownst to me, a friend purchased this pair of mittens from me though my online shop. My long distance friend's name is Sherry. When I was readying the order I thought, "I know who this is! It's my ravelry friend, Sherry!" Sure enough, it was. I was so thrilled because I love these mittens and I was glad to know this pair went to a very special person. After Sherry received her mittens she posted this comment to the blog:

"I bought these mittens from Delights’s Etsy store. Each individual color jumps out at me! I love the blues along with the pinks and greens! On my hands they are like a soft fuzzy blanket! My fingers are nice and warm! I love them so much! They are so cool! I love these things!

Here's a picture of them on my hands!"

Thanks, Sherry!

To visit me at my new etsy shop. CLICK HERE

Stop by for a visit!