2 February 2008

Buying quality ... and cotton

It's always seemed a good idea to me to buy the best quality I could afford whenever I purchase anything. That is even more important when you're trying to live well on less money. It might sound strange, because the quality items are usually more expensive, but you will find that investing a bit more in what you buy will pay you back with length of service. Part of our philosophy is to look after what we own with careful laundering and storage, and when we do that, good quality items generally last longer than lower quality.

I have been guilty in the past of buying goods just because they're cheap, but I usually regretted it. They never lasted the distance. I had to buy two sheets last week as I put one of our old sheets out for rags and tomato ties around Christmas, and then last week there was a rip in another sheet. I mended that last sheet but decided to see what was still available in the January sales; sure enough, we got a nice bargain.

I always buy cotton sheets and we picked up 100% pure cotton white fitted sheets for $35 each, on sale reduced from $70. They have deep gussets at the corners, so no pulling the sheets to slip them over the mattress, and they're 450 thread count. I like to buy Australian products but they're becoming harder to find now so we settled on what Hanno found and am happy with them. They are a Chinese brand - Pure Zone. I washed them both and after drying in the sun, one went on the bed. It's lovely to sleep on, I think we made a good choice.

When I made the bed with the new sheet, I added a top cotton sheet I bought in the 1960s and a cotton duvet cover, bought in the 1970s. The pillow slips were bought in the 1990s. No, it doesn't match, but I'm not one to match anything, as long as it's clean and fresh, I'm happy enough. What I'm after is comfort, not matching colours or patterns. I think my bed looks good anyway, even though that top sheet is over 40 years old and the duvet cover is close to that. What matters is that the bedding is clean and in good order, and that the bed is comfortable.

We also had another reason to be pleased with good quality purchase made a long time ago. Our microwave broke last week. It's a Sharp convection microwave that we bought over 10 years ago. I put some kartoffel puffers in to warm up the other day and weird blue lights and strange noises started. Hanno took it to the local repair shop, we got it back the same day and it was fixed for $59.

I know it's difficult sometimes to justify extra dollars when you're buying household items. When you're making your decision to purchase, check the quality and country of origin as well as the packaging. Try to buy good quality cotton or linen if it's a fabric item. If it's an appliance, ask around and check out Choice, or your local consumers advocate for information about your purchase. Try to buy what will last and not something that just fills the gap until you have to buy the same thing again.

I'm not obsessed with cotton, really. ; - ) This is in response to one of the requests for information made a couple of days ago. The dishcloths I make are 100% pure cotton, usually from Italy. I would love to find Australian 4 or 6 ply cotton but in all my searching, I've never found it. The brand of the cotton below is Moda.

I usually do a basket weave pattern because it's easy to keep track of. Cast on 50 stitches and do two rows of plain knitting. At the beginning of a row start doing 5 plain, then 5 purl and repeat to the end of the row, do five rows of that. Then, to get the basket effect, start your row with 5 purl, then 5 plain, and repeat till the end. Do five rows of that then go back to the row starting with 5 plain. If you do ten rows of alternating plain and purl, you'll have a square. End off with a two rows of plain and cast off.

I use these cloths for washing up, wiping down the kitchen bench and as face washers. I'm also knitting a set of black cloths to use for cleaning the bathrooms. They make a lovely gift with a cake of home made soap. Last week I gave my friend Anna a gift of a handmade cloth and soap, with one of my home grown luffas. It was her birthday so I made a card and presented it all in a plain brown paper bag. She loved it.

Even when I'm knitting something else, I usually have one of these dishcloths on the go as I can easily pick it up and knit a few rows while talking to someone or when I'm sitting outside. I see these dishcloths as a symbol of my simple life. They're homemade, have various uses, last a long time, may be given
as gifts, and are one of those gentle projects that connect me with the practical, rehabilitative and creative part of daily life.

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