You just never know where things are going to take you- for good or bad- or what, for that mater will stick, and resonate for someone. Years ago I started messing around with felting sweaters- recreating them basically after bad washing experiences found good fibres shrunk and too small for their intended shapes. Mostly I made new clothes for myself out of them, I still do this and wear these things regularly. In 2008 I did a residency in Coal Harbour and as a part of that I did a sweater remake night- mostly just a fun thing for one of my Friday night time blocks. I just ran into Genny, a woman who came out and played with us that night and she told me a story that was so thrilling I had to share it; it is evidence of those outwards ripples we all hope for from what we do. Genny was kind enough to write it out for me and here it is:
I looked amongst my documents, letters sent or drafts, but I couldn’t find the letter I thought I had drafted for you a while ago.
It was with the intention of thanking you, and to show you how far your ideas can travel, that I wrote a short story; a letter telling you of my mum’s friend Roxana. She lives in Chile, with her husband and their son Julian. Her husband is a handyman and works wood and in welding, and Roxana works from home as an artisan. She knits, sews, crochets, and lately she is also weaving. Making a living for them is difficult.
After I went to your Reconstructing Sweaters workshop, I was so inspired to continue to do that, that I made some small bags and of course scarves and mittens, tea-cozzies and lots of flowers. Since I knew how to needle felt, I decorated things using that technique.
When my mum came over shortly after that, I showed her the things one could make with old sweaters, the endless possibilities. She said that Roxana would love to see all of this and that she would learn so quickly,etc
So knowing that there would probably be no needle felting materials in Chile (my mum hadn’t seen anything like it), I bought what she would need to get started. Then my mum went and showed her the basics of the shrinking the sweaters (which she did by hand) and felting and Roxana, of course, took it to another level.
Roxana suffers from arthritis and is sometimes in so much pain, that she can hardly get out of bed. Yet she works so hard with her hands to support her family. I admire her very much. She has a craft fair place where she sells her work, but mainly, she goes to stores and offers to leave her material under consignment.
So thank you for being so inspiring Sharon. You never know how far your artistic ideas can go, and cannot imagine that they can help a family’s well being. So keep at it please.