Divested Buttons

One of my favorite forms of entertainment is thrifting, as in shopping at thrift stores. I especially love small-town stores because they haven’t been picked over by everyone trying to pay their rent from eBay or Etsy sales. I’m blessed to live in the country, surrounded by other small towns and their thrift stores, so an entire day of thrifting can fill my car with treasures.

I recently donated some items to the little thrift store in my town, then wandered the aisles not really wanting to shop, but not wanting to miss anything. I have a certain route I follow, starting with the crafts and crafting books section (there was no knitting-related anything, though there will be after they put out my donation); then the coffee cups, looking for anything with a Starbucks logo (which goes for Seriousbucks on eBay); then the women’s tops in search of vintage sweaters; then the scarves and belts hoping to duplicate my find of the decade—a Gucci silk scarf for $1 that I sold on eBay and paid my mortgage; then the vests and “blazers.”

I have been known to wear blazers later than 1985, and I like and wear vests (it sounds much classier to call them waistcoats), but when I’m thrifting, I don’t look at these garments, I look at their buttons. They’re usually well-made, of good size, plenty, and coordinated. (Well, okay, I’ll make my first pass through the garments, assessing for possible inclusion in my wardrobe, then I make a second pass looking for buttons.)

Have you priced buttons lately? A quantity of yarn for a cardigan can cost less than the buttons. (I don’t knit cardigans; maybe this is why.) But a thrifted item goes for$1-$5, which can take the cost per button to well under $1.

I used thrifted buttons on my Irene Adler Pillow. Metal, embossed, shank buttons with a white patina that look like coins of the realm.

Regal detail on these buttons.

On this thrifting trip, I found a vest I liked for $2 that had worthy buttons. (Yes, I like this vest. Even if I hadn’t been watching reruns of Northern Exposure, I would like this vest. I’m not influenced by television shows.)

Yes, I actually like this vest.

Even the checker at the thrift store likes this vest.

Who can resist a grizzly bear on a patch of snow?

But the vest didn’t fit me. Too small. So I snipped off the buttons and reclaimed these beauties.

These buttons are dirty, not corroded.

A few light scrubs with Bar Keepers Friend, and:

After the magic of Bar Keepers Friend.

I have five clean, pewter 1-1/8″ shank buttons ready to adorn a handknit sweater or jacket.

As for the vest, I think I’m going turn it into a pillow for the little cabin in Alaska I’m strangely eager to live in some day.


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