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About a third of my collars are crafted from reclaimed seat belts and fabric. A few weeks ago, we cut 11 pounds of seat belt webbing out of totally dilapidated autos. Here is a shot of me with some of the booty.

It is sometimes in pretty nasty shape when it comes out of the cars, but once through the washing machine and it's good as new.

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The other quarter of the collars are crafted from old belts that I find at second-hand stores and garage sales, and deconstruct. Sometimes I can even re-use the hardware! It's fun seeing the variety of belts out there.

 
 
I spent the weekend engaged in some awesomely eco-friendly crafts.

In seventh grade my friends, our hair and some grape, cherry and lime Kool-Aid had quite a party. So I knew the power of the powder. But this weekend I tested it out on some woolier subjects.

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I wanted my hand felted balls to be colorful, but safe. I did some research and found out that Kool-Aid is a super dye and safe for human (and dog) consumption.

Next, I had to figure out how to dye carded wool - giant sheets of raw wool that I purchased from The Felt Store.

This web post gave me the step by steps and off I went. Below are some photos of the journey.

First you soak the raw wool. then after dissolving a couple packets of Kool-Aid mix in boiling water, you remove the pot from the heat and add the wool, waiting until it absorbs the dye and the water turns clear. Pull it out of the pot and voila - lovely dyed wool!

Stay tuned for a post on how I make the balls.

 
 
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I am so excited to launch Collard Green Dogs! This Mother Nature loving endeavor sprouted from our other business, Collard Dogs, which I started in January 2010.

Don't get me wrong - I love Collard Dogs and the fabulous pieces I produce. But, I feel a twinge of guilt when I purchase nylon webbing, and when sourcing fabric, I long for more unique prints.

One day, shortly after a trip to a favorite Detroit Salvation Army thrift store, I was reading a post on a favorite crafty blog,http://craftingagreenworld.com/, about upcyling. Inspiration struck. I could create totally unique, eco-friendly collars, using hemp webbing and upcyled fabric. My idea-engine started smoking as I thought about the great tablecloths I'd just passed by at the thrift store. And what about all the vintage fabric stores I love to surf when work is slow?

The next morning I ordered my first lot of hemp webbing from Hemp Traders and at lunch, picked up one of those nifty tablecloths. A cozy Saturday morning a week later, webbing in place and fabric ready to sew, I attempted my first Collard Green Dogs collar.

One word.     Disaster.

My little, perfectly acceptable for normal stuff machine, a Janome Sewist 500, coughed a little, sputtered and died. It just wasn't cut out to craft heavy-duty, hemp-webbed collars. I panicked. I had some orders to sew for my Collard Dogs line and really needed my machine. But then I remembered this quirky, "garden-level" Main Street Milford shop, under Suzanne's Dance Academy and next to the Milford House ice cream window... Mill Valley Vac and Sew (from now on referred to as MVVS). I gave them a buzz and ran downtown.

One word.   Savior.   Next word.   Max.

Max, MVVS's owner, took in my Janome, listened to my plight, and graciously offered a loaner machine. A National Stretch Series. Although it looked as though it was built before my birth, Max assured me it would do the job. I'd just have to jimmy up a way to operate the knee-height, cabinet-mount pedal. He lugged the machine to my car, wished me well and off I went... Once home, I hauled the relic inside, muscled it onto my Ikea-turned-sewing desk, put the pedal on an Amazon.com box and with my knee next to my chin, willed my first stitch. Though ancient, the thing cut through the hemp like a knife through room temperature butter. I sewed my first Collard Green Dogs collar. Like a true professional, I moved on to my Collard Dogs orders, but I knew I had to have this machine.

Four days later, Max called to say my Janome was ready. When I arrived to pick up what I now thought of as the wimpy wonder, I shyly asked about purchasing the National. Max thought.... "Mmmmm. Sure." I asked my next, possibly deal-breaking/heart-smashing question... "How much."

Now, I must say, I love Max. His answer, "$40."

(A year ago, I had never sewed a stich. Now, much to Will's bemusement, I owned two sewing machines and was starting two businesses that required stitching skills. Thank goodness for my mom, sewing teacher of the year!)

Armed with a great idea, hemp webbing, snappy fabric, a reliable relic of a sewing machine, I was ready to start Collard Green Dogs.

That was in August. It's nearly November. What took me so long? What got in the way? Life.

I started selling Collard Dogs collars in a great new Berkley, MI shop, Yellow Door, so was busy building inventory. I finished my last Olympic triathlon of the summer (and probably my life) in the Windy City.  I went to a great New Orleans wedding and an equally joyous one in Chicago. I traveled to Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel with Will and my mom and dad. I worked. 

But, now I'm here and I'm ready to get these great collars out to the masses! If you have questions, send me an email or leave me a comment. And, stay tuned for some great products!