Tag Archives: used stuff

Cruel crewel world…

Too hot and humid Saturdays sent us to ReStore many more times than usual over the summer. Wintertime usually means thrifting time, but when it’s too hot to hike or work in the yard, it is the second best option to staying cooped up in the house.

(We sadly only made it to the beach once this year – the dog wasn’t ready to be on his own for more than an hour or so for much of the time, and Sundays are the better day to go around here to avoid the crowds somewhat anyway…)

I’ve already yammered on about some of my recent thrifted fiber, functional storage, and furniture acquisitions of late, but I also picked up some more knitting pattern books (a tale for another day) and other’s abandoned stitchery works-in-progress.

I’ve been mildly interested in doing some woolly embroidery projects over the last couple of years – not enough to actually plan and start any, but enough to pick up random skeins of crewel wool.

crewel-yarn

Again and again…

crewel-basket

(There’s an antique mall in the sticks close to family we visit that has a never-ending supply of the stuff for like $1 a baggie – it’s also the home to other great fiber finds – especially this basket and this basket.)

But I haven’t gotten much further than this except to page through my mother’s old bargello book and idly think about re-creating her optical illusion pillows of my youth (that no longer exist – at least one was partially consumed by the family dog) only in colors I like rather than the popular ones of excrement in the ’70s – browns and golds, while lovely on the forest floor, will always be poo and pee to me in home decor – though I think one of the pillows (the one that was chewed beyond repair) was browns and oranges or just orange with ombre browns, which I do like…

But regardless, I guess I did think about it some, but not overly so, until I found a complete, just started crewel kit over the summer.

I really liked it – squirrels and frogs and owls and caterpillars and all weirdly similarly-sized – what’s not to love? And I imagined stitching it up in a cabin on vacation and then making a pillow for my spinning chair out of it. But for shits I looked up what it might sell for and though it varied widely, it could easily bring over $10. $10 is usually the limit by which I bother to sell something online. But I figured it was an okay sacrifice since I’d only paid $1, and I’d be honing my embroidery skills and getting something I truly liked.

crewel-picture

But then I looked closer…

crewel-frog-bunny

And the original stitcher used the wrong colors – the frog was supposed to be more grey-green, and the bunny grey not brown…

Now, I am so not about “the rules” and I rarely follow instructions completely (though there are times when I should a bit more) but in a kit,* I get a bit itchy  about this stuff – is there enough spare wool in the right colors to fix it, or if I don’t, will I end up with a grey instead of a brown stick? And though it’s minor and I could let it slide, I’d still like better contrast between the greens of the frog and the greens of the reeds, and then the fact that this kit has such a wide range of colors is partly why I found it so appealing, so use the whole range of colors, dammit!

But then it could be sad – the original stitcher could have been loosing her eyesight… Abandoned projects found at the thrifts always come with a bit of melancholy – either whiffs of things coming to and end with fingers and eyes and minds, or frustration, or death and disposal – but that is also what I find appealing about them – a chance to resolve themselves and become the things they set out to be, or different from their earlier failure and abandonment but redeemed nonetheless.

But this little froggy and bunny will probably go to auction after all…

*I’ve never made something from a kit beyond a latch hook horse pillow 30 something years ago, so kits in general make me itchy.

 

 

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Filed under collecting, home decor, sewing, thrifting

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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