Monday, July 19, 2010

The Challenge Begins

Well. Notwithstanding my sister's evocative description of my commitment to The Challenge of the Utmost Kind as 'el lame-o' (thanks sis! I love you too!) I remain resolved to undertake it.

Here are my parameters:

Official start date: 19 July 2010 (that's today folks)
Official finish date: 18 July 2011

The Commitment: all purchases made by me, for myself and (as far as is practicable) the house and family will be either second hand, or handmade, or possibly even both.

Some exceptions:

- Gifts. Obviously I am not going to require that someone who is so delightful as to wish to give me a gift adhere to the Challenge parameters. I will note that antique, vintage estate jewellery, preferably with diamonds, is acceptable from all perspectives. Also if my husband decided to present me with a shiny new dishwasher I would not complain. Subtle hint.

- Shoes. I'm not 100% confident that, should I need a new pair of shoes, it will be possible to get them second hand. Handmade offers possibilities though. But I'm just not sure. That said, I am just not that into shoes so it is not like I am making a tremendous sacrifice by promising not to buy them.

- Underwear. Obviously. This also applies to socks and tights. No point in replacing my holey socks with someone else's. I will try hard to find handmade ones though and if I can justify their cost I will invest in some should I need to.

- Things for Pippin and other family members. I will do my best to source things in accordance with The Challenge but it might not always be possible. Life is unpredictable.

- Work-related items. In the interests of full disclosure I should reveal that I am about to sign up for the Tea Geek Certification course (yes! I know you all thought I was ALREADY a tea geek but within 12 months I shall have a certificate to prove it!) which will involve being sent some specialist (sort of) tea wares that will be new and unlikely to be handmade. However I PROMISE not to buy any other new, non handmade tea wares. Cross my heart. Why, purely in the Spirit of The Challenge I've already been wasting hours of my time drooling over antique tea cups on eBay!

It's going to be an interesting year I think... I'm already facing a few challenges like... I have a bunch of cardigans (including some that I inherited from my sister before she went overseas). Most of them have buttons missing or holes (thanks, jumping, sharp-clawed cat). My sewing skills extend to replacing buttons but do NOT stretch to darning machine knit fabrics, nor am I sure that hand-sewing a split seam on one of them will be of much benefit (I don't have a sewing machine either). So I am tossing up what to do. It's not quite as easy for me to 'make do and mend' as it would be for someone with more skills.

 Letterpress poster by Print for Love of Wood

My commitment is already bringing up some questions for me about consumption generally. I AM doing The Challenge partly as a way to be more conscious about my consumption. I do love buying nice things (especially unique handmade fun things); I am also very short of personal spending money... Apart from the minimal income I get from my Etsy shop, we are now a single income household. I haven't been financially dependent on anyone for a long time and it's making me a bit uncomfortable I must admit. So I am more confronted than usual by the dichotomy of need versus want. Also slightly ashamed of how easily I am usually able to convince myself that a 'want' is actually a 'need'. I'll probably be posting more about this in the future.

At any rate, let The Challenge of the Utmost Kind begin! I promise to be quite honest about any slips and difficulties and also will do my best to post regular updates about thrifty finds and homemade goodness (I have a plot for some new cushion covers in the works, as soon as I can find some fabric dye).


  1. Of course, your tea blends are hand blended, so they count.

  2. Oh, definitely. Heh. I'm not giving up my sencha though, even if it is made by machine.

  3. Well done, Verity for your whole hearted commitment to the 'challenge'. The like-minded camaraderie is going to steel you through the tough times.
    I have found the challenge (i have only 2 months to go!), to be quite eye-opening, and challenges my thoughts and motivations.
    It's worth doing just to find out about yourself.
    Good luck, you will do smashingly well, I know it!

  4. Wow that sounds great!!! I wish you the BEST of luck/determination and I will be following your progress on your blog. If I had guts I would do the same thing. Just don't know if I can. And BYW I do not think you should buy used shoes, or the other intimate clothing items that you mentioned. I think those are very reasonable parameters for your challenge.

  5. Oh now its a case of there you go Tiffany - NO MORE EXCUSES....the Dottie Angel Challenge is main worry was my 8yo son - second hand clothing is not that great in his size!!! Underwear & shoes is also off my list - I need to wear good quality shoes, & as for gifts I have decided where practical I will make or seek to buy handmade items.....mind you its my birthday on the weekend - BUT I have been making a HUGE noise re doing family photos which are booked already, so that should be it....thanks for this fab website to BTW - I will be back for sure, your latest follower (not stalker, I promise!!!)

  6. Thanks so much for your support guys! It means a lot!


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