I lost my last aunt a few months ago. She was 98. Her age is irrelevant here, except that when you were born can have an impact on what you are like.
On a new blog I read recently, someone very wisely pointed out that one way to become more creative, is to be very poor. It’s true. Generally when I think about this, I visualise a by now old image in my mind on how people in Africa found uses for the ruined cassette tapes Westerners throw away. I have still not come up with anything I personally would do with such plastic ribbons, but I find the idea stimulating. Not the poverty that forces it, but to re-use.
That will be why I find it hard to get rid of things. They could come in useful one day.
When my Aunt Motta died she was reasonably comfortably off. By that I mean she could buy what she needed. When I was a child she worked for a small textile company in the textile industry area of Sweden. They made stuff like table cloths and curtains. What makes this sound so exotic is that not long after, this kind of industry died off and no one in that town makes anything any longer.
She didn’t earn much money there, so when at the age of around 55 she was able to apply for – and got – the job as seamstress at the local hospital, it was a great step up. She hemmed doctor’s white coats, and sorted out curtains for hospital rooms and was generally useful. The pay was better, and so was the pension, which she got at a younger age than she would have in her old job.
All during my childhood she made things for me, from the purple overalls (made from a cheap remnant; hence the colour) I wore as a toddler, to the pink crocheted slippers I asked for as a teenager, as well as the rather lovely embroidered things for my new kitchen when I married the Resident IT Consultant.
But when it comes to making the most of insignificant things, I don’t think anything quite matches this decorative cushion Aunt Motta gave me when I was in my teens.
You might feel it looks perfectly ordinary. And it does. In a nice way. But can you tell what it’s made of?
Remember those tablecloths she made in her old job? Some of them were lace edged, and her job was to sew on the lace. When you do, sooner or later you will come to a corner, where you need to ‘cut a corner’ before continuing.
That’s what those triangles are. Were. She saved them, and stitched them into squares and the squares into cushion covers.
What’s nice is that soon after she had no need to do stuff like that. Except once thrifty, always thrifty. I believe it’s something to be admired.
(And it’s only as I got this far, that I was visited by an awful thought. In today’s society, you’d probably be sacked for stealing from your employer. Not that the scraps would be wanted, but you can’t just go round doing anything you like. Can you?)