By Christina Cioci
MaryLynne Boisvert has a talent that we at CT Green Scene appreciate and admire. She recycles wool sweaters and other materials to create unique and fun pieces of clothing, accessories and home décor. About 15 years ago, MaryLynne began to knit. Soon after, her friend Fran Larson of Blue Moon Woolworks taught her how to do needle felting. MaryLynne began her business, Bethany Homecrafts, with rugs made from recycled materials. To reach a wider range of customers, MaryLynne decided to incorporate her felted creations. Her booths at local farmers markets and other venues began selling more felted creations than rugs and her business evolved in that direction. “In the past year I've begun making skirts from recycled cottons,” she said. “So now the bulk of my business is in the recycled clothing I make, some of it is needle felting, and none of it is rugs!”
These wonderful creations can take some time to make but MaryLynne has it down to a science. From gathering the used materials to threading the last piece together, the process can take some time. MaryLynne gets a lot of the materials from thrift shops, friends and customers. “I have a friend in Maine who does a lot of shopping for me,” she said. “They have to wear warm sweaters there a lot more than we do, so the sweaters tend to be a lot more interesting there- much more woolly!” MaryLynne finds many man-made materials but prefers to use natural. The list of products made with her reclaimed materials is impressive. Everything from skirts to mittens, pot holders and diaper soakers, a customer will be delighted with their choice. Clothing is made from recycled cotton and the adorably charming needling felting includes birds, sheep, chipmunks, bunnies and pretty wall hangings.
MaryLynne says that her favorite to make is anything using cashmere. “Felted cashmere is the softest thing on the planet! I make mittens, hats, scarves, baby sweaters, and baby booties…anything I can think of from cashmere.” She makes a great point that since she is buying materials including cashmere at thrift shops, these products are still affordable for many people.
After the materials are accounted for, the time it takes to create one of MaryLynne’s products varies. “Felted birds average about an hour to an hour and a half. It’s really hard to tell with the recycled clothing because there is the buying, washing, felting, drying, designing and sewing.”
MaryLynne estimated that a skirt can take up to 7 hours start to finish. Now that is truly “made with love” and dedication! She hopes that each customer will enjoy everything. “I really want people to see that things don’t need to be thrown away, that there is always more use in something.” As a real testament to what recycling and reusing is all about, MaryLynne sees the beauty of a piece and gives it a new life. Looking at all her creations, it is easy to see her passion for what she makes. The intricate details make each product special in its own way. “We have such a throw-away world, but I really want to do my part to keep it green for my kids and the next generations”
You can find Bethany Homecrafts by MaryLynne at local Farmer’s Markets in Connecticut and through her Etsy shop. Visit her blog and her Facebook page for more information on each product.