It’s not easy being Green. Or cool, for that matter. Tired of being envious of that effortless charity-shop chic I keep seeing everywhere I elected to jointhe ranks of the ‘make do and mend’ crowd and set myself two parallel New Years Resolutions. One: to be more glamorous, and two: to not buy any new clothes. How difficult could it be, rummaging through sweet little vintage boutiques and pouncing on amazing bargains at car boot sales? I imagined I’d immediately morph into the sort of fabulous creature who appears in a Cath Kidston advert, mini sewing machine in one hand and a kitschy, thrifty satchel bag slung casually over one shoulder.
Not so, it appears. I optimistically purchased said sewing machine with my Christmas money. The lady in John Lewis hardly had a moment to speak to me, so busy was she flogging cheap machines to a queue of messy-haired, vintage clad make-do-and-menders. I felt like a fraud and rightly so – to date I have made a series of small owl-shaped cushions. They’re sweet and all my friends have charitably asked for one to make me feel better but let’s face it, they’re not doing much for my glam resolution and I certainly can’t wear them.
While I patiently make small cushions and wait for my skill level to surpass that of a blind, one-handed octogenarian I have tried several ways of joining the home-made revolution. Buying clothes from charity shops is easy and very green. It’s a pity nothing fits me so I’m also buying bric-a-brac at an alarming rate – having withdrawal from clothes shopping means I’m finding lots of lovely things to hang on the wall and some pretty kitsch ‘kitchenalia’ (my new favourite ebay search). So, the second part of my New Year’s Resolution is going alright (three whole weeks into the year) but I’m not feeling very glam – perhaps slightly smug but I’m sure that’ll wear off next time one of my mates comes round with a brand new pair of shoes on.
I infiltrated some of my crafty mates to see what was so cool about making stuff. My friend Marta invited me to come and learn how to crochet at her flat. I arrived to find a ‘Stitch and Bitch’ in full swing – there was even a boy there! I dutifully produced a crochet hook and the ball of wool that’s been lying in my wardrobe since my last knitting fad two years ago.
What followed was harrowing. I consider myself an intelligent person with patience and some ability, but after three hours of pure gruelling concentration all I had was a blister, cramp in my index finger, a headache and a piece of crochet the size of a postage stamp, that I would describe as ‘poor’ if I had to rate it. Marta was very patient and showed me how to get started, then when I asked her for the thousandth time what I was doing wrong she silently typed ‘crochet tutorial’ into Youtube and gave me her laptop. She then returned to her social evening leaving me with my burden, muttering ‘It’s just tying knots in wool,’ not unkindly as she swept away to see how Andrew was
getting on with his knitted Loch Ness Monster (true story).
The wool has been returned to its rightful spot in the corner of the wardrobe. The owls are getting better, and in making them I found a good use for my clothes that were too tatty to go to the charity shops when I optimistically made room for my new vintage collection. I really believe that wearing second hand clothes is the perfect way to create a unique and quirky style and do your bit for the environment. I just need to look for shops where the majority of donors are not elderly overweight men. I’ve now added this to my list of New Years Resolutions in a fit of realism.
Anyone want to buy a crochet hook?