I first found Homestead Heirlooms this spring at a yarn festival, and I knew right away I wanted to work in one of their handles into a purse design.
For my latest design, Multiplicity from the Holla Knits Accessories Collection, uses a Homestead Heirlooms 45″ purse handle, and I’m so in love! It really sets the knit purse apart from other purses I’ve made and makes it look super professional.
Get a peak into this amazing business!
1. For those who haven’t heard of Homestead Heirlooms, please tell us a little bit about your business.
Homestead Heirlooms, was founded in 1992 with God’s blessing to provide quality instruction and products that exemplify hand works of days gone by. Initially, work revolved around basketry, lace-making, custom sewing, and the crafting of Ukrainian Eggs. As of January 1, 2002 Homestead Heirlooms became Homestead Heirlooms, LLC. Two best friends, Karen & Lori, with a combined weaving experience of 35 plus years, decided to formally go into business together. Over the last 7-8 years folks making knitted bags, or felted bags, or quilted bags requested variations to our handles which has driven us to change our focus to the manufacture of leather handles, bag finishing hardware and leather accents.
Homestead Heirlooms Booth
2. How did you get started?
It’s a God thing. We were working at a christian camp in northern Wisconsin, helping them to figure out how to use all the varied crafts in the craft building. While demonstrating the making of leather wristbands, it occured to us that leather handles on baskets would be a fun thing. So, when we returned back to home we called our favorite basket supplier Carole Kaeding of Gratiot Lake Basketry (http://www.gratiotlakebasketry.com) and asked her if we made some leather handles for baskets would she order some… “Sure, send a 100 pair.” and we were off and running. In about 2004, the knitters and felters started finding us and asking if we could make handles for them… .sure… now more than half of our customers are knitters or felters or folks working with wool.
3. Is this a full time job for you?
Lori & I work on making handles full time. More hours on weekends when we are off to Sheep and Wool Festivals and other shows from New York to California, and less on days when there are Rummage Sales….
4. What is your workspace like?
Lori & I work from my home, mostly in the porch or at the kitchen table. The handle supplies are stored here, the basketry supplies are stored at Lori’s. My home and porch are heated with a wood burning stove in the winter and cooled with fans in the summer. My cat, Hector, helps with shipping and packing.
5. What is your favorite craft to utilize your handles? Knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting?
Our handles work great on any sort of bag you might be making. We have so many options for attaching handles that we can usually work out something for whatever folks are making.
6. Has anyone used one of your handles in a way that surprised you? An amazing finished purse that someone created that really stands out for you?
Fire Poi handles were the most unusual. One of our favorite bags is a wet felted and embellished water bottle carrying bag which was made by a happy customer in exchange for more handles.
7. If you weren’t running Homestead Heirlooms, what would you be doing?
I would probably be working at a sewing store or antique store somewhere and spending more time sewing and weaving. Lori would most likely be running a Bed and Breakfast with a coffee house on the side or cooking at a christian camp in Northern Wisconsin…. She’s much more of a morning person than I am….