Mindful Mending

“True economy consists in always making the income exceed the out-go. Wear the old clothes a little longer if necessary; dispense with the new pair of gloves; mend the old dress: live on plainer food if need be; so that, under all circumstances, unless some unforeseen accident occurs, there will be a margin in favor of the income.” P.T.Barnum

The above quote by P T Barnum of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, reflects RUDE’s outlook on frugal living.  We love to mend and make do.  And also to REmake something unique and new to us.

To add our stamp on things that were once owned by others, and then discarded for us to find and treasure, brings us joy.  But why treasure stuff?  Well for us, its more about the resources, time and effort that goes into making things.  We acknowledge the final object is the sum of all the parts of a making process, and we honour these parts by REinvention and REuse of the object.

I [Karen] was recently inspired by my fellow blogger and mender Agatha Lee from Green Issues by Agy when she held A Darn Good Mending Cafe in Singapore.  A fun name for a mending cafe.

In this photo below, I have sashiko mended the crotch of a secondhand pair of jeans REscued from landfill.  For me, mending is a mindful and peaceful process.  It creates flow and has a frugal purpose, which makes for simple living joyfulness.




As frugal types RUDE is wary of the issue of ‘green’ consumerism.  That is where certified green industries and companies are charging an arm and leg for products and services.  For us frugal living is first and foremost on the agenda.  Secondly, if green products are competitive or cheaper all the better for us and the planet.

We have not embraced solar panels because we are close to retirement and have not yet decided where we will be living.  Also financial incentives and restrictive contracts are not attractive.  In our opinion it’s all set up for big business to make money.  Those we know and have read about, who have solar panels, are not raving about them.  Some say there is very little advantage in shifting to solar in the current political and economic environment.

Whether solar panels or off-the-grid it would be great to have either experience. We were recently inspired by a family who has decided to go off-the-grid across the plains from us in Little River [yes, where the Australian pop rock band took its name from].  The Off the Grid Solar House was recently featured in an informative article in The Age newspaper.  You can read the article on the blog and follow this family’s journey.  Emma from the blog writes a good yarn.  She will make you laugh with her take on how the west of Melbourne is winning the solar race.

Solar graphic

Happy Hacking

“The design processes of upcycling can make us update the world of fashion in small and beautiful steps, upfashioning it with our own craftsmanship.”  Otto von Busch 


There is a liberating feeling to be experienced when you hack into clothes that were once considered fashionable.  You are the REdesigner [the hacker] not accepting societies informal rules and expectations around how unwanted clothes are to be treated. 

My Scavenger Style statement is a guerrilla garment tactical response strategy to fast fashion’s wasteful ways.  And my upcycling colleague Jane Milburn from Brisbane, Australia is also embracing Hacktivism in her year long project, where she creates an upcycled outfit each day.  She has written about my political fashion statement and Otto von Busch’s Hacktivism movement at Textile Beat

Happy Hacking!


Poncho Play

It’s impossible to be unhappy while wearing a poncho! ~ Noel Fielding /Comedian

I [Karen] have a love hate relationship with ponchos, probably because I am a practical Capricorn.  It’s just difficult to do the housework, tend to the garden, go to the toilet, whatever, in a poncho.  And I never wore one in the 70s when it was on trend to do so, because I prefer to be an individual, and not on trend in any decade.

In the 80s I did not do big hair.  Not that I could because my hair is fine. Watching ABCs Grumpy folk RElive the 80s, I am now very pleased I have fine hair.  Looking back at my hairstyle in photos from the 80s, is not too REvealing of this awful fashion decade.  My children in these photos give my age away and not my hairstyle, thank goodness.

But I have always known what Noel Fielding the surreal humourist quoted above [and depicts in the 2nd video below] that there is something about wearing a poncho that makes you want to play. Funny discovery as I write this blog post, but my video of my REfashioned poncho [1st video below] is probably surreal humour.

As with satire, my humour is intended to expose particular norms and preconceptions rather than as pure entertainment.  It’s a way here to spread the message, that someone well over 50 years of age, can wear a child’s crochetted poncho as a skirt, and be delightfully happy [and video it!  Now that's surreal].  And to promote that the poncho came from the point of landfill and was REvamped by me, certainly exposes preconceptions and norms about fashion such as who designs it, where it comes from and who should wear it.

Embrace Scavenger Style and beat the fast fashion trend  ~ Karen Ellis / Surreal Humourist

Gorgeous Grandpa Garment

When I came across this quality knit at the point of landfill I was conflicted.  I did not love it but I recognised its superb quality.  It was more a warm woollen jacket than a cardigan.  I started to tell its story in my mind.  Before this cardigan had ended at the garment graveyard a Grandpa had passed away.  It had hung in the back of his closet for years hence the musty smell.

REscue the brown cardigan or not was the big dilemma of my day.  Yes, no, maybe as I put it to the side and searched for more natural fiber garments.  But I kept coming back to Grandpa’s cardie like it was telling me to take it home and love it.

I Rescued and REvived this cardigan for all the Grandpas out there who mean something to loved ones.  I do wonder if there is a photo of a Grandpa in my cardigan.

This cardigan also features in my Merry Market post on this blog.  I have styled it with jeans and boots in Part 3 of the following video series.

Oh, and if you want to know how I got rid of the musty smell it was simple.  I soaked and washed the garment in very hot water and then hung it outside on the line for five days.


Budget Bouffant

RUDE is into budget everything.  Nothing is off-limits if money can be saved.  And where RUDE doesn’t spend money is on expensive hair stylists and products.

I [Karen] clip Danny’s hair, well what’s left of it, every couple of months which probably saves us at least $200 per year.  I am not really sure because I have no idea what it costs to go to a male hairstylist or barber these days.  The only outlay is the clippers and ours were REscued from the point of landfill for 50 cents.

I had been going to a hairdresser in my neighbourhood.  I was not 100 per cent happy with the service but the price was reasonable at $15.  I still expect great service when I go into a salon for a quick trim – and it was quick.

I stopped going to this hairdresser because I sensed something was not quite right with the service. The other day whilst out driving around I noticed the business has closed.  I was not surprised.  My 6th sense is always a reliable indicator and rarely fails me.

A couple of days ago after not having a haircut for over 6 months I decided it was time for a chop.  Yes, literally a chop by Danny.  I let him know that after breakfast he was going to trim my hair.  He was not amused, as I sat grinning in confidence of his abilities.  He initially indicated he did not want to trim my hair.  I calmly highlighted that if he didn’t do it, I would get the clippers and shave it all off.  That tactic worked and he styled me a beautiful bob.  Cost = $0

In the past I have probably spent around $30 every 6 weeks for a style cut [no shampoo or extras] which adds up to $270. Therefore between Danny and me we are saving over $500 per year just on haircuts.  Forget salon overheads, this $500 goes towards our cost of living overheads.

Beat the Man with Budget Bouffants.

RUDE Awakening

As promised some of the video footage from the recent Amber Lane Market. I feel that the market goers who popped by my REfash demo had a pleasant awakening by RUDE on the creative possibilites and options available to them.

The brown ‘grandpa’ cardigan that features in this video was REscued from the point of landfill. It is pure wool and very heavy because it is double layered. It’s not something I would purchase in a charity shop. However in this instance it was destined for the garment graveyard so I brought it home.

The story and styling of this garment will be featured in a couple of videos on the blog in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.