Reason #249 to Love Thrift Stores: They are Really Craft Supply Warehouses. Plus, We learn to Weave

4 June, 2012

in Creative Encouragement


Hello, friends! A happy June to you!

Reason #249 to love thrifting?

Because when a child comes to you looking for something to do and their own plans are more outrageous than you can whip up in 2 hours time, you can say, “Want to try weaving? I’ve got a cool kids’ kit I picked up down in the basement.”

And there it is. A kit, complete with loom, comb, shuttle, yarns, and book with kid-friendly instructions.

That was $2.

So we started in, Luke and I taking turns, reading and weaving, Memorial Day night. We even kept on working on it during their first try at Risk.

The weaving is finished and I have been commissioned by Luke to turn it into a small pouch that he wants to give his teacher. I’ll probably be finishing that today since school ends this week, so I’ll try to show you how it ends up!

Basket Weaving

We also started basketry.

Which might not be hard, but an encouraging 8 year old’s expectations of what I can make are not always reality.

We actually dug out the weaving after digging out the basket kit and finding that we’d have to soak the reeds for an hour.

There was much finagling and far more reading of directions than this girl normally does.

Thankfully, the “How to Make Your Own Basket” kit was also a $1 find.

This brings us back to Reason #249 to love thrifting:

The cheap prices mean there’s a lot more emotional room for experimenting and error.

If I botch up the basket, I’m only out a $1. And a serendipitous “find” that didn’t go well vs. a planned purchase with corresponding hopes attached.

How often do we give up on learning a craft or skill because we’re frustrated over the time or materials that we’re “wasting” while we’re learning the thing?

How often do we not even buy the materials because we’re afraid we’ll fail? Or that the experience or product won’t meet our (often overly high) expectations? And how many of us procrastinate on projects once we do have the materials because we’re nervous about messing up or “wasting” our new items?

Inexpensive, okay…downright cheap, materials and finds picked up from secondhand stores bypasses all the emotional burden we sometimes put on ourselves.

Money is attached to a lot of things, including our expectations of how it should make our life go and make us feel. Which is silly when you really analyze it – money is just a tool. A powerful tool, sure. But still, just a tool. And at the end of the day, only one of many tools that we can pick up to shape our lives.

Buying craft supplies and materials secondhand then becomes not only a green activity for the earth or a thrifty activity for the budget, but a freeing activity for the mind.

The perfectionism the haunts many of the creative and making people of the world is easily bypassed when you give yourself cheap materials and no expectations.

Yes, it’s something that many of us need to learn to do with our new materials – be able to experiment, learn, and grow without all sorts of perfectionistic expectations.

But until then, freeing yourself to experiment and try new things via inexpensive thrift store purchases might be the way to go.

And in truth, doubly good stewardship. It is honorable to make sure you know what you are doing before you cut into that expensive piece of fabric. I’m not saying we should be wasteful. But it’s better to mess up a few bits of fabric in your life than to never make the first cuts. And maybe even better still to experiment with cheap stuff from the thrift store first and then cut into the “good stuff”.

I know all this because I’ve been this person, I’m learning to not be this person, and I see a lot of other people like this, too.

It breaks my heart, how many people think they “aren’t creative” or “aren’t crafty” when in reality they’re too full of expectations and nerves to start.

Maybe cheap thrifty goods could help them overcome this need to perfectly spend and perfectly use every last bit of material they buy?

And it hurts my heart in a world full of so much need, how many of us buy with high hopes but then end up with piles instead of projects because we’re too perfectionistic to start or end the work.

What if cheap thrifty goods could help us finish those projects without a lot of emotional and financial expense, therefore using up what we have?

Because the thing is, once people get over those humps, once people can make things, they usually don’t stop. They may not become a constant maker, but like riding a bike, the skill is always there when needed.

How much more confidence could people have in their own abilities? How many more projects would be finished?

And you know how generous most makers are…how many more people and organizations would have what they need because so many more people would be freed to make things?

Reason no. 248 to love #thrifting ?  this round wooden knitting loom we picked up today. :)

I know you might think that’s a lot to ask from thrift store shopping. That I’m putting a pretty heady spin on a cheap deal.

But I think the more we revel in the abundance that’s already around us, rather than waiting for perfection, to more we will be free to grow ourselves and share with the world.

And if it’s the emotions and psychology, not really the money itself, that stops us from making, why not use that same emotion and psychology to start and help us, too?

A perfect case in point is this gorgeous vintage wooden loom that I picked up at the thrift store just this weekend. Completely serendipitous to this post since I’ve been too busy to go thrifting the last few weeks. The evening sun even lit it up like a halo, showing us the shining possibility one can find. (I know, totally overboard, but I can’t help myself!)

It’s a very fitting addition to a family that took up knitting earlier this year, and now weaving, too.

Our leaning tower of #basketry.

I am almost positive it will go better than the Leaning Tower of Basketry that we have going on right now, haha!

But this totally wonky $1 basket gives me two things: 1) WAY more appreciation for the baskets currently in my house. 2) Toes dipped into the water of the world of basketry and knowledge that if I ever do choose to pursue it or buy new kits, it at least won’t be my first time and I’ll have some small idea of what I’m doing.

So, even if you don’t want old stuff in your house, or wearing other people’s clothes weirds you out, please do yourself and the world a favor and start thinking of thift stores as craft supply warehouses full of delightful bits and bobs and racks and racks of hanging fabric material.

And maybe even a kit or two for crafts you might have never tried otherwise.

And if you are already on the thrifty bandwagon, share those finds and ideas with someone who’s afraid to start, saying, “No worries, for $2, let’s try it!” 

You never know what you might start.

Happy Thrifting!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

MandyNo Gravatar

What wonderful finds. I must admit to loving Charity Shops and Car Boot Sales. These seem to be the equivalent here in the UK for your Thrift Shops. I’ve had great fun and made some good finds myself – a bag of broken bracelets was one brilliant find. It turned into lots of beads added to pieces I was making at the time. I’ve still got some left.


ElizabethNo Gravatar

Mandy, one and the same. :) Although instead of car boot sales, they are typically called yard, garage, or tag sales. And yes, what a wonderful way to get beads!!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: