DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 July 2014

Cutting my costs with baking, sewing and knitting

I've spent the past few days baking, sewing and knitting. They are such simple, old-fashioned tasks and I know my great grandmothers (and yours) would have been doing something very similar over the years, way back when. I like how these older tasks so easily fit into modern times, filling life with interest, meaning and purpose; and replacing acquisition for many of us. You see it more and more now - younger women and men taking up the needles, learning how to bake and cook, and being satisfied and enriched by it. I am so pleased this is happening because it means that these traditionally women's tasks and crafts will go on and can be passed on to younger girls and boys, women and men.


 Date scones - a winter favourite here.


As well as that connection I have with older times and the interest and purpose these tasks give me now, baking, sewing and knitting/crochet also help me cut my household costs. Buying bread flour in bulk helps me produce good bread for my family for less than the five or six dollars a loaf from a good bakery. I completely bypass the supermarket sliced bread, and have done for many years, because I don't want the artificial flavourings and preservatives that come with it, or the plastic it's wrapped in. I believe I can make a loaf of equal quality to that from a good bakery and although I haven't costed it for a few years, I guess it would cost me about three dollars for a good loaf baked at home. It's a saving of about five hundred dollars per year based on three loaves a week.


Similar savings can be made if you have a yarn and fabric stash. Making gifts and the soft furnishings you need at home using the fabric from your stash will save you a decent amount each year. Over the weekend I made a lamp shade using fabric I had here. It's much prettier than any I could have bought, I have unusual taste in these things and I doubt I would have been able to buy anything close to what I like, so it's a win-win. I save money and I also get a lamp shade that suits my taste and blends in beautifully with what we already have here.  I'm also using resources I have on hand, don't have to go out to buy what I need and the icing on the cake is the satisfaction I feel when I look at that lamp. Not just now but into the future as well.


We will welcome a new baby into our family soon. Tricia's son Danny and his partner Laura are expecting a daughter and as part of a gift for the baby, I've started knitting a little dark pink hat. It's a washable, organic wool and cotton blend, done on straight needles, because I didn't have a suitably sized pair of circular needles on hand. I hope it helps keep the baby warm because she will live in the Blue Mountains where it's very cold. Once again, I had the yarn and needles here, so getting our gift underway hasn't cost anything. I love being able to welcome a baby with home knitting.

It's a worthwhile exercise to collect any fabrics or yarn anyone offers you over the years. You might also find inexpensive fabric and yarns at your local second-hand shops. Even if you have no projects in mind, building a stash will help you when you do need something. Having the materials on hand helps you cut your costs, it inspires creativity, it gives that all important feeling of self-reliance and if, like me, you believe that homemade comes from the heart, your gifts will be a fine indication of your feelings towards the person you give your gift to.

I think of my stash as another form of stockpiling. It saves time and money and allows me to have my own materials on hand when I need them. Are you using your stash for your projects too or are you trying to build up a stash?


37 comments:

  1. I love to crochet and frequently make crocheted gifts (often blankets) that give me enormous pleasure as well as costing very little to make (I have a mammoth yarn stash)
    I do enjoy reading your posts Rhonda, I wish I had a back garden to grow my own food in!

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  2. I have to steer clear of craft stashes, I'm afraid. I am blessed with too many ideas and cursed with too little discipline and focus. A happy balance means I have to limit my projects across all of my crafts. That said I have just organized all of our clothes and have saved some shirts and skirts to cut up for sewing projects. I'm on a make do and mend mission this year, but know I can't keep everything, as tempting as it is.

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  3. Hi Rhonda,

    your lampshade is beautiful. I've been wanting to make a similar one for years, and finally found a used lampshade frame at the markets a few weeks ago. Hopefully some fabric from my stash will suit.

    I do have a small stash of fabric, but would like to start collecting and learn to make a simple quilt. Possibly the op shops could be a good source of old men's shirts and cotton sheets for this. I don't have a good stash of wools and cotton, and plan to build it up when the sales are on. I'd like to make dishcloths for a few friends.

    Madeleine.x

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  4. I have a stash of fabric and yarn but unfortunately it's all been bought with specific projects in mind that have never been completed! Naughty! We are yet to organise/negotiate a space for my crafty stuff and activities so it's all packed into a box and is very difficult to access. It's such an ordeal to get stuff out and pack it up again that I just don't bother. Such a waste.

    Like you Rhonda, my taste is slightly left of field and it's such a bonus. It means I often love the heavily discounted sales items no one else cares for, the quirky items in op shops, and I'm comfortable wearing clothes that aren't the latest fashion.

    The baby's hat is coming along beautifully. I was pleasantly surprised when I had my daughter and so many of my friends turned out to be closest knitters! The most gorgeous booties, beanies, and wraps had been knitted up for her. Such a treat!

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  5. Hi Rhonda!

    Stockpiling yarn/fabric. How do I know what to get? This has always been the big question for me, because I love it ALL!!!!

    AFTER I retired, my daughter introduced me to chicfashionista.com – a website that helps a person determine the colors, styles and accessories that look best based on your skin, eye and hair color tones and body shape. I was totally amazed at what this information can do for a person. I think of it as making/knitting an article of clothing that will turn the comments from – “Oh, that is nice” to “WOW! that looks GREAT on you!!” I never realized the impact of color and style on how another person reacts to me, until it unexpectedly happened to me twice within the same week, wearing the same clothes with two different sets of people in two different locations hours away from each other. I was amazed!

    I make a small card/paper file that has the best colors, styles, etc info for each family members/gift recipients that I take on the rare occasion I visit a sale or thrift store. I print out the colors (not the names, but the actual color) so I can get a good match. Then I can buy the materials that should look the best on each of them. It gives me more confidence that my gift will be worn and appreciated because it is customized to more than just size. I think, too that with the WOW factor, little imperfections are overlooked because of the overall positive effect of the color and style of what you have created.

    I use this information for myself - to be very picky about what I choose for myself– now that I know, I try to get the most for my (sale rack) investment by choosing styles and colors that enhance my skin, hair and eye tones and my body shape and are classic - don’t go out of style - for me. I have relegated the clothing pieces that are not my good colors and styles (even if I LOVE them) to “house clothes,” or repurpose them into other clothing or pillow slips, etc.

    (I also carry fabric swatches or pictures to get the right match for colors used in home décor as well. )

    I am glad to see your post, because I was eager to see what you would be writing about this week!

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    1. Forgot to mention that some people's skin tones change from season to season, so their winter and summer "best" colors may change, too. My mom's "best colors" changed when she stopped dying her hair black and left it as its natural silver white.

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  6. Hi Rhonda so nice see I'm not the only one who stockpiles fabric & yarn. I'm at a stage in life where I'm making most of what we need so its handy to have things on hand. I stock up on fabric when Spotlight have there 40% sales & yarn along with other craft/sewing items when I come across it at the op-shops. With having 3 little ones they grow so quick so I'm always knitting & sewing. I'm doing a hat at the moment for Ruby on circular needles had to alter the pattern as like you did not have the right size. I thinking on investing in a set of interchangeable circular needles as I now find I'm using them more than my flats. I have just started stockpiling Wool blankets, doilies etc as I use them in sewing projects. My kids often see things they want made like dolls etc little people are so funny they think you can make everything. Annie was reading one of Jane Bulls books & saw a doll she wanted me to make so we went to my stash & made a start. I think if I had to go out & buy what I needed every time I had a project or something to make I would be making way less

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  7. Rhonda, your lamp shade has reminded me that one of my (long) list of projects is to make a new shade for our standard lamp, which is currently sporting a lovely dark brown velvet number, straight from the eighties! When you live with something for so long, sometimes you just don't notice it anymore.

    I will definitely be checking out my stash when it comes time to do the new lamp shade. And my stash, of fabric and yarn, has recently been expanded greatly as a result of sorting through my mother's stash. I've ended up with 5 full tubs of yarn - mostly wool - in all different weights and all different colours. So exciting!!

    My stash is the first place I go when I'm wanting, or needing, to make something. I've recently made shopping bags from an old bedspread - much more individual than those yucky green things you can buy, and I think it adds another step to the idea of being friendly to the environment.

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  8. I think I made a mistake and deleted my comment before I published it... Anyway here it is again:
    Totally agree with all you have said re: baking Rhonda!
    For morning tea this morning I am making a Hefeteig loaf to have with red currant jam. (Not the same as Oma's homemade jam but still quite nice). Baking not only saves us money, it's relaxing and makes us feel closer to home.
    If anyone would like the recipe it's:
    2kg flour
    4 x 7g packets of "hefe" (yeast)
    320gms Rama (butter/margarine)
    240gms sugar
    4 pinches of salt
    1 litre of milk

    Once you've made the dough leave it to rise in a warm place, then take it and make three "logs" and plait them over each other. It's a beautiful sweet yeasty bread.
    Bec

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    1. Thanks for the recipe for Hefeteig loaf, Bec. It looks like a very handy recipe.

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  9. I like to do all of those things when I can. I make bread more in the winter. It was 33C here today! I think I'm going to invest in the bread machine. Much more efficient.
    I wonder if you'd share your date scone recipe? They look so good!
    I just picked a bunch of rhubarb. Last time I froze some and made muffins. This time I think I'll save some for market day and pick up some local strawberries for a crumble. I'm going to try a rhubarb juice too. I made it years ago with way too much sugar. I'm watching that now so it will not be so sweet. No artificial stuff though.

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    1. Holly, the recipe is here: http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/baking-up-tray-of-scones.html You can adjust the salt and sugar to your own taste.

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  10. Pure wool can be expensive, so whenever I see a bundle of balls up for grabs at an op-shop, I'll buy it. Trouble is, I'm packing up to come back to Australia this month and I can't take very much with me! My wool doesn't weigh very much, but when we're trimming things down this fine, I should really try to shave off every gram.

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  11. I finished my last commitment Sat....I had a baby shower for my niece that was wonderful btw but....I am seriously thinking about spending (though I am pretty careful always). I woke up from a nap this afternoon and the thought just stayed with me....why is everyone working so hard?? And it is because they are spending so much on non-essential....So....here is to a July no spending month...(except on local healthy food from our small farmers market.)

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    1. I agree with your chain of thinking; "Why is everyone working so hard". Seriously, why? I am sure that is not making the majority of us truly happy.

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  12. I just recently started crocheting again. Since it has been many years, I was shocked at the price of wool yarn. I will begin to build a stash using 40% off coupons when I have a project.
    My two projects this past winter were a pair of slippers for a friend and dryer balls made from wool yarn and felted. I haven't used softener in the dryer for years. Now I use the dryer balls when I use the dryer. Sometimes I hang my clothes on a rack in the bathroom, sometimes I use the dryer and others I put the rack outside. Only when the air is fresh. It gets rather humid here in the summer. Does Australia get humid? I love making things, but I'm not crafty. I just cook and crochet.

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    1. Yes, it gets humid here all along the coastline. The further inland you go, the drier it is. I live in the subtropics, so going north from here, you'll find the humidity rising to high in summer.

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  13. I am beginning to stockpile yarns when I find them on clearence! Food, we already stockpile. I'm not a big fan of shopping so I go to big box stores and buy in bulk. I can really go six months or even a little longer if I really wanted to without ever going to the store. {{Sigh}} it's almost time to go and stock back up though. :) Thanks for sharing some of your ideas. I really like that lampshade. I need a new one on my nightstand lamp.

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  14. It's amazing how much you can save doing things this way. I always think about how good it is for my sanity too!

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  15. During my pregnancy my mother knitted a baby jacket, hat and booties. They were the best present - useful, beautiful, and done with love - and people always commented and said what a shame it was that more babies weren't clothed in handmade knitted garments. You could really tell the difference in quality. These garments, after a useful life being handed around to other babies, have now been packed away waiting for my grandchildren.

    My stash of wool is getting slowly bigger, but my stash of materials have really grown into a mountain. Now if only I knew how to sew...:).

    I must have unusual taste as well because I really like the lamp shade. It gives such a cozy glow.

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  16. What beautiful yarn you have in your post! I hate buying new things, so I tend to stockpile craft supplies from the op shops. I have a box of zippers, sheets and fabric, yarn, etc., all secondhand. The sporadic nature of op shop finds means you have to stockpile and know that you find a use for something in time.

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  17. Since I am still working full time, I keep several small projects 'in the works'! To the left of my chair is a half finished baby blanket I'm knitting, on the table to the right are two balls of grey cotton yarn I'm crocheting into dish cloths, and a ball of navy blue 100% recycled yarn that will be a shrug for next winter. There also a couple of small quilts waiting for binding, but they are a patient lot, so no stress. I love to bake and am always looking for healthy recipes - there are plenty of unhealthy ones always lurking.
    Have just finished reading both your books and find they inspire me in many areas.

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  18. I was fortunate to inherit the fabric stashes that belonged to my husbands grandmothers. Bags and bags full of beautiful, good quality fabrics in the 'vintage' style that I prefer. Having these materials on hand whenever the opportunity and creative urge presents itself is what got me back into sewing after many years away from it. It's a wonderful thing when the perfect project and fabric meet up.

    rachel xo

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  19. I had to leave a pretty good stash of yarn as well as my pattern books behind when I moved to Aus from US, but I hope to ship it over soon. I love what I'm finding here, but I miss the comfort of my tried and true patterns.

    Ann :)

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    1. Oh no! That must have been awful!

      I'm thinking of stuffing balls of wool in between fragile things as packing material! ^^

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  20. I see the wool winder has been in use - lovely "pink" knitting for Laura.
    Sandi (Blinky)

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    1. Yes Sandi, it didn't take me long to start, did it. lol

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  21. Hi Rhonda. Thanks for all yours post. I love reading your blog. It reinforces how I feel about living simply. I especially love making gifts for family and friends. Sometimes the best part is the challenge of coming up with unique and economical gift ideas to make. I take advantage of any materials I am given and love sourcing materials from thrift shops. Thanks again for supporting like minded people in our endeavours.

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  22. So good to know about the $500 dollar saving in making your own bread. I'm back to making family bread three times a week to specifically avoid the additives but I've always made our biscuits and pastries both sweet and savoury. I would love to know your scone recipe and also where is that beautiful yarn from?

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  23. Hi Rhonda
    I am new to your blog, and not sure ow to ask questions on particular topics. I have been inspired by your blog and hope to start living more simply. I wondered about how you manage to have such low monthly costs for insurance-my house lone is about$140, I have an insurance for health extras (dentist etc) $75 a month. Hope you can advise. Warm regards, Anne

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    1. Anne, generally I don't have time to answer questions about old topics the best thing to do is to ask at the forum. You'll have to sign up for that. It's free.

      I haven't updated specific info about insurance for years and I don't know what post you're talking about. Give me the link to the post you read and I'll see what I can do.

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  24. Rhonda the colour of that wool is gorgeous, could you tell me what it is & where it is from please, I love it.

    Robyn :)

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    1. It's O Wool from Eco Yarns, colour Ruby: http://ecoyarns.com.au/products/tunney-o-wool-balance-8ply.

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  25. Your scones look delicious! I see great value in anything homemade, so glad l grew up with these values. They do so enrich my life, and the life of anyone who will give baking/cooking/sewing/crocheting/jam making/canning/knitting etc a go. We have had to go gluten free here due to Celiac disease so l don't save in quite the same way as l used to, but home cooking and baking has become even more fun and even more rewarding as l now use a lot more healthy alternatives and can see the results. I have had to ban most fast food due to gluten and we are healthier for it. Pam

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  26. I am an avid quilter and knitter. When I was working full time before my part-time break I started to stockpile both fabric and yarn. Now to say the least I have a huge stockpile, one I will never get through. having admitted to this I need to say I use my stockpile all the time. Rarely buying fabric for all the baby quilts I do or family quilts. I go to the yarn stash for projects first also. I still buy yarn and fabric but it needs to be very special or a project for a very special person. I love going through my stash, I know where I bought 90% of my stash and what was going on in my life at the time of purchase. When I retire { working full time again} I doubt I will need to purchase a thing. Oh and what will happen if I fail to use all my stash, my girls have it all ear marked for themselves....yeah, I have passed my love for handmade down to my children!

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  27. I love baking and knitting too - need to work on the sewing. I kept adding to my yarn stash until it started bursting out my cupboard so now I am using it to make gifts and little knitted toys for a stockpile of party favours. I am knitting some bunting for my daughter - its a great project for using up bits of yarn from other finished items.

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  28. when I can't afford good quality yarn, I keep my eyes open at thrift stores for nice knit wool or cotton sweaters and blankets, especially hand knit and bring them home and unravel them, wash the yarn, hang it to air dry (it also helps with getting the knitting kinks out) and then wind it and re-use it. Years ago it was a lot easier to find hand knit natural fiber knits, not so much lately...all is poly or acrylic. But for a couple of dollars you can get enough yarn to remake a sweater or what ever.

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