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I HAVE been flipping through homewares and fashion magazines and while I, like any reader of these magazines, enjoys design and aesthetic ...



I HAVE been flipping through homewares and fashion magazines and while I, like any reader of these magazines, enjoys design and aesthetic beauty, I cringe at the frippery and waste.

One of the reasons I like op shopping is because nothing is truly precious. Whatever sentiment was attached to an object is gone with the passing of the owner, or moment in time fading. I am drawn to engraved watches and jewels, trophies, silver platters and tea settings. I never buy them; their stories don’t belong to me.

My nana turns “things” over regularly. Her daughter, my mum, suggests it’s a throwback to growing up in the Great Depression. In her comparative “wealth” my nan buys the best of what’s available to her. To that end she has been stocking up on beautiful linen and adding her own handmade touch to it.

Her knitted edgings on pillowslips, tablecloths, bathroom towels and other Manchester are precious pieces among her family. They evoke stories and a shared knowing. My mother can set the table and I’ll ask if the work is Nana’s and it’s a nod or “hmmm, yes” and the rest is understood. My sister can phone and ask how to launder the knitting and I know what she’s talking about. My Nana can phone and ask if I got her parcel and I know what she means.

There are secrets in the knitting, little white lies, hunting for cottons and linens (“the ones with a gloss, Kate” or “only 300 count, the others don’t wash as well”) the dragging out of linens for special occasions, to be photographed and sent to Nana for her approval (see, we’re using these things, we love you).

One day, long after I’m gone, these things will be among the piles of once known and loved items on an op shop shelf. They’ll have had their day and may even be sought after as social history pieces or to add to collections of antique textiles – and that’s the way it should be.

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9 comments

  1. Interesting - I find I attach much more preciousness to thrifted finds than I do to shiny new things. I think it's because I like to find something truly unique, something that was made most likely before I was even born. I like to run my hands over a yellowed linen or fill up an old candy dish and guess at how many others have done the exact same thing. I also know I'll most likely never find anything like it again, and so I'm very careful with these things.

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  2. Oh, I know what you mean, but just as I hoard little bits of my great great's, I hope that someone down the line just might have a few remnants of my world - little strings wandering back to the distant past. I hope one of my children might be a hoarder! Is it a trait that is passed on in the genes do you think?

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  3. Such an interesting way of looking at op-shopped objects, as objects whose moment as a protagonist has passed. Beautifully expressed piece.

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  4. Lovely post. My nana is a little the same, I have a towel set with pretty edges from her : )
    On the oppin front Im a bit like amanda nicole and often think of the little treasures I find as more precious for their uniqueness.
    i do love that an object can have many lives, even after we are gone, or done with them x

    ps i adore mirka too! the wall in the photos is at flinders street station before you cross the yarra to NGV. there is an entrance to slightly crass TAB/pokie like venue right next to it - I think its called clocks/clock tower something like that. you must check it out next time you are in melbs : )

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  5. Your precious knits from your Nana will become even more so as the years roll by.
    The pieces my family have that were made by my nana (who died years ago) are just priceless to us. It feels like part of her is still with us.

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  6. aww this is such a reflective, beautiful post! thanks for it!

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  7. so true ... though i feel sorry for the generation that has to sort through all my crap ...

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  8. Thanks for your post. I too had a nana that was somewhat thrifty. I treasure my special opshop finds. I think they are more interesting because they are usually one offs!

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  9. ah sweet post. I always feel so lucky when i find something I love at a Op shop, and quite often put something back on the shelf if I think someone may love it more than me. Old treasures deserved to be loved again, especially when they are made or re-worked by a Nana!

    Thank you SO much for your kind comment on my mopey post this week. It really meant alot to me to hear some understanding words. Thank-you!!!!

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