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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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