When we began making mittens, we knew that almost every pair would be unique because it would be made from a recycled sweater that provided us with limited materials. What we didn't think about was that we could literally create custom, one-of-a-kind, keepsake mittens from a sweater if it held special significance for someone.
The idea came to Sue when the business was about five years old. She mentioned it to her friend whose parents died within a few months of each other. From a sweater of her mom's and a sweater of her dad's, we made pairs for her and for her two siblings.
After that, the topic would come up some times when we were talking with customers at shows about how we source our sweaters. The requests began to trickle in, and today we fill approximately 12 custom orders each year. Here are a few of the stories behind those some of those orders.
A friend of Sue's with scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that causes chronic hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues, needed something cozy for her swollen hands last winter. We made her a pair of cashmere mittens—soft and fuzzy, warm and stretchy—that would slide more easily over her hands.
After Madelyn's sister Marilyn died, she asked us what we could do with three of her deceased sister's sweaters. We made 21 Christmas tree ornaments (each a pair of miniature mittens) from them, and she gave them to all her relatives that Christmas. One of Marilyn's nieces wrote to tell us that it was wonderful to have a little tangible piece of her to hold on to. She also shared that Marilyn was incredibly creative and would've loved them. That story definitely made our day.
(above) Mr Lorentsen's wife died many years ago, but a couple of years ago he found one of her Norwegian sweaters and brought it to us. We were able to make three pairs of mittens for his three daughters-in-law.
(above) Our friend Frank has bought at least 30 pairs of custom-made Chicago Blackhawks mittens for his fellow hockey-loving friends.
Our auntie in New Hampshire has a one-handed friend. Guess what? We made her a beautiful and warm left mitten!
(above) Sue made a coordinating pair of "his and hers" mittens as a wedding gift!
If you have a special sweater sitting in a cedar chest or packed away in your closet that you'd like us to look at, please remember that it needs to be at least 75 percent wool for us to be able to felt into mitten material. Mittens cost $45 per pair. If we cannot make full-sized mittens from what we have to work with after we launder the sweater, we will do everything we can to make as many keepsake items as we can from what you supply.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you'd like to arrange a consultation regarding your special sweater, and put "custom order" in the subject line of the email. You can also bring your sweater to any one of our upcoming Chicagoland area shows. Follow this link to view our schedule for October and November. No appointment is necessary, but we'd appreciate an email letting us know you're coming.
We can also work with customers who don't live in the Chicagoland area, but we only accept sweaters that are mailed to us after consulting with you via telephone or email.
Also--all custom orders must be in by December 1, to ensure delivery by Christmas. Thanks!