Handmade in the Heartland:Old Wool New

Posted at 3:18 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 10:09:34-05

Sewing something old into something new for anyone ready to be warm from the cold.

Kimberly Vennerstrom started a little Etsy shop after feeling nostalgic for a tradition that reminded her of Minnesota, where she grew up. There, it's common to take old, shrunken wool clothing items and repurpose them into mittens.

"I took some out to the gal who cuts my hair, and I walked in with a box. One lady bought six pair and one lady bought five. And 'I thought, ok! I can do this!" she recalled.

From there, she got to work, spend October through December, cutting pieces and churning out upwards of five hundred mittens a season. Vennerstrom sells them online in her Etsy store. The mittens are just the first part of this passion project. Vennerstrom has taken her talents for small business to help grow the businesses of makers around the world including Honduras, Haiti, China, Thailand, and India.

She's helping with Harvest Fair Trade, a local group that helps producers in developing countries achieve better earnings and working conditions.

"That really turns my Etsy crank, because Etsy pays for me to go visit them and work with them," she said.