Good Life

'Second Season' mittens

Mittens by Susan Wise, of UpCycled Mittens. The mittens are made from recycled sweaters and have a soft fleece lining. October 15, 2010. CDT/Christopher Weddle
Mittens by Susan Wise, of UpCycled Mittens. The mittens are made from recycled sweaters and have a soft fleece lining. October 15, 2010. CDT/Christopher Weddle

What once warmed torsos now keeps hands toasty.Salvaged bits of wool and wool-blend sweaters form the “Second Season” mittens sold by a Pine Grove Mills mother-and-son team.Susan and Jeff Wise, along with their local partners Susan and Ron Rossman, use six patterned, knit swatches for every fleece-lined mitten. Women’s pairs include something extra — recycled buttons, many vintage, affixed to the cuffs.“Each pair is unique,” Susan Wise said. “We try not to duplicate anything.”She and the Rossmans choose the color combinations, while her son handles business matters. Seamstresses across the region stitch together pairs, which retail for about $30, before Susan Wise applies final touches.The mittens’ name reflects a renewed friendship between the two Susans as much as the re-used material.Thirty years ago, Wise taught Rossman at the South Hills School of Business and Technology. Their reunion this year spurred a collaboration. For a while, the Wises said, they had been selling similar mittens for a crafter who eventually quit and gave them the rest of her stock.Rossman and Wise, pals again, were inspired to design mittens as a creative outlet for their own “second seasons.” Today, the pairs are available at craft shows, through the website www.upcycledmittens.com, and at Tait Farm Harvest Shop, Wiscoy Pet Food and, in Lewisburg, Country Cupboard.Colors range from hot pinks and electric blues to more subdued tones for men. The Wises also make custom pairs. They call them “memory mitts” — pairs from tattered but beloved sweaters, such as the one that belonged to a customer’s deceased husband.It became mittens for her four granddaughters.“I like the connection with the emotional side,” Susan Wise said of her work. “It’s not just an inanimate object to me. It has a life to it.”

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