|Seasons of Wool mixes warmth and style|
|Written by Editor|
|Friday, 23 December 2011 02:23|
Lucy Chapman models her handmade felted alpaca cuffs.
By JOYELL NEVINS
Record Herald Editor
LAURA – A Laura resident’s handmade fashion accessories may soon become all the rage in Hollywood.
Lucy Chapman, founder of Seasons of Wool, had her work juried into gift bags for the Golden Globe awards in January. The gift bags are sponsored by the Artisan Group, and given out as part of the press packet.
Seasons of Wool will be represented by Chapman’s felted alpaca cuffs. The arm cuffs look like handless gloves, and provide a layer of warmth – or style – between a glove and a sleeve.
Chapman started her accessory business with knitting for herself. She went to college in the very cold northern part of Wisconsin and as a sophomore, she and her roommate taught themselves the art. Knitting was a constructive indoor habit, and a way to have warm scarves and hats without a mall trip.
“I have a hard time sitting still and doing nothing,” said Chapman, “I love to create things.”
She feels the love to create is in her blood. Chapman’s mom was a painter, her dad was a wood carver, and her grandparents on both sides comprise a stained glass artist, sculptor, woodworker and knitter.
“I come from a crafty, artsy-sort of family,” she said.
Felting takes knitting a step farther. Through a special washing process, felting turns the knitted animal fiber into an actual fabric – reducing the size of the original piece by over half. According to Chapman, the felted fabric is soft, long-wearing, and unique. Even if the same type of wool is used, each time the finished felted product looks a little different.
“You never really quite know what’s going to happen,” she said of the process, “I like that drastic change, the experimentation. It’s a combination of art and science.”
Although she can use wool from sheep, Chapman prefers alpaca fur because it is softer and more lightweight. Plus, alpaca doesn’t get as itchy as sheep wool can. She also uses many upholstery and vintage fabrics for linings and embellishments.
The business Seasons of Wool was started back in 2009. After giving her accessories as gifts for years and hearing enough people advise ‘you should really try selling these’, Chapman decided to give it a try. Since this summer, she has put her full focus into the business, working on marketing, investing in equipment and even working the online ‘blogosphere.’
The extra effort has paid off. This year, her sales through the Etsy website doubled from last year’s numbers. Fox News even heard about her and featured Seasons of Wool in a small business segment.
Although there are other felters, Chapman has carved a niche for herself in custom work. She’s made mittens for people with arm injuries, measured hats to fit the customer’s head specifically, and even designed a blanket out of old sweaters.
“I take a lot of time in what I do to make sure it’s a quality piece,” she said.
The cuffs Chapman made for the Golden Globes required an eight step process. They use what’s called laceweight, or very thin, alpaca wool.
Once Chapman’s knitted and sewed the cuffs themselves (she says it’s a great way to pass long car rides), she felts them in the washer and leaves them to dry. Then they need ironed, lined, and needle felted to give the design.
Needle felting is like a tattoo for a mitten – it uses a sharp barbed needle that fuses another layer of fabric onto the base fabric to make a picture. For a silver-dollar size design, it may take over 1,000 pricks of the needle. After the needle felting, the cuffs get ironed again before they’re ready to go.
Chapman’s children have been bitten by the knitting bug as well. 7-year-old Rose and 10-year-old Cora help their mother operate the knitting machine and are experimenting with needle felting. At the most recent art show Chapman attended, her daughters’ work was available for sale right beside her mother’s.
Chapman has many in-stock items already that can be used for ready-made Christmas gifts. She offers bags, hats, scarves, mittens, and even bowls.
“I don’t want to get bored with it,” Chapman declared, “I do enough different things to keep it fresh.”
For custom work, Christmas gifts would need to be ordered before Dec. 18. This applies to local customers only – if shipping is needed, the timing changes.
For more information or to see her products, visit www.seasonsofwool.etsy.com or call 269-2701.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 23 February 2012 18:53|