Monday, 12 September 2011


... a compulsion I seemed to have long before it was fashionable! Thrift, sentimental attachment, 'saving the earth', appreciation of vintage designs, and, in some cases, a lack of currently available alternatives have all influenced me.

I find 'having a clear out' a difficult process. I can happily empty a cupboard, re-fold, re-stack and replace the items which belong there and are currently needed. Misplaced items are efficiently placed in boxes or bags each with a more appropriate intended destination. All this has sapped my energy and it is only now that it is possible to start the difficult task of deciding what to do with everything else.

Charity bags, delivered to be filled for home collection have been marvelous. Hoping that I am not ultimately contributing to landfill, and wanting to help a good cause, I find it quite easy to part with clothes the kids have outgrown if they are little used. Books are very tricky. I may have been given the odd one or two which I no longer need, but books which I have bought, fiction aside, are impossible to part with. Household items, other than some received as gifts, are, generally, chosen to last and are not fit for purpose when we have finished with them. We find it hard to contribute to car-boot-type collections for Scouts. We don't usually buy things we don't need!

Textiles usually cause the greatest anxiety - just how much is it reasonable to keep. Sports socks pushed inside each other, make great window polishers - I have enough for the street. They also seem quite good for polishing son's bike - he doesn't do so very often though! I now have enough and must be strict in the future. Towels descend to the realms of 'cleaning' cloths (when cut into smaller pieces) before being thrown out. Almost all cotton fabric is recycled. Shirt buttons are removed and I have been known to knit the shirt fabric into a yarn basket or two - now you begin to see the extent of 'my problem'. I have a drawer full of fleece jumpers to recycle - hardly worn, I plan to 'patchwork' them with some new fleece scraps, bought as off-cuts, and embellish the items with embroidery. These are intended for my use, not for sale. I have planned a jacket (but not yet located the pattern I want to use) and a throw or two. Now the jacket will be unique. Fleece throws, however, are cheap to buy and will be time-consuming to make. Perhaps this is the root of the problem. Many textiles are just that - too cheap.

I have three 'stacking crates' of discarded T-shirts. These are destined for rag rugs (hooked, prodded or woven - on my peg loom), or will be used for storage baskets (knitted or woven). Having watched me weaving, my sister-in-law now kindly sends their discarded T-shirts - brilliant since their family colour preferences are different to ours and they are extending my palette - and my storage crisis!

The smallest, and most precious, scraps of cotton fabric are the off-cuts from clothes my sister and I wore as children, and items which were made for our grandmother. The use of any of these, and I do use them, always merits long and careful consideration!

Antique quilts, when needing restoration, often reveal their true identity. Beautiful to look at, the culmination of hours of painstaking hand-stitching, they are to serve the purpose of providing warmth. Those worked as patchwork, incorporate recycling into the quilt top. The 'wadding' often reveals hidden secrets - recycled blankets and even hand-knitted shawls and similar items. Produced in an age when many people lived at subsistence level and all textiles were valued.

We had a trip to France this summer - the sort of holiday which has not been possible for us for many years. Having brought back too much wine for our kitchen rack I searched the garage for the spare one which used to be on top of the freezer, then was consigned to the garage - since we did not buy enough wine to need it, then was........... given to the last collection of items for a Scout group car boot!

My view that throwing things out is just as important a decision as buying them in the first place is now confirmed!


  1. Great post and glad I am not the only one.
    Like yourself I find I refold and restack to make things fit rather than get rid of.

    {Dab and a dash.}

  2. If only we had the time to actually make all of the things we have in our heads! I like the sock idea. I recycle my old washing powder bottles into plant markers. mad!

  3. I am a horder, my parents are hoarders, well my Dad any way and we lived, (parents still do), on a disused farm as children, we had barns full of stuff, from thrupenny bits to old cars and a boat or two. Washers were kept and saved in the correct old tabacco tin or marmalade can. Screws as well, half full tins of paint were stacked up against a wall shelf upon shelf, clothes after we all, (4 of us), wore them where possible went into a huge box in Dads workshop to be used as rags, marg tubs were kept for painting, storing, mixing and making into castles. Etc etc. Imagine the heart ache when my Mum made Dad downsize his collection so some of the barns could be sold for conversion. (It's ok he still had two 'sheds' (not your usual garden kind) and a huge garage with space for two or three cars and a sit on mower not to mention his amazing collection of workshop tools, lathe. . . then he acquired a garage and store for a few other bits and pieces). My Husband on thre other hand was moved about no end as a child, has a handful of possesions from before we became a couple and doesn't understand my obsession with keeping things as they might be useful one day! I am not sure he ever will but at least he has learnt never to throw anything away without first asking me. . . :o)

  4. I try not to hoard, but my house is very cluttered and I never seem to have a place for everything.

  5. Very interesting post! I'm another 'keep it, it may come in useful' and find it really difficult to have a clear out. As a society we waste so much that could be re-invented or recycled. When I visit India I am always impressed by how creative people are at recycling and re-using out of necessity. Liz