Mend and make do

Times are tough in the Merrick house.

Long gone are the days of weekly (and sometimes daily) breakfasts at Cafe Cluny or Clinton Street Baking Co. Also forgone are the antique/collectible sections of eBay. No more $10 toothbrushes from Bigelows. In fact, nothing from the West Village at all.

I have been cooking dinner nearly every. single. night. since September. I've been walking far more than ever. I make coffee at home. I'm even brown bagging lunch.

Just in time for New York's own frugal push, the American Folk Art Museum has an exhibit called "Recycling & Resourcefulness: Quilts of the 1930s". The quilts were such a touching reminder of the good that can come from hard times, I actually cried. I think I was just feeling a little over emotional anyway, but the guard thought I was nuts.

Back at home, I am trying to slowing add a little bit of Great Depression resourcefulness to my regime.

What started off as a tiny hole in my all time favorite Ralph Lauren sheets some how morphed into this giant, gaping 18" long split in the past few weeks. Don't ask me how.

Under normal financial circumstances I'd just race to find some new ones but I really love this pattern and couldn't stand to see it in the trash. So I mended them, a zig zag stitched on the sewing machine and some contrasting embroidery for a bit of dust bowl charm. A bit shabby, but I'm a bit shabby these days, too.

I even started mending some of the small holes to save myself the trouble of having to do a big fix in the future. Hearts can cheer anyone up.

And I've extended the mending practice to all levels of my house. This is my grandma's cardigan, my favorite of favorite pieces of clothes. It's just perfectly snug but not too snug and perfectly thin but not too thin. And maybe I'll get around to replacing the lost buttons one day.

I've been bemoaning the threadbare elbows forever, living in fear of the day that they burst open and I'm left with 2" wide holes on my arms. That day was very very near indeed until I had the realization that those patches that designers sometimes put on fancy sweaters, when the want them to look professor-ish, they actually served a real purpose once upon a time!

Home made leather elbow patches to the rescue! I love taking care of the things I do have, instead of dreaming of the things I can't. As the 30's quilters said "If you can't be rich, be resourceful."


  1. oh your sweater is even cuter now! hope it triggers some very respectable and reminiscent-of-autumm outfits.

  2. Oh! Thank you for writing this post! I really feel like it touches upon everything so important to me right now!

    Constantly having to give all my quilts the 'ol zig-zag stitch. A three buttons missing and more holes than possibly fixable sweater from my grandmother which I've had for years and years and could never part with. (although mines a bit more bulky and rat lady like then yours) Visiting the folk art museum (which I have been daydreaming about for far too long and will hopefully be doing sometime soon!) and hopefully sometime soon making beautiful scrap fabric quilts. I also have a few pairs of old socks I found in my gram's attic - wonderful patterns but more holes in the toes and heels than what's good for anyone - but I can't wait until they're stitched up and I can flitz around in them this spring!

    I should stop rambling, but thank you again for this! It's as if you looked right inside me and wrote about everything I've been spending my days thinking about!

  3. love this post. i adore elbow patches!

  4. Love this post! I did my own about a week ago on the resourcefulness of Depression Era women! I think taking this mind set of "well things suck, but we're gonna make it no matter what" makes things a little less scary and even a little fun. bring on the challenges!

  5. I'm so happy this resonated with y'all. I'm in a constant state of "patching" in my life and most of the time the patch is better than what was there in the first place. More loved and homey, anyways.

  6. Brilliant post. I wish I were still in Williamsburg so we could meet. I love how you fixed your grandmother's sweater and now wish I had done the same to some of my old favorites.

    I too think we have something learn from these times of constraints.

    I think life is going to get better, not in spite of recession/depression, but oddly, because of it.

  7. I really love the patched look on cardigans and jumpers. So cute. And I love that it's your grandmother's. They are my favourite kind of treasures. The quilt show looks incredible. I always cry at silly things too. Kindred spirits. x

  8. I love your take on things....making the best of it all. It's all in your outlook, isn't it? Thanks for the smile.

  9. Rowena, I know! Isn't it weird to find all of these great people in the blogosphere and never get a chance to meet in real life, where life actually happens? Bizarre.

    Well if you're ever in the city again let's get coffee!