Extend the life of your clothes with mending

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Today, there’s an increasing trend of viewing clothes as disposable – cheap stuff that’s meant to be tossed after a couple of uses. Gone are the days of mending and altering clothes, and re-using the fabric when the item has reached the end of its lifespan.

While many clothes today are of a really shoddy quality, you can still get a lot more wear out of them with simple mending: replacing lost buttons, sewing up a ripped seam, or stitching a hole before it grows too large.

I always save buttons and often use them to mend different items, often not the original ones. I have also noticed that, while the stitch quality in clothing is often subpar, the fabric itself is OK, especially if I choose cotton. A couple of minutes’ work buys me months, if not years of extended use.

Many of our clothes are actually hand-me-downs in pristine condition except for a missing button or another such little easily fixable thing. I love taking something that would otherwise be thrown out and giving it new life.

To keep my mending organized, I put all the items in a pile on a dresser in my room. The clothes only go back into the closet when they’re ready to wear.

Your clothes will last longer if you invest in higher-quality items, but that’s not always possible with a bunch of growing and active kids. However, thrift stores in your area might yield some treasures if you have the time to look.

Another way to keep clothes in better condition is not washing them that often. Sometimes, an airing is more than enough to make the item ready to wear again. For me, washing after every use is non-optional only for underwear. Less laundry is also great for other, obvious reasons, like less work and a reduced electricity bill.

Once an item is really beyond repair, you can use it as a rag, make a rag rug, or repurpose it as pet bedding. Some people make yarn from used t-shirts, although I personally find this a little too labor intensive.

If you have a favorite hack for making clothes last longer, let me know in the comments!


Exciting new release and free book promo

A good story makes this world a better place.

I’ve been making up stories in my head and jotting them down for as long as I could make out letters. And fiction remains my passion now, when 90% of my working time is taken up by creating content for other people.

Every book release is a victory to me; victory over time restraints, exhaustion, and that experience of being pulled in a million different directions you live through as a work-from-home parent.

Today, I’m celebrating. My environmental sci-fi series, Frozen World, is finally complete after five years and six books. I have just released the final installment, The Ruins of Glory. Woohoo!

In honor of the launch, I’m making the first book in the series, The Last Outpost, free for the next few days. So if you haven’t read it yet, now is the perfect time to dip your toes into the series!

And now… onward and upward!

Why you should stay in control of your finances and future

Some time ago, I wrote about the potential pitfalls of investing a lot of time and resources into unpaid, unacknowledged work, even and especially if you’re working in a family business and/or for your spouse.

Honestly, I didn’t expect the post to get any traction. I mostly treated it as a mini-rant on my private web corner. But surprisingly (or perhaps not), I keep getting feedback on what I wrote back then.

Here are a couple of the public comments:

“My husband left me for a younger girl and abandoned me. For 25 years, I worked with him in his company and never had a role, never been put on the books at all. I have no social security at all. What do I do?”

“We bought a business 7 years into a common law marriage. It was in my wife’s name only. I have worked there for free for 19 years. Never thought much about it until now. We have been together 25 years now and she just left me and moved out for a guy she just met. I’m left running her business that was ours by myself now. I’m 66, disabled because of the hard work at the business. I can’t get medicare or SS because she never paid for me… now I’m told that it’s her business and I benefited from it by having a place to live and food for 19 years! I’m tired, disabled and left without anything.”

You guys, these people did what appears the most natural thing in the world. They trusted their partners and put in the work for a family business without keeping score. Because that’s what you do when you’re married, right? But it can lead to some absolutely heartbreaking, glaringly unfair situations. I believe the commenters may have some legal recourse, but it would probably take a skilled lawyer who’d agree to work on a contingency basis.

When I was younger, I didn’t believe in planning for financial crises. I saw it as pessimism, or lack of faith, or whatever. I was all about looking at the future with a bright and trusting outlook, and I got my comeuppance. You guys know the story: I moved into the middle of nowhere, cut myself from all transportation and resources, and was left with no means to provide for myself and the kids when we hit a long stretch of unemployment, underemployment, and disastrous financial decisions. I remember there was one job opportunity that was SUCH a great fit for me and so close to home… only 10 minutes’ ride – but as I had no car, it might as well have been on the moon! I remember thinking, “I did this to myself. My own lack of forethought put me in this position.”

I’m in a different and better place now. And I know I talk a lot about finances and financial security. I do this because I feel a duty to warn people: don’t entrust your whole future (and your children’s future) to one person, even if this person is the love of your life. People can fail you. I bet the people who commented on my original post never thought their partners would abandon them. But even if everyone is 100% faithful and well-intentioned, people still fall sick, lose jobs, and run into unexpected financial pitfalls.

Protect yourselves, folks. If you stay home with your kids, have something to fall back on. If you pour your soul into working in a family business, make sure you get official recognition for your role, if not a salary. If you’re married to someone who isn’t very good with money, consider setting up a separate bank account for your own and your children’s sake.

That’s all for now. Here’s to a joyous month of Nissan and a happy, non-stressful Passover.

Scarf in Malabrigo Mora: Yarn Review

In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been, I’ve fallen victim to the most violent, nastiest, knock-you-off-your-feet ear infection you may imagine. But on the up side, I’ve had the time to finish this little beauty – a scarf in Malabrigo Mora, one of the finest and priciest yarns in the Malabrigo line.

I’ve been wanting to crochet with 100% mulberry silk for a while. Yes, I know silk is controversial: it involves killing thousands of Bombyx mori and there are many sustainability issues. But it’s a traditional and fully biodegradable fiber, so I thought that, upon the whole, I may try it just once (my budget likely won’t allow for massive silk yarn purchases).

Working with Malabrigo Mora, 100% mulberry silk in fingering weight, drove home the whole point of silk: its luxurious, soft feeling against the skin, its suitability for warm weather, its zero irritation factor (superior even to the finest merino and alpaca yarns), its gorgeous shimmer and just the sheer delight of it.

As a yarn, Malabrigo Mora is beautiful to work with. It’s a 4-ply fingering-weight yarn that comes in a range of stunning Malabrigo colors, slightly muted compared to their merino/alpaca offerings because silk takes dye a little differently. This yarn is very even in thickness and doesn’t tend to snag or split. I expected a very slippery texture to this yarn, but Mora was just perfect: it had just the right grip to feel comfortable on a metal hook.

Mora comes in 50-gram, 225-yard hanks. It took me exactly two hanks to make a scarf using a mesh stitch which was a great yarn-saver (openwork stitches are fantastic when you’re trying to make an expensive yarn go a long way). This scarf has a gorgeous drape and will be a joy to wear.

Watch this video for a nice summary of Malabrigo Mora – I know I dug all around the web for info about this yarn before splurging. It was totally worth it.

First attempt at finger crochet

I’ve had this marshmallow-soft ball of enormous-sized yarn sitting in the closet for a while simply because I didn’t have a hook large enough to use with it. Then, finally, I figured out how to use my finger as a crochet hook! I was surprised at how quick and easy it was. The technique I used was very similar to what this video shows.

The rectangle in the photo above took me under an hour and works great as a chair seat cover. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of super bulky yarn – I’m more into fingering-weight yarns and fine wearables – but jumbo yarns can be a nice option if you’re looking to whip up a quick handmade gift.

Happy crafting to everyone!

Happy Hanukkah and Best Wishes for 2023

Just taking a few minutes in the midst of this delightfully busy time of the year to wish all my friends a happy Hanukkah, a joyful holiday season, and a terrific 2023.

My goals for 2023:

  • Spend more fun and memorable times with my kids
  • Keep up my productive routine of an early workday that ends by noon
  • Get more creative writing done
  • Carve out more opportunities to get out into nature
  • Finally do that big closet sort-out
  • Catch up with housework

Whatever your 2023 ambitions are, I hope you have a happy, healthy, safe, and productive new year, surrounded by family and friends and enjoying all this messy crazy world has to offer.

See you all in 2023!

Crochet hat with Malabrigo Worsted: yarn review

I thought this hat would take me a few days at most to put together. Worsted weight yarn with a super simple pattern – what could possibly take too long? But, given my recent disproportionate workload and a couple of kids with temporary health issues, I spent a couple of weeks working on this little piece. I pulled it out to crochet a couple of rows on any errand that stalled and on any occasional bus ride.

Here’s a view of the hat before I attached the pom my daughter selected.

Crochet hook: 3.5 mm for the brim, 4 mm for the body.

Pattern: None to speak of. Done from the bottom up, like my other hats, starting with a stretchy ribbing brim (single crochet in back loop only). Body: three front post double crochets and one back post double crochet all the way. Freehand decrease.

I used exactly one hank of Malabrigo Worsted, another dreamlike yarn by Malabrigo, for this project. Let me just say a few words about this amazing yarn.

First, working with Worsted is probably the closest you can get to crocheting off a real live sheep. This yarn is 100% lush merino, not superwash (if you want a superwash variety, try Malabrigo Washted or another type of superwash merino), from sustainably and humanely raised, pastured Uruguayan sheep. It delights the crafter with a beautiful halo and delicious softness. It has a gorgeous stitch definition and is perfect for showing off stitchwork, cables, and textures.

Now for the downside. With all my weakness for super soft single-ply yarns, I’ll be the first to admit Worsted probably won’t stand up to hard wear, which is why I’d use it for something that may expect gentle use, like a hat or cowl, but definitely not a sweater.

Second, the uniformity of thickness was really off. Sometimes it would come closer to super bulky, while at others it resembled more of a sport weight yarn.

Malabrigo Worsted comes in a range of stunning colors. I used Damask Rose, a would-be solid muted pink that offers delightful, subtle variation.

Do I plan to buy more of this yarn? Yes, definitely yes!

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