While many entrepreneurs brag that they started their business on a shoestring, Miranda Yearwood started her business, The Midnight Hatter, with sweater sleeves and a hand needle. Yearwood's felted fingerless gloves and flower-bedecked hats please the eye as much as they warm the hands and heart.
Yearwood, who moved to South Dakota in 2011, needed a way to keep her hands warm while she wrote freelance articles for various publishers. Ordinary gloves were out of the question, but an Internet search lead her to try making a pair of fingerless gloves. Since she did not have a sewing machine, Yearwood decided to hand-stitch a pair. The gloves worked so well that she soon found herself selling them on Etsy.
Yearwood recycles second-hand sweaters and clothing to make her hats, gloves and other items. According to Yearwood, "Lots of crafters use felted wool, which is the process of washing and drying 100 percent wool sweaters. You don't have to hem felted wool because the fibers lock up like dreadlocks in hair. I didn't own any wool sweaters, because they itch my skin so much, so I visited the Goodwill thrift store, where I hit the mother lode in wonderful woolly sweaters."
Yearwood uses the sleeves of each sweater to make gloves. The bottom half of the bodice on both sides of the sweater becomes fabric for hats. Yearwood saves the leftovers to make flowers and odd projects, such as scarflettes and Kindle sleeves.
While her fingerless gloves and flower-bedecked hats are top sellers, Yearwood decided to make some little boys' clothing for spring. Her current project is a woolen pullover vest with a felt robot applique on the front.
Yearwood uses cashmere blends that are ultra soft and not at all itchy, so most of her items are not lined. She found big bags of scrapped fabrics at Goodwill, though, which she may use as a liner for the thicker gloves. Yearwood has tried using silk ties to line some of the wool hats she has made, but she discovered that the material doesn't work well with stretchy hat bands.
When selecting sweaters to make her hats, gloves and other items, Yearwood sorts through all the available wool sweaters, looking for colors or prints that appeal to her own taste in clothing. Says Yearwood, "Everything I make is something I would wear myself, so that helps me keep them in a familiar style. I have also branched out into leather pieces. My aesthetic is more natural, earthy tones. I do like bright colors, as well, though; my favorites are yellow, orange and red.
Yearwood's floral brooches are the ideal gift for Valentine's Day, Easter or Mother's Day. Yearwood makes her brooches from fabric and wool scraps. Says Yearwood, "You can add the flower pins to your shirt, a hat, shoes, or a bag. I can also make custom felt bouquets. For Valentine's Day I suggest a pair of my cashmere gloves, particularly the ones with buttons. These are super soft. They will keep your lady's hands warm while still looking chic and cool. For Valentine's Day I will offer one day shipping. Order a week before your desired shipping date for Easter and Mother's Day."