Sunday, July 3, 2011

An Issue: Throwing things away...and a memory

Well, the "blah" eased up a little today, so I was back to being able to make myself do the things I didn't want to do, and wanting to do some of the fun things I could do when I finished my work for the day.  It makes me nervous when I don't want to do ANYTHING...I'm never sure if it is just a random bad day, or if it is the beginning of a long, ugly, downhill slide into the smothering quick-sand of depression.

When the children got up this morning, they immediately drove inspired me to find my MP3 player, put my ear buds in, and put the earmuffs on.  Being able to hear nothing but peppy music and especially NOT hearing any piano "practicing", endless questions, or bickering made me feel like I might be able to make some progress on my things-to-do list.  I looked over my list, thinking that I would probably start with Marie and Joseph's dumping grounds bedroom, but, surprisingly, another big job caught my attention.

For some reason, I have ISSUES with throwing things away.  I'm not sure why;  I didn't live during the Great Depression, and I don't remember ever suffering for the lack of anything except maybe all the ice cream I could eat when I was a child, but when I try to throw something away, the voice in my mind that still remembers some of the many things I've learned (I often wish this certain voice could be as forgetful as the rest of my mind), starts shouting, "Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!  Landfills!  The Environment!  Disposable society!  WASTEFUL!", and I try to figure out if there is a way the item can be used again (if it isn't in a condition that it can be donated to Goodwill or somewhere like that). 

A few months ago, I weeded out all of the children's clothes that were worn TO DEATH hopelessly stained, or had holes (tee-shirt type fabric that I don't know how to mend), or the knees had worn out (I HATE! HATE! HATE! trying to fix the knees of little boy pants because I cannot seem to figure out how to move them around the sewing machine the correct way!  But I was lucky:  most of the pants in the pile were that knit tee-shirt type fabric, so I couldn't fix them even if I HAD wanted to fight with the sewing machine!).  It really bothered me that most of those items still had a lot of good, usable cloth, and the voice in my head started the shouting again, so I tried to think of someway I could reuse them, since I couldn't mend or donate them.  We have a good supply of cleaning rags already, and, although I really wanted to make napkins out of some of the softer tee shirts, we have enough cloth napkins too.  I finally remembered a charity that I had crocheted for in the past called "Hugs For Homeless Animals".  One of the things you can do to support that charity is make Snuggles for the animals who are in cages.  I decided I would try to make snuggles out of the giant pile of clothes that had been accumulating in my closet for months.....not to mention the fleece diaper liners that had been mistakenly sent to me when I first started cloth diapering years some time ago that I never used for diapering but couldn't bear to throw away because it was good quality fleece....

I am not what you would call "a sewer (person who is good at and enjoys sewing)" unless your definition of "a sewer" is:  someone who has finally figured out how to thread their machine and usually manages to sew without the sewing machine running away with the project and sometimes sews mostly straight lines, but can't manage to sew round things (like the hem of a skirt) without making unwanted puckers and doesn't exactly know all of the proper sewing terminology and gets VERY GRUMPY when she is trying to lay fabric out to cut it and children/cats take this as an invitation to run all over the cloth and/or pick it up and use it for a cape and really doesn't enjoy pinning oodles of pieces of fabric together since she inevitably pins something backwards or things just don't line up quite right but I can do some basic things, and this project was going to be all about utility and have NOTHING to do with sewing straight or pinning things just right or making things look pretty!

I was overcome by the amount of clothing that had piled up forgot to take a picture of the mountain mound of clothes before I started, but here is what I ended up with after about 4 hours of sitting at the sewing machine and using up 3 bobbins of thread:

These were somebody's beloved, favorite pants until he wore a hole in the knee.  I cut the waistband off, cut the pants in half, following the sewing seam, cut the legs open, again following where they had been sewn, and then put the two open pieces together to sew them into a snuggle.  I tried to serge anything I had cut, to make the edges sturdier.

This was two stained tee-shirts;  I put the smaller one inside the bigger one (for extra padding) and then sewed around it to hold the pieces together.

I did turn some of my the children's FAVORITE shirts into cleaning rags, so that I they wouldn't have to give them up completely just yet.

I decided that if I sewed three of the fleece liners together, it made a soft, cozy snuggle about the right size for a cat cage.  (In the upper right hand corner you can see part of a sweater that I turned into a snuggle.  I realized, partway through sewing one set of sweater pieces together, that the side of the cloth that should be OUTSIDE was actually INSIDE, but I gleefully chose to NOT get out the seam ripper because the animals won't care!)
So, it tells you something about the volume of the environmentalist-voice in my head me that it was actually easier for me to do all of that sewing than it was for me to try to throw those things away.  And it tells you something about my people-anxiety some of the rude people I have interacted with in the past that I would rather PAY MONEY to mail the box of snuggles than actually DROP IT OFF myself and be forced to interact with people I don't know.  Luckily for me, in state postage is very reasonable....
I remembered:
When I was pregnant with Ian, I often heard people say, "Oh, you won't get ANYTHING done after the baby comes!", and I smiled and nodded, and thought, "Well, of course!  I'm sure I won't have quite as much time to read or work on my hobbies or go visit my friends, but I'm prepared for that!"

 *Moment of silence for that poor, naive, unsuspecting soul*

About a week after Ian was born, I thought, "WAIT A MINUTE!  They really meant ANY! THING!  Not just 'going to the mall' or 'getting a pedicure' types of things but BATHING and CHANGING OUT OF MY PAJAMAS and BRUSHING MY TEETH/HAIR and EATING and SLEEPING and DOING THE DISHES and DOING THE LAUNDRY....they were talking about BASIC, NECESSARY THINGS!"

I am so grateful to have survived be past those days of being completely overwhelmed by the seemingly impossible job of caring for a newborn, but I do wish I could go back and give that poor, stunned, young mother a big hug and tell her that she would be OK.  (And offer to hold the baby so she could get a shower...)

"My mother took a picture of me sleeping because it was such a RARE occurrence, and she wanted to be sure she hadn't imagined it!"


Cayt said...

I don't know if you use cloth pads, but old teeshirts are great for the top layer because they are so soft against your skin. Also the fleece diaper inserts (if you have any left) would be great as absorbent layers. Oh, or, I've seen quilts made of teeshirts where you just cut squares and rectangles and sew them together and then the child can have all their old teeshirts as a fun quilt on their bed! And as more teeshirts become unusable, the quilt can grow.

(I have no idea if I'm being helpful or just annoying). (The captcha word is Poo Lol. Oh dear.)

Snoopyfan said...

Your description of a "sewer" fits me to a tee! I don't really enjoy it, but can do some basic straight lines. That is, if I thread the machine right! :)

Swistle said...

I have that voice too. Usually mine takes a "disintegration of society" angle: "If suddenly we were in a Great Depression-type thing, I would be KICKING myself for all the perfectly-good stuff I got rid of!! I could have made curtains or blankets or dresses or handkerchiefs out of these flat sheets! A towel with a hole in it might look bad but it dries PERFECTLY WELL, and I could use it for a cat to sleep on, and when the toilet overlowed that one time I sure would have liked to use old towels I could throw away instead of the nice towels! Jeans with holes in the knees are better than GOING NAKED!!" and so on. Sigh. I find that every so often I get in jussst the right mood to get rid of things, and then I try to get as many holey towels/jeans thrown out as I can.

Doing My Best said...

Cayt: I do use cloth pads, and I will save some of the softer tee shirts from now on in case I need to make more! I thought about the tee shirt quilts, and, even though that would be high on the list of types of sewing projects I don't enjoy, I would have tried that except the VERY! FAVORITE! shirts were either completely stained on the front, or had little holes =(. But I may try that in the future if the shirts aren't ruined =).

Snoopyfan--The thing that held me up for the LONGEST time was: I could get the top threaded and the bobbin inserted, but I couldn't figure out how to get the bobbin thread to come up =)!

Swistle--Yes, I get a touch of that in there too. "You'll be SORRY you threw that away someday when you NEED it!" You might ask your vet (the next time you're there anyway) if they can use the old towels; I remember there was a sign up in a vet's office I used to go to asking for old towel donations. I haven't had any towels to donate yet because I try to keep the old towels in a certain cabinet for the children to use when they are playing in the water outside or going swimming (so that I don't have a screaming fit when they take the "nice" towels out into the mud, ahem). The jeans really bothered me too, until I figured out that I could cut the legs off where the hole(s) were, and, voila! Shorts! I don't even try to sew where I cut them off because they're SUPPOSED to look all frayed like that ;-).

d e v a n said...

How nice of you to sew for the animals!