my sister and I
pledged to not give each
other presents on birthdays and at
holidays. We are allowed, however, to give
each other this or that when the mood feels right. In late
2018, she sent me this bracelet she had woven with, among other
fibers, coffee filters. Who knew that coffee filters would become one of
her muses throughout 2019 and into 2020? It made sense, then,
that when I went to visit her a few weeks ago, I would
bring more filters from my compost collection
collaboration with Umpleby's Cafe
in Hanover, NH.
when I came to
her studio a few days
after arriving and found that
she had already begun transforming
those filters into fiber, testing the differences
between the Umpleby's filters and
others she receives from
friends near and far.
It was also
no surprise that
within a few days, she
had given me a copy of her
design for A Sweater Somewhat Slanted
and had taken me to The Yarn
Underground in Moscow,
ID to find just the
all the beautiful
wool at the yarn store,
I kept returning to this particular
pinky, reddy, orangy shade with a hint
of yellow mixed in. When I started knitting the
first few rows, I realized that this was uncannily similar
to the colors of two childhood sweaters -
one made by my grandmother in
1972 and another by my
mother in 1974.
It's a bit
neither my mother
nor my grandmother was
a big knitter. It's also odd that
with all my purges and clean-outs,
I had saved these two sweaters and had
actually just taken them out of
storage a few days before
going to Idaho. Clearly
I was not in charge
of my color
a week, we
knit, together and
apart. I discovered that my
hands remembered how to create
a sweater out of wool and that I could
even read and knit at the same time. I had seen
Sarah doing this and thought it was one of
her superpowers, but it turns out it's
not so hard when you're working
with a simple yet elegant
pattern like the ones
I love that
our relationship is no
longer about who's thinner or
prettier or more accomplished. Both in
our 50's (for a few more months), we now explore
our creative lives and the world in general
together. We can finally admire our
differences and celebrate
all that we share.
allowed her superpowers
to evolve over the past decades.
It's taken me a bit longer to discover mine,
and to let them flourish. I love that I embroidered my
first stitch at the same time she sent me that coffee filter bracelet.
It was like a subversive invitation to just go for it, whatever
'it' might be. And here we are, more than a year
later, and I've embroidered an entire dress
and she is working on her second
knitted coffee filter bag.
neither one of us
knows where our respective
superpowers will take us. We do know,
however, that when the shit hits the fan and life
throws us curve balls, we will harness our
gifts & create beauty out of
are at hand.
“Whatever our gift,
we are called to give it and
to dance for the renewal of the world.
In return for the privilege
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
home & am thrilled
to snuggle with my dog and
to hang out with my beautiful compost.
That said, nothing can replace how I feel when
I am with Sarah. I wonder what gifts we will unwittingly
exchange next? You can be sure, though, that
salvaged coffee filters will be part of
the mix and that we will be
making it all up
as we go.
that 20 people would
show up for Hanover's inaugural
Community Climate Conversation? With just
a few hand-made notices around town
and in a few social media outlets,
we drew a small crowd.
How cool is that?
what does the climate
have to do with fashion and clothing?
As it turns out, more than most of us know or understand.
Apparel and footwear accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas
emissions in 2016 (more carbon than international flights
and maritime shipping), is the second largest
consumer of the world's water supply,
and pollutes oceans with micro-
plastics and rivers with
are also something
we wear every day and that can
often make our day. I know that is the case
for me. My black boots give a kick to my step and my
long purple wool cardigan embraces me and gives me confidence.
There is no reason to feel bad about dressing in garments
that make us feel good. Our challenge is learning
how to wear clothes that both feel
great and don't harm
I loved hearing
Kim Souza, owner of
Revolution (in White River
Junction, VT) talk about how she
curates her store. While some dresses
or fun socks might sell big, she will not sell them
if they are not made in the US or ethically produced.
Joan Ecker, Founder of Fat Hat Clothing,
shared valuable insights about the
costs of clothing production
and the dangers of
the best part of the
evening. Here were a bunch
of people, some more interested in
'fashion' than others, who came together
to begin a conversation about climate that actually
started with what we were wearing. By
sharing stories about our clothes
in an informal setting we got
to know each other in a
different kind of
Just as one
wool sweater is
not the same as another
(was the wool sustainably harvested,
were the sheep treated well, were the people
who assembled the garment paid a living wage?),
no two people have the same relationship to their wardrobes
and how their clothes make them feel. Like so much
in the climate conversation, there is always
more than meets the eye. Can you tell,
for example, that this ancient &
beloved turtleneck was
In my last
blog post, Compost,
Fiber and Fashion, I considered
the power of re-imagining my clothes and,
in the process, re-imagining myself. At their heart,
these reflections come from my ongoing concern for and
fascination with waste, not just of food, but of
everything. My mother-in-law saved
her hems, because she hated
things going to waste.
I repaired this
twenty-four year old
wool turtleneck sweater I bought
at a street fair in Germany because I love it,
and it seemed wasteful to find another one when I
could mend this one. It seems to me that how we connect
to our clothing may perhaps reflect how we think
not just about ourselves, but also about
what it means to be wasteful
I hope that
our first Community
Climate Conversation inspires
those who attended to think more deeply
about what they wear. More importantly, though,
I hope our laughter invites others to join these gatherings,
knowing that we find joy and have fun while
paying attention to topics that we
know about and love.
Next Community Climate Conversation:
What's the Story of OUR Stuff?
(bring an object you love)
March 3, 2020 @ Still North Books, Hanover, NH
5:30 - 7:30 pm
Facilitator: Marc Morgan
(By day, the manager of Lebanon, NH's solid waste facility;
By night, an advocate for deeper thinking
about what we consume
I used to
like to travel, until
I discovered that it wore me
out. More recently, though, I have been
teaching myself how to sustain myself and find joy
even when away from home. So when in
Detroit to visit family last week, I
explored on foot & in a car,
with my camera and
an open heart.
for treats & coffee
may be a cliche, but it's a
thing. Delicious coffees and pies in
interesting places run by cool
people warms my
body and my
energy, as does witnessing
creative Little Free
gardens on street
corners inviting me to
I found myself
sitting with Aunt Al waiting
for the dog walker to arrive and,
later in the day, celebrating my godson's
14th birthday on the 14th with a
celebrated 'Bumpy Cake.'
In the midst of it all,
I was surrounded by strong
women figuring out how to find joy
in various messy places - from
You got it.
Compost. I just
can't not seek it out.
In this case, I explored Detroit
Dirt, a thriving organization that processes
food waste and animal manure
between old warehouses
and the highway.
As I stood among
the eight mounds of compost,
trying to keep warm as it snowed and
the wind blew, I felt the power of earth's capacity
to renew itself. It takes energy to create
life from waste, but that is just
what the amazing Pashon
Murray is doing.
Three days before
the Women's March 2020,
I was surrounded by strong feminine
energy, the kind of energy that changes the
world. Scraps to soil. Soil to plants.
Plants to life-giving energy
so that we can
Dirt, I visited the Anna
Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
in Belle Isle Park. Anna's story is impressive,
but while there, warm and protected from freezing
breezes blowing off the Detroit River, I thought about the
power of focus - - When we focus on one thing, often something
right in front of us, there is clarity and purpose. Trying to
see and do it all just gets confusing. It's funny to
me how I notice the bird sculpture more
when it is blurred in the background,
than when I tried to get it and
everything else in focus.
So when not
exploring and playing
with extended family, I made
time to read and sew, taking a media
holiday of sorts. I hadn't planned it this way,
but it turns out I read about another inspiring and game-
changing woman, Rebecca Burgess and the Fibershed Project.
The subtitle "Growing a Movement of Farmers,
Fashion Activists, and Makers for a
New Textile Economy"
connects to, well,
It seems that
2020 is turning into
a year for making connections
among people, places and possessions,
in particular, clothes. Compost remains the focal
point, but clothes and their relationship to our identities
may be a parallel story line...We'll just have to see.
But I'm having fun being with people I love,
meeting people who inspire, and
feeling the power of the
I have been thinking
about fixing and mending.
To me, fixing involves a tool kit used
to solve a specific problem which, when repaired,
provides a clear solution. Once fixed, we
move on, glad that the problem
has been resolved.
a few days ago when our
furnace stopped working and two
guys came to repair it. It took some time
to diagnose the actual problem, but with their tool
kit in hand, they solved the issue. Done.
House warm again. We move
on with our day.
which, for me,
involved mending - an
act that feels different from fixing.
Yes, there is a problem to solve - a lost button or
holes in a pair of joggers - But the problem
does not feel urgent, like a furnace
not working in the middle
of yesterday's mending
pile, for example, consisted of
things with problems we had been living
with for years...literally. This tie on this vintage duvet
cover had been broken for longer than I can
remember, as had the missing button
on another duvet cover
in the pile.
does not have
to be perfect, either.
Clearly, my stitches on the
duvet are a bit messy and the button
and thread color do not match
what was there before on
this night shirt.
was simple: Get
the job done & move on. That's
what I do in January. Finish projects,
clean up, clear out, and, as if often the case, mend
things, whether a missing button, a huge rip in my favorite
gardening clothes, my son's joggers,
or, perhaps, even the
I started to mend the
huge rip on the back side of these
overalls, I got distracted, as can happen sometimes,
and decided to add some color, because, as it turns out, I had been
consolidating our thread collection earlier in the week and
happen to have found this fabulous
green (ooh I love run-
And I thought
it would be fun to add
some curves to this otherwise
set of straight lines. So suddenly my 'get-
the job done' mending turned into
something else entirely.
entranced by the
colors, shapes and textures
that emerged. I know. These joggers
are completely absent of
textures were so
cool and the feeling of the
wool fabric I used to repair the holes
so soft, I just had to share these
images and this project
I realized, in the
midst of it all, that mending
is about tending to an ongoing relationship
with something or someone, whether it's a piece
of clothing, your dog or your son. Yes, there is a particular
problem that emerges at the moment, but in the process of mending
it, you change the actual structure of that which is being
mended by adding thread, new fabric, new
colors or new shapes.
it turns out,
you can change the
structure of yourself as well.
Or at least, that's what happens to
me when I sit and sew. I hang out with my
dog, who hangs out with me. We both breath more
slowly. I have no idea what he thinks about,
but I stay focused on each stitch,
mindfully mending in
as I sew on buttons
and patch holes in joggers,
I'm thinking, always thinking, about
all those big issues out there in the world
for which we want a quick a fix, but which, in my
heart, I know may not be able to be fixed with a single tool
box at a single moment. The problems we face are just too big. But
it helps me to address them when I adopt a mending state of mind. Knowing
we will be in this for a while, I focus on relationships of all kinds and not
worry about perfection by knowing what is good enough
and by making sure I am open to altering my
plans by adding color here
I wore these
boots from November
to May this year. Finally, a few weeks
ago, they went into the storage box, from which my
summer sandals and other cooler shoes emerged. Time for the
seasonal assessment. If I haven't worn something for
a year or if it doesn't work anymore,
it goes in the spring give
think, with 26 pairs
of work boots, athletic shoes,
dress shoes and casual shoes, I'd have
enough. But I don't. My athletic shoes are worn out
and I've never really found the 'just right' pair
of casual sneakers...and with this
trip to London, it became
clear that I needed
I'm focused on shoes
and clothes with a story. If they
haven't been well worn by another before
me, I want to know that the materials
used are ethically sourced, the
stitches made with care,
and the resources
there I was, in Kentish
Town, London, at The Third Estate,
on whose racks and shelves are clothes, shoes,
bags and socks made with love. Each
brand, it seems, has its own
story to tell.
So I had some fun.
Light or dark Ethletic Fair Trade Vegan Sustainable Trainers?
Breathable and light
"BreLite Collection" shoes
whose soles come from recycled
tires and uppers are handspun cotton.
They truly are the lightest shoes
ever - - only 250 grams!
A perfect travel
up with dark, cute,
comfy and filled with love.
They make me feel like I'm flying.
Maybe that's why The Third
Estate has a bird on
what I'm learning
about this thing called
"Slow Fashion." It's not about
how fast something is made, it's about the
stories embedded in each fiber and in the transaction
itself. Angela, who helped me, wanted me to
feel good. She knew about each
shoe company and
Most shopping expeditions
leave me exhausted, but after I left yesterday,
I found myself in an unexpected area, ready to explore.
Who knew that by going to The Third Estate,
I would also experience this
colorful and nuanced
part of town?
seemed so quiet and
peaceful, but then I followed
the curve of and light on this living building...
curious as I tend to be, about the
relationship between the
...and I found
myself in an entirely
unexpected place, where the
buildings were alive in
a different kind
So I guess
shoes really are a
thing for me. Comfortable
feet matter but so does my actual
footprint. I think it's cool
when I can care
for slow fashion,
meandering explorations, and
the simple joy of taking
time to care.
Say 'Yes' to The Mess
I was really
inspired by last week's
Global Student Strikes for Climate.
If the Pope, Paris & thousands of scientists aren't
convincing enough, listen to the kids.
They speak truth.
'I don't want
Evelyn R. Swett
reframing the narrative in community and with myself, finding transformation and joy in the mess of it all
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