Sunday, October 6, 2013

The button stash.


This is only about half the stash.
The other day, I began thinking about knitting a new jacket for myself. I have the pattern picked out, and I bought the yarn last spring. (It's Jean Frost's Boyfriend Jacket and Glenfiddich Wool worsted weight in a purplish blue, if you care.) But I hadn't yet looked in the button stash to see if I had anything suitable. So I pulled out the drawer and went spelunking.

The vast majority of buttons in my stash came from my mother. She was an inveterate sewer and crocheter, but an indifferent knitter. When I sorted through her things after she died five years ago, I found several storage boxes full of fabric, zippers and bias tape in a range of colors and lengths, a couple of shoeboxes full of thread, and buttons out the wazoo. (I also found half-worked projects, including crocheted doilies using hooks so small that I'd go blind trying to complete them, and a knitted cable cardigan that she'd abandoned in the midst of the boring torso. I sympathized. Then I tossed the whole thing -- for a number of reasons, not least of which was that the pattern was missing. I might have been able to puzzle it out, but it just wasn't worth it.)

The state of Mom's button stash, when I found it, speaks volumes about who she was. For one thing, all of the stuff in this picture was dumped into a drawer in her sewing machine cabinet. She had strung together some of those that matched (sometimes on thread, sometimes on twist-ties), but there are plenty more sets that she didn't match up. Maybe she gave up.

You might notice that some of the buttons in the picture above (particularly the big brown one in the center at the very bottom) look as if they'd been used. That's because they had. Both of my parents grew up during the Great Depression, and when money was scarce, they learned to reuse. Mom was not above pulling the buttons off of a worn-out piece of clothing before throwing it away.  The thing is, she collected them way faster than she reused them -- hence the massive stash.

Sometimes, too, I think Mom had a bit of magpie in her. Even with this collection at home, she would buy cards of new buttons if the price was right, or if she liked them. Also in the stash are five or six cards, three buttons to a card, of 1/2" brown buttons with a sort of candy-striped brown-and-white rim. They're cute -- I used some of them on a baby sweater awhile back -- but what would have possessed her to buy fifteen of them? An adult-sized shirt only takes six or seven.

There's history in here, too, of various kinds. I've found mother-of-pearl buttons still on their cards, Bakelite plastic buttons, cards of buttons from the '60s priced at 29 cents (those days are long gone....). And too, sometimes I'll come across a lone button left over from an outfit Mom made for me (and wish she had scavenged them when I outgrew the outfit because they were cute!).

I should sort through the whole stash at some point and get rid of the stuff I know I'll never use: the basic white dress shirt buttons, the gray ones from my father's work uniforms, and the random other fasteners that got mixed in over the years. I should do that. I should.

But for now, I'll keep spelunking. I did come up with candidates for this jacket in several different styles, but I decided to wait on a final choice until the project is done. Who knows? Maybe none of them will work, and I'll have to go to the fabric store. I suspect I may have a little magpie in me, too.

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In case you missed my Facebook post, I'm pretty excited that I'll have two pieces in the upcoming BookGoodies fiction anthology. One is a Pipe Woman Chronicles prequel starring Joseph and George. The name of the book is 13 Bites and it should hit Amazon next Sunday, October 13th. I'll have more info (including, with any luck, a buy link) next week.

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Oh! And happy second blogiversary to Indies Unlimited, and many happy returns of the day! To mark the toddlerhood of our li'l nuclear-powered deathstar superblog, I saved the cake from the hearth/myth blogiversary in August. It's only a little stale.

Seriously, I am honored to be a part of such a talented and knowledgeable group of authors and bloggers. That they're also a lot of fun to hang out with is...well, it's icing on the cake. Happy anniversary to Stephen Hise, K.S. Brooks, and the rest of the gang.

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This moment of button-spelunking blogginess has been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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