Mother, Son Create A New Life For That Old Sweater Gayane Avanian and her son Haik have started a small company called Reknit that takes old, out-of-fashion sweaters and turns them into scarves, hats and gloves for $30. The Avanians tell NPR's Melissa Block they had to limit their orders to the first 30 they received for February.
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Mother, Son Create A New Life For That Old Sweater

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Mother, Son Create A New Life For That Old Sweater

Mother, Son Create A New Life For That Old Sweater

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T: Gayane Avanian is a computer programmer by day, a reknitter by night. She joins us from Boston, along with her son, Haik Avanian, a graphic designer who joins us from Toledo. Welcome to you both.

: Hi.

: Hello.

: And we mentioned this is a small-scale operation - really, just the two of you. And there's a note on your Web site, Haik: Because I only have one mom, we've decided to limit orders to the first 30 for February.

: Right. I mean, after the unexpected response in January, we really didn't know what to expect, and so we just put up that note and decided that 30 was a manageable number per month.

: For just one mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: Yeah.

: I'm glad he did.

: You're glad he did.

: Yes.

: Yeah, I mean, this way, we don't really have to worry about, you know, what if all these people order and then, you know?

: Right. And let's explain here that you offer one reknitted item per month. Last month, it was scarves. This month, Gayane, you're knitting fingerless gloves, and people can go to the Web site and vote on what the item for March will be, right?

: Yes, and then on the last day of February, Haik will redesign the page. He will change the colors, and then he will change the item.

: And so far, at least for March, it looks like hat is in the lead.

: Yeah. I think...

: Yeah, I need to get ready.

: You need to get ready?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: And how long does it take you to unravel one and to turn it into something else?

: Altogether, I think I will say like, about seven, eight hours.

: Your family is originally from Armenia, and it sounds like knitting really runs in the family. Is that right, Gayane?

: Yes. In Armenia like, almost all women there know how to knit at least the simple things. And I learned to knit from my mom, and she learned it from her grandma. My mom is real good knitter.

: And I think that's what's interesting is, you know, taking something that's fairly normal to us, and it's a really resourceful thing, and then just kind of sharing that part of our culture with as many people as we can here, which is kind of my favorite thing about the whole situation.

: Gayane, do you get any notes in the packages when people send in their sweaters?

: Yes, sometimes, and I really like the notes because they're always nice: Thank you for doing this. Can't wait to get my scarf back or gloves back. Sometimes they - like, I got a note from a woman who said, this jacket was knitted by my grandma. Please, if you can incorporate the buttons from it to the scarf and if no, could you please send the buttons back? So I tried to incorporate the buttons and send it to the woman.

: Well, Haik, what do you think? Do you want keep this project, really, with just you and your mom, or do you think you should expand it and make it bigger?

: I mean, I've gotten so many different emails about, you know - I've gotten emails from people offering me to hook me up with their friend who has a friend in South Korea, who has a factory, and people asking if they could be one of the moms because they don't really believe that it's just one mom.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

: I've seen other skeptical, kind of, discussions online talking about how this was probably just some giant factory full of people working. I think for us, the whole reason the thing worked is because it was so small and simple. And I think if we overcomplicate it, it'll stop being fun and it might stress us out. It'll stress my mom out.

: You don't want that, Gayane?

: No. I kind of like it because I consider this as, like, Haik's gift to me. And I just want to have a small and have, like, a reasonable amount of orders.

: Well, Haik and Gayane Avanian, thanks for talking with us.

: Thank you so much for having us.

: Thank you.

: That's Haik Avanian and his mother, Gayane, talking about their Internet project Reknit. And you can see some of the reknit items at our Web site, npr.org. Haik was in Toledo, and Gayane in Boston.

: Bye, Haik.

: Bye, take care.

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