Monday, December 29, 2014

UPDATED: Sweaters to colorful cuddlers

Esther Cristol finds her art materials at the local thrift store. She hunts thru aisle after aisle of multivaried colors and patterns to rescue individual sweaters based on patterns, materials, and style. She gathers these together in her home workshop where she will later cut them into 6 inch squares and sew them together to create her patchwork quilts and patchwork neck scarves.

UPDATED: Sweaters to colorful cuddlers

Esther wearing a thrift-store sweater and one of her neck scarves holding a sweater quilt.
Esther wearing a thrift-store sweater and one of her neck scarves holding a sweater quilt.

SEE END OF ENTRY FOR UPDATE ABOUT SUNDAY, FEB. 22nd

Each month Earth to Philly features a Dumpster Diver Dispatch, a series of stories and perspectives from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. Here is Dumpster Diver Dispatch #5.

Esther Cristol finds her art materials at the local thrift store. She hunts thru aisle after aisle of multivaried colors and patterns to rescue individual sweaters based on patterns, materials, and style.  She gathers these together in her home workshop where she will later cut them into 6 inch squares and sew them together to create her patchwork quilts and patchwork neck scarves.

Crew Neck, V-neck, pullover or cardigan, hand knitted or machine made, wool or wool blends, these used sweaters bring their old stories of cold winters in cold lands,  as they find new form and function in Esther’s warm and cuddly quilts. Ancient Celtic legends are passed down in the textured stitches of Irish fisherman’s sweaters, the hardworking bee honored in its honeycomb stitch or the rope-resembling cable stitch offering good luck and safety for those old fishing folks. The Irish moss stitch, depicting seaweed used to fertilize the fields, fills diamond patterns symbolizing a wish for wealth and success, and the basket stitch is a hope for a plentiful catch.  Nordic sweaters or ski sweaters tell other stories of a mountainous land and culture. Originally knitted in the natural sheep colors of blacks and whites, the modern version is quite colorful and intricate with their V-shaped patterns adding warmth.

These cast-off sweaters find themselves in new company as Esther adds them to the pattern, perhaps mixing them with the conservative plain colors of cashmere or with the bright flowers or stripes in mohair, or the diamond argyle (hiding codes to ancient Scottish clans and connected to golfing culture of the early 1900s), or with hand-knitted alpaca llamas from South America.   Sweater pockets are used sparingly, a few saved for that special place in that special quilt and always placed on neck-scarf ends. The sweater ribbing becomes the border; nothing is wasted here.

Esther is retired from her vocation as a teacher of young children.  Her warm, fuzzy security-blanket quilts and neck scarves are a continuation of her life experience, where she learned if you could not do anything else to fix a problem, you could always give a hug. Esther continues to hug people, young and old alike, keeping them warm and cozy and snuggled on these cold winter days and nights.

Esther sweater quilts can be seen at Germantown Friends School Juried Craft Show, Germantown Ave. and W. Coulter St. Phila Pa, March 6th through 8th.

-- Sally Willowbee

Sally Willowbee is a self-taught writer, artist, and furniture maker, and a lifelong trash-picker working to interweave her lifestyle, politics, feminism, creativity and humor with her concern about our environment.  More info at www.quirkyworks.info

UPDATE 2/21:

Meet the Dumpster Divers - some of them, anyway - at their new South Street space (734 South) on Sunday, Feb. 22 between 3 and 6 p.m. Here's a nice write-up in the Inquirer.

Earth to Philly
About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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