Collecting, stashing, recycling, reusing…hoarding. Ok so there can be a fine line between collecting reducing waste and hoarding but in an increasingly throw-away society, its worth reflecting on stuff, what we do with it and how we value it!.
Now I am guilty of all of these things and it stems from a belief that we can not continue to pretend we are not connected to an ever diminishing set of resources and space on our planet. And what a crazy world that we can buy a $10 kettle and then throw it away as soon as it breaks while on the other side of the world plenty of people could desperately use a kettle (and electricity) to boil some clean drinking water.
That sense of making and making do and of seeing the value in materials is strong in me. But it does mean I tend to hang onto things that seem like one day they will be useful. I also have a habit of accepting things other people are throwing away, because that thing is perfectly good or just needs a mend and I can't bear to see it thrown away. I have several things piled up at home that can no longer be fixed or of use but I can’t yet work out how to dispose of them properly.
It does mean I have quite the stash of crafty items! I know I won’t be alone in that. I have found the stash useful at times for those last minute gift ideas….the beauty of which is that sometimes you end up using something you would never have brought for the purpose! Shame I haven’t learnt to take photos, but I remember a toddler dress made from beautiful brown and purple floral quilting fabric, and a jacket/wrap lined in vintage fabric pieced from a stashed dress picked up at a garage sale.
“Little baby Maxy arrived a little early, but on a sunny winter weekend so I couldn’t resist a cast-on. I rifled through my stash and came up with some leftover Jo Sharp DK to stripe with some pretty Noro that I had been gifted quite some time ago. I ran out of the Jo Sharp about 2 rows from the sleeve end, but managed to find a section of the Noro that was a good colour match and slipped that in!”
The cardigan was made in a set of colours that I never would have chosen for a baby if I was shopping for the project, but the result was so beautiful!
A great challenge is to make something out of what seems like it should be destined for the bin! There is nothing new about this and while we now have the luxury of choosing to make do, we come from a great history of making from scraps! I have a stunning old quilt made from shirt samples. It comes from the late 1800s and some lucky quilter somehow came by shirt fabric samples (from some travelling salesman perhaps? Or salvaged from a general store?) and hand sewed an entire quilt. Can you imagine? But here it is more than a hundred years later and still so beautiful.
When my granddaughter Olivia arrived I made a snowball quilt. The trick is to take a bigger square and stitch smaller squares across the corners to make the snowball shape. You then end up trimming off a pair of triangles on every corner!
That meant I was left with 280 pairs of tiny triangles! I could not bring myself to throw away carefully cut, pretty pieces of fabric, so I have started piecing them together to make a dolly sized pinwheel quilt for Olivia’s toys! Of course with that many tiny triangles, it’s a marathon project! Hopefully Olivia won’t be a teenager before I get it done.
Tiny triangles are not the only stashed mini bits I have. I have tightly rolled balls of yarn left over from knitted projects, and I know one day they will come in handy! I have a collection of scrap yarn ideas on Pinterest. Bits can make small toys, cute bootees, decorations and embellishments or embroidery, or bring them together for blanket squares (knit or crochet) or a tea cosy perhaps?
Lucky for me, I'm married to someone who also believes that one day, that thing you have salvaged will come into use! Our yard is full of great structures from things like old pig stye timbers, old fences and recycled packing crates. We must have one of the most palatial chicken houses, made from a packing crate found by the side of the road and a patchwork of flattened tin.
One of his pride and joys is what we call the "folly trolley" - a timber trolley which finally made use of old cast iron wheels hoarded for over a decade and timber recycled from a hundred year old balustrading destined for the rubbish!
We also have a collection of beautiful (in my mind at least) old things that we use to decorate my spaces. I will confess many of the things we have in our house are things we have bought or found or inherited with no plan for where it will go or how it will be used. Its more of a mission to rescue beautiful things, and things that you know that someone else has hoarded and valued themselves. We’re just keeping up the tradition!
What do you collect?