Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tag…I’m it!

So Martha Stewart was telling the truth – they really are called tag sales in the East.

Tag Sale

Wasn’t it thoughtful of my niece Kim to move into a new place just before her mom and I arrived in New England, so we’d have an excuse for tag sales and thrift stores? It was perfect – we could drive around, ooh and aah over the beautiful fall colors, and hunt for bargains at the same time. A perfect weekend! Of course I did miss having Judy with me to try on all the hats. This is the only one I could get Kim to model.

Frog hat

We found a bunch of items on Kim’s list, including some furniture. This was my favorite piece – a little metal cabinet from the Fifties. (Ignore the dirt, it will be clean and probably painted soon.) If I’d been able to get it in my carry-on bag for the flight home, we might have had to arm wrestle over it.

cute midcentury metal cabinet

We felt right at home at tag sales. They have dogs at them.

Bailey the Lab mix

This is Bailey, isn’t she a beaut? Lab/Doberman mix. My favorite thing that happened at her sale was this: I had told my SIL Linda that she was NOT to allow me to buy any yarn as souvenirs on this trip. Not after that big score at the estate sale recently. So we bravely passed up every yarn shop in four states. The Linda spotted some great yarn at Bailey’s sale – and she bought it for me to knit!

yarn - but not my yarn! Yarn from Newfoundland Yarn

But that’s okay. The yarn had a great story – the lady bought it at the mill where it was made in Newfoundland and brought it home riding on the back of a motorcycle! (Her husband was rolling his eyes – but fondly - as  she told us this story.) And it came in handy for packing my souvenirs. Yes, I managed to come away with breakables. But how could I resist this wonderful addition to my midcentury coffee carafe collection

Douglas Flameproof meets PyrexDouglas Flameproof side

or this tiny one?

small Pyrex carafeP1070406

or a couple of Modern Star cups and saucers?

Homer Laughlin Modern Star teacup

I believe you used to be able to order these from the Quaker Oats company for two box tops and some cash.

Laughlin Modern Star cup & saucerLaughlin Modern Star

And how could I resist this cranberry glass vase for the skinny glass collection in the kitchen window?

cranberry glass vasecranberry base top

The handle is attached with a little leaf shape.

cranberry vase handle

At least none of it was very heavy, and packed in the yarn everything got home just fine in the bottom of my carry-on bag. I noticed though that the x-ray inspection of my bag went on quite a long time at the airport!

At another sale I picked up this wool throw. It’s so soft it might be cashmere.

wrap up in wool

I noticed a few little moth holes and asked the price. “Oh, just take it,” they said. One more thing to pack, but I love it. Might use it on a side table this winter. winter table coverbird bowl with yarnI think we had the most fun in the small town having a fall festival. On that side of the street were tents and booths with crafts and food and such. On this side of the street was a fair size rummage sale – and they really wanted to get rid of everything. The day was getting along when we arrived, and soon we heard the people working the sale calling out, “Two dollars a bag! Anything you can get in a bag for two dollars! Get your bag here!” A few minutes later they were offering bigger bags, then boxes, then “We’ll help you carry everything!” We started going through all the tables for the items on Kim’s list. Just the curtain rods she found would be worth $2 and she ended up with lots more – bowls and a vintage tablecloth and a hand-spun, hand-woven antique wool blanket – can’t remember most of it.

two bucks of loot

We found a plastic bin to pile things in. I added a few things of my own – the small carafe and the teacups, a linen tea towel, half a dozen CDs.

more cheap entertainment

By the time we finished spending two bucks, the festival was over and they were packing up the tents. But just think of all the money we saved starting on the two dollar side of the road!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

SABLE…I Think I Have It!

I noticed an ad on Craigslist for an estate sale the other day that mentioned yarn among the items available. If you’re a knitter or crocheter, you know what that means – I had to go! Judy and I went to a couple of sales first that listed an earlier opening time. The first was a huge stockpile of years of accumulation, with the kind of prices we love. Fifty cents. A quarter. I know she found some stuff there but I don’t even remember what it was because I was intent on my own pile! Ended up with a vintage Vera tablecloth

Vera yellow tableclothVera table cloth

and some fabric

Hand printed silk fabricSilk fabric hand printedCrysanthemum fabric

and five rolls of old wallpaper, which I’m hoping will resell.

vintage wallpaper  boxvintage Cinderella wallpaerCinderella feeds the geeseCinderella flees

Then we were off to the estate sale. The house was quite large and I kept poking my head into rooms that held anything but yarn. Like a collection of at least 40 pairs of Birkenstocks. Priced at $30 each, so no thanks. I kept looking and finally found the room full of fabric, with the closet full of yarn. Several ladies were choosing fabric pieces (lots of quilters around here) but no one was looking at the yarn, so I dove in. I expected any minute for other knitters to show up but no one did.

All the yarn was done up in ziplock bags that had been stapled shut – a bit frustrating since choosing yarn is a tactile experience. But unlike the Birks and most other items in the house, the yarn prices were pretty reasonable. (If you’ve ever been in a yarn store you know how shockingly expensive it can be.) So I picked out a bag, then another, and another. Judy caught up with me and I made her hold some bags, then I went and found a box to corral everything. In all I spent about $20 just on yarn, which is a lot of money for a fifty cent lady! But I came home with over $200 in yarn. And I had so much fun sorting and petting it when I got it home that…yes, I went back the next day!

Well, it was half price day. I fully expected the yarn to be wiped out, but there was still quite a bit of good stuff. So I grabbed another box and started putting yarn in it.

Had a bit of a moment when another shopper started pulling yarn out of my box. I said those were mine, I’d already selected them. My goodness, the look she gave me! Talk about a face that would curdle milk. I was surprised, because most folks around here would just say oh sorry, let’s see what’s left in the closet. Hmmm, maybe she’s related to one of the guys from last week who were getting into a fight over something at a yard sale. She definitely looked ready to take a swing at me, but fortunately backed off.

You have to be careful around knitters though. We often carry sharp pointed objects and we know how to use them!

So another $14 in yarn came home with me, at least $300 worth. It makes quite a pile.

Stash o' yarnYarn stash

There are wonderful colors and textures

yarn colorspretty yarn

and I may love the single ball of floofy bunny angora yarn best of all.

angora yarn     curl of angora yarn

Knitters often use an acronym – SABLE – to describe their stockpile of yarn: Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy. Clearly the lady whose estate was being sold had achieved it, and I think I’m getting there too. When I first got back into knitting (because I visited an alpaca farm and bought one skein of sock yarn) I determined that I would buy no more yarn than would fit into my vintage train case. And then it was the train case and a zippered bag I happened to have. And since yarn is squishy I was holding the line there…until now. But it’s such fun to see all this beautiful yarn, and so satisfying to think of a project and grab the yarn from your stash and go with it. And I just ran across the idea on someone’s blog to display balls of beautiful yarn around the house. Which brings me to my other purchase from Saturday morning.

He’s bigger than the crystal water buffalo, but was just as alluring. As soon as I saw this kingfisher on his bowl he had to be mine.

Kingfisher bowlkingfisher potceramic kingfisher

He’ll look great with flowers growing in the pot, I thought. But now I think he’ll look great with some lovely balls of yarn heaped in his bowl.

yarn textures

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I should never wait this many days after a garaging foray to write a blog post…I forget too much too quickly! Plus my brain is busy anticipating the trip I’m taking next week. I’m going to New England! Never been to that part of the country before and I can’t wait.

The trip came about because of my last trip, to Washington D.C. My SIL Linda and I were bumped from our overbooked plane, and part of the deal was we got vouchers for a future trip. Or for part of a future trip; turns out the amount they gave us wasn’t enough to go anywhere and get home again. But on the upside, they bumped us to the nonstop flight we’d originally wanted, but was too expensive! So I call that a win.

We’ve booked accommodations through Airbnb, which I’ve used a couple of times before. (BTW, if anyone wants to try using them, if you’ll email me for my code to use when you sign up I’ll get a $25 travel credit. Just sayin’…)

So I’m looking forward to finally seeing New England in the Fall. And how’s this for perfect: my niece who lives in Vermont has just moved to a new apartment and needs furniture and fixings, so we’ll have the perfect excuse to visit thrift stores as we travel around! Anyone have a good one to recommend? Or other places or food or activities we shouldn’t miss?

Judy and I did get to do a little driveway hopping last weekend. Here are the hat pictures to prove it!

Bow in backBow in frontOlé!

She was doing a great job filling up the back seat of the convertible (shelves to put sweaters on; big basket for dog toys, or maybe firewood) while I was enjoying the sunny day but saying “Meh” to everything that was for sale. Until I spotted this bag.

Vera Bradley bag

Yup, Vera Bradley. I love the colors, but I usually stick with a couple of Coach bags I found years ago on driveways (one of them is a Bonnie Cashin bag from the Sixties). But wait, I thought, you’re going on a trip – and this baby would be hold everything you’ll need on the plane and driving around. Besides the two outside pockets,

Front pockets

there are something like six inside.

Inside pockets

It has a bit of an owie on one corner, but I figured I can patch that. And it’s why I was able to buy the bag for two bucks – quite a discount from the retail price!


A couple of stops later we were conversing with a nice lady. She had a large, artsy framed mirror that we both thought was cool – hammered metal design of calla lilies over tooled leather. (Sorry, didn’t get a picture!) “I just love that thing,” she sighed, “but my husband hates it. So I’m finally letting it go.” We shook our heads over husbands and their inexplicable taste (and giggled at each other while we did so). I poked her around her wares and spotted something I figured I could use. I’ve been wanting to make some flannel PJ pants and have been looking for flannel sheets. And she had just what I wanted.

Flannel sheets

Pair of all-cotton sheets for a buck? Mine. Just then, the wind gusted and we heard a crash. The gorgeous mirror had blown over, face down. We all gasped, and the lady hurried over to check it.

“It didn’t break,” I said with utter certainty. And I was right – even though I was not all that certain! She picked up the mirror and we wedged it behind something else so no more errant gusts could grab it. Then she said, “Those sheets are yours. You were my good luck charm!”

Well hey, if you want to give me something I’ll probably say yes. And when we got to the car I realized the sheets are just the right color to make a little patch for my Vera bag.

I can mend itIronically, one of the sheets is itself patched!

Patched sheets

I have a soft spot for mended items. If someone took the trouble to patch something they must have valued it. When I see mending, I see love. So I’m going to love carrying my mended bag next week as I fly east!

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