For six months I held onto my favorite cashmere sweater. It was eaten by silverfish and had three huge holes right down the middle. I held onto it in hopes of getting it repurposed by the woman featured today, Cathy Ridge.
Cathy uses damaged cashmere and “recycles” it, creating new and beautiful things with your old cashmere. Her mantra is “Recycled. Reimagined. Repurposed. 100% Cashmere.”
I visited Cathy in her studio in the Mellwood Arts Center. I gave her my sweater — after I had a brief moment of silence to let it go — and this warm and inviting soul immediately started cutting the sleeves off of it, very casually and right in front of me! I almost threw up. My sweater was getting slayed. Somehow, I continued to breathe, and actually talk, while I watched her “repurpose” my sweater.
In the hour I was there, she made me an ear toaster and a beautiful brooch, just out of the sleeves and the turtleneck of my sweater. While she was sewing and cutting, she was simultaneously showing me merchandise and talking. It is multi-tasking in the highest echelon. I can barely walk and chew gum at the same time and she made me two one-of-a-kind cashmere treats in the blink of an eye.
Her studio is chock-full of cashmere in all sorts of predicaments. EVERY part of a sweater is used in this studio. For example, these are bins of nothing but cuffs from sweaters. She calls these “ribs.”
She takes the body of your sweater and flips it upside down. Now you have a skirt. She takes these ribs from the bins above and sews them individually in rows onto the base cashmere skirt. She sews 14 rows of these ribs, with 56 ribs on each row. Doing the math, that is 784 ribs — all sewn by hand. She then sews a band of cashmere with elastic around the top with a velvet ribbon to complete it.
Now you have a Fringe Skirt. That, my friends, is Wearable Art.
Another option with using these ribs is to make a fringe pillow for your home.
Here are the scraps from numerous other sweaters.
She turns these scraps into just about anything. Here is a baby blanket.
These blooms are made into headbands, wristlets, necklaces, waist sashes and brooches.
This is what Cathy has been working on while we are talking: First she cut off the sleeves of my sweater and cut out circles to make a bloom. This bloom became a brooch. Then she cut off the turtleneck and made me an “ear toaster.”
This brooch really made my tired old brown coat look great.
Cathy has two collections: Cozy and Happy. Cozy has darker, more winter based colors and Happy is great for springtime cashmere.
You can drop by Cathy’s studio during the week in Mellwood Art Studio to either donate your damaged cashmere or shop. Her cashmere goodies are sold at Revelry Boutique, S Bayly Boutique, Red Chocolate Maggie’s, Les Filles Boutique and Hudson Home. She will have a booth at Cherokee Art Fair, Art on the Green, Art in the Arbor and Francisco Farms Art Show in Midway later this spring.
Check out Cathy’s collection online by clicking here.