In the spirit of Thrift…

A long time ago, I discovered that the word “Thrift” doesn’t quite mean what people generally think. (Although there is an element of words eventually coming to mean what people think they mean, rather than what they originally meant. Just don’t tell Humpty Dumpty.) It didn’t, and shouldn’t, mean penny-pinching miserliness; it came from the same root as “thrive”, just as “frugal” originally meant much the same as “fruitful”. Once I’d wrapped my head around the idea of thrift as something positive, it put a different slant on my attempts to live within our means as we raised our biggish family on one-and-a-little-bit incomes whilst paying a fairly hefty mortgage to afford a home big enough for us not to actually fall over each other. It became a challenge to get the very best out of the resources actually available to us, rather than to become bitter & envious, and strive after ever more money and ever more stuff.

There are all sorts of interesting thoughts hovering around this; why are we continually encouraged to buy, buy, buy; to upgrade things that aren’t broken, to cook with fresh ingredients from the other side of the planet, to constantly change our clothes & decor at the whim of fashion editors & celebrities, to replace rather than repair? Is this a sane way to try to run the world? Why is our own time rarely recognised as an important resource, only time that someone else pays you for? However, the central fact is that, given that you actually do have enough (a key concept) of everything vital, it’s an interesting challenge to see what more you can do with the resources, of any sort, that do come your way.

Hence my determination not to just throw away (and where exactly is away?) the little strips of not-so-usable fabric that resulted from demolishing 20-something shirts, some old jeans, and a couple of skirts for free or very-inexpensive fabric. The hems, side-seams & plackets, mostly; I have another project or two in mind for the collars and cuffs. And thanks to lockdown 3 here in the UK, I have plenty of time to put my plans into action for a while. So, here’s the finished hem-and-seam rug:

Rug in twined-weave, made from seams, hems & plackets of old shirts, jeans & skirts, plus an old duvet cover.

I do know how very lucky I am, to have the time and the space to make things, but something inside me won’t let me not make things, and of course there are plenty of other things I should probably be doing, like housework. The things I make may be simple & easy, and I really don’t need another rug, but it’s given me great pleasure to turn some things that under other circumstances could be seen as “waste” into something genuinely useful and colourful.

For the next few days, I need to concentrate on getting a few seeds started, and a part-done cot quilt that needs finishing before the “user” arrives! But then – where next with my massive “to do” pile and my random assortment of “resources”…?

4 thoughts on “In the spirit of Thrift…

  1. Jayne February 2, 2021 / 9:10 am

    Are we twins? Your penultimate paragraph could be me – only in my case it is that I really do not “need” more quilts, but I cannot stop making things either ☺️

    Today I will ignore much needed dusting and a freezer which is begging to be defrosted and cleaned out.

  2. Ellias Jafari July 17, 2022 / 10:54 pm

    Thanks for this blog and specific post. I was searching the internet for some anti-consumerism movement, group, info or anything in the UK and this article was a search result. I studied Consumer Psychology and I want to extend my enjoyment of writing (poetry) into something a little more like this post, just presenting various aspects of consumerism from unplaned purchases and the consumer decision making process to branding, advertising and value creation. The beauty of stumbling upon your blog is the rich info on recycling/reusing by ourselves, not using the waste system. This is excellent for me to learn about, thanks! I need to get weaving. My favourite words of yours are “Why is our own time rarely recognised as an important resource, only time that someone else pays you for?” – beautifully phrased – and “Hence my determination not to just throw away (and where exactly is away?)” – you provoke a lot of thought and I like the style that you are presentig questions, not answers.Thanks again! You are inspiring me. You have a new keen follower here… 🙂

    • thriftwizard July 18, 2022 / 10:10 am

      Thank you, Ellias! You have given me new hope that others are also concerned about the way we’ve been channelled into accepting the appalling levels of waste & damage that our “way of life” causes. I will get blogging again!

      • Ellias Jafari August 7, 2022 / 7:42 pm

        Yes, please keep on with this fight! I have spent years wondering where voices like yours may be found. It’s so rare and I think you will inspire many many people with these sorts of posts. Thanks so much for sharing as you do!

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