I get a kick out of mending things that would otherwise have to be sent for recycling (best case) or disposed of (worst case). It appeals to my thrifty northern temperament and chimes with current thinking on the importance of the circular economy. (For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s a more sustainable way of doing things: in a circular economy waste is a resource instead of the problem it is in a conventional linear economy that relies on the make→use→dispose model. Learn more from WRAP.) But more than that, extending the useful life of something, whether it’s a shirt or a washing machine, is very satisfying. Not to mention cost-effective.
So, when our long-handled grabber fell apart the other day, I thought I’d see what I could do to repair it instead of just chucking it in the bin and buying another one. They can be bought for about £5-6 locally, but that’s not the point. One small metal pin had broken, a pin that acts as a little axle or spindle around which one of the fingers rotates. Without it, only one of the two fingers moves when the trigger on the handle is squeezed, which makes it completely useless. But it would be a shame to throw out the whole thing for the sake of one small pin. We use this grabber fairly regularly for litter-picking along the verges in the area, and for picking up debris that blow into the garden when we have a gale. It saves a lot of bending, and the older I get, the keener I am to avoid bending.
Getting the grabber apart was the first problem, as is so often the case. The plastic cover over the moving components was obviously in two parts, but they were pop-riveted together. I drilled the rivets out. Then it was a simple matter of cutting the shaft of a nail to the right length to replace the broken spindle and reassembling the tool. I don’t have a rivet gun, so I had to find another way of holding the plastic case together. A couple of pieces of twisted wire would have done the job, but I had some of the screws that are used to hold 13A socket plates onto the patress boxes behind them, and they fitted neatly through the drilled-out holes. Lacking appropriate nuts – socket screws, or rather bolts, are 3.5mm, which is an odd size – I used electrical terminals cut from a block and epoxy-glued the terminal screws in place before removing the excess length from the socket screws. And voila, the grabber can grab again. The repair may not look very pretty, thanks to the glued-on nut substitutes, but who cares, it’s functional.
Nowadays, with many domestic appliances being so cheap to buy that having them professionally repaired is uneconomic, it’s all the more important that we learn how to tackle simple mending jobs ourselves. If you have a skill, whether it’s fixing electrical things, darning, sewing, furniture restoration or DIY, be sure to pass it on to your nearest and dearest. According to the Daily Telegraph yesterday, 1 in 5 British men don’t know how to wire a plug, and I bet the proportion of women who don’t isn’t any lower.
Why I don’t “do” Lent
Well, there’s lots of reasons, the main ones being I’m not religious and I don’t see much inherent merit in self denial. Nevertheless, plenty of atheists do try and give something up for Lent, if only to prove that they can and to stop their more god-fearing friends from looking smug when they decline sugar in their coffee.
If I were to try and abstain from anything in the run-up to Easter, it ought to be yarn buying, or possibly even buying any type of craft material. I don’t think I’d be much good at it though. I made a very loose New Year resolution not to add to my yarn stash until I’d got it down to a sensible level, but even that had caveats. (Like: buying yarn to make a present for someone is allowed, and buying anything that is so unusual I may never see it again, and anything that’s such a bargain it would be silly not too, and …, and …, and … – you get the picture.)
A few days ago I bumped into a knitting friend who has several short-haired dogs and equally short-haired children who require headgear before setting foot outside in winter. She was raving about some light-reflective yarn she’d found in the bargain bin in a local shop. I’ve seen this sort of yarn before, it’s usually quite pricey and is made from acrylic of the type that is ordinarily best avoided, plied with a very narrow strip of highly reflective fabric – the sort of silvery-coloured fabric that is generally sewn onto workmen’s safety tabards, school bags, bicycle panniers and the like. In car headlights or any other light source, a fabric knitted from such yarn sparkles, making it ideal for kids’ hats and gloves, dog coats and even accessories for those of us grown-ups who walk about in the dark all winter. (The country lanes around these parts seldom have footpaths running along them.)
My friend had bought a pack of 300g of this yarn for the princely sum of £3. Now, how could I resist such a bargain? At that price, I can afford to un-ply the reflective strip from the nasty acrylic chunky yarn and knit it together with something rather nicer. I fancy putting it with a light grey wool, then the silvery strip would be almost totally invisible during daylight. I’m going to knit up the first 100g ball as is, making a simple beanie hat for my dear husband, then I’ll decide what to do with the other two. A straightforward hat in chunky yarn will be a suitable project to run in tandem with the Kelmscott cardigan, the lace parts of which demand full attention.
I’ve just reached the point where I need to start decreasing for the V-neck of the first front. As if things weren’t complicated enough already, what with a lace pattern that is worked on both purl and knit sides, and armhole decreases going on, I now have to work out row by row how to manage the neck decreases without disrupting the lace. And take proper notes of what I’m doing in order to make the other front match perfectly. But I can’t complain, I’d stick with beanie hats in chunky acrylic if I wanted a simple life.