A closer look at Ragged Thistle

Whether you subscribe to the Waldorf approach to education or not, their local and seasonal fairs offer an amazing opportunity to buy local and handmade gifts as well as toys, dolls, cars and other kinds of pleasures that help engage your child's imagination. I attended the Harvest Festival at the Waldorf School in San Rafael, and though we spent most of the time in an unexpected torrential downpour,I was still able to spot a few lovely, lovely things.

The stand out - the ponchos and sweaters made by Amber Young of Ragged Thistle. She was kind enough to take few minutes and talk about how and why she does what she does. Thanks Amber for your photos and answers!

1. How did you start repurposing sweaters?

I grew up in a very small rural California village and although the town was tiny, we had 3 thrift stores. I loved poking through those shops and finding tidbits and treasures. I got myself a sewing machine and taught myself how to sew by cutting up vintage dresses piecing them together and making them fit me. A ruffle here a gusset there. Reconstructing sweaters was a natural progression. I would find a beautiful cashmere sweater and think what a shame it was that the form of the garment was so unflattering. I started playing around with piecing sweaters together for me and the ideas just kept coming!

2. Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in all of nature. I strive to make life beautiful. Sometimes the inspiration comes in the muted tones of a rainy day at the beach and sometimes in the technicolor of blooming meadows in spring time. I am also inspired by the human form. I want my designs to play and dance with the body.

3. Do you have a favorite creation?

I don't have a favorite creation. I love many of the things I make and learn lessons from the mishaps. I do have favorite art and am inspired by Vali Myers, John William Waterhouse, and Sulamith Wulfing just to name a few.

4. Any tips or tricks for working with old sweaters as a craft material?

Sweater tips: Play with color combination's, Use the patterns and weave of the sweater in strategic ways as part of the design of the project, sweaters with a similar weight work best together.

You can find Amber setting up shop at Ragged Thistle on Etsy, at Ragged Thistle Clothing on Facebook or at an upcoming handmade fair, if you happen to be in Northern California.

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