Tuesday, April 07, 2009


A few weeks ago I was telling the husband about the popular new craft of making felted material from wool sweaters. I made a comment to him about how I'm sure all the second-hand stores must be experiencing a wool sweater shortage because everyone's encouraged to wash them, shrink them and craft with them. But when I told him that this is being referred to as Green crafting, he objected. True, it is recycling (or, upcycling, as I've seen a few webs/blogs call it), but - as he so eloquently put it - what's Green about taking perfectly good clothes that could be warming our nation's poor and homeless in the name of craft? Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I was still itching to try.

While at the Goodwill Store I did, in fact, overhear a couple women seeking out wool sweaters as well. I selected a few sweaters and a wool sports coat and felt like everyone was watching me. I expected someone to come up to me and ask, "What exactly is the purpose of your acquisition?" I avoided making eye contact with anyone. I was sure the clothes police were going to swoop down on me the second I stepped outside. Totally felt like I was buying contraband.

I'm still struggling a bit with the ethics of felting second-hand clothes. But I really adore the felt. Makes these booties so much softer than the wool craft felt I typically use. I love how much thicker it is.

Do you think it can be considered a clean wash if I donate a couple jackets and sweaters? I'll go through my things and replace the sweaters with my perfectly warm clothing. Even steven, right? And if it makes anyone feel better (it makes me feel better, anyway) - the orange wool sweater had a hole in it. So that one was truly upcycled! Guilt free on that one.


Gale's Goodies said...

I am a veteran wool shopper at the local Goodwill. My feeling is that my purchase helps fuel the economy, helps employ the workers at Goodwill and also supports the mission of Goodwill Industries.

Like you, a good many of the items I purchase are damaged before I felt them up and turn them into something else. Also, there are many items that are totally out of fashion and would probably not be worn.

I feel okay about buying clothing and using the fabric to make craft items. My sister and I do argue sometimes about some of the sweaters I buy--she wants them to wear herself!!
See some of my craft items here:


Josie said...

I came here to say exactly hat Gale said...so ditto. And I bet not that many people in So Cal go into Goodwill intending to buy such warm weather clothing anyway. Plus, I'm sure Goodwill and Salvation Army are suffering just like any other retailer right now and really appreciate the sale. So traitor? No, no, no...you're simply a creative, talented, recycling bleeding heart hippie who's helping to stimulate our economy! But you're not the only one- I proudly recycled Ry's applesauce container the other day to mix my haircolor in (so you're gonna have to fight me for that key to the city).

Devona said...

Another thought. It's not like you went to your local homeless shelter and took the sweaters from their stash. Part of the way Goodwill and other Thrift Store Charities operate is selling quality clothing at a lower price to save the consumer money and using that profit to support their ministries and charities.

I never feel guilt when I buy second hand clothing to repurpose. I feel bad when I buy made in China craft supplies shipped across the planet and made with who-knows-what chemicals under who-knows-what labor conditions.

Dawn said...

These are all very good points. Thank you so much for easing my guilt. You're absolutely right - all of you. And, YES, Devona, supplies from China are much worse. I will definitely pay more attention to where some of the supplies I buy come from!