October 1, 2023

On being thrifty

I was born into a loving, caring family in the middle of World War II. My father served as a soldier in PNG and he didn't see me until I was seven months old when he was able to come home for a short time on leave. My mother used to tell me that he would not buy anything but absolute necessities on the field, so that he could send his pay home to help us survive. Rationing of food and clothing was in place and it took quite a while to save enough coupons to purchase essentials. Butter was the first thing to be rationed in Australia so the dripping from the mutton roasts was the substitute. Some of the rations continued for four or five years after the war. By the time I went to school, dripping on fresh bread was one of my favourite after-school snacks!

My father had employment after the war, but when I compare my life with that of many of my school friends, I realise that we were really quite poor. There was no room in the budget for any extras. Mum virtually never bought anything for herself, she sewed all our clothes where possible, and we didn't own a car. Mum and Dad were both very clever with their hands and between them they could mend, patch, remake, remodel and repair almost anything and most of the time my brother and I were blissfully ignorant of the struggles our parents went through to give us the happy childhood that we had.

Ignorant we might have been, but the thrifty pattern of life was set before us every day. Is it any wonder then that I grew up with the same frugal, careful, mindset? Nothing was ever wasted in my childhood home and to this day I absolutely abhor waste, and spending unnecessarily just doesn't fit into my economic plans!

So, when I received from two different friends some bags of crochet/knitting cotton, which included quite a few small end-of-balls, my brain went into overdrive working out a practical use for these lovely threads. On their own, these small amounts of cotton are almost useless, but put them together and we have a different story.  

Useful and pretty is how I have always wanted my craft work to be, so what could be more practical than a bag, and more pretty than the colours of the rainbow? You can imagine the fun I have had playing with all the different hues and working a basic design that didn't require much concentration or much reading of a pattern, as most of my crocheting is done while I sit with hubby in Aged Care.

I use the word 'most', because I have enjoyed the process so much that some nights I have put away the needle and thread on grand-daughter's bee wall hanging and just relished the rhythm of the crochet hook. Here's the link to the free pattern on which I based the bag above: http://www.kristinescrochets.com/2022/06/crochet-tote-bag.html 

I adapted this lovely free pattern: https://kamecrochet.com/2020/07/29/laica-market-bag/ for the bag below. I am so thrilled to have found a use for something that might have been discarded as worthless. 

The tally is two bags so far - both have been lined. One will be a gift, but I have decided to keep the second one for myself to replace the much-used old tote bag I made eighteen years ago. 

I love my thrifty life!



FlourishingPalms said...

Oh Val! I really appreciate hearing your growing-up story, and how the legacy of frugal thriftiness was instilled in you. Living like that didn't hurt you, or your childhood memories one bit, did they?! Though I don't think I grew up as severely as you, I too recall my parents being more inclined to reuse than make new. No doubt my Mother's skill as a seamstress is one of the ways she economized (making clothes for herself and all three of us kids), and the reason both my sister and I learned to sew clothes before venturing into other crafts. I love, love, love the bags you've crocheted! Goodness but you know a lot of crochet stitches! I'd never be able to look at a pile of colorful yarns and "see" the gorgeous designs you've created. I DO have a pile of leftover yarn (from an afghan I crocheted) that I'd thought to donate to a group that does knitting on round looms. Now you're making me reconsider!

Nanna Chel said...

Val, my husband and I are the same. We have always been very frugal as were our parents. Unfortunately a lot of young people have never had to learn the skills but I think their time is coming. I love the bag. It is very colourful. Chel

Bailey said...

Thank you for sharing about your younger days. I wish my parents had shared things about their young lives. They were both born in 1925 and are sadly now gone (2000 and 2001). But reading about your younger days, I realize just how lucky I am to have been born when I was born. People who complain about how hard they have it should have to daily read about what it was like in the years of the 20th century.

I hope your husband is doing as well as expected. Wishes both of you the best.


Val Laird said...

Thanks so much for your kind words Cynthia. Best wishes!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Val, what a beautiful use of that gifted yarn. I really love your bags, and give thanks that you have handwork such as this to do by your hubby's bedside. I pray for you and him, dear one.
I was raised by grandparents who lived through both world wars, and the depression...and at their feet I learned lessons which still bear fruit today.
Biggest hugs