Y'all know how much I loves me the tote bags. Thank goodness Helen doesn't have a store front, I'd be drooling all over her stuff and she would have to throw me out. I mean, look at this:
This is a bag made from an old sweater. The bag is cool on its own but then you learn of it parentage and you think 'Way Cool' OK, I think 'way cool' but I know you think something that's like it - cuz it is way cool.
The thing is, she does have her own studio in Natick, MA, so if I wanted a drool opportunity, I could take one. This would be worth a trip to New England - and I haven't been to NE in about 30 years so a trip isn't completely out of the question.
The girl is recycling genius. I don't know about you, but I couldn't take an old suede vest and make this. Come on, now. You have to admit that is cute and what a way to recycle; not to mention how soft it must be.
She has some great designs in her shop, but on the off chance you don't find what you need or want, you can visit her website and create your own bag. That's right - you get options! It's the chance to dip your toes in the creative pool - jump on it, the water's always fine.
One of the things I love about exploring different shops, especially those who work a different craft than mine, is to be inspired to do something in my craft from what I see in that shop. Helen has given me ideas on knitted bags I can make. So many artists have inspired me that I have started an ideas notebook so I don't lose what they've given me - it's a gift they don't even know they give, but a gift nonetheless and shouldn't be wasted.
When it comes time to show Mr. Honey what he can get me for my birthday and Christmas, Helen's store will be on the list. I hope you go there, too, but keep your mitts off the sweater bag, that one's mine.
Profiling stores and artists.
There's always amble chances for shopping throughout the year. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Bosses' Day even Secretary's Day - is a chance to make a purchase and show someone you care. But once the calendar hits October, the big shopping rush is on - Thanksgiving and most especially Christmas are big gift giving opportunities.
As someone who has decided handmade gifts are the way to go, I make a list every week of Chicago artists I think are worthy of attention - but you're not all in Chicago and Chicago isn't the only place that has great stuff. So, from time to time, I am going to give more than a mention to a shop that is doing some very nice work. I'll be scouring Etsy, Dawanda, Artfire and Mixxmade for people and places I think are fun, impressive and make me go aaahhhhh.
Why am I going to do this? Several reasons:
- I would want someone to do this for me. As a shop owner, I would love it if someone found my work worthy of mention...and then mentioned it. Not everyone is interested in just knitting (though the best of us are interested in it) there are other things to be explored.
- It's the right thing to do. The truth of it is - handmade things can often be more expensive than mass manufactured items. But just as often, the handmade items are better crafted, have less environmental impact, uses higher quality materials and are more unique. In short, it's worth it, but if folks can't see all the options they have, they won't take them.
- It's a good break from the everyday stuff. You get to look at some great pictures and pretty items and read about something (and someone) other than me. I would like this place to be a place people are glad to be featured.
There are probably other reasons, but I'm a tired of listing them.