Tag Archives: hoarding

On getting rid of things, part II – of prom dresses and punch bowls

prom dress detail

I still have my prom dress.

I still have two of them actually, but the other one is a very basic and classic black crepe cocktail dress that still fits and no one is the wiser that it’s over 20 something years old – I was a practical, though still obnoxious, teen.

But I really don’t have a really good reason for keeping this one.

My prom wasn’t magical – my date wasn’t my teen heartthrob soul mate (though he was very nice guy), I don’t even remember the venue or the dinner, I’m sure too many country ballads were played followed by metal ones – especially the kind that had a confusing beat of neither slow nor fast, or started slow but ended fast…  And I’m pretty sure I was still suffering from an extended bout of mono, or pneumonia, or other disease that would have finished me off had it been a century earlier.

I remember getting the dress at a small department store, and it was certainly on sale – I wanted something vintage-looking, and I can’t remember why I didn’t actually wear vintage since I had a few 1950s party dresses, but maybe it was because I’d already worn them to other mediocre small-town high school dances?

I considered myself of the counter culture and was non-conformist, so I’m not sure why I didn’t go in drag – I had a lovely old tuxedo from my great uncle Oscar and a sleek pair of grandpa’s wingtips that my freaky feet and lanky frame filled out sufficiently.  But I think I wanted to do something a little more classy – a little more normal – which was abnormal for me.  But then again, this was the ghastly time of the giant hair and jarringly bright, or sickeningly pastel colored gowns, so a black and white dress was different…

But, I’m wrong.

BrenKellyCamera

Apparently, it’s damn close to the most popular prom dress of 1991 thanks to Beverly Hills 90210.

But, in my defense, I never saw the show, and I doubt many others in my ass-backward town did… And I think my dress was from the year before anyway?

So I’m not sure why I still have it, or what to do with it – it’s not the style of teens today, nor does it scream 1980s to allow for ironic wear – and simply dropping it off at the thrift store hasn’t happened. I don’t have the desire to wear it while vacuuming, or cut it up for a satiny small quilt, or buff the car with it, or line a dog’s crate, or wear it as a Halloween costume of myself in my youth, or save it in case one of the nephews might be inclined to wear it fabulously, or modify it in some way to make it acceptable formal wear again…

In the meantime, I’ve been using it as padding wound around an old punch bowl – something else I haven’t used in over a decade…

And an update to part I:

dictionaries - Copy

I still haven’t decided whether or not to get rid of my print dictionaries, but I see that others have…

(And you gotta love a thrift store that actually categorizes their books!)

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Darn it pills and lint

I spent an evening this week closing up the holes in some of our sweaters.  I’ve been seeing beautiful and skillful examples of mending in the blogisphere lately and though lovely, they make me feel anxious.  Must I learn to do everything perfectly?  To have textile conservator-level mending skills to make repairs nearly invisible or mad creative ones to do a perfect herringbone in a cheeky accent color?  Don’t get me wrong, I love these things and love that someone is doing them and doing them well, but for me, I still embrace  absolute utilitarianism and efficiency when it comes to darning/mending/repairing.  I also usually wait until I have at least three garments that need to be fixed before I sit down to do them, even though it means I’ll probably need three different thread colors and it would have taken just as much time to do them one at a time.   All of the items that got a new lease on life were thrift store finds (some decades old) and I’m always what- amazed, impressed, happy?  I don’t quite know the feeling, but that these things have endurance and history, both unknown and our own, and can outlive us.

Darn-elbow

N’s favorite cashmere sweater is just a few years old and was probably fairly new when it was given up by its original owner.  (Unbeknownst to me my sister-in-law gave my brother the exact same as a [new] gift around the same time I found N’s in the thrift store.)  He wore it for work and not-work and everything in between several times a week and this year his elbow popped through.  It’s now been patched but retired from work-wear.

darn-pills

I’m also chief pill-picker.  I hate pills but I somewhat, and somewhat perversely, like picking them off.  I’ll periodically give an item a good pick and then a vigorous brushing and I’m always amazed about how much fuzzy detritus comes away… how much crap we carry around on us and how a sweater can continue to shed yet never feel as if it’s going bald overall.  But I do really hate pills on hand-knits (I’m looking at you Malabrigo!) especially when you’ve done a textured stitch and the pills hide in little valleys.

darn-lint

That little pile of pills and fuzz got me thinking about hoarders (and my fear of becoming one, though I do draw the line with things that rot and stink as being only for trash/compost).  And then N bought some new kitchen towels – some white, some red – that gave off this nice rose-pink lint in the dryer.  I know dryer lint has many uses, and once upon a time when I made paper I often used the stuff, but to keep it now seems a little excessive.  I can’t compost, don’t have a pet, haven’t spilled any oil, don’t need to start a fire, and I’m not making paper or papier mache at the moment…

…or will I be?

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Stash

stash-stitch

No, not that kind of ‘stash you silly hipster.

Stash

I’m referring to yarn.  Lots and lots of yarn.*

I’ve come across many instances lately of people talking about having stashes so large they exceed life expectancy (aka SELE).  I’m not quite there yet, but I think I’m awfully damn close (or you could live by the thought that you could always get hit by a bus at any given moment and then nearly ever knitter would leave a wooly estate).  I don’t know what my comfortable stash level is or should be.  It might be exactly where it is right now?  If so inclined, I could start a few sweaters, tights, a drawerful of socks, and a whole sh*tload of accessories at any given notice.  Yet it’s starting to make me a little uncomfortable… I feel almost as if I’m eating a giant delicious sandwich in front of a waif-child.  I try to live as simply as a typical American (who still needs an auto, has outdoors hobbies, has tools for a major house renovation and small farm, has a teensy nostalgia problem, etc.) can, yet my stash requires a whole closet or very small room nearly all to itself.**

Some of my recent test-knitting has been a half-assed attempt to slim the stash, yet most patterns call for yarn currently on the market and easily available, so that also leads me to the occasional justification for a purchase when I don’t already have something quite right.  My yarny souvenirs from travels are justified to some degree since they are only material thing I buy, but sometimes (but not so much these days) I’m a sucker for the $3 or less skein of 100% wool or bag sales of the stuff for a song (which is also how one can end up with loads of discontinued stuff).  Wool can always be used in/for something – it felts/fulls, can be mixed and matched, dyed, used for embroidery, and in my mind never needs to be destashed.

I’m horribly tempted to catalog it all and post it on my ravelry stash page, but I’m embarrassed to show I have this much and I don’t want to turn off any current or potential ravelry friends.  I have to admit when I see ginormous stashes full of primo yarn (though mine isn’t the fancy stuff for the most part) I think the person must be very rich, and if you are very rich you are probably evil (or you might be a designer with a sponsor or a LYS owner, so that’s ok).  And then the work of photographing and logging the data would take a few days to do and it’s something that my tedious-loving other evil Gemini twin*** would love to do, but really is a waste of time.  But on the other hand, I can choose to list things as available for sale or trade, so it could be a win-win  –  I may have something discontinued that someone needs to finish a project, or make a buck or two on the side.  That, and I could check my inventory without having to unstack, unbag, or generally make a mess of things.  But don’t I have other things that I should be working on…?

*There’s a good amount of spinning fiber and a couple of sewing machines in there too, so it’s a little deceiving, but then again none of my WIPs (or possible froggers) or sweaters waiting to be unraveled and harvested are in there…

**Really the bigger problem here is my fabric stash.  So much bigger.  So much more unwieldy.  So much heavier.  So much less organized and contained.  So much it’s actually a problem worthy of an episode of reality TV hoarding show.  So much that it really does need a room of its own.  So much that I will never share the extent of it with anyone other than N.  And my “fabric” is mostly carefully curated but old and wrecked clothing so it’s not like I can re-sell it or even give it away.  Maybe to a rag picker… Ah, the olden days…

***Both twins are evil – an uptight bossy bitch and an unmoored drifter.

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Meet (some of) my sewing machines…

I learned to sew (or rather I learned how to use a sewing machine) on my mother’s 1960s era Singer.  I made some shapeless elastic waist skirts, “Jams” style shorts, and a few odds and ends in my youth.  During college, I borrowed the machine to make hats to sell at raves.  You heard me, raves – and the real kind back in the day, illegal and last minute and fun as a bucket of monkeys.  I loved her machine – it was metal and solid and felt like well, a machine in the masculine sense.  A few years later I acquired my first vintage machine at my favorite thrift store for something like $6.99.

machines1I’ve had it for nearly 20 years and it is the machine I use most often, however I just had to put it on a time-out due to a tension issue that springs up after an unpredictable amount of time (sometimes after 3 days of use, sometimes after year or so) and it seems to always fix itself as long as I don’t use it for a month or so.

machines1-det

A partial repair tag still clings to the handle – perhaps this tension issue gave the previous owner troubles as well…  After finding this machine, I was on the lookout for more.  Why?  I think I figured it would be nice to have the same one to use for parts if need be, I wanted one with zigzag and other stitch functions, and I just really fell in love with solid things made of metal that could last lifetimes – yes, the plural form.  I hate everything about the objects of our disposable society these days, but then again, obsolete, near-obsolete, and old timey things weigh a ton and are a pain in the ass to move.  But after a few years, I had amassed a collection of around 15 sewing machines, not to mention several typewriters and boxes of cameras and film equipment.  I didn’t move much then and used much of the equipment as furniture in my cramped apartment, but eventually most of it had to go.  Since I used the sewing machines on a fairly regular basis, I kept a half dozen of them or so.

machines4This is the back-up machine for when the pink Atlas is being temperamental.  It too came from a thrift store and I gasped when I opened the box – I’d never seen one that looked so like an automobile of the same era and I loved the deep green.  It sews strongly and steadily but the needle needs to be coaxed into the fabric in just the right way each time that I tend to get a little impatient with it.  Its best use is for sewing long seams or quilting.

machines2

This is the prettiest and the oldest of my current machines and it works just fine.  The bobbin is a little fiddly to work with so I don’t like to change it as often.  When I had more space (and when I will hopefully have more space again) I’d leave it set up with thread in the opposite color of what I was using in the other machine if I needed to hop on it for something else.  I believe this was originally a treadle machine and motorized later, so I have intentions of trying to turn this back into a manual machine, but I’d rather find a treadle machine for a reasonable price (and I could fit in my car or have delivered) instead.  It is also in a re-purposed Morse case that is annoyingly without a lid, so at the very least, I need a new lid/container for it.

machines3

machines3-det

My brother found this lovely Singer for me, but it’s probably been a decade ago…  I have it nearby because I intend to try to find a couple of missing parts for it, but haven’t done much searching around for them yet.  Ironically, it also came with the manual and a few extra tools, so someone was meticulous about keeping it all together only up to a certain point.  This one is also a more compact “portable” model, so it would be convenient to get it up and running as soon as possible.  I’m also slightly afraid to plug in anything old, so the first time I like to be prepared in case of an inferno.

And then I have perhaps two more?  I’m a little nervous that I can’t find them at the moment, but I believe that they could be in storage along with the other third of our stuff.  Hopefully I didn’t get rid of them in the frustration of the move.  One of them is another Atlas similar to my old stand-by that I found left in the trash on the curb in my old neighborhood.  Its cord was cut, perhaps indicating that the motor was blown or that it needs to be re-wired so I can use it for parts, or get it up and running again.  I believe the other machine is another Singer with a bad motor?

The machines I had but sold years ago included a couple of really old ones that had been motorized but weren’t very functional, I believe yet another Atlas, a less attractive 70s machine, and a blue White that I still can’t understand to this day why I got rid of it – it had a zigzag stitch, WTF?  But I think I thought I’d find another…

Some days I’m a little envious of others with the fancy-schmancy machines that will practically stitch up a cup of coffee or an offspring  but mostly I love my hunky metal beasts and will continue to do so…

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