Recycled Crochet Couture

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Crocheted rugs are such a familiar item, snugly and warm with a touch of nanna-style. Take those same rugs and recycle them into men’s fashion garments and they turn into an absurd, colourful and double-take-worthy one-off piece of clothing which doubles as a conversation piece. That’s exactly what Schuyler Ellers has done, selling his creations in his Lord von Schmidt Etsy shop. We just had to interview him and get the background story.

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Into Craft: Where do you live and is this your full time job?
Schuyler: I lived internationally in Spain, India and Brazil working as an English teacher. Recently I decided to pursue my work in fashion full time, and relocated to my home town of Nevada City, California. I run my studio out of an old barn and do all my own photography as well as model along with my staff model, Dylan L Simpson. I also have a seamstress, Deedee Brownell, on my team.

Into Craft: How and why did you start creating these amazing garments?
Schuyler: Amazing? Oh thank you. I learned to knit while living with a group of Irish girls in Barcelona, Spain. For years I knitted my own garments, especially hats. One day in the thrift store I flashed on the idea that afghan blankets are pre-made textiles, and that they could be fashioned into garments! From there I began to reconstruct my wardrobe, and my dreams, in recycled crochet.

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Into Craft: Do you have a background in fashion design?
Schuyler: I studied art in New York from 1996-2000. Maybe someday I’ll study fashion design, but at the moment I’m too busy making all these clothes!!

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Into Craft: Where do you get your materials to work with?
Schuyler: I find them in thrift stores and on eBay. I also buy them from anyone who has them around and doesn’t have space for them. If anyone has a collection that they would like to donate, please contact me!!

Into Craft: Do you just use crochet or have you upcycled other garments?
Schuyler: I’ve upcycled everything from airline blankets to graveyard flowers. I love to transform t-shirts, cutting and knitting them into butterflies and abstract designs. There’s a red velvet Elvis suit I wear to weddings that I sewed by hand out of second-hand upholstery material.

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Into Craft: What reactions do people have to your work?
Schuyler: I just love the full range of reactions people have to these garments. It’s amazing how many people will stop me in public to tell me how much they love the crochet pants or onesie I’m wearing. Then I’ve had people say, “Those are the most hideous pants I’ve seen in my life.” Kelly Ripa made fun of them on her morning talk show, but Gary Hayes of Fox’s Dish Nation wore them on the air!! If people say my designs are ridiculous, I ask them to take a look at their own clothing, where it was made and under what conditions. Smugly I can say, “Mine was crocheted with love by Grandmothers, and transformed into clothing in the USA.”

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Into Craft: Do you sell many pieces?
Schuyler: These garments are comfortable, a lot of fun to wear, and get a lot of attention. Yes, they are a great sell, because people want to wear a recycled garment that’s outrageous and creative, but that also has value. The original crochet textiles cannot be produced on machines or in factories, as machines have not yet duplicated the art of hand crochet. I can offer hand-made knit and crochet designs at very competitive prices because I am using second hand materials.

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Into Craft: Do you have a future direction/ other plans of things you’d like to explore?
Schuyler: I’m heading off to Bolivia in June to create a hand crochet line with sustainable principles. I also feel that I will continue to get wilder and crazier in the art of recycled crochet, as I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do.

Into Craft: And a few personal questions: What inspires you? Your favourite book? What music do you listen to? Dog or cat?
Schuyler: I love taking excursions to the wild landscapes around me and staying up all night making collages. I love to dance and love dance music, funk, soul, disco. And I have a very fluffy Pussycat. Visit Schuyler’s shop to see more of his creations at www.lordvonschmitt.com

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