What did I learn from #NothingNewNovember

Well, that’s November at an end, and it’s time to think about the impact of #NothingNewNovember.

I suppose the main question that I want to ask myself is: Did this curb my consumption?

In short, yes.

The longer answer? Not really – I’ve been priorising used goods for myself for a very long time. Had this challenge not come at Chrismas, I might not have noticed the difference. That said, it did come in the run-up to Christmas and I suppose that’s the point.

The challenge forced me to consider a lot of things I hadn’t really thought about before in regards to my gift-purchasing habits. It’s so very easy to ‘justify’ brand new objects if they’re for other people, despite the fact that I really appreciate it when people give me used/homemade presents. Not having the option to instantly purchase brand new gifts resulted in me putting more thought into what I was giving.

In the past, I’ve been worried about gifting second-hand items because I feel ‘cheap’ for the tiny price tag, but this challenge forced me to get past that and assess the difference between the value and worth of an item. It’s something I’ve touched on before on other platforms, but in short I’ve been guilty of assuming that for something to be giftable, it needs to be expensive. Of course, that isn’t true  – the cost of a gift isn’t an indicator as to the usefulness of it, or the worth it will have to the recipient. So – for example – even though the tiny Christmas stocking I knitted for my friend’s tree cost nothing (in terms of materials – it took around an hour of time), it will be treasured. I made it to honour the weeks we spent getting to know one another as I taught her to knit socks.

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Another point of interest came as I set about making gifts. Again, I’ve often justified the purchase of new materials because the thing I was making was a present. But although the working conditions in my house are significantly better than those in a lot of garment factories, brand new raw materials are still  brand new materials, regardless of who is using them.

I don’t actually have a huge stash of craft supplies, but it transpires that what I do have is ample for the gifts I’ve made. I think, going forward, that I will put a ban on new yarn purchases until I’m down to around 50% of what I currently have. The same applies to my fabric, though I haven’t been brave enough to sew any gifts yet…

So, did I buy anything new in Novemeber? Yes, two things, but I’m fine with both purchases.

  1. A book, intended for my husband. I initially tried to get this from the library but there is a long waiting list for it so although I could write him an IOU, I wanted to make sure the children had something to hand over. I then tried to find a copy second-hand but the only ones were coming from America. At the end of the day, I decided to support my local bookshop and bought it there. I could technically have waited until it was December to buy it, but as I’d planned to make the purchase for over three months, I thought that was just lip-service to the challenge… Regardless, one paperback book was purchased. It could be argued that I should have chosen a different title, but this one was just too perfect – the other titles I plan to equip him with will come from the library.
  2. One ball of sock yarn. I was lucky enough to visit friends of mine in the middle of the month. One of these friends had a birthday at the start of November, so I waited until we were together, got her to choose the colour of yarn she wanted, and knitted her gift whilst in her company. This ensured that the gift was one which would match her current wardrobe and fit correctly. It was a planned purchase and a considered one, so I don’t feel in the least bit bad about it. I have half a ball left and will use this in future projects – likely sets of baby socks for impending bumps amongst other friends.

Did I feel deprived, saying ‘no’ to purchases whilst out and about? Not at all. Rather than trawling through online shops for ‘perfect’ presents, I took stock of what I already have in the house. Along the way, I rediscovered my violin, dug out my recorders and started to teach my eldest to play. And what an honour that is.

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So obviously, there are limits to buying used items – sometimes used things are actually more expensive (out-of-print books, for example), sometimes geography dictates that certain items are more desired than others (i.e. wellies are impossible to buy used in our muddly shire), and sometimes you just want to buy the item new (underwear, anyone?).

Did you take the #NothingNewNovember challenge? I would love to hear how you got on!

5 Replies to “What did I learn from #NothingNewNovember”

  1. I think you’ve done brilliantly, especially at what has to be one of the hardest times of year. Your knitted gifts are lovely and you’ve totally inspired me . . . I’ve just downloaded a free pattern for knitted fairisle mini stockings to knit from scraps for our grandchildren. I imposed a ban on buying any new yarn or spinning fleece this year, didn’t quite make it but it’s good to have used up a lot of supplies out of my box. Rediscovering music is a wonderful thing, just shows what unexpected benefits come when we stop shopping! 🙂

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    1. That’s brilliant! Tiny stocking are fabulous. 🙂

      I’ve seen some of your spun yarn on your blog – it looks delicious! I bought a texel fleece last year from my neighbour with the intention of using a drop spindle on it but I just haven’t got round to it. Any advice for a total novice?

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      1. Loving the tiny stocking so far, think this could be addictive! My goodness, that’s brave taking on a whole raw fleece, I’ve only ever done it once. If there isn’t anyone to help you, have a good look on the internet, I watched lots of video clips about how to tackle it as the wool is different qualities in different areas of the fleece. The washing is the worst part – sheep are so mucky! – and you have to be careful not to felt the fleece with too much agitation when its wet. Ready-prepared fleece would be much easier to learn with but obviously you would have to buy that. Drop spindles are a great way to learn, be patient and you’ll be spinning in no time! I was lucky enough to be given a wheel, it’s a piece of junk really but I love it. It’s a very therapeutic pastime – looking forward to seeing your creations! Good luck! 🙂

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      2. Eep! Thank you – it sounds like I’m going to need all the luck I can get! 😛 I might start off small with something different, then fill a duvet with this fleece like I’ve been threatening to do since I washed it… I will keep you updated as to how I get on!

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      3. Please don’t let me put you off! Starting from scratch with raw fleece is a fascinating experience and Texel is soft with a medium staple so should spin up really nicely. It’s just a bit daunting tackling a whole fleece, that’s all, and not the easiest way to learn how to use a spindle. Also, you would need hand carders and they’re expensive if you decided spinning wasn’t for you. Otherwise, go for it and enjoy it! 🙂

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