Why did I iron a worn and torn sheet?

So that it would be easier to remake into pillowcases, hankies and reusable kitchen wipes, that’s why! I hate waste and I’m all in favour of reusing, recycling and upcycling before buying new. Not that the sheet itself was new in the first place – it’s one of nine that cost 50p each from a charity shop a few years ago.

They are 100% cotton ex-hotel bedsheets which were being sold off as dustsheets for decorating – shockhorrorgasp! Well, I had to rescue them didn’t I? I much prefer the soft, slightly textured feel of old cotton to the slippery tissue paper feel of modern sheets. Old sheets aren’t see-through either – not until they are very old and worn anyway!

I’m still using some of the sheets regularly as bedding, some are squirreled away for the future, one has been recycled as a summer windscreen cover and this one is being remade into smaller items. I like to have lots of pillows on my bed, so lots of pillowcases are essential in this home.

I’ve been vaguely thinking I should stop using kitchen paper and tissues for ages, so the sheet tearing gave me the motication to turn intention into action and provide myself with reusables. I only ever buy the cheapest household paper goods, but with prices increasing all the time reusables should save me a bit of money as well as being better for the environment.

The kitchen wipes I’ll probably wash by hand every few days, then sterilise in the microwave. They won’t look pretty, but they will be clean. Hankies will go in the whites wash and can also be micro-sterilised if necessary. Don’t shudder – it’s what we did before paper tissues became “normal”! Well, not the microwaving, obviously, the old-time way was to boil up the hankies in an old saucepan, but micro is quicker and cheaper.

I still have a lot more sewing to do, but it’s giving me a nice warm “make do and mend” glow as I stitch. I’m going to use the most worn and soft part of the fabric for the hankies and I think I’ll hem them by hand. Sewing a rolled hem is a pleasantly meditative activity for a winter’s eve.


Necessary to the active male in 1959

Here’s a little gem of an ad. for Chilprufe underwear from the Winter 1959 edition of The Countryman magazine to celebrate the first frost of the season.

When I was a teenager in the early ’70s tie-dyed “Grandad vests” like the one seated gentleman is wearing were quite the thing in the hippy community – the wearing of vintage clothes isn’t a new trend! I never really went in for tie-dye myself, but many of my clothes came from the Oxfam shop, jumble sales or secondhand clothes stalls on Cambridge market.

Back then nearly all clothes, bags and shoes back were made of natural materials and lasted for donkey’s years. I wouldn’t fit into them now, but I’d love to still have some of the cotton, silk and wool garments I treasured in my teens just to enjoy the feel of them. The quality of the fabric was wonderful – buttery corduroy and velvet, soft Viyella and cotton, heavy silk crepe and all wool was real wool.

And then there were the beautiful leather handbags, shoes and purses that cost pennies and wore so well they looked even better with the patina of age than they did new. I still enjoy buying secondhand clothes, but the treasures are much harder to find nowadays and are priced accordingly.

WIP – tweed bag fail

I’ve finished making the tweed bag I started before Christmas and although it would serve its purpose as a tote for the junk I lug around with me, it’s just not “right”. I know I’ll never use it, so it’s gone straight in the charity shop pile.

I’m a bit disappointed that it didn’t turn out as I hoped, but it was an experiment using (mostly) recycled materials, so the main loss was my time. At least I gave it a go and you learn as much, if not more, from failures as successes.

I must find myself a new bag soon though – my old one is embarrassingly shabby and has been for some time!

More recycling

The decluttering bug has grabbed me again this week. Seizing the moment while it lasts, I’ve sorted out a large pile of clothes and general bric-a-brac for the charity shop and a smaller pile of things that might be worth eBaying. Books have been listed on Green Metropolis, given away to friends or added to the CS pile. Craft materials have been set aside for people who are more likely to make use of them than me and the shredder has eaten a lot of old paperwork that will go in the compost bin.

It’s all very satisfying, but I need to do a CS drop-off before I go much further, otherwise the boxes of “stuff waiting to be moved” at the bottom of the stairs will take root and start to annoy me…

Recipe for new shoes

Take one pair of stained and faded nubuck shoes that are still comfortable, but too disgustingly shabby-looking to wear in public.

Add the advice of a friend who recommended polishing them with ordinary black shoe polish.

Apply liberal quantity of shoe polish and elbow grease. Buff up with a clean dry cloth and voilĂ ! Shoes that are fit to be seen outdoors again.

Well, they will be when I’ve done the second one…

Starting again. Again.

I rounded off the crappiness of last week by having a stonking migraine yesterday. Note to self: eating cheese may not always trigger a migraine, but is it really worth risking a whole day of feeling utterly wretched in exchange for a few minutes pleasure scoffing a lump of cheddar?

Anyway, that’s over now and I feel quite a lot better today. Not exactly normal like a normal person, but fairly normal for me and ME. So today I’ve been getting on with life again. I washed my hair (!), made a cake, went for a (short) walk, finished reading a book, gave away my peg loom via Freecycle, and earmarked quite a lot of other “stuff” for disposal.

The last activity takes up most energy – I’m a tenacious clinger-on to stuff of all kinds, but slowly, gently I’m letting go of things that are cluttering up my life. I read a quote on another blog a while back which really chimed with me:

“A lot of clutter is a lack of acceptance that a moment has passed.”
Peter Walsh

I had already started applying that wisdom to various unfinished (or even unstarted) craft projects, throwing out or recycling WIPs that I wasn’t willing to sit down and finish IMMEDIATELY. A few things did get finished, many more got tossed. I’m good at starting things, not so good at finishing them (but getting better on both fronts – not starting so many projects and finishing what I do start).

However it’s less easy to let go of stuff that has sentimental value, might come in useful one day, was a gift, cost rather a lot of money, was bought in anticipation of a future that hasn’t (and is unlikely to) materialise, etc etc. I’m also a master ditherer, so each decision to dispose of something takes a lot of thinking about. Dithering is a spectacular waste of time, which, given the demands of ME, I should treat as a more precious resource.

Bearing the quotation in mind, I’m speeding up the clearing process a bit – has the moment passed? Yes/No. That bit is relatively easy, at least with physical objects, but then I have to decide whether to bin it, sell it, Freecycle it, donate it to a charity shop or pass it on to a friend… Oh well, one step at a time eh?

A resolution

It’s bit late for New Year Resolutions really, and I never make then anyway, but after this week’s marathon spring cleaning and decluttering session I am going to make one resolution for 2010:

Throw away all padded bags that enter the house as soon as I’ve removed the contents.

Yes, it does seem a wicked waste, but I have a large quantity of the wretched things stored up already and I don’t need to save any more until those are all used up. Spare bubble wrap is easy to get rid of on Freecycle, but there doesn’t seem to be much demand for padded bags.

I’ve squished all that lot into one box and the bubble wrap will go on Freecycle or to a charity shop. What shall I dispose of next?