Green Arm Cuff with Wooden Marble Buttons / Flax Farm Hoop Earrings / Face Scrubbies
I have a proud family history of hand-me-downs, secondhand stores, and thrift. My mother once had a bumper sticker: “This car stops for yard sales.” I am familiar with “rummaging” as a sanctioned, communal activity for acquiring goods; have visited flea markets in several countries; filled paper sacks at $1 “bag sales”; and as a child, I often accompanied my realtor father to tag and estate sales. For years, I have longed to visit the Highway 127 Yard Sale. My grandmothers—who stayed friends long after my parents split up—used to convene every summer in my hometown to go “saling”—that is, to buy a local Thursday/Friday/Saturday newspaper, circle the best garage sales in pen, and drive around all day looking for bargains. They didn’t need a map. Thrift is bred early.
When one of my grandmothers moved into an assisted living community several years ago, I was sent in to sort her closets jammed full of old magazines, spools of ribbon, shoe horns, and half-burned candles. At the time, I lived across the country, yet there was no one better for the job. I sat in heaps of recipes, plastic bags, and cloth scraps for days, sorting old letters, checking sell-by dates on canned food, and reclaiming a childhood record player found hidden in a large leaf bag in the pantry. In the end, we donated, sold, and shipped antiques and knick-knacks to relatives in several states.
After I’d gone back to my East Coast home, my father called from Indiana. “I’m sitting in grandma’s garage!” he announced. “Dad, I already went through that stuff,” I said, wary of his excitement. “You threw away things that could be recycled!” he hollered. He went on to explain that he had brought back all of the garbage bags from the dumpster in the alley—seven, he chided—and at that moment, sat pulling out the plastics and metal cans while listening to a sports game on the radio.
Despite the eccentricities passed down in my genes, I understand that reclaiming an old sweater to make new wearables is not only currently en vogue but also intelligent economics. It should also come as no surprise that I marvel at the exquisite and interesting ways artists and craftspeople upcycle. Le Chat Crochet, a modest Etsy shop based in Amsterdam, is one of the best examples of this modern reclamation I have found. Astrid, the shop’s mastermind, offers a simple selection of upcycled goods, from earrings and arm bands to hot pads and face scrubbies.
My awesome selection from Le Chat Crochet’s shop includes a deep green armband with marbled wooden buttons and hoop earrings with fifty-year-old reused flax yarn crocheted on the bottom edge for dainty decoration. I also received four face scrubbies that are modeled after coaster crochet patterns and are perfect for the astringent that removes dirt and oil from my slightly cranky face. If you’ve ever used a facial tonic, you know how quickly you can get to the bottom of a bag of cotton.
Astrid’s philosophy is more than eco-friendly. Her commitment to reuse is thoughtful beyond fashion, anti-consumerist, and truly without waste. My goodies came wrapped in reused packing paper and cardboard. She also keeps an inspiring blog about her trash digging, used goods swapping ways. Stories about reclaimed bathtubs housing turtles and curbside books going to a local cat spaying charity are among my favorites, though a meditation on the usefulness of a dot matrix printer is especially relevant since it prints the lovely Le Chat Crochet cards that come with every order.
With such a thrifty family, you’d think it would be hard to impress me by recycling. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The frugal, upcycled finds from Le Chat Crochet make me feel a little closer to home.