Monday, 12 January 2009

Make do and mend!

Being a stay at home mother, I spend many an hour doing the washing. You know how it is. With two little boys on the go and a husband, my life is surrounded by wet clothes.

And the one thing that has supported me through all this has been my trusty clothes horse, bought sometime last century from Habitat for just £12.50. I remember this detail simply because I only pulled the price label off last year. Life's just been too busy washing pants. Pants here, pants there. Indeed pants every-blimmin-where.

But with so much washing my poor clothes horse has begun to lean under the sheer weight of usage. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it was developing a penchant for the right, depending on how you approached it.

And I had to approach it with care.

Except on Friday, when all in a lather to answer the doorbell, I bunged a whole pile of heavy washing on its poorly side. I returned to see it crumpled at my feet. One of the supports had snapped under the strain. I don't blame it really - when it comes to all that washing who wouldn't?

But this time last year, this Almost Average Household would have got our fingers ready on the Internet or jumped in the car to go off and buy a replacement, dumping this one at the tip on way. After all it was only £12.50 and it wouldn't cost us much more for another would it?

But look how things have changed. We've experienced such a transformation even my own mother wouldn't recognise us. Arriving home to witness the collapse of his personal laundry service, Mr A came to the rescue with a screwdriver and a piece of wood and made a splint for the broken support.

It's amazing how things change when you consider a life of Zero Waste. I know the clothes horse would have been recycled if we had taken it to the Recycling Centre. But we would have had the journey and there would also be the hidden costs in buying a new one, including the resources, energy in manufacturing and fuel used in transport.

When you think about it in those terms it highlights that Zero Waste is not just about recycling, precycling or indeed reusing. It's about much more.

For me, the Make Do and Mend philosophy has been one of the hardest changes to incorporate into our lifestyle. In a modern age where NEW is seen as king and the LATEST GADGETS make their predecessors obsolete, the temptations for an easier and more sparklier life have just been too ..... er....tempting.

But at last, I am happy that I don't need a brand spanking new clothes horse to replace the one that's collapsed. Thanks to Mr A, it's still in good shape to last for many years to come.

But sigh...a woman's work is never done.

Well it did take Mr A two days to get around to finishing the repair so my Zanussi and I have got some catching up to do! I can hear the washing machine on its final spin. I think I need to load it with more pants!

Poor old clothes horse!


As promised in the comments, here are a few links to suppliers of the old traditional wooden clothes horse:

Chumleigh Hardware
Pretty Practicals



mrs green said...

Wahee - well done both of you. Funny you mention clothes horses; ours is collapsing too. The only thing is, it is plastic coated metal, so very non recyclable. We were discussing the thorny issue this weekend and don't know what we are going to do........

Anyway, my zanussi is doing its last spin as well, so I'd better get on. Happy pants to you all,

Mrs G x

The Dotterel said...

Impressive splint! When does the cast come off?

Ruby said...

Yay, make do and mend. I know just what you mean about the habit of binning stuff when it's broken. I'm really bad with socks and tend to bin to buy more when holes appear in the toes. Yet I know there is my grandmother's workbasket in the corner of the room, with one of those darning mushroom thingies in, and I know how to use it too. Time to turn over a new leaf - and darn an old sock!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I'm very impressed Mr and Mrs A. We are such a throw away society now and it all sems so wasteful. It's good to be getting back to basics, the old ways for a change. A x

Karin said...

Can you still get wooden clothes horses? I don't think I've come across them. We're in the process of replacing the plastic-coated wire clothes airers we bought nearly 25 years ago, and 2 of the 3 we bought a couple of years ago are already broken and not repairable.

Even with a (recently acquired out of desperation) tumble dryer we can run out of room on the airers. I always feel guilty when I use it, and try not to use it too much, but the alternative is some clothes going smelly because they take so long to dry.

Layla said...

Woohoo for repairing!! And the horsey looks lovely!! :)
Wish we had one like this too.. We have a metal one that takes up much more space & and paint keeps getting off... Interesting to know what to look for (or /gasp!/ make?)

darning old socks.. mending clothes.. on my to-do list.. but I've been avoiding it, akh... /hides/
my Mom was an expert-darnder (?) - in 3rd grade, her schoolteacher didn't believe her she mended the sock herself.. need I tell how this influenced my motivation to ever learn? hmm.. But it would be a really good idea..

Sharon J said...

Well done, Mr A :)

I'd love a wooden clothes horse because they don't make such horrid creases in the clothes after they've been draped over them as the plastic covered metal ones do. I keep looking out for one of Freecycle but so far no luck. Ah well... the metal one still does the job, and has also been repaired a few times.

Funnily enough, making do and mending isn't something I've even had to think about whilst trying to simplify my life because it's something I've always done, mostly because I've always been hard up (financially, but not otherwise) so it's pretty much ingrained in me.


Hi Mrs G - It must be so many limping around on their last legs, perhaps a sign of Winter, when it's too cold and wet to dry laundry outside. I'd suggest contacting your council perhaps and see if they offer some form of recovery facility for the metal. Fingers crossed and wishful thinking :-D xx

LOL Dotterel...I think the answer is never. :-D I can just imagine myself as a retired gal in my 70s hanging up my thermals to dry and thinking..."I remember when..." and look back at these fabulous days of blogging. then, we might all be having blogging reunions...LOL x

Yay go Ruby - I've been hanging onto my holey socks and wearing's so embarrasing sometimes and I have to be so careful in accepting impromptu invitations. Of course I'd never turn down an invitation when I'm wearing odd socks. That simply becomes a topic of conversation LOL. I quite fancy the idea of a darning mushroom. I might just hunt one out. :-D

Hi Anne - it's so true and it's surprising how better I feel for it in a funny old way. The outcome of being resourceful is such a positive feeling that it beats the rush of instant gratification any day. It's taken me a while to learn that one though :-D

Hi Karin - Yes, I believe you can still get the wooden ones. I saw them somewhere...I'll hunt some down and leave the link in the blog post for anyone else who might want to find one. Good luck with replacing your old one :-

Hi Layla - great to see you over here. That's so wonderful about your mom. Go on...get darning...and come back and let us know how you get on...LOL. Of course on a serious note, wouldn't it be great if these new skills came back in fashion. Now as for the clothes horse...making one of those would be a challenge and a half. I wonder if you could do it with a few bamboo canes and screws.LOL :-D

Hi Sharon - Fingers crossed that you find one as I've been really happy with ours, but never realised how hard they are to find until I did a little search today. Good luck with Freecycle, hopefully something will come your way soon. Most importantly, thank you for sharing your perspective on this blog. Having trod so heavily in the past, your words have most definitely helped me to tread more lightly in all that I do. :-D

Karin said...

Thanks for those links. I think I'll be off to Lakeland fairly soon.

Katy said...

I have exactly the same clothes horse - passed on by my mum when I went to uni. I'll be inspecting its supports now, as it too has a distinct lean! I did find I had to put electrical tape around some of the rails as they were leaving orangey stripes on some white clothes (even after all these years).

I do wish there was more help available for making do and mending electrical items. I have two hifis that no longer like CDs - I just use them as radios, but it would be nice to fix them. And also some multi-flashing christmas lights (not my purchase :) with a problem in the control box. I've offered them on Freecycle as the lights and wires would be fine for other projects, but no takers.

I do sew up sock holes, especially in expensive running socks, but I don't darn!


Hi Karin - hope you enjoy your trip to Lakeland...can be dangerous territory with all those lovely things :-D

Hi Katy - it looks like the lean might be one of the characteristics of a wooden clothes horse. Top tip about the electrical tape too. I've not had that problem...(yet) :-D

Wouldn't it be great if there was a repair service for electrical items like the ones you mentioned. The problem we have is that it is often more expensive to get something repaired than it is to buy a replacement.

Great guns on the socks. That makes me wonder about darning and what the technique actually is. Better do my research :-D

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