Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Loft clearance

My husband and I are hoarders.  What's more, we both come from generations of hoarders.  Saving every paper bag and piece of string that enters the house?  Entire larders full of empty jam jars?  Cutting buttons off worn-out shirts?  Storing ancient woollen clothes with the idea that you could make a mat?  We have both been there.

So when we decided that this was the time to tackle the loft, on the grounds that advancing age and back trouble may soon overtake our ability to manhandle boxes down a ladder, it was always going to be hard.

When we moved here over twenty years ago we were merging two houses, so some boxes went straight into store and have bided their time undisturbed. Tidying rooms in the main house had often led to an additional box going up into store.  Teaching,  in the days before computers, generated huge quantities of worksheets.  Similarly, at one time people wrote letters, often over periods of years.  And there were boxes from both my mother's and my aunt's house clearances.

Our previous system had been to rely on the cardboard box and the black bin-liner.  Over these went a sheet of heavy duty plastic and on to this sifted down the dust of ages from the rafters.  All this made the job an endurance test physically, as we tried to sift out what, if anything, was to be kept.
All the worksheets could go; likewise the documentation from the 80s on innovative training schemes, no question.  But the correspondence?  Just to open any of those letters was to be taken back to an earlier time, more pungently than those curious photographs where the men all have hair and lots of it.  Thirty years, forty, fell away.  So they remain in store.

One of my mother's collections was of knitting patterns.  The earliest, this example from "Farm, Field and Fireside", dated 1914.  My goodness, eyesight must have been better in those days: the print is tiny.  The format is a curious one; queries posted one issue are picked up and answered in the next,  So, we have Stockings for soldiers.

Recently a colleague brought in her five-week old baby to visit, dressed in denim jeans and a brown smock top, virtually identical to the outfit that she was wearing herself.  Once, toddlers wore special outfits.
Teenagers were well catered for with "gay" accessories and sporting outfits.

Age appropriate clothing went on throughout life; people knew who they were in those days, although the model probably isn't much over forty.



Ruth in Ontario, Canada said...

You are so lucky to have all those "vintage" patterns! I hope it goes without saying that they'll be kept.

Mary Lou said...

I love those vintage patterns. I love the ones where all the manly men are smoking!

Anonymous said...

Just catching up! We have moved house so many times that we don't have too many boxes in the loft - when you take something out of one loft, then put it in the loft of the next house, you realise it is time to reassess how much you want to keep! I love old knitting patterns - I once bought some in a charity shop of men in Aran cardigans, which I blogged about. I called the post "hunks galore" - then found I was turning up in all sorts of unsavoury searches!!