Where did you get it?


Showing off those newly made mittens.

“Where did you get it?” Is it just me or do you get asked this a lot? Often the answer – as storybook Cinderella might have found explaining away her pop up pumpkin coach, newty footman and glass slippers –  is quite complicated.  This post is by Nicola Baird, inspired by her new book (due out on 1 July 2010), Homemade Kids: creative thrifty and ecofriendly ways to raise children, see cover here.

Finding my dog for instance involved my daughter asking more than 50 people out on walks with border terriers, all round the country if they knew of a puppy. It took her four years to strike lucky, so to say Potters Bar doesn’t do the hunt justice at all. And even now I feel a bit disappointed that I didn’t take a non-wanted dog from a dogs’ home, but instead opted for a super cute fluffy puppy.

Even making things at home can involve a complicated hunt for the right materials. My two daughters recently agreed to sew up some mittens for their little cousin who is soon to be christened. Making mittens isn’t a traditional christening gift but it involved a major sweep around the house to find a suitably unworn jumper that could be felted.

How to felt & then make your own mittens

Our sewing machine is easy to use, and used to belong to Lola's great, great granny Lola.

Tips: You don’t need to put elastic at the cuff, felted mittens seem to be happy to stay on hands!if this is for a younger child you could attach a long piece of ribbon or elastic to either side to thread through the child’s coat in a bid to help prevent immediate loss.

** Take an old, stretched or unwanted jumper and put in a hot wash. (I justify this as I live in a hard water area so it is useful to run the washing machine at 60 degrees or hotter every few months  – with a spoonful or two of vinegar).
** Dry outside to remove the vinegar smell.

** Make a template by tracing around your hand, but at least 2cms bigger, using cereal packet card/newspaper.

** Cut out this shape making sure to do front and back simultaneously (that way you get a glove roughly the same size before you start sewing).

** Stitch by hand (or machine) around the edges. Try on and admire.

Thinking differently
We’ve all got so used to supermarket shopping, and the bland similarity of the high street that it really can be a shock to find someone repeatedly turning up in original outfits – hence the obvious question, “where did you get that”? of course if it is a really tempting consumer item the question “where did you get that” allows the asker to locate and find a cheaper one.

 Being helpful is one thing, but for anyone using Freecycle it’s hard to answer such a question straight. Someone in the street next but one handing over their unwanted buggy, blender or breadmaker doesn’t at first seem shopping enlightening. But it is: freecycle, car boot sales, table top sales, school and community fetes all allow this-burgeoning Cinderella economy to boom.

Best of all they provide every item with its own story. So maybe that question “Where did you get it?” actually means “Please tell me a story?”

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