E+E Column: Make, do and…mend?

A passing conversation in the hairdressers got me thinking this week. I’d gone in for some colour so knowing it would be a long appointment, I took advantage of being child free for a few hours and took my knitting and Harry Potter (not sure which is more embarrassing really!) Reading felt a bit antisocial when the occasion arose so I happily got on with my knitting – I’m currently working on a shawl with wool I bought with birthday money back in June…maybe it’ll be done by Christmas?! Anyway, as always, I digress. One of the hairdressers commented on me knitting and soon we got into a conversation about how these days, it’s cheaper to buy a machine knitted jumper or hat than it is to knit it by hand. Funny how things go really, not that long ago, knitting was often for the thrifty and those perhaps a bit hard up and now it’s seen as a leisurely pursuit of the elderly or middle class. Despite it being more expensive than buying mass produced in the shops, I maintain that it is the superior option – you can’t beat a lovingly crafted hand knit in my opinion.

The conversation moved on to the disposable culture that we live in and I’ve been pondering it since. When things break or technology grows ‘old’, we are so quick to bin and replace. Whilst convenience has it’s place, are we losing skills and a more sincere appreciation of our possessions? Socks no longer get darned, shoes aren’t re-heeled, plugs don’t get rewired, tables often not resanded and varnished. How much value are we placing on these items that we buy and often dispose of when we can’t be bothered to maintain or fix them? I’m guessing not much. And I think it’s quite sad actually.

We work hard to earn a living and instead of treating our earnings with respect, being careful with how we spend them and making sure we invest in things that’ll last, we throw away money on shoddily made items and things that may be a quick fix for a problem but will cost us more in the long run. And what are we teaching our children? That if things get broken, we’ll instantly replace them? Not much of an incentive to take care of their toys! Apologies if I sound high and mighty. I am more than guilty of a lot of what I’ve just said. Today I bought a coat in a well known high street shop (that I won’t name, but let’s just say it isn’t Armani!) for less than £30. I am pretty sure that it won’t last more than one winter, but in the present moment, I wasn’t able/willing to buy a more expensive one. (Plus have you tried coat shopping with three children, one of whom is strapped to you?! Not an easy task.) I guess I just want to think a bit more about how I treat my things and about what I chose to buy. And maybe next time something breaks, I’ll have a go at fixing it (or rope in Dan or my parents to help) rather than taking it to the tip and replacing it. There is a high possibility that this could result in an ever growing pile of ‘things to fix’ in the garage but at least my heart’s in the right place! I’m going to embrace the old age adage ‘make, do and mend’ – are you?

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