Monday, February 8, 2010

Well, darn it!

When I was hanging up laundry yesterday I happened to notice the deplorable state that Mr. G had let his socks slip into. He's only had these socks a month, but they were so foreworn that I mistook them for his old pair. Since they are wool and cost $9 a pair they are prime candidates for darning. Here is a step by step tutorial for anyone who would care to add this forgotten skill to their arsenal of frugal living tips.

Step 1: Find a forlorn pair of socks in need of some TLC and a ladle. I don't have a darning egg and the suggestion of using a lightbulb seems unwise. If you happen to get a little slap happy with the darning needle you might be tempted to say something a bit more robust than "darn it".
Step 2: Place the ladle in the sock to give yourself a good surface to work on, the fabric should not be so tight that it's stretched.
Step 3: I like to begin by taking running stitches around the rent, about a half inch out from the hole, to stabilize the tear. Not everybody does this but it makes it easier for me to keep my stitches even. Leave a 4-5" tail trailing, you will weave this in later.
Step 4: Begin sewing the warp threads using a running stitch. When you come to the rent just take a long stitch over it and continue with the running stitch on the other side.
Step 5: Now you can begin to weave the weft threads over and under the warp that you've just created. Try to make your stitches lie close to the row below. I've purposely woven loosely here to give you a better picture of what you're trying to accomplish.
Step 6: Weave in your ends, tying creates uncomfortable lumps so weaving is preferred. I darned this sock in "Northern Ireland" colors so you can see better.
The completed sock with a new lease on life! :-)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What do you *need* to be content?

As so often happens, a variety of things happen or are said and the result is a blog post so that I can sum up my thoughts on the subject. I've been pondering "Godliness with contentment is great gain" and "having food and raiment let us therefore be content". That last one is pretty sticky, isn't it? :-) If you had food and clothes and shelter and nothing more, would you be content? Some of the things that sparked this line of thought.
  1. Somebody wrote a letter to the editor in a magazine I subscribe to basically saying that if you can buy superfluous items then you aren't caring enough about starving, homeless or suffering people in your community. Wow. That's a sobering thought.
  2. A neighbor that we've met a few times dropped off 7 blankets here today, that's a nice thought. We have enough blankets for our beds but no extras, everyone has 2 sets of sheets and that's it. No extras. But they had enough extra that they could afford to give away 7 like new blankets.
  3. One of the meme questions had to do with our clothes (how much is homemade and how much we have). The girls have 4 dresses each, petticoats, and a pinafore or 2, the boys have 3-4 shirts and 3-4 pairs of pants/overalls. They have a Winter coat/hat/scarf and socks and that's it. We don't have closets full of clothes that we don't wear. There are several reasons for this: since I sew the majority (not overalls, socks or underwear) of what we wear and there are 11 of us, we're never going to have "too many" clothes as I simply can't sew that fast. :-) Secondly, I truly believe that it's unnecessary and an account will have to be given of why I wanted more when I knew that others didn't even have enough. Again, that's a pretty sobering thought. Historically you'd be looking hard for any but the very wealthiest families to have any where near what most people consider necessary today, why do we need so much?
  4. And this is the biggie. We've been without a van for over 2 years, that means that we don't go places as a family etc. It's been really hard, I mean really. I had my hopes set on buying a van when we got our taxes back but circumstances conspired to make this impossible. I was so disappointed but I started to ponder whether we needed a van or not. I came to the conclusion that we don't. We aren't going to die without it, so while it's a nice luxury, it's not a need.

I may have mentioned Martha Ballard before, but it ties in so I'll bring her up again. I own and have read her diary several times and I recently learned that the diary in its entirety is searchable online. I searched for "beans" and found out what varieties of beans they planted etc. I searched on "knit" and read about what and when they knitted. If you read her diary you will quickly notice how full her days were and how industrious their family was. They worked hard to provide for their needs and I think they were better for it. I'm not sure that our glut of leisure time really benefits us, I'm afraid it only serves to further the disconnect between us and those around us. Who cares about their neighbor anymore? Do we know (or care) who raises our food or makes our clothes? I'm troubled by these thoughts. I don't expect that you will have the answers, but I just wanted to get this off my chest. :-)

The diary is available here.