Friday, 9 September 2016

Mending, saving, waste: thoughts on making and non-disposable living

I have just finished knitting a new heel on my worn-out, favourite pair of socks. It is perhaps the third or fourth time that I have mended them. Reinforced with two strands of polyester sewing thread, the new heel is strong and sturdy, so I'm happy to be able to pull on the sock again: it will accompany me on many more journeys to come. But even as I'm mending, I'm making many more things. To be a maker is to work through compulsions to create; but we cannot be producers without also being consumers. On my desk are scraps of material from previous projects that I will be transforming into another quilt. Not because I need another blanket (or even another pair of socks, for that matter), but because I want to make it. Sewing and knitting for me began in the desire to be self-sufficient; to step out of the cycle of buying, to break out of the need to replenish goods that are deemed unfashionable or unsuitable. But the craft industries are equally wily and lucrative; and I constantly find myself overwhelmed with piles of materials and tools that promised great things but have yet to be realised.

The desire to live a sustainable, non-disposable life often runs in dangerous parallel to being a hoarder. Never throwing anything away leads to the impulse to hang on to everything - which I have no desire to do. The minimalist-living trend often feels like a fantasy - a hazy, light-filled one where no one works zero-hour contracts or lives in house shares/with their parents into their thirties....ahem... It feels like the minimalist living trend might be a way of encouraging shopping when people have begun to question it. Having very few possessions is fine so long as you do the same thing every day; but break your routine and you might find yourself lacking.

The difficult thing is to find a balance: between preventing unnecessary waste, and being unable to let go of anything at all. Between making the things you want, versus the things that you need. And in how you spend your time, which is always precious, and little.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing with my 2016 Year of Socks project. And I'll make my quilt, too, and mend my clothes. But in sewing my own clothing, I've slowed right down, because there are only so many dresses I can wear at once.

Inspirational: historical darning samples from Fries Museum via Tom of Holland

Instructional: Re-knitting a sock heel

Darning 3 ways: re-knitting, with duplicate stitch, and basic darning

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