One of the knitting acronyms that always leaves me slightly bemused is “SABLE” – Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy – ie you’ll never live long enough to knit it all and your grieving nearest and dearest will pass the whole lot to Oxfam or the local infant school unless you’ve been wise enough to specify a lucky recipient in your will. I don’t want to be succeeded by my stash, or by my Ravelry Queue.
That said, I think I’ll have failed if there isn’t a tin full of buttons to pass on to Small Girl. There’s no particular talent required to use or appreciate them, and I love that a button tin has favourites from clothes long outgrown and outworn, and new ones that are still waiting to see active service. I suspect that no matter how far and how fast technology evolves, Small Girl will still need buttons. My mother’s button tin is one of the constants of my childhood memories. It’s a beigey/toffee/mustardy colour depending on how far back in time I go, and I think originally held some sort of French confectionery from their honeymoon halcyon pre-children days. I can remember it back to very early childhood, always full. I was reminded of this when Small Girl climbed onto my lap, intent on choosing buttons for her new blue dress. She looked so very content and focused as she tipped out the tin and together we worked out which buttons were in a set of four or more and would go with the dress.
My own button tin is very modest by comparison to my mother’s. Wafer thin, it started life holding a clutch of Marks & Spencer Golden Jubilee chocolate coins. Soon after that a good friend sent me some buttons and beads for a birthday, and I was off. I think I shall end up with several smaller tins, with buttons sorted by colour. I prefer tins to jars – I like the surprise of opening a container and seeing what’s inside.
Most of my buttons are from old shirts and clothes, gifts and the odd leftovers or rejects from projects. What I would really like to do is start building a collection of vintage/preloved buttons to add character to hand-made clothes. To do this I shall probably have to embrace my thrifting heritage and start spending more time in charity shops. Small Girl loves them without reservation, which is probably a good enough reason for having another go, even though my recent experiences of charity shops have not exactly been inspiring. The trouble is, when your teenage wardrobe included both a Harris Tweed cropped duffel coat and a butter soft suede jacket, both secured by your mother from jumble sales for about 30pence each, it’s hard to completely discount the possibility of finding something lovely. I’m not sure that I have my mother’s strength of purpose to scour every charity shop in a mile radius. Well I do, but for yarn shops.
There is something about the longevity of a button. They will quietly travel from garment to garment through time, generations and places. You can never grow out of a button, and they date well. I do believe that the perfect buttons can make a perfect garment even better. I’m not sure that Small Girl would thank me for bequeathing her my “knitting noodles and string”, but I do like to think that a few little tins of buttons might just find a place in her life and heart. It’s not as if I can’t use them in the meantime.