Unless you’ve been asleep since 2006 (pre-recession), you can’t have failed to notice the revival of traditional crafts and the resurgence in popularity of all things vintage.
Being a child of the seventies with no television(!), we had to find other ways to entertain ourselves in the long winter evenings after the dusk curfew. My grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet and my mother inspired me to learn how to sew – I have been making things since the age of five. During the eighties I was rarely seen without a garment I had made, whether it was a mohair jumper (itchy, but very trendy back then) or a tailored jacket with “power” shoulder pads (ridiculous on my diminutive 5’2″ stature!).
My house was filled with junk shop and auction “treasures”, and my furniture was comfortably dressed with home made quilts, cushions, curtains and anything else I could make myself. My baby daughter wore the most adorable sets of all-in-one, bonnet and even matching shoes, all lovingly and painstakingly made by hand and shown off with pride.
Then came the late nineties and millennium. Ikea and Primark reigned supreme with their cheap flat-pack furniture and throwaway clothes. Everyone could afford to buy new, discard when they fancied a change and repeat every twelve months (about the length of time the furniture was made to last – only a matter of weeks for the poorly made clothes.)
I was embarrassed to admit that I could knit, sew and crochet. I would let people assume that the ironically fashionable “distressed” furniture were new purchases, not the genuine article having acquired a gorgeous patina during the course of an interesting century or so of being. I am ashamed to say that, with the end of a long relationship, I succumbed to change and donated twenty years of accumulated “memories” to various charity shops or sold at car boot sales for pennies.
Out went vintage kitchenalia, antique pine dressers and patchwork bedspreads. In came soulless Ikea bookshelves and acrylic throws.
And I hated it.
When the recession took hold I was in a new, happy relationship (we’re now married with two children), in a house we bought together and the need for change took hold of me again.
This time, I reverted to my true nature and gradually filled our home with things I loved, mainly eBay bargains (easier than auctions) or charity shop finds. Sewing and crochet were still not cool, but I didn’t care and made new heirlooms to replace the ones that I’d foolishly given away.
Gradually “Knit ‘n’ Natter” groups became The Thing, vintage tea rooms popped up on every corner and everyone knew what a Granny Stripe was. Charity shops are the place to be. Second hand is no longer a dirty word and hand made is valued over mass produced.
I’m in my element and I couldn’t be happier about the change – which is the only good thing to come out of the recession!
I thought I’d share with you the lovely bounty of things I bought at our local St. Margaret’s Somerset Hospice this morning. I spent £12.49 in total, a snip and far more beautiful than anything you can buy today.
This vintage pickle jar complete with fork for all my home made chutneys;
An utterly divine jam pot – I swear my Wild Damson and Port Jam will taste even nicer served up in this!
A tiny mint sauce boat – just perfect.
This table runner, not vintage, but so pretty – brand new and still in its original packing!
All this second hand loveliness for £12.49 – amazing!
Do you love vintage and hand made? Show me your second hand bargains and hand crafted masterpieces – I would love to see them!