If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Anjali

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Anjali

Anjali. Well traveled hands. If these hands could talk they’d say that no matter where you’re born, where you travel or where you end up, it’s good to know the international language of knitting. Anjali was born and raised in India in a small town called Sidhpur. Anjali’s mother wanted her to learn to knit “properly” so she sent her to a proper teacher when she was just 12 years old. And that was just the beginning of the love affair and the common thread that she carried with her around the globe. Anjali went to school in India, received her BA and a nursing degree from Bombay. After marrying in India, she moved to Chicago in 1961 with her cardiologist husband and 8-month old son. After three years and two more children, they moved to London, knitting needles in tow, then buckled up for Toronto, New York and finally Los Angeles California, which led to her favorite destination thus far, San Francisco. Have yarn and needles, will travel! Anjali is most proud of her 3 sons who are grown and doing quite well; one an orthopedic doctor in Maryland, one a cancer researcher at UCSF and her youngest a producer for the LA Lakers. Not bad, Anjali and your traveling brood! It’s no secret that Anjali enjoys traveling and her passport includes stamps from many colorful parts of the world including Jerusalem, Egypt, India, Cashmere and Portugal. This love of travel has led to a love of history and whenever she’s not knitting, she loves to read books about US history and learn “as much as possible”.   And...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gordon

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gordon

Gordon. 91 years young. If these hands could talk, they’d say life begins at 91.  These are the hands of Gordon, who, at the ripe young age of 90 decided it was time to start knitting because, quite honestly, it was the first opportunity he’d had. Gordon has been busy. Born in Illinois, Gordon joined the Navy right after high school and two years of college as a seaplane pilot, flying amphibious air sea rescues and proclaiming himself “lucky” that just as his training was complete, WWII ended. So Gordon began chapter two, heading to the University of Illinois receiving a degree in Architectural Engineering. His career took him “all sorts of places” from Hawaii to Iran to Mexico to Milwaukee and finally, to California.  When asked if he’d ever built anything I may have seen, Gordon casually mentions the Field House at the University of Wisconsin of Madison. An amazing, exquisite structure where I’d seen countless concerts and sporting events as an undergraduate. “Yes Gordon, I know the Field House. It’s incredible.” He shares family photos of live-filled gatherings of his blended family, which includes eleven grown children and plenty of grand children and “greats”. I can’t help but notice countless colorful paintings intermixed with the family pictures. “Oh yes, I painted those. I think I won a prize for that one.” We’re certain you did. Last July 21st on his 90th birthday, Gordon’s granddaughter thought it might be fun to teach Gordon to knit. Only a grandpa like Gordon; Navy pilot, architect, father x11, grandfather, musician, artist, a man with a perpetual smile and a story to follow,...
Hector: Superstar Yarn Spinner

Hector: Superstar Yarn Spinner

Hector, our original plus one, volunteered to visit the office today and help wind our skeins in to balls! The Purlettes+1 have been anxious to knit more and more and we just can’t keep up with their demand! While we do have a spinning machine to help wind the skeins (we use one by Nancy’s Knit Knacks), the machine still occasionally needs an operator to keep an eye on the yarn to make sure the skeins don’t get snagged. Here at the office, we’re definitely guilty of creating a few rat’s nest once in a while. But Hector was a pro — he even had time to read his magazine while the wheel was spinning. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re typically found winding yarn the “old-school” way with your hands and a chair. Thank you, Hector, for taking the #17 bus from The Redwoods to help us out. I know the Purlettes will be excited to see so many expertly spun balls at Thursday’s knitting...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Audrey

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Audrey

Audrey. A life filled with love. If these hands could talk, they would lovingly explain how the glass is always half full because you are the one who fills it. These are the joy-filled hands of Audrey. One of 237 first cousins in Wisconsin, she grew up surrounded by people who truly valued their hands; farmers, who when not farming, would cozy up around a wood-burning stove with steaming cups of tea and laugh, talk, quilt, knit, crochet and massage each others’ feet. “It was a very sweet way to grow up.” From farming in Wisconsin, to the Peace Corps in Brazil, 19-year old Audrey found herself with a job farming fishing coops and knitting nets for fishermen north of Rio de Janeiro. “I couldn’t resist working with the local women — learning from them and teaching them to sew and embroider baby clothes.” Her infectious smile fills the space as she regales the adventures of her younger days. After five years in Brazil, she and her husband, Jim moved to Maine where they raised two “very creative, amazing” children. She then moved to California to work as a Master Teacher with the UC Berkeley Teacher Training Program in English and Social Studies, grades 6-8. As a Purlette+1 for over a year, Audrey calls knitting one of her long-term loves, and it’s in very good company. “I love my life. I love poetry, kayaking, meditation and hiking and am lucky enough to have been in two very loving relationships; my husband, Jim and my current life partner of 29 years, Betty. I wouldn’t trade a moment of any of...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet LaVonne

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet LaVonne

LaVonne. Hands that dance… If these hands could talk, they would hold their cards very close to their chest and smile. But they might dance a bit first, tease with stories of adventure and travel, and coyly infer that there is more to these stories than she’s willing to tell. With a name like a movie star, LaVonne exudes glamour, class and humor and can even make knitting look like an elegant dance. LaVonne began working right after high school because she couldn’t wait to make her own money and go traveling. The girls in her office all loved to knit and LaVonne joined right in learning by “pure osmosis.”   She knitted and danced her way from South Gate California to the Bay Area at the age of 25. Calling herself a blissfully happy transplant, LaVonne just had to kick up her heels. “I wanted to be Ginger Rodgers. Oh I loved to dance!” During the Great Depression, LaVonne took dance lessons at the very same dance company that trained Shirley Temple and says she can still do the two-step but not much else “because we could only afford three lessons.” There’s the humor. “In the 40’s and 50’s, we would go dancing and do the Jitterbug…” and the hands dance in the air as the sentences trail off again leaving the story much to our imagination. In 1953, Lavonne and 3 girlfriends took their hard-earned paychecks and their quest for adventure overseas via “the big ship” to Europe and meandered for nearly 10,000 miles from Scotland to Italy. Her love of adventure and travel still brings her to...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ellie

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ellie

Ellie. Hands with foresight…. If these hands could talk, they’d tell stories of romance, tales of irony and talk about the curse of the hand-me-downs. Ellie began knitting to avoid wearing her sister’s castoffs, which simply “weren’t my style”. As she walked the two miles to school in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1940’s, she passed a storefront where a women’s knitting group met. She decided if she wanted her own style, she’d have to create it herself. And so it began. Ellie’s knitting led her to a job with the Red Cross for an organization called Bundles for Britain. They sent knitted wares and candy bars that soldiers during World War II actually wore…and ate. When it came time for college, Ellie and her fashionable self headed to Pennsylvania where she met her future husband on a blind date. An MIT student who nearly lost his chance with Ellie after not writing to her for not 5 or 6 days, but 10 days after their first date. When he finally did write, a night at the Pops led to him giving Ellie his fraternity jacket, Ellie knitting him socks, and all was forgiven. The rest is knitted in history and the couple was married. After moving to Portland Oregon, then California, the couple had two children; “one of each” and Ellie discovered another interest as well. At age 27, she began working in a retirement community. “I knew we needed programs for elders and I thought that someday, these programs might be here for me.” Ironically, Ellie has resided in the Redwoods in Mill Valley for nearly four years....
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Esther

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Esther

Esther. A fine-tuned instrument. If these hands could talk they would likely sing, dance and garden instead. While knitting is definitely one of Esther’s passions, it really needs to take a number and get in line. When she does put down her needles, Esther puts on her walking shoes and takes to the streets and art walks of Mill Valley and its vibrant town square. As part of a jazz A cappella group, Esther and her “Moving Targets” fill this small town with music. We’re just happy she has enough of that energy left for handbags, because her lovely, talented hands knit like fine-tuned instruments themselves. Born in China, Esther came to the United States where her family opened a restaurant in New York. When she was just eight years old, two of her favorite German customers taught her to not only knit, but to knit the European way. “It’s faster when you knit from the left and puts less stress on your fingers.” The reduced stress approach seems to be working well for Esther who literally has more hobbies and interests than we had fingers to count them on. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Esther moved to Mill Valley to raise 4 girls, 7 grandchildren and 1 great…. her most important pastime yet! The best part about working with Sarah, says Esther is “talking to the other women…. plus Hector.” We love that she hums when she knits and when asked when she finds the time, she smiles peacefully and says, “first thing in the morning when the sun hits different redwood trees is my quiet time to...
We’re Martha Stewart American Made Finalists!

We’re Martha Stewart American Made Finalists!

Martha Loves Sarah! At Sarah Oliver Handbags, we know we have a good thing going, because you, our loyal followers, have continued to let us know and watch us grow.   But now Martha Stewart has confirmed it!! Yes, Martha loves us and we were just chosen as a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Contest!  If you’d like to vote (please do!) Here’s what you do:  Simply go to the Martha Stewart American Made website here and click on the blue VOTE button below Sarah Oliver’s photo. Choose the Register option (Facebook link does not appear to be working) and enter your email address and choose a password. A confirmation message will be sent to your email address within 15 minutes and you can start voting…and voting…and voting. You can vote up to six times a day until voting closes on October 13th.   Just select “Vote Again” on your confirmation page. When you vote, you’ll be entered to win a new prize each week worth over $300! We could all win! The final ten winners will be announced on October 17th, and have a chance to fly to New York, meet Martha herself and win $10,000 to grow their business. We are thrilled and honored to have made it so far, but honestly, we feel like winners already.   Ok, ok…we want to win. Let’s keep the passion...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Kay

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Kay

Kay.  Such lovely hands. If these hands could talk, they would say “make mine red.”  The only photograph in the series taken in glorious color because these hands, while hard-working and now 98 years old, are always meticulously manicured in classic, Big Apple Red.  No matter what.  Kay never misses an appointment and we thought that deserved some color. Born in Italy and raised in Weed, California, Kay moved into the Redwoods 13 years ago and fell back in love with knitting after a long hiatus.  “It was like riding a bike and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I started again.”  We’re glad she got back on that bike because her knitting, much like her manicure, is always lovely.  She comes to life when asked what she loves about being a Purlette +one. “I love every one of the knitters and all the different personalities.  It’s very relaxing” These are the colorful hands of a former fashion merchandiser for JCPenney and Montgomery Ward, a hospital worker for over 19 years at Marin General, and above all, a well-polished mother to two amazing daughters. Kay turned 98 on July 5th and when asked how it feels, she matter-of-factly states, “It’s not much different than 97….or 96.”  She makes us laugh, makes us wonder how she does it all and definitely makes us take a second look at our unpolished fingernails.  Kay’s favorite bag is the mini clutch and chuckles when we asked what color.  Make hers red. Kay Gainey enjoys visiting her native Italy and has visited numerous times. She loves romantic novels by Nora Roberts...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Jovi

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Jovi

Jovi… Smitten by knitting. If these hands could talk, they would speak softly and play by their own rules. If playing hard to get was ever a rule in romance, Jovi would beg to differ. She taught herself to knit at age 15 to win the heart of a special boy. Carefully knitting him her first pair of socks, she later married him and is still married to him today. Yes, he was smitten by knittin’ so she decided to keep at it, and keep playing by her own rules. Jovi and her husband moved from Santiago, Chile to UC Berkeley where she did Post Doctoral research in biochemistry. In an age where many women were expected to stay home and raise a family, Jovi rewrote the rules and raised two children while making a big difference as a biochemist, an accountant and a financial officer. “I wasn’t there after school to give my kids milk and cookies, but I raised two amazing kids…one a physician, the other an engineer.” Jovi’s hands can also bake cookies. Jovi loves to knit while watching international mysteries on television and when not knitting loves to hike and travel with her husband. So much for retirement. When asked what she loves most about knitting for Sarah, her answer is telling “Sarah really cares for her Purlettes and this knitting is just so much fun! You don’t have to think so much. I’ve done enough thinking.” We like the way you think Jovi. And we too are smitten by your knitting. Jovi Goldenberg is 75 years old and has been knitting for Sarah for...

Trunk Show: Falmouth, MA

We are so looking forward to our visit to Falmouth for a meet and greet, trunk show at Vagabond Treasures Boutique. Join us for shopping, schmoozing, learning fun! MEET our Founder and CEO, Sarah Oliver SHOP our latest collection VIEW The Hand Series, a collection of portraits of The Purlettes, our fabulous knitting team, by photographer Dean Bentley. When: August 8th 6:00 – 8:30 pm Where: Vagabond Treasures Boutique 95 Palmer Ave, Falmouth, MA (Queensbyway) “Vagabond Treasures represents unique collections from all over, and we pride ourselves in offering those pieces that have a one-of-a-kind twist and an intriguing back story. Sarah Oliver Handbags fits that description perfectly. With the fabulous production team of The Purlettes and craftsmanship that is rivaled by none, Sarah’s handbags are a beautiful complement to the Vagabond Treasures collections.” – Lee Geishecker, Vagabond Treasures For more information visit...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Daphne

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Daphne

Daphne. Step aside. If these hands could talk, they would offer help to anyone who needs it, but would most likely not let you return the favor. These are the hands of Daphne, and they are refusing to slow down, or hand themselves over to age. 15 years ago, Daphne moved into her Redwoods residence and we’re quite certain the staff never expected a senior like this. Upon arrival, Daphne noticed some aging window sills that needed attention and love. Instead of searching for the suggestion box, Daphne sanded and repainted every single sill in the residence! This was no small job, but Daphne’s hands didn’t stop until all 157 windows were lovingly restored. And yet she never missed a stitch or a purl. This “why wait for someone else to do it” attitude is what has kept Daphne busy for over 93 years. Yes, 93 years young and sharper than any of the proverbial tacks we know. Daphne joined Sarah to knit and help pay for her Audi with the proceeds. “Why let someone else drive, when you are perfectly able to do it yourself?” We had no answer. Daphne grew up in Massachusetts and graduated college wearing a chiffon dress made with her very own resourceful hands. She and her husband moved to Palo Alto, California where they raised two sons. When we asked her favorite thing to do when not knitting, we were surprised to see her reach for a binder that took two hands to lift. “I’m a baseball nut. I love watching baseball and keeping stats of every player and every single game.” She...

Best Handbags for July 4th Celebrations

Between parades, beach barbecues, and fireworks, add a little red, white, and blue to your Independence Day festivities: sarah oliver has the best handbags for July 4th celebrations, as the above display at a recent Lake Tahoe trunk show illustrates. Made in America, by The Purlettes. What could be better! We might just be the most patriotic purse makers around. What do you think? Tell us in the Comments below or on our FB...

On Being One of The Purlettes and A Purlette’s Daughter

VIDEO FEATURING JEANNE OVERCASHIER, one of The Purlettes, and her daughter Gail Dolton. This video is a true reflection of the value sarah oliver handbags places on multi-generational relationship and engagement. It was taken by one of our team members, and edited by her 12-year old son, an aspiring film maker. Thank you Gail, for inspiring your mom to join The Purlettes….and thank you both for being part of the sarah oliver handbags...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gertrud

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gertrud

If these hands could talk, they might laugh instead, at the irony of life. These are the hands of Gertrud (no E) who upon coming to America from Sweden at age 18, brought along some well-intended advice from her mother… “Never ever carry a handbag in America because Al Capone’s men will steal it.” Gertrud spent exactly two days following her dear mom’s advice before making her first trip to Macy’s for a handbag. Now over 70 years later, the irony is stitched into every perfect bag that Gertrud lovingly and laughingly touches.  And the stories just kept coming….. Gertrud claims she learned to knit when she was two days old and who are we to challenge the facts when her hands clearly have spoken knit one purl two longer than we can count? When asked what she likes best about the work, she sweetly smiles and tells us another story. “Last week, I was so upset and I couldn’t sleep. In the middle of the night, I got up and knitted and fell asleep in my chair so relaxed.” And yet every stitch was perfect. These hands have nursed sick patients, soothed sore bodies as a physical therapist, played tennis against Diane Sawyer, oh…and raised four children. After moving to California, Gertrud took her brood back to Sweden for a visit. Having always wanted to meet a King, her daughter sent a note to the King of Sweden inviting him to tea….he instead invited the whole family. Gertrud outfitted them in matching hand-knit jackets and they were off to see the leader. She has the picture to prove...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Kirsti

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Kirsti

Kirsti. 98 and counting….knit one purl two. If these hands could talk, they would speak countless languages of a life well lead and a life knitted in richness. Born in Berkeley, California, yet raised and seasoned in Finland, Kirsti is nearly 99 years old and can literally knit in her sleep. We woke her from a nap and it took no time at all for her to sit up and tell us (and show us) what knitting means to her. “I remember always knitting….dresses, coats, and sweaters on the bus on the way to work in San Francisco.” As she pulled creation after creation from her bureau, we wondered where quality like that has gone. With knitting as the common thread through her many years and many homes, Kirsti is the mother to four sons and countless grandchildren and greats. Her knitting needles speak fluently, but Kirsti also speaks German, English, Swedish and Finish so we weren’t at all surprised when she stated her secret to life “Keep on moving….and eat strawberry shortcake.” Oh and “put your feet up for 15 minutes a day.” Great advice, but we think her hands were begging to follow suit. Kirsti Aspelin is 98 years old and has been knitting with The Purlettes + 1  “for a long time.” She currently resides at The Redwoods and enjoys NOT turning on her TV, knitting and going out for lunch when her children come to visit. She is looking forward to her 99th birthday and says no one better show up without strawberry shortcake. Noted.        ...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Hector

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Hector

If these hands could talk, they probably wouldn’t talk at all but just keep right on working. These are the hands of Hector, the sole male knitter and the “+1” that makes sarah oliver handbags and The Purlettes tick. These are the hands of a publisher, artist, cancer survivor, friend, cat-lover, and Navy veteran who escaped the toils of the ship deck and landed in the coveted office space below deck….because of his hands. “Because I could type, my hands saved me…” Indeed. If these hands could talk, they might just say “Thank you Hector for putting us to such good use, for making a difference, and for holding your own amongst the ladies.” These hands might say that’s the toughest job of all. Hector Richards likes to watch movies, (Blue Jasmine is his new favorite), spend time with his Cat, Ashley and is the treasurer of the Redwoods Residence Council in Mill Valley. Hector has been knitting for Sarah since 2010....