The One That Didn’t Get Away

Sometimes things work out just fine.

A few short weeks ago, I was loudly lamenting that I had not bought a sewing caddy I found at a garage sale. But that recent experience with hesitation and regret left me primed for the sewing box I found two days ago, at yet another garage sale.

While the one that got away was whimsical and handmade and fun, this one is staid and handsome and sensible.

The case I left behind made me smile out loud, but I think I knew that, if I owned it, I wouldn’t really use it. I have other similar cases and I have never pressed them into real service. They are a little tippy and awkward to move and, I don’t know, not really aligned with my organizational style.

I knew this case was really much more suited to my needs; I loved it the moment I saw it.

This is not to say that I paid the asking price for it! It was priced at three times as much as the box I didn’t buy and I would not have gone that high. But the seller wanted it to be loved and appreciated and was willing to accept what I could pay, she said, because she believed I would love and appreciate it.

She was right.

It belonged to the great-grandmother of the seller; great-grandma’s name was Violet.

Violet, and others in the family who came to use the box, left the case filled with the bits and bobs and flotsam of daily sewing. I spent a happy hour or two sifting through their treasures.

Wooden spools of thread, clothing patterns from the 1960s, needle books given away at stores. Pin cushions. Many, many buttons. I will think of Violet whenever I use the case.

But this isn’t Violet’s sewing box any longer. It’s mine now, and I just know she’d want me to use it and make it my own.

I’ll put most of the old stuff away and fill the box with the flotsam of my daily sewing. It will hold the things I use to sew yo-yos together, to embroider my redwork squares, to organize me through projects as yet unimagined.

I will pick it up and take it with me to sit by the lake on these perfect summer days. In autumn, I can carry it to a spot sheltered from the wind and savor the October sun.

I will transport it next to the fireplace when winter arrives and the lake freezes and the north wind blows cold.

And I’ll be awfully glad I didn’t let this one get away . . .

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The One That Got Away: The Sewing Caddy

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Sometimes being practical is a bad idea.

Sometimes being frugal comes back to bite you.

Yesterday was such a day. I was practical and frugal and now . . . I am repenting.

It was Saturday—garage sale day. My mother and I went off on the byways of upstate New York, to see what treasures lurked.

Not too many treasures, as it turned out, but there was one . . .

In a driveway, in a small village, a beautiful sewing case.

I’ve written about these cases in the past. They were offered, apparently as a project from the Cooperative Extension, for men to make for their wives. I’ve seen probably 20 of these over the years and have ended up owning most of them, at least for a while, before passing them along to others.

This one, though, is the prettiest and most unusual I’ve ever seen.

The fabric on the outside is a wonderful winter scene, and in great condition.

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The inside, though, is what sets this apart. All of these cases were customized by the makers, probably with input from their wives. Some have pin cushions built in, or little drawers. Many have the jars with the lids attached to the box, to collect buttons and pins, and the nails to corral spools of thread.

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But never have I seen one with the fabulous decorative cutouts evident here. The words “This ‘N That,” the initials “LC,” and the shapes of scissors, large and small, were all carefully pierced into the wood.

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And all those pierced panels are constructed to tip out, on hinges, for easy access.

So, I looked at it and I drooled. I coveted it.

The practical persona sat on my shoulder and whispered, “You already own two pretty cases like this.”

The frugal persona asked the price . . . and offered $5 less.

The seller declined that offer.

And the third persona, known forever after as the bereft, disappointed one, walked away.

I got in my car. I drove away. And I haven’t stopped thinking about this treasure since.

I Get It. Do You? 

IMG_6452Sometimes it seems to me that there are two kinds of people in the world. No, not early birds and night owls. Not “glass is half full” versus “glass is half empty.” Not progressives and conservatives.

I’m talking about the folks who love shopping at garage/rummage/tag/yard/jumble sales and those who don’t.

Some people just don’t get it—they don’t understand the thrill of the hunt. They don’t know the sense that, sometimes, you don’t know what you want until you see it, that treasures are waiting to be discovered.

My mom and I get it. During summer, we go out “saling” a couple of days a week.

We went out this weekend, too. Our range was limited because many of our usual haunts were still haunted by the specter of escaped convicts.

We did NOT have a stellar weekend with lots of fabulous finds but we had a handful of very nice hours together and I got a few items that make me super happy.

Like this pretty book, published in 1926, and titled “Birds in Rhyme.”

I love the illustrations in the book, colorful images of a number of birds of North America.

I love the poems that accompany each bird and summarize its traits.IMG_6446 IMG_6449I love that the birds’ songs are conveyed by musical notes on a scale.

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I really love the cover, everything about it. I love the bright, saturated, complementary blue/green and red/orange. I love the stylized graphics in the Arts and Crafts style.

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And I LOVE the fact that the cover just happens to match my husband’s current weaving project!

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This one-dollar purchase made my day! What else would give me so much for so little?

So, where do you stand on the subject of garage sales? Do you get it? Or not?

A Great Day for Saling

IMG_7350It seems to me there might be just two types of people in the world: those who love and understand shopping at garage sales (yard sales, jumble sales, tag sales, etc.), and those who don’t.

I am firmly in the former camp! If you’re in the latter, be assured I’m not trying to convert you—heaven knows I don’t want any more competition for the treasures at these sales!

But I know that non-believers question whether anything of value comes up at garage sales. And I’m here to tell you, “Yes, it does!” Consider this post a way to gain insight to those of us who get up early on the weekends, drive miles out of their way, and dig through piles of dirty junk just in case there’s a treasure to be found.

The photos here show my haul from just one day of garage saling, last Saturday.

IMG_7358To be completely honest, the previous day had been dismal, with no treasure, no thrills. Absolutely soul-suckingly bad.

And taking the honesty further, many of the Saturday sales (we stopped at about 10) were dismal.

But all a person like me needs is one or two great sales (or one or two great finds at a dismal sale) to be re-energized.

The first sale I went to had no junk, just tidy tables of interesting and odd items. At least I think that’s what she had—I was so completely focused on one table, a great big table, of vintage linens that I barely looked at the rest.

This, this, is what keeps a garage saler going. Beautifully kept, clean, old, unusual items, for remarkably reasonable prices.

A perfect tea cloth with Italian embroidery and drawnwork.

IMG_7439 Another tea cloth with a spectacular embroidered design. IMG_7447An antique coverlet, surely made for a hope chest, that is a tour de force of hand stitching and lace crochet work.IMG_7480

A lovely tablecloth, hand embroidered and brought from Scotland 60 years ago (this one might just deserve its own post!)

IMG_7422 And this was just one sale. We also found vintage hand-crocheted afghans, beautiful damask napkins, and unusual china and ceramic pieces, including a little souvenir pitcher from Vermont, showing a maple sugaring scene! You know how I feel about maple sugaring!! And I bought many perennial plants at the rate of three plants for a dollar.

Yes, this was an unusual and rewarding day.

But, you see, dedicated garage salers live for these days, and a day like this will keep us going through many a lean, dry spell. We are optimists. We always believe that, around the next corner, will come the heart-pounding thrill of finding something really special.

So, what will I find tomorrow . . . ? And which camp are you in? Garage sales—yea or nay?

Many Lovely Finds!

A pretty plaid afghan in blue and green.

A pretty plaid afghan in blue and green.

I posted earlier that I was going to a garage sale of “epic proportions” (https://lovethosehandsathome.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/garage-sale-of-epic-proportions/). As it turned out, I guess it depends on your definition of epic. My dictionary says it can mean “of unusually great size,” and that it was. But the other definition is “majestic, impressively great” . . . not exactly.

BUT the day was quite a success from a “hands at home” point of view! I saw many handmade crocheted blankets or afghans and quite a lot of hand-stitched linens. Think how long someone worked on these things!

This is HUGE and so pretty in pinks and white.

This is HUGE and so pretty in pinks and white.

Granny squares in two shades of blue!

Granny squares in two shades of blue!

Old dish towels with hand embroidered fruit--unused, I think!

Old dish towels with hand embroidered fruit–unused, I think!

Four sweet vintage napkins, with teacups.

Four sweet vintage napkins, with teacups.

Beautiful Arts & Crafts embroidery but, sadly, this has holes in it.

Beautiful Arts & Crafts embroidery but, sadly, this has holes in it.

Can you see why I find it so hard to pass these items up, when I see them?

Garage Sale of Epic Proportions?

garage saleToday I’m going “saling”—garage saling, with my mom. I’m going to look specifically for items made by “loving hands at home,” instead of all those plastic Fisher-Price toys and retreads  from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

One of the sales in the local paper is advertised as a “sale of EPIC proportions.” We’ll just see about that!

I’ll report back soon!