A holiday yarn: Creating the Christmas sweater

Darlissa McDonald
St. Paul resident Darlissa McDonald makes ugly Christmas sweaters on Dec. 12 at the Animal Ark Thrift Store on the east side of St. Paul. She uses store donations to create one-of-a-kind sweaters for customers.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

Walnuts. Tree ornaments. Bells. The cultural obsession with unsightly Christmas sweaters knows no limits.

A quick Web search offers a variety of commercial outlets catering to the ugly sweater market: myuglychristmassweater.com, uglychristmassweaterparty.com, uglysweaterstore.com.

But the true spirit of the ugly Christmas sweater may live most vividly at the Animal Ark Thrift Store on the east side of St. Paul.

There, Darlissa McDonald — a woman with imagination and a glue gun — waits to assemble any sweater you can imagine, and probably a few sweaters you can't.

The store raises money for Animal Ark's no-kill animal shelter. MPR News paid the store a visit to meet McDonald and document her creative process.

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