Today I spent about an hour at the thrift store. I’ve been on the hunt for a new cardigan in a happy color, but I had rules: it had to be secondhand, it had to be made of natural fibers, and it had to be worth repairing if it got damaged in any way. The thrift store I was at is huge and combing through literally hundreds of sweaters took time, but it felt like time well-spent; if I could find the right sweater, then I wouldn’t have to look for another sweater for a long time.
Combing through the racks was a little disheartening. So much acrylic or polyester or nylon. So many bad seams and pilled fabrics. So much, for want of a better word, junk. But my patience was rewarded and I found a pink merino wool cardigan with embroidered flowers and good seams. The buttons and button plackets were reinforced with grosgrain ribbon. The button holes were sturdy and well made. This sweater was a keeper.
Now, it wasn’t perfect. The buttons were quite loose and one was missing altogether. But perfection wasn’t the goal. I wanted a sweater I could develop a relationship with.
So, five dollars later, I brought my new sweater home. I resewed the buttons and moved the bottom button up to replace the missing one. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll replace that bottom one, because I won’t use it and it’s not really noticeable that it’s gone. We’ll see. I can decide that down the road, because this sweater is going to stay with me a long time. Just the very act of sitting down with needle and thread and taking the time to fix the sweater had that magical effect of endowing it with value: I love it more because I spent time on it.
I also spent a couple of hours this week patching some overalls. I have a pair of overalls I love madly, but they were “destructed” when I bought them, and those holes make them difficult to wear in winter and also mean they just won’t last as long. Every deep knee bend threatens to make the holes much bigger. So I patched the two largest holes and will fix the others over time. Already the overalls feel sturdier (because you know I wore them literally the next day) and also, they feel even more special to me because I invested my time in them.
I want to only bring things into my home that I truly love, things that bring me pleasure when I use them or wear them. It seems like the only right way to honor the resources of time and materials and human labor that brought those things into existence.