About the sewing box, then. It really does deserve its own post.
I have wanted one of these sewing boxes since forever. My mum has one (it's a generational thing, I think they gave them out in maternity wards in the '70s and '80s). They're pretty ugly as they are but I reckon a bit of work and you could make one look awesome! You can still buy them new, and they pop up fairly regularly at the charity shop too, but they are always too dear for me so I've never succumbed. Except today, I did :) The chap saw me glance at it (I'm the queen of nonchalance at a car boot) and said a tenner, which is waaay too much. Then he told me that it included the contents and lifted the lid on one of the top compartments to demonstrate. There appeared to be an awful lot of cheap polyester thread in there, but there were lots of colours I don't have. They always come in useful and even cheap thread is expensive, if you know what I mean. I decided you can never have too much cheap polyester thread.
I offered him a fiver. He countered at £8. When he added that it was his late mother's I gave in and agreed, even as I realised that lugging it home on foot was going to be a pain. Usually when people at boot sales say something was their late mother's, it's just a coded way of saying they don't want to haggle any further. Well. I think this was someone's late mother's. And it was a bargain.
The compartment he had shown me was just the beginning:
You know I just said you can never have too much cheap polyester thread? I changed my mind already. I've got enough to last a lifetime now. Several lifetimes, maybe. Most of it seems to be very old. From the days when things in this country were still measured in yards and ounces and you were allowed to put the words 'best quality' and 'polyester' in the same sentence. I love how, in true mum-style, there are multiple reels of the same thread. Not only in colours you might need a lot of, like black or white or navy, but in completely bonkers colours as well:
Someone was obviously planning to make a lot of purple curtains. But check out the price label. At 7p a pop why not buy two? Although I bet whoever bought it never realised that this thread would outlive the store that sold it. RIP Woolies.
Although some of this thread is neither cheap nor polyester. Some of it is very special:
A big old reel of linen thread on a wooden spool. This is truly vintage, and I love the reel! I still buy Barbour's Irish Linen Thread for bookbinding, but I'm not sure if I'm actually going to use this or just look at it.
There was a load more ribbons as well, and lace, and needles, patches... all sorts of haberdashery (I love that word.) Again, a lot of it is very old, bought for pennies and hidden away. A lot of it is obviously salvaged; there are earrings there, ribbon that still had stitching on it, one length of ribbon that was obviously squirrelled away from some long-given Valentine's gift. Check these needles out:
I don't know how old they are, but if you've ever seen the Full Monty you'll know it's years since Sheffield actually produced steel, and it's got to be decades since they made things like needles here rather than just importing them from China.
Some big spools of thread, but these are just plain filthy! Does anyone know any smart ways to clean it up? If not, I'll use it for tacking, but I don't see that I'll ever need this much, and I can't imagine anyone else would want it as it is.
Even though I got a really good deal, I felt a little sad. Time was that a woman's sewing notions would be passed down through the generations. It's sad when something like this is sold to a stranger for what isn't a lot of money, really. I'm pleased that I bought it. Someone should treasure it.