Tag Archives: thrift store

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?

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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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Caaaaashmeeeeere…

I had a huge thrifting score a few weeks ago.

I hadn’t been shopping for months because I’m too broke now even for thrift stores, and I already have a decent stash of wearables, frogables, and feltables.  But I needed just a few more things to complete or begin a few more things.

Thriftscore-cashcardi-grey

While there I found my sweater Shangri-La.

I can’t understand why someone would get rid of this: 100% cashmere, a nice shade of grey, and no issues apart from a few easily removed pills on one side where someone probably carried her purse.

Yes, it’s baggy and shapeless, but holy hell, it is utter bliss to wear.  It’s perfect for sleepwear or just lounging about too, so why would someone get rid of it?  Even if you lost a ton of weight, it still feels nice to wear, so unless you gained a ton, like an actual ton, or died, I see no reason to be rid of this.

I’m not the sort of shameful woman who does happy dances and squeals and all those sorts of public behaviors that continue to set women back decades, but this was one of the few times I came close as I cracked a faint but noticeable half-smile when I found it and hurriedly shoved it securely down into my cart.

And for $5.99 on the half-off day – it was only $2.99!!!

Thriftscore-cashcardi-grey-det

This also solves my need for a new long thin sweater, though I’m still planning on knitting one eventually.

I picked up another one to wear too – merino & cashmere, in perfect condition, also quite cheap.  The tag said it was from Fall 2004, so perhaps someone thought 10 years of ownership was enough?   The tag also emphatically stated DRY CLEAN ONLY, but it survived and flourished in its sudsy watery bath.

Thriftscore-stripeyT

And even more cashmere!!!

Thriftscore-cashpile

Most of these have some sort of damage or kill-worthy preppyness, so they will be harvested for their yarn or turned into linings for hats and such.

And I found a few sweaters made with good sturdy wool or wool/nylon blends in colors I like which will be harvested for their yarn as well.  The one on top is another (misshapen and holey) Shetland – I think I have enough Shetland sweaters to harvest an interesting palette of yarn now.  I was intending to make a big Hap shawl out of them, but I love the vintage spencer dresses seen here and here and here and would love to make something similar at some point.

Thriftscore-woolypile

I’m looking forward to making something out of the stripey one on the left too, perhaps along the lines of the scarf I made last year from recycled stripey sweater yarn.

stripey 007 - Copy

And it has already been reduced to a pile of lovely squiggles.

stripey 023 - Copy

Then a tower (what were you thinking?) of yarn cakes.

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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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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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