At the Belfast Repair Café, Broken Belongings Find New Life

Volunteers patch sweaters, rewire lamps, tune bikes — and teach their skills to others.

At Belfast's Repair Cafes, Broken Belongings Find New Life
By Virginia M. Wright
Photograph Courtesy of Belfast Repair Café

Sasha Kutsy knows how to mend a moth-eaten sweater. She did it recently for a neighbor by placing a bit of wool roving on top of a hole and piercing it with a needle repeatedly, until the wool felted to the sweater. The woman was so impressed that she returned with an armful of holey sweaters, which she proceeded to patch herself in the convivial atmosphere of the Belfast Repair Café.

That’s the result Kutsy and Jasmine Fowler hoped for when they founded the café, where people can bring whatever they want to have repaired, at no cost, by volunteers who just enjoy fixing things. The monthly gathering is part of the Repair Café Foundation, which counts more than 2,000 cafés in 36 countries, including three in Maine (the others are in Appleton and Kittery).

“The idea is to show that everyday items can be repaired and kept out of the landfill longer,” Kutsy said. It’s also about building community by sharing skills: Belfast’s volunteers repair and teach, so next time the café gathers, the fixee may be the fixer of torn clothing, flat bicycle tires, or flickering lamps.

Belfast Repair Café meets the first Saturday of the month at Belfast Fiberarts, 171 High St., Belfast.