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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Make Do and Mend

How exciting is this: I’ve got an essay in this week’s episode of Cast On, which is far and away my favorite podcast! The series theme is ‘Make Do and Mend,’ taking inspiration from WWII-era booklets on repurposing and economizing. I’m continually inspired by my grandparents’ thrifty lifestyle (I’ve already told you about the candy tin o’ buttons), so that’s what my essay is about. I know a lot of you reading this aren’t knitters, but Brenda’s podcast is well worth a listen regardless.

I have so many items of clothing ready to be mended or repurposed–the challenge is actually getting down to making the alterations. There’s the vintage 100% wool cardi I mention in the essay, which I think will become a button-down vest from A Stitch in Time (a huge, beautifully illustrated book of modernized vintage patterns, which is on my Christmas wish list). There’s another purple sweater I got for Kate when I worked at Anthropologie back in college, which is half-felted; I might as well felt it all the way and make a throw pillow out of it. I have a mohair jumper my mom got me at Kilkenny Design when I graduated with my M.A.; it’s forest green, a good color for me, but the design itself is none too flattering (why did it take me so long to realize that?!), and someday I want to frog it (mohair…yikes!) and reuse the yarn so it can still remind me of graduation and my mother’s generosity. And I have a sweater I got in Dublin in 2001 that has a hole in the elbow; I still love it, it’s purple and in perfect condition otherwise, so I need to pick up some matching sock yarn to knit a pair of elbow patches. I have a feeling I’m going to have to visit more than a few yarn shops before I find a color that’s close enough.

And I have yet another project that’s all about the buttons: my mother has a black cotton cardigan with beautiful sparkly ones that she never wears because the garment itself is faded. As it is, those buttons are going to waste. So for Christmas I’m knitting a classic cardigan that will showcase those lovely buttons (it was her idea), and that faded but still serviceable cotton cardi will get a plainer set of buttons (out of the tin) before it’s donated to Goodwill. Two sweaters out of one!

But add all these makeover sweaters to a huge pile of unfinished sewing and knitting projects, and it’s really overwhelming. Right now I really only have one completed ‘make do and mend’ project to boast of, and it’s five or six years old. My favorite jeans had huge holes in the seat, too big to patch, so I decided to make a yoga mat bag out of one of the legs. I cut out a circle for the bottom out of the other leg, used a sparkly purple shoelace for a drawstring, and a rainbow-striped belt for the strap. Now that I’ve got my mom going to yoga classes, I figure I can use some corduroy scraps to make her a mat bag too. I’ll just have to add it to The List.

Next entry: vintage sweater #3!

4 Comments to Make Do and Mend

  1. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    July 5, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I didn't know I was getting a yoga mat bag! Are you just making sure I am paying attention to your blog?? And I'm not sure I am really "going to yoga classes" after going to just one class but it is fun and I AM looking forward to the next one so maybe I am "going to yoga classes" after all. Ha!

  2. Jenny's Gravatar Jenny
    July 6, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Just listened to the podcast, lovely essay! Definitely something to be said for making do and mending. Some lovely ideas in your blog as well!

  3. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    August 2, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    My favorite line (how appropriate that it was the last): "Making a gain of what is already on hand isn't depriving yourself at all."

  4. Camille's Gravatar Camille
    August 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    F your I (as Minnie Minster would say), that last line starts "making a game." Apologies for my poor enunciation. :}

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.