, Gloucester, MA

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January 10, 2014

Journal Pages: A sweater, mittens and connections

I overheard this little yarn at a New Year’s Eve gathering, thinking it the epitome of a good recycling story, and one in which none of the players knew they had played a part.

True story:

Years ago, Sandy happened upon a very cute, hand-knitted wool sweater in a second-hand shop for a couple bucks, and bought it for her cousin Elise’s daughter, Lana.

With delicate little pastel flowers on a warm, creamy background, it was too precious to pass up, and Sandy was pleased that it became Lana’s favorite sweater. The little girl wore it often, until someone inadvertently tossed it into a washing machine, and it shrank.

Disappointed, Lana shrugged off the mishap as “just one of those things,” and passed it on to her younger sister Mimi, who continued wearing it until it became too small for her, too. So, as often happens with outgrown kids’ clothing, it got pushed to the back of a closet where it nestled in a stack of other forgotten garments for years.

Last summer, as Elise sorted through the outgrown winter clothes in her daughters’ closets meaning to pack them off to the church fair rummage sale, she recalled her old friend Tess mentioning that she was always on the lookout for old, worn-out woolen sweaters, never mind moth holes because she used them for “felting.”

This was a process of boiling knitted woolens to achieve a dense, firm, material that Tess used in sewing mittens, which she sold in a co-op with other crafters who for years had rented some available space in Gloucester’s downtown, artfully transforming it for the holiday season.

It happened that Elise’s mother (“Mor-Mor” to her grandchildren) was a devoted patron to the little shop, admiring its selection of one-of-a-kind creations. As Mor-Mor did a bit of last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve afternoon in the little shop called Present, she spied a lovely pair of mittens with pastel flowers, and, thinking they would be the perfect gift for her granddaughter Lana, now a freshman in college, she bought them.

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