Tag Archives: reuse

Boot redo-redux

In the mid to late aughts, my student loan was paid off, I had a healthy not yet teen-aged car, a decent enough job, and I bought a lot of shoes.

Not really a lot – maybe at or just under a dozen pairs, and not fancy-pants impractical heels and such, but sturdy and comfortable European-made clogs and rubber-soled boots and shoes. It was also the heyday for a few online shops with good brands that have since been bought out and aren’t really worth the time anymore…

I’m finally killing some of those shoes – the clogs have always had a maddening indeterminate self-destruct date – you might get 3 years, you might get 15, but they will crumble beneath your feet at an incredibly inconvenient time. And the others are on a scale of still pretty damn good, need more frequent polishing but have years left, or something needs to change in order for me to continue to wear them and/or I should just sell them.

boot-redo-firenze

I don’t take pictures of my shoes very often – I haven’t drunk that IG kool-aid – but I found a fiber-appropriate image of a pair of boots I’ve been giving the side-eye recently, taken as I shopped for 1 euro cones of yarn in Firenze several years, and much less grey hair ago.

(I still haven’t knitted up the yarn I got, but it’s on the novelty spectrum, so I was waiting for the middle-aged desire for an abfab shawl to kick in, and I’ll be damned if I’m pretty much there now.)

Anyway, these old boots (El Naturalistas acquired for a song) had an annoying top knitted portion that looked like a chunky sock peeking up – I liked it for a bit – I had several orange thrift sweaters that went well with them, but then they started to look matted and pilly. I shaved them a few times, but by then the boots were stretching out a little and the laces were fake so I couldn’t tighten them, and the boots devoured my socks more and more.

boot-redo-before

The design also sucked a bit because the top was attached, so they pulled on and then zipped, like an uncomfortable business dress.

I unpicked the knitted part and found some blue suede underneath – I kinda liked it and left it for a few weeks but got annoyed by the sock munching and pull-on thing again. And at this point, I was still considering dying them black too.

boot-redo-during

I unpicked the suede and freed the zipper – luckily it was the closing/locking/whatever you call it kind.

And unpicked the fake sewn-on laces that you can’t really see.

boot-redo-after-detail

I cut off the zipper ends and trimmed the lining, and ran a line of stitches through the holes left by the suede and knitting that secured the lining and covered up the ugly holes.

boot-redo-after

And with functioning laces (though the boot doesn’t open there) they’ve got a better second life, though they still need a polish. I really need black boots now, so I’m still slightly  flirting with the idea of dying them, but likely not…

 I have a much-loved cobbler who could clean up the tops a bit more with a band of leather trim, but let’s see if the soles hold up a bit first.

(And I’m thinking of knitting another couple of cuffs…)

1 Comment

Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing

Zippity do dads

Last winter I picked up another sewing basket full of goodies at an antique mall in the sticks.

zippity-basket

I spotted the basket first, thinking it might be Gullah/South Carolina sweetgrass, then saw it was full of sewing notions, then saw that it was priced something ridiculous like $6, then it was in my hands and going to the cash register.

Some of the contents were lovely – I’m not much for over-the-top femininity, but I love the package designs of the things for “women’s work” of yesteryear.

zippity-hooks

And there were the usual odd spools of thread, mismatched buttons, bindings and zippers.

I disassembled the contents of this one into its like parts to display the basket elsewhere, so I actually don’t remember what exactly was in this one…

zippity-boning

But I’m fairly certain it was in this one (or one of the estate sale cigar boxes I unpacked around the same time) that had a little wrapped bundle of steel boning.

I thought that the wrapper might have been a quilt square for a crown pattern…

zippity-pocket

…but it ended up being a very sweet scalloped pocket either made for something, or removed from something.

(I don’t know what I’ll do with either yet – I can’t see myself ever using boning, but the pocket will go with my little collection of vintage fabric I’m loath to cut into and/or sew, but it’s mostly scraps anyway so maybe a quilt will come of it one day…)

zippity-more zippers

And the zippers made their way into my stash of packaged zippers…

zippity-zippers

…and wad of unpicked loose zippers.

I love the old zippers with nods to art deco design, sturdy teeth and strong but faded cotton.

I do re-use the old (used and new) zippers for bags and the very occasional skirt, but I’m doubtful I’ll ever make much of a dent in the small stash – mostly the more delicate garment ones. I’m also on the fence about artistic use of them – like buttons, they can appear very “crafty” – I don’t have a desire to make zipper roses and things. Sometimes they can look interesting as trims and whatnot, but not on bags where they can be grabby or scratchy against a bare forearm.

But first, more research on that basket…

 

3 Comments

Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing, thrifting

From foot to face

I have a lot of socks – many, and the most frequently worn, are wool, and an equal number or more are cotton which I don’t wear much except the “sport” style for summer walking, more aged ones for home improvement/yard tasks, and a few decent ones for those scarce days that are too cool for bare feet but too warm for wool and perfect for thin wool (but I have the fewest of those). Most are leftover from work and my days of living without a washing machine wherein quality of life meant fewer trips to the laundromat.

But I’m getting more and more organized and for shits and giggles konmaried the whole lot. Folding*, that is – socks don’t spark much joy so I keep them until they’re 100% unwearable/unmendable so I haven’t had to buy new ones in ages, and I still appreciate the broken-down ones.

But I was left with a couple of pairs of 25+ year-old cotton and wool socks that have never quite served a purpose – too much cotton for cold outdoors activities (cotton can kill and/or loose toes), but too thick for warm ones, and not enough wool for warmth and elasticity. (The wool is the thinner grey-brown strand of the marl.)

So I finally decided to kill, rather than darn, a pair with blown-out heels.

foot face-before

But the yarn of the cuff felt nearly perfect still, and useful for something

foot face-unraveling

So I cut it above the worst of the heel, and it unraveled well from the bottom up.

foot face-elastic

(It also had an annoying near-invisible thread of elastic that I painstakingly picked out.)

foot face-balls

And I was left with a couple of good-sized balls of enough yards to become something.

I didn’t want it to be socks again, nor any other wearable thing, but it hit me that the blend would be perfect for washcloths/dish cloths.

So I cast on for Grandmother’s Favorite dish cloth and knit to 68 stitches wide on US 4 needles

foot face-during

The fabric ended up being better than I’d expected – lovely natural colors and good drape.

foot face - after

So I started on a second, and will try to salvage some yardage from the worse for wear (mostly pilled) feet for a third.

They might be too “nice” for the dishes now though…

*The folded socks ended up returning to their more fluid balled state shortly thereafter – if the drawer isn’t overstuffed, it doesn’t really matter how they go in as long as they’re paired.

1 Comment

Filed under collecting, hiking, home decor, knitting, recycling

Dirty old things

We’ve got a decent ReStore nearby – luckily not too close or I’d go too often, but not too far that you have to plan to go. We had an entirely awesome architectural salvage store in our old city that I dearly miss, but still visit when passing through, and though this doesn’t replace it, in some ways it’s more practical because it carries a wider variety of smaller-scaled items (and I’m no longer in the market for a victorian mantle anyway). We found a good mid-century dresser there, a near-mint wool kilim rug, and the typical bits we usually bring home from thrift stores like records and books and fabric scraps.

On my last visit, I scored an old sewing machine box.

old-before

I’ve got a partially boxless machine that has been topless for nearly 20 years. Once in awhile I’d dick around on ebay debating about buying one, but usually balked at the shipping price, so this was a classic example of finally finding something for which I’d given up looking. And oddly enough, it was already in half of an old Morse box.

old-during

But the best part is that it was saved – yes, it’s dirty and stained and a bit smelly, but it still serves a good purpose in a way that nothing new can. Granted, that’s a given because I’m using something old on something old and the whole thing is a no shit sherlock kind of thing… But many/most people would have probably thrown the thing out? Or the thrift store might have dumpstered it? In fact, the half-naked machine had a complete case, but the thrift store threw out the top because the handle was broken off, or something along those lines, and unfortunately just before I bought it too… or so said the clerk who might have just been itching to see a long face…

So the machine has some new vintage digs albeit much younger than the machine itself. I had also been intending to un-electrify this machine and put it back in a nice treadle cabinet like it originally came in, but until that lucky happenstance comes along, I can at least store and use it a bit more securely.

old-case after

And then I’ll see if anyone needs the bottom part of an old Morse box – I need to check the rest of mine first though – I know I have one that the little post things that hold the machine are broken, but don’t know if the lid will fit the bottom – unfortunately even though these are all a universal size, the clasps that hold the two parts together can differ – these two Morses from approximately the same time period didn’t – one had clasps 1/4″ longer than the other…

During our most recent vacation, we stopped in a Goodwill in Maine. I love seeing the local flavor coming through in used shit and stop at thrifts whenever I can when I’m on the road. I was hoping to find some good old hard-wearing woolens, but silly me, in the land of frugality, of course they wouldn’t just be chucked in the charity bin but used until they were entirely shredded and then stuffed in the walls for insulation or given to the dog.

So I poked around the household items even though I’ve banned myself from buying any more plates ever.

oldthings-dirty plates

And I fell hard for these dirty old things.

At $4 for the whole lot, can you blame me? And they’ve got a bit of green and yellow and orange, my favorite colors? And they’re from the time period that I’m most drawn to in terms of household things?

old things-plates

But what I like best was that they were clearly salvaged from an old garage, barn, abandoned house, unrepaired attic, root cellar, or someplace long neglected and not suitable for proper china storage…

…but someone made the effort to chuck them in a box and haul them in for someone else.

The set isn’t really one – mostly dessert* dishes and a couple smaller and one larger. They aren’t in the best shape and are delicate-ish, therefore not entirely practical, but the worst ones are still useful for holding drippy or dry things (soap or sewing bits) and the good ones will be perfect for the occasional dessert

dirty old thing-polenta cake

(This is just one quarter of a very tasty polenta bar.)

*They’re probably actually luncheon plates instead of dessert plates, and though I think today’s plates are obscenely large and use “lunch” plates for my “dinner” plates on a daily basis, these would only hold the daintier finger sammies… And they’re made by W. H. Grindley & Co., England, but I can’t find the name of the pattern – according to a random website, the mark dates c. 1914-1925 – anyone recognize it?

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, recycling, sewing, thrifting, travel

Other people’s houses

When we go on vacation we nearly always stay in other people’s apartments and cabins. Hotels serve their purpose for a night or two on weekends or in in-between places (and we’ve managed to rack up some points to stay in some neat ones). But for longer stays, it’s cheaper, sometimes more comfortable, and easier on the gut to stay in other’s living quarters. I can’t take eating out for more than one meal a day, or too many days in a row, even in places with my favorite cuisines – I need home cooking on a regular basis and I like exploring  new markets (or we bring our own groceries if it’s remote and/or slim pickings for good stuff).

I like staying in places that feel homey but don’t seem too much like someone else’s home – strong smells, dog hair on the sofa, stained linens, funky (stinky) plastic dishware, too many personal effects, and condiments of dubious quality still in the fridge are turn-offs. But on the other hand, places decked out in all new things that all match, bought brand new in either “wal-fart for cabin” or “swedish store Euro-chic” seem too sterile.  But I suppose I do prefer the sterile, even with resin bears and thin wobbly dressers, to cabinets with tubes of butt cream, half-smoked joints in the bowl on the living room table, and 73 photos of very sticky germ-ridden grand kids on too many unlaundered sticky doilies… And no matter what, I always spend way too much time thinking how I’d tweak any place a bit – from cleaning out the moldy caulk and rubber tub daisies, to painting a cheap wooden chair so it doesn’t blend in so much with the wooden walls…

And I’m a bit conflicted with the act of owning a second property – granted, it’s fine if it’s well-used by extended family and renters I suppose, but it leads to over-building, destroying habitats, and the production and disposal of more cheap crap (not to mention my contempt for the rich, but that’s another category since they usually don’t share or rent their homes to others)…

But we’ve yet to hit the jackpot for meeting all of my hopes – clean, not moldy, not very cluttered, but stocked full of (not sticky) puzzles and games and take one/leave one paperback, decent mattresses, a nice place to read or knit with adequate lighting, and a kitchen with a pot large enough to boil pasta and a corkscrew. So we pack along as much as these things as possible when trying out someplace new.

The cabin we’ve stayed at a few times now in the White Mountains doesn’t really meet many of those things either, but it’s got something a bit more rare – history and honest frugality. Now, that isn’t surprising for New England, but for rentals, they are elusive qualities. The place dates only to the 1960s or 70s, but is full of a generation’s or two earlier cast-off furniture and books.

I love this particular dresser – the quarter-sawn oak veneer is still in excellent condition, but the handles are a lively mismatch of whatever was on hand. Too many of us (myself included at times) would just go down to the big-box and buy six matching replacements when it is totally unnecessary.

NH-dresser

The bathroom wallpaper initially made me a bit twitchy, but I’ve grown fond of it and it’s in really great condition – the room could be brightened up a little with some accent paint in that cheery orange…

NH-wallpaper

And the curtains were perhaps bought new via an advertisement in Yankee magazine from the early 70s – I love that both still live in the cabin, though I’d certainly wash the curtains because they probably never have been… And both the magazine and one of the popular style trends was in the “ye olde” variety for that time period, it also dates to the beginnings of me and makes me feel ye olde and crumbling and yellowed and low-tech too…

NH-curtains

And there is a small settee awkwardly shoved in a corner that was probably semi-banished when a bigger new sofa went in a couple of years ago, but they still kept it – it’s in fine shape with a delightful bird pattern – I’d be tempted to get rid of the big new sofa and use it instead… (but the new sofa is damn comfy).

NH-textiles

 I wish there existed many more old but perfectly good (not smelly or sticky) things in our lives and weren’t so quick to toss them… though I don’t have that much of a love for bobbles…

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, home, home decor, recycling, travel

Of bastards and bathrooms…

Someone, or ones, stole my credit card info and attempted to ship $2,300 worth of Home Depot shite to Nevada.

(I don’t live in Nevada)

It’s a bit disconcerting to think that it might be possible that they knew I was working on a house, and thus I might not notice.

But they don’t know me that well.

I don’t shop there because of their right-winged evil overlord.

I’d post a warning about where my card got hacked, but it’s the same one I’ve had for over a decade of online shopping and automatic bill payments, so it could have been a security breach in one of a hundred or more websites and utility companies.  Well, at least not right-wing fundraiser sites, or skanky porn, or games, or psychics, or…

But thankfully the evil corporate anti-everything good about life and humans credit card company had my back, so someone/s in Nevada didn’t get their new what… deluxe chainsaw?  big-ass grill?  swirly tub?  giant refrigerator?  or lots and lots and lots of nails?

I love that we’ve got an awesome independent lumber yard, hardware store, and green building supplier in our town (and that also probably proves extreme gentrification) but I can’t always afford their stuff, or rather, none of them stocks the really cheap stuff.

(If my credit card thief shopped at one of those stores he just might have gotten away with it.)

But sometimes cheap is okay and historically accurate.

So I did our half-bath floor in a pinwheel mosaic tile from the other big box home improvement store.

halfbath-tiling

Though the floor we removed was already tile, it was ugly – creepy 1970s van stripes – and broken in places (thank you original owner for installing tile on thin-ass plywood, but at least it was easy to remove) and underneath was un-salvageable linoleum.  We had been prepared to live with the room for a few years though, and it was the lowest priority to re-do, but then the toilet broke inexplicably, and it made sense to go ahead and replace the floor before we put in a new shitter.

half bath before

(bathroom before when we first looked at the house – the previous owners left out their crap).

We reused the old vanity but gave it a fresh coat of paint, replaced the semi-non-functioning faucet, and replaced the fake wood triptych-mirrored medicine cabinet with a new one that is utterly cheap, but made in the USA, so it will do well enough.

halfbath-crapper

We still need to install said medicine cabinet, add the towel and TP holders, paint some more, attach the floor trim, hang some art, sew or knit some curtains, and add a plant or something.

Along with the vintage-looking tile, the peach paint* throws the whole thing back to the 1950s, so hopefully the house feels good about it.

halfbath-paint

And it glows.

*Paint is Mythic brand and I love it – not stinky and well-priced for non-toxic paint – color is Benjamin Moore’s “Hathaway Peach.”  Tile is American Olean.  (I didn’t get anything to endorse this stuff, but I’ll gladly take some free paint or coupons if offered…).  The former ugly but perfectly functional medicine cabinet goes to Habitat for Humanity, and the plumber took the old faucet and toilet for recycling (as least that’s what he said he’d do with it…) so it was a remodel with only one bag of trash.

Leave a comment

Filed under home, home decor, recycling

Child stitchery (not in a sweatshop)…

On a trip to visit my folks (I won’t say home because they tragically (for me) sold it some years ago) earlier this summer, I finally found this little fabric picture that used to hang in my bedroom.

Birdscene

The scene is one I drew, and drew quite often as a slightly obsessive little sh*t, and at the dumbsh*t age when I didn’t comprehend that the sky wasn’t just up there and therefore depicted it as a stripe.  So let’s say I was four, or should four-year-olds understand how the sky works?  So maybe I’ll say three…  Regardless, my mother deemed my “Bird In Flight to Nest” precious and decided to turn it into a sewing lesson.  I’ll say that it was my first, but I really don’t know.  She cut out the pieces, sewed the margins on the machine, and gave it to me to applique.  I do clearly remember getting somewhat bored or frustrated with it, and it is also quite clear that she finished it for me and then added a few embroidered embellishments.  I don’t know if this took place in the span of a day or I abandoned it for some time and she got tired of having it only partially completed for weeks or months.  I also don’t remember if it was during the one truly massive blizzard of my youth (though I think I was down with the chicken pox then) or in the leisurely long days before I had to go to school.  Either way, it was something I did as a child wherein my hands and mind were engaged (and it wasn’t so traumatic that I didn’t want to do it again).

Birdscene-det

This was before the recent cringe-worthy days of fashionable “upcycling.” Smack in the 1970s when fuel crises, a renewal of the back to the earth movement, thoughts of Silent Spring, and the birth of Earth Day were kicking around.  My parents left their urban home to escape air pollution, overcrowding, and to grow wholesome organic food on a few idyllic acres.  We were also broke-ass poor, so recycling old clothes into craft projects was both a necessity and entirely practical – how many thousands of years have we just used what we have and then used it some more?  Why should this now be a trendy buzzword to help sell our crafty stuff?  Convince the buyer that her materialism is ok because it’s upcycled and therefore she is a conscientious fabulous person?

Fabric is fabric is fabric… and is infinitely re-usable.  Sometimes the perfect print is on a bolt, sometimes it’s a pair of pants… you’re not special for using or buying either one.

But back to the picture.

The components are:

Sun:  I assumed the terrycloth sun was salvaged from a much abused towel, but my mom said it was leftover fabric from some shorts she made for my brothers as small children in the 1960s… I’m not sure I’d like terrycloth shorts… they seem so, absorbent?

Tree trunk:  Yep, that’s my dad’s old tie – gotta love plaid neck wear…

Sky:  Leftovers from a quilt my mother made for me of yellow, green, and blue gingham to match my wallpaper of the same colors (only the wallpaper also had puke tones in it too).

Flowers, eggs, bird parts:  Felt scraps – who didn’t have random felt scraps lying around?

Nest:  Burlap feed sack – we lived on a little farm with little animals and a pony.  Food for them came in burlap bags.

Bird:  This is an odd denim/oxford cloth hybrid that was probably clothing in its former life.

Grass, leaves:  We can’t remember what these scraps are from, but I wore various homemade calico skirts, shorts, halter tops (remember, 1970s over here) and dresses.

Background:  This could have been leftover paining canvas or material for rustic curtains.

And even though this turned into a rage against the preciousness of upcycling, it was originally meant to be a rage against not teaching children how to sew or make bread or brush animals or do anything constructive with their hands.  Yeah, there are a few schools that teach such things, but as a whole we’re becoming such boring dumb-asses with our iSh*t.

1 Comment

Filed under quilts, recycling, sewing, Uncategorized