Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Have you ever heard this term? It was a new one to me. I saw the term "upcycling" for the first time today. I looked it up and had to chuckle. Upcycling is a fancy and nicer sounding word for something that people have done for generations. Upcycling is taking something old or worn out and transforming it into something new and serviceable. With the economy in such a mess and the new law that is to take affect February 10th that will in effect cause all thrift stores & consignment stores to stop selling clothing, toys, or other items for children 12 yrs old or younger, upcycling may become popular again.

I have been upcycling clothing for years. Taking old clothing and cutting it apart so that I could use the fabric to make other clothing, quilts, or other items that we needed. There are women who find good wool sweaters in a thrift store and carefully cut the seams so that they can unravel the knitting/crocheting and harvest the wool yarn to use on new projects. A wool sweater can be purposely shrunk down (felted) by washing it in hot water, then drying in the clothes dryer. The felting process tightens the weave of the sweater and makes a wonderful cloth to make winter hats and gloves from. Recently, I had a wonderful idea shared with me from a man who knew I was wanting to make a warm bunting for my 9 month old son, Micah. He told me that a young woman's wool sweater shrunk by washing in hot water & drying in the dryer comes out just the right size to fit an infant as a bunting.

Ever since Beloved and I gave up trash service last summer and began recycling everything, we have been upcycling the packaging and other items that previously would have been tossed in the trash. Plastic peanut butter jars become storage containers, for example. Yogurt containers become little seed starter pots. Paper egg cartons can be packed with dryer lint, then add some olive or other oil. This makes a wonderful fire starter for our wood cookstove. My old boot style slippers though the sole is worn out, the suede on the boot part is still in good condition for reusing as the soles for Micah or Abigail's slippers.

On February 10th, a new law will be going into affect in the US. The law prohibits the sale of any product (clothing, toys, etc.) for children 12 yrs old and younger that the manufacturer has not had testing for lead. This affects all stores & businesses including thrift & consignment stores. Home based businesses such as the WAHMs who make and sell cloth diapers and such will be essentially out of business.

Due to the new law and the current economic issues facing the nation, many more people will have to learn to make do or upcycle. A popular phrase from the Great Depression time period will become the mindset again. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

I am so grateful for those in my youth who influenced me and gave me the skills I would need at a time such as this. The skills of knowing how to sew from recycled fabric, cooking from scratch, and the homesteading skills needed to help my Beloved as we use the homestead to sustain our family.