Fernie family warms hearts and hands with upcycled mittens

Three generations of a Fernie family among 64 vendors at the 2018 Twilight Craft Fair

Trawling through thrift shops has become a regular pastime for a Fernie family who upcycles old wool sweaters and blankets into funky mittens.

For the past five years, Jeanne Parker, Jodie Parker and Avery Sikkes, 13, have been warming hearts and hands with their beautifully crafted creations.

Bella Vita Handmade was among 64 vendors at this year’s Twilight Craft Fair, held at the Fernie Community Centre from November 23-24.

As well as sewing mittens, Avery makes string art and is branching into pillows and heated rice bags.

“My mom has always sewn and passed down her love of sewing to me, and it’s just something that we started doing as mother and daughter,” said mom Jodie.

“Avery is really crafty and creative, and just wanted to make some things to sell at the markets… it’s just something we can do as a family.”

Recycling and reusing is important to the trio, who sources materials from thrift stores. Jodie has been known to sneak bags stuffed with sweaters into the house to hide them from her husband.

“It feeds our addiction of going to thrift stores and there’s the best treasures at thrift stores, so much to my husband’s dismay we have to stop at every one we see,” she laughed.

Bella Vita, which is Italian for “good life”, regularly exhibits at craft fairs at the Community Centre, as well as in Blairmore and at summer markets. Their mittens are also available at the Fernie Arts Co-op.

The creative gene was also passed to Jodie’s brother who makes cups from old wine and beer bottles.

The family has a rule that all Christmas gifts must be recycled or handmade and the Twilight Craft Fair was the perfect place for them to stock up.

“We just love Fernie handmade – all the different artisans, it’s awesome and they’re all very supportive of one another,” said Jodie.

“You get to know the people out there and it’s just a neat group of people just doing something they love.”

Organizer Tanya Malcolm was pleased with the turnout to this year’s Twilight Craft Fair, which was once again at capacity for vendors.

“I think we have a very supportive ‘buy local’ community,” she said.

“It’s not a hard sell when promoting the craft fair, people look forward to it.”

After nine years organizing craft fairs in Fernie, Malcolm will be handing the reins to local mom Emily Park next year.

“She’s going to take it to the next level, I’m excited to pass it on,” said Malcolm.

Fernie will next host the ‘Tis the Season Craft Fair on December 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Centre.

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Christmas decorations and excited shoppers gave the Fernie Community Centre a festive feel when the Twilight Craft Fair took place from November 23-24. Kimberley Vlasic/The Free Press

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