She scours Goodwill, frequents yard sales and even has her co-workers on the lookout for sweaters they’re no longer using. And she is probably one of the only people who loves the dreaded ugly Christmas sweater.
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The Greencastle, Pa., resident takes those discarded garments and turns them into cute, cuddly snowmen that become decorative pieces in people’s homes for the holidays and beyond.
Wachter is one of 260 vendors that will be selling handcrafted wares that the 29th annual Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show at Hagerstown Community College this weekend.
“This is original. It was just a dream,” Wachter, 52, said. “I started working with sweaters — no idea where that came from — and dressing them with more sweaters.”
Wachter, with assistance from her daughter, Kristine Hoffmaster, uses white sweaters to create the bodies, and dresses them using the arms of different sweaters. She attaches buttons and beads for eyes and wooden plugs for noses.
She creates more than 200 snowmen every year, in addition to working behind the deli counter at Costco in Frederick, Md. And she’s proud to say each snowman is unique.
Because no two are alike and orange is her favorite color, she calls the snowmen her “Orange Snowflakes.” She uses angora, wool, cotton and any other material she can find in sweaters. The snowmen prices range from $18 to $36.
She displays them in her house year-round, and her 2-year-old grandson likes to cuddle his as a stuffed animal. Her other three grandchildren also have snowmen — one will be getting one as a present this Christmas.
“They’re pretty neat,” Wachter said. “I do have Christmas color, too.”
Kris Kringle show organizer Linda Williams spends the entire year searching five states in the region to find the best vendors.
“We really have a lot of new interesting crafts this year,” Williams said.
She also makes an effort to limit the number of each type of crafter. For instance, she doesn’t let jewelry saturate the show. Instead, she looks for a balance of jewelry, primitive, soaps and lotions and other goods.
“There is something there for everybody,” Williams said.
Wachter is one of the new vendors this year — previously, she has sold her snowmen at the Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont, Md., and through word of mouth. She does not sell on the Internet, so catching her at a craft show is the best way to buy her snowmen.
Williams expects more than 10,000 people will show up at the Kris Kringle show this year. She gives away free jumbo shopping bags to the first 10,000 adult shoppers — and for the past four years, they’ve run out of bags. The show charges a $1 admission fee, and the proceeds this year will go to the Easter Seals Adult Day Services of Hagerstown, a nonprofit day care program to help veterans, seniors and adults with health problems such as disabilities, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Last year, Williams donated more than $9,000 in proceeds to the Children’s Village of Washington County.
“It really gives me a good feeling to know I’m really helping the community,” Williams said.
If you go ...
WHAT: Kris Kringle Holiday Craft Show
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18
WHERE: Hagerstown Community College, ARCC Arena, 11400 Robinwood Drive, east of Hagerstown
COST: $1 admission benefits the Easter Seals Adult Day Services of Hagerstown, a non-profit adult day care program. Parking, gift wrapping and a package holding area are free. There is also a free golf cart shuttle from the parking area. Nonperishable food donations are also accepted and will be given to the Parent-Child Center Inc. of Washington County
MORE: Elvis tribute artist Kevin Booth will perform at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day
CONTACT: Go to www.kriskringlecraftshow.com.