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Fiber artist seeks old socks to make potholders in time for PNA Winter Festival

By Next Door Media Intern Mwiza Kalisa
Inside the drawers of Seattle, some socks are destined for the garbage, but one person is using old socks for a good cause.
Lauri Serafin, who makes potholders out of recycled socks, is raising money for the Phinney Neighborhood Association. Serafin would like people to donate old socks that she can use to make potholders to sell at this year’s Winter Festival.
“I know there are people out there that don’t have the means to donate money, but maybe they can give us their old socks,” Serafin said. “We can turn them into something.”
Serafin is among 115 vendors who are taking part in the Winter Festival, held on Dec. 3-4. The festival is one of the largest community events where vendors sell homemade crafts. Serafin and her daughter, Amelia, have been vendors at the PNA Winter Festival twice.
“Typically we’ll sell 400 potholders at Winterfest; we’re hoping to do that again,” she said.
The proceeds from the potholder sales will go toward the PNA Capital Campaign elevator project. The campaign has already raised $5.2 million for the Phinney Neighborhood Center. They’re now looking to add an elevator in the Blue Building,” one of two Phinney Neighborhood Center buildings.
“Our goal is to raise $30, 000,” said Ann Bowden, the PNA’s development director. The elevator project has already received a $60,000 challenge grant.
Serafin says that one of the biggest challenges is finding enough socks to make the potholders. Each potholder needs a minimum of four socks. In some cases as many as seven socks are used to make one potholder, if the socks are small. The only requirement for the donations is that they aren’t nylon or soccer socks.
“It’s a great way to get rid of socks that are worn out or that have holes in them,” she said.

Stacks of recycled sock potholders ready for sale at the PNA Winter Festival, and the small loom they’re made on.
Serafin has been making potholders out of recycled socks for the past 30 years. The idea started in college, where she had socks that were too small but had refused to throw them away.
“I found my little plastic loom I had when I was small and I cut [the socks] up,” she said. “I had those potholders for years and they lasted forever.”
In the past Serafin has made monetary donations, but she now wants to donate her time and effort.
“This is important because we can make something productive and useful out of something that was going to be thrown away,” she said.
The majority of socks for the potholders come from Goodwill. Serafin has mastered the craft of creating potholders; it usually takes her 20 to 30 minutes. As the Winter Festival approaches, Serafin is hoping to have 500 potholders. She already has 350 potholders, but to achieve her goal she needs about 600 more socks.
“It’s really satisfying to take somebody’s old sock and make something pretty out of it,” she said. “As a fiber artist, I knit and spin, too, but I also want to do something for the PNA.”
If you are interested in donating socks to help Lauri and the PNA Capital Campaign, you can drop off your old socks at the Phinney Neighborhood Center, at 6532 Phinney Ave. N.