#nobuyzone

Why do we buy stuff and how much is enough? Well I guess you could say that we buy stuff because we need it. And ‘enough’ is enough to satisfy those needs. But everyone seems to have a fridge or freezer these days that’s stuffed with food, cupboards heaving with supplies and even a drinks cabinet, but who hasn’t stood in front of them and thought “I need to go to the shops”? Our wardrobes are heaving with clothes that are seldom worn (requiring frequent de-cluttering and trips to the charity shops). And our houses are packed with things that have little utility and end up joining our unloved clothes at the dump.

We buy to make us feel better: to heal a hurt, to salve ourselves on a bad day, or reward us on a good day. Another  new outfit for a ‘special’ night out, or because the dress you love has been ‘seen’ too many times. We buy the latest ‘thing’ so we can  feel a wee bit superior to our our neighbours or, shamefully, our friends, or because someone suggested that hanging on to the the tech we’ve grown used to, makes us dinosaurs.

Your nana probably had a tiny wardrobe that she shared with the family – and she probably still had room for all the winter coats. She might have had just enough knickers for a few days between laundering, with a few skirts and cardigans in heavy rotation. And she made them, and repaired them and turned them into rags for the kitchen when – eventually – they were done. She would’ve had draws full of paper bags, margarine tubs and she used soap until it was worn to a sliver. Socks were darned, as were sweater elbows. Trousers were patched. Shoes were soled and heeled, polished regularly and were a major expense.

So we have clearly gained a wealth of choices, prosperity and home comforts, but I’m beginning to suspect that somewhere along the way, we have lost something too. Respect for the things we own possibly, the ability to take care and repair the stuff we have, and maybe occasionally a sense that buying something else won’t make us feel better….maybe it even contributes to the feeling that something is awry.

Now I don’t want to go back to the world where my Nana lived: there was poverty, the fear of unemployment, cold houses and dreary meals, but I feel that our consumption is getting out of control and we buy things as a substitute for something that has gone AWOL from our lives. I don’t know what that thing is, but by giving up buying for a year, I hope to find out. Will you join me?

#nobuyzone Nov 2017/Nov 2018.

Works in progress and a finished object…no really.

As a break from the embarrassment/heart searching of my preparation for the big #nobuyzone year long experiment, I have a bit of knitting to report on – including…..ta dah, a finished object!

Works in progress include this lovely sock – very vanilla pattern, but West Yorkshire spinners sock in Mojito and destined for the Christmas bag I think.IMG_3943

I love West Yorkshire Spinners yarns and I am happy to report that running out of them during my year long yarn diet is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. They are one of the few major UK yarn producers that use UK wool and they make some of the most scrumptious knitting yarns (at totally do-able prices). As I am no longer a  stockist this isn’t some sort of traders ‘line’ either. If I have a beef with them, it’s that their patterns let them down a wee bit. But if you’re like me, you’ll mostly find your patterns on-line anyway.

Crochet-wise, this little pattern, ‘Katinka’ by Isager is almost at the finishing line, I just have to complete one remaining stripe of the grey, then it’s going to get a jolly good blocking, and this is NOT going to end up as a gift…it’s mine, all mine! I love that pattern motif and the colours are just dreamy. It’s a two-ply lace weight, and crocheted on a 3mm hook so a long time in the making. This was not helped by a pattern screw up. The yarn quantities given were um, mean/incorrect/wishful thinking and I had to take a full stripe back and make up an alternative to the pattern as written. As me and crochet are not old buddies I used a simple eyelet pattern in between the more complicated motif rows. It works. More or less. But can I just say that Loop of London’s customer service isn’t all that.

The finished object is my grey cardigan. I finally managed to work out what was wrong and fix it. And I really rather like it. It’s not elegant, but it is warm, cosy and has a lovely drapey feel to it. I have changed the button for a much larger grey shell one since taking these (as usual, awkward) selfies wearing it, but I can see it being a major contributor to my winter wardrobe.

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Next week…. it’s the final countdown to the #nobuyzone. Can I resist the temptation to buy all the things in the last week?

We need to talk about yarn…

OK  so we’ve assessed the clothes/shoes axis (I won’t be buying handbags either btw – I’ve ‘only’ got half a dozen or so, but that being said, I only use one regularly…the others clog up the wardrobe. Sulking) – so let’s move onto yarn.

Now before I owned a wool shop I had a stash. This largely consisted of skeins of beautiful lace-weights that I was scared to use, left-overs from finished projects and bargain yarn batches that I hadn’t found a use for, plus maybe enough yarn for the ongoing project. It looked like a lot. My mum never had anywhere near that amount: just enough for her current project and a small bag of scraps. I read funny stories by the Yarn Harlot about stash storage, but couldn’t empathise – I could hide my stash in just a small corner of the wardrobe.

Then I bought a wool shop and little by little, some of the good stuff trickled out and began to fill storage bags in my house. I mean I didn’t go crazy-mad, I just treated myself. Then, when I knew the shop was going to close and that a fire-sale was inevitable, I looked around the shelves and thought, nobody is having this delicious stuff at knockdown prices, (and because it was 100% wool and a premium product, it hadn’t exactly been flying off the shelves in any case) so I bagged it up and brought it home. I am not ashamed. Nope.

So the picture below is my stash – or the vast majority of it: not included is a large box of shop haberdashery and an equally large box for my Sock-blankie 2 and its ton of sock leftovers. And there is another small bag of some quite horrid acrylic ‘Special’ DK that I bought under the influence of a very famous blogger. Some of it turned into a blanket, the rest is called upon to produce occasional samples and pattern tests. I cannot throw it away because, well, it’s yarn. But friends, I remain unpersuaded of its ‘special’ qualities.

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the full stash
sock wool
sock…
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..the special ones…

When I arranged all this yarn on the bed I felt a mixture of shame and pride: the former because that’s a lot of yarn for one person, and the latter because that is a lot of yarn for one person.

And I do not need to buy any more yarn – do I?

#nobuyzone -additions?

So having decided to take a holiday from buying more stuff, and auditing my wardrobe, what, if anything, do I need to buy in the remaining three weeks?

  • I have a passion for Converse & usually buy a pair each summer – though the last iteration made it through two (I bought sandals instead this year… worn 4 times. Stupid British summers). My current orange ones are looking a bit sad, so might need to be ‘pre-placed’ (which is a bit like being replaced, but in advance).

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    …my under-utilised sandals. 
  • I need a neutral grey cardigan – I was making one and it’s nearly there, but not quite…. it’s one of those projects that I keep going back to and tweeking, before adding it back to the ‘to be finalised’ pile. I’m not sure what I don’t like about it, so I’m not sure how to cure it. It’s nice yarn….maybe I should just frog it and start again…
  • I might need new trainers: the current ones are fairly new and due to being Limpy McLimpface I don’t do a lot of actual working out! But wait, what if I get operated on in the next few months, recover rapidly, take up exercise and wear those trainers out? Um, I think that under these slightly unlikely circumstances I shall allow new sports shoes as the ONLY EXCEPTION TO THE #NOBUYZONE rule book.
  • I might treat myself to new knickers – on reflection some of them are looking a little saggy!

Next time….we need to talk about yarn…..

 

# nobuyzone audit

Well that was ….um, not good.

Here are the results of the audit

…in addition there are 9 coats, about a dozen handbags (and yet another bag for the bloody charity shop)! Some thoughts occur.

  • My wardrobe is very dark, mostly black, some sludgy colours and navy. I don’t think this is a good thing. And I have a lot of stripe-y things.
  • My shoe collection shows an unwavering commitment to comfort and Converse.
  • I have too many things that rarely get worn – the reason for this is that they are designated for ‘going out’ in….and I rarely go anywhere that merits a complete change of clothes.
  • On the upside, a good third of the tops that I have – t-shirts and tunic style – are made by me and get worn a lot. Buying the over-locker was a good move and it’s now more than paying back its purchase cost.

#nobuyzone

Organising the final days of the shop, stashing the left-over yarn and finding places to store it in the loft has been a sobering experience. I’ve laughed in the past when I’ve seen a suggestion that knitting and buying/stashing yarn it are two separate hobbies, but that laughter feels a little hollow when I’ve got many years supply of yarn… and still keep on buying it.

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I love the promise of an un-used ball of wool. The gorgeous colours and textures of a particularly lovely skein of yarn are like human catnip for me, but I’m beginning to feel a wee bit guilty about buying more and more of the stuff – and only very slowly turning it into knitted things.

 

At the same time, the loft revealed that I have a problem with buying clothes and shoes too: I’m sure I’m not alone in wearing the same dozen items and two pairs of shoes and yet I have a wardrobe stuffed with clothes, drawers stuffed with clothes, as well as a spare wardrobe in the loft stuffed with clothes. I have boxes of shoes, miles of scarfs, crates of hats and gloves and bags. While we were sorting out the spider-strewn storage, I began to feel a wee bit sickly (and that wasn’t just because of the spiders).

Clothes and fabric are one of the biggest contributors to landfill, the chemicals used to produce, process and dye cloth are frequently toxic, and the garment industry has questions to answer about how much it pays, and how it treats its (predominantly third world and female) workers. The fashion industry drives a fast and furious cycle of what is ‘in’ and ‘out’ that could leave half your wardrobe redundant in less than a year.

Like most of us, I enjoy the real pleasure of combining colour and cloth, glitter and gloss for a night out, and I’ve spent hours looking for the perfect pair of life-changing jeans just like everyone else. But I need to jump off that carousel for a while – and closing the shop, losing my independent income and changing my life has given me a obvious incentive to do something a bit different for a while.

So this is the plan – and it’s a simple one. I’m not going to buy any more clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories or yarn for a whole year. As I can sew I have an obvious ‘get out’ clause, but I’m going to attempt a ‘one in- one out’ policy. I’m going to start by auditing the stuff I have and make sure that I’m not hanging on to things that could have a better home elsewhere (and to make sure that I have enough knickers for a year). My plan is to kick off on the first of November.

PS this is Villagewoolly central for the next wee while – it’s in the conservatory and as you can see, it’s a pretty nice place to hang out. Btw – I don’t ‘do’ minimalism!

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