Tag Archives: thrift score

Failures and fluff

I still haven’t gotten the hand-cranked Singer up to speed – I was waiting to order more cleaning/greasing supplies (and the blasted always forgotten spool pin) until I knew I didn’t need anything else…

Because another sewing machine came home with me.

There was a label on it that read: “works, needs new belt.”

I cleaned the case and the machine, picked out the motor belt and other belt that I thought I might need, and just before I placed my order, I figured I should plug it in…

The light works, the motor is blown.

But whatever – it was only $12, I didn’t need it, (and why didn’t I test it at the store like I usually do?) but I have it now, and perhaps I’ll try to replace the motor, or perhaps I’ll take it right back to ReStore – only with proper identification of its faults this time.  It’s also a bit young for my machine tastes, but it is the next version of my mom’s sewing machine, and it’s got a zigzag (I just have one machine that can do that now), and it actually dates to around the years of me, so there’s a bit of a nostalgia thing going – if I get it back up and running, perhaps I can go whole-hog authentic on my ’70s quilt (that I haven’t started yet).

*************

In a moment of frustration and brain failure a few weeks ago, I took a break to make a cheery pompom.

I thought I knew how to make pompoms, but like the sewing machine, some shit from the 70s doesn’t work anymore…

I’m not enamored/charmed/giggleful with them, and I certainly didn’t embrace their bombastic return a few years ago, but I have some thoughts on their usefulness now that may or may not come to fruition.

And I wouldn’t mind topping a hat with one, once in a while…

But a second try (and a video) brought success.

Now I just need to control myself from trimming them down to nothing…

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What’s in the basket?

Not my brother…*

basket-closed

I say I’m on a buying of all things, especially old things, hiatus… perhaps even a lifetime ban.

But I couldn’t resist a gourd.

 I could plant some gourds, I could probably get one free from a neighbor, but I actually paid $4.00 for this one.

basket-gourd

Why?

Because it was used as a darning egg!

And came with a basket filled with other useful things.

basket-full

Needles are always handy and I love that they used to be promotional items (not to mention I love the graphic design and re-use of other little packages)…

basket-design

And things that were once made in Europe but are now made in China…

(the notions, not the dust wads.)

basket-german

And evidence that the  original owner was perhaps a Nervous Nellie as well as a photographer…

basket-stress

And another mysterious notion – what is it?

basket-perfex

It’s got “Waldes Perfex” stamped on it as a registered trademark.  I couldn’t find the trademark, but several patents on “Perfex” exist for textile, cleaning, and photography products.  I find anecdotal evidence of others finding these with old knitting supplies, so perhaps they’re stitch markers?  They seem a bit pokey and impractical though…  I can’t think of an application for them with photography unless these were poked through the sprockets in film for some reason or another…?

Anyone know what they are?

*

I’ve never seen the movie, but I just might have to check it out…

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Tin, tin, tins…

I love old tins.

I love finding them and I love storing things in them and I especially love finding them with things already in them.

Old tings-zippers

This one is from my childhood home – it looks old timey, but was from the 1970s or ’80s… which sadly, might in fact be old timey to some.

I don’t remember the marshmallows, but I like marshmallows.

It is perfect for the storage of zippers and various purse/bag hardware.

Old things-needles

This was a lucky thrift store find of a tin with something in it – mostly needles and a lovely bent-to-fit sterling thimble.  I use the needles from time to time but get pissed when I don’t realize I have a rusty one until it leaves a mark in my fabric.

Old things-needles close

Also inside are some nice bone tapestry needles – I think?  And a “Tyton” tool at the bottom.  Anybody know what that is?  All I get is a Polish football (soccer) player.

Old things-spools

This tin came from a thrift store and was probably $ .50 or less.  I think I bought it when I only had $ .50 in my pocket.  It previously held fruitcake from New Orleans.  I thought you got sh*tfaced in New Orleans, not hang around and eat hard cake.  But I guess you have to “feed” fruitcake with brandy or rum or something…. that could explain it.

Old things-spools-close

But the loveliness inside is my collection of vintage thread.  I got the thread way back when at my old favorite thrift store in a dusty old bag (perhaps once actually belonging to a dusty old bag of another sort).  One day I may frame some of these in a shadow box of some sort, but I do use a teensy bit of them from time to time since the colors are wonderful and often match my clothing in need of repair.  And good god, I love wooden spools.  I know it’s a waste of a tree but they serve so many purposes after their intended one and just look finely aged and patinated on their own.

Old things-floss

This is an estate sale find of a tin with something in it.  I was excited to find this small stash of embroidery floss until its horrid camphor odor assaulted my sniffer.  I got it anyway, cleaned and aired the tin, aired the floss, and thought it was good to go.  I added a few odds and ends of my own floss too.

Sadly, it still smells.

Tins - bon bons whole

And finally, the loveliest tin of them all, and the one I uncharacteristically paid the most for – I believe it was a whopping $12.

But $12 is no longer an insignificant amount of money to me, and I feel pressure to put something priceless and special inside of it instead of the tiny yarn balls and clippings currently in there.

Tins - bon bons

Maybe I should have a candy while I think about it.

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Biggest-assed yarn bomb

It’s all over and too late to see now, but Knit the Bridge was pretty cool (and record-breaking).

We went to Pittsburgh for a little jaunt over Labor Day weekend and caught the bridge on a bright summer morning.

Knit the Bridge 1

(Got the ass-end of one of those obnoxious duck tour thingamawhats too!)

It was quite a bit more Crochet the Bridge, rather than knit, but they certainly couldn’t call it [yarn] Bomb the Bridge, which would have been more accurate, inclusive, and alliterative, but sadly we can’t say such things these days.

Knit the Bridge 2

The cheery hanging flower baskets were a nice touch too and complimented the bright acrylic yarns.

The whole thing had a campy, homey feel which was nice, but also played a bit into the knitting/crochet stereotype.

Knit the Bridge 3

But I won’t criticize that too harshly – overall it was a good thing and acrylic had to be used as the blankets will be massively laundered and donated to people and places that don’t have the knowledge, time, space, or frankly have much bigger issues rather than proper care of woolen hand-knits.

(There were actually many people out too, I just chose the pics without them.)

See also Cosy’s blog for more pics.

Knit the Bridge 4

I sadly wasn’t able to cram in a visit to Natural Stitches which is among my favorite LYSs – it carries loads of good quality stuff in good colors plus some fancy things for the occasional splurge (but not fancy-pants things that are just plain fugly).

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t acquire yarn of some sort.  We also hit a couple of thrift stores and I found a few sweaters ripe for harvesting.  Many of the thrift stores around Pittsburgh don’t take away the sweaters in summertime like they do on the East Coast.  I hate when they do that.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 4

As usual, I don’t have immediate plans for these, but they have the same sized/weight nicely heathered Shetland-like yarn, so something stripey with the two sweaters combined might be in order.  Maybe even a traditional Shetland hap shawl… Purple usually isn’t among my top favored colors though…

Pgh thrift 9-2013 3

And I pretty much swore I wouldn’t buy thin merino to unravel again, but I liked the colors of these and they’re the exact same sweater, so color work is a possibility, though I’ve fallen down the orange-green hole many times already.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 1

And one to keep as-is to wear (as if I need another).

I love the pale green – thank you late ’70s, early ’80s (and yes, I’m sure it’s probably a man’s sweater, but it fits).

Pgh thrift 9-2013 2

And I love the slogan on the label: “Wool. It’s got life.”

Amen.

Pgh thrift 9-2013 5

And I got a few to full/felt.  Only some of them didn’t.  But that’s okay, I’ll unravel them instead.

The ones that did have already become phone cozys/socks/sleeves for some smart phone wielding friends.

I’ve got leftovers for sale too.

(My Etsy shop still isn’t stocked yet though.)

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My old cardigan friend, (damn you golf again), and bullying because of thrifting…

I’ve had this c. 1950s/60s men’s alpaca cardigan sweater since the late 1980s.

cardigan full

It was among my first “thrift scores” and I have loved it ever since.  It warmed me through the amalgamated post-hippie/punk/ folk/college-rock years dubbed “alternative” (or “art-fag” if you were stupid and from my neck of the woods), a dabbling of grunge, a decades long love of emo-ish hardcore, and even got away with looking like a hip “boyfriend” sweater the last few years.  It’s been paired with Sex Pistols t-shirts and vintage hippie skirts, over-sized R.E.M. t-shirts and leggings, strategically torn jeans, boot cut jeans, and then leggings again.  I’ve mended it many times, but my elbow finally poked through one of the sleeves the other day.

cardigan hole

So at the moment, it’s not doing very well – I don’t think I want to sew on the classic professorial suede elbow patches, so I may go with some wool tweed.  And I can’t get Weezer’s Undone out of my head to save my life (even though this isn’t what the song is about).

Highly uncharacteristically of me, I never noticed or looked up label before until now…

cardigan label

And oh holy hell, what have I got here, something to do with golf again!?!?

Yep,  Gene Littler was a golf champ and probably got his own line of sportswear in the 1950s or ’60s.  At least he had good taste in fibers and got behind a smart timeless design…

But back on the subject of thrifting – I’m not quite sure when and how I got started.  Like most families in our rural area, we had a single modest income and were extremely conservative* with money.  Our food budget was supplemented by a lush garden and the slaughtering of our chickens and rabbits.  Horse camp?  Nope, I couldn’t go, or any other childhood activity that required fees.  Clothing was homemade, handed-down (yes I wore my brothers’) and never purchased at full price.  However, as a small child, my mother liked dressing me in Polly Flinders hand-smocked dresses from a previous decade.  I believe she found them in consignment shops or garage sales and recognized some of the quality handiwork that went into them (possibly from sweatshops in the ’60s maybe?).  And thankfully she stopped acquiring them when my tomboy-hood banned all things smocked, gathered, and frilled, but I believe this is what set the precedent for obtaining used clothing.

I also have a clear memory of the second grade and being on the outer ring of a group of girls surrounding a lone victim wearing a dress I had secretly liked but was clearly from an earlier generation – a blue pinafore or jumper** with colorful embroidery (I think it was a pattern of small fish).  The ringleader of the mean girls, whose name I recall was actually Ashley, taunted the girl (I’ll call Pam) without her realization of what was happening along the lines of:

Ashley:  [Sneeringly] I like your dress Pam.

Pam: [Shyly blushing and looking downward] Oh, thank you!

Ashley:  Where did you get, it?

Pam: [Brightening] Oh, I actually found it at Goodwill!

Ashley: [Sneering even more] What is that?  Is that a fancy new shop downtown?

[Ashley’s friends break out in cruel giggles]

Though this taunting was pretty tame, I am ashamed now that I didn’t punch Ashley, but I pretty much knew from then on I wouldn’t be friends with her or the others for the next ten years at school.  I remember going to a small birthday party for Pam at the local trailer park once, but shortly thereafter something started to go terribly wrong with her or her life and she often just cried by herself on the playground.  Though the school was tiny, I lost track of her.  She was one of the first to die from our class after graduation – I don’t know what happened.

Knowing I too was on the fringe and would never be a cheerleader, jock-cock sucker, star athlete, or sweet hometown homecoming queen, and I’d always have a long strange ethnic name in a sea of Smiths and Jones, was not the same religion as most of my peers, came from a liberal outspoken family, got good grades, was a band freak, was tall for my age and flat-chested to boot (then), and even the stupid fact of being the only one with a summer birthday and never having the class recognize it, and therefore me, gave me a solid f*ck-all-ya’ll attitude that the “alternative” culture embraced.  So even though I was shoved and locked in lockers, voted off the lunch table, and hid in the bathroom whenever dodge-ball was assigned, I knew life was better outside of that shithole school and town.  Thrifting was an escape, a way to time-travel, and it felt good to occupy the fabric skins of others who had passed through their shitty youths and were on to something better.

Though once in a while I did think about how the former owners of my duds could have died long lonely deaths, or still be around and be even more miserable than me…

*Conservative only in personal finance, certainly not in politics – many in the area were crazy right-wingers and their children are probably teabagging preppers these days… hopefully they don’t believe in voting.

**Brits call sweaters and pullovers “jumpers” but what do they call the sleeveless dress that you have to wear a shirt underneath?

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Who’s my momma?

thrift stitchery

In the sometimes sad cruel world of thrift shop discards, I occasionally come across some artistic foundlings.  Who wouldn’t dream of finding a lost masterpiece/rare historic document/load of cash hidden behind a paint-by-number rendition of a horse in the desert?  But sadly, the only hidden score I’ve ever made was five bucks stuck to some used gum in a jacket pocket.  But once in awhile I’ll come across some decent handmade items – amateur paintings that are crude but appealing, wonky but charming efforts from a ceramics class, or stitchery – much in the way of beautifully embroidered home items.  With vintage stitched tablecloths, napkins, dresser scarves and the like, I assume they were made by a long ago grandmother.  They were lovingly kept, passed on, and possibly used for decades until the family ended, someone had to make a significant move or downsizing and was sad to let them go but had to, or the maker was a mean old bag and no one wanted her crap.  But these two wool canvas work pictures caught my eye since they didn’t seem to fit the mold of someone making them long ago or an assignment for a community arts class or freshman art 101.  One was framed professionally, and the other somewhat sloppily.  I’m dating them to the 1980s since the whale pattern reminds me of the cotton lining of a kelly green rubber raincoat I wore with navy duck shoes* that I had then.  The primary colors in the other also make it a good fit for the decade, or perhaps as early as the late 1970s.  I haven’t dismantled them enough to see if the canvas was printed and thus a kit, and thus I wouldn’t really be interested in them anymore, so I don’t want to know quite yet.  So I am seeking opinions, identifications, possible makers, reference leads – help?  I found them in a Goodwill in Mahopac, Putnam County, New York last fall on the way up to Rhinebeck 2012.

*Links for visual references only, I’m not pushing this Etsy shop, nor is it mine.

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