A Thrifty Witch Haul : Little Witch On The Prarie

As a young un of about seven, I used to pretend that I was Laura Ingalls Wilder. We had The Little House On The Prairie series read to us in school and I was besotted. I mean, if I happened to miss one story time for whatever reason, I’d cry. Literally. It was the best part of going to school and was always the last thing we did before the day came to a close.

We had four channels on the TV and when we quit for school at noon, I’d go home and eat my lunch – usually beans on toast – while watching The Little House on the Prairie adaptation. I loved, and still do love, the wholesomeness of the show, but even at the tender age of seven, I was infatuated with the fashion, and felt I needed one of those floral pioneer dresses to make my life complete. I never did end up with one, until the other day.

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I have only just started to feel comfortable with wearing floral stuff. When I was deep into Goth, the overuse of roses in Gothic fashion made me feel nauseous. So I turned by back on pretty much every floral decoration I encountered.

But yesterday, while out thrifting in Erikshjälpen in Borås, I found this staggeringly gorgeous pioneer dress for 65 krona or just under £6. Needless to say I flung myself into the nearest changing room.

While I was admiring the little blue buttons and the fluted collar, the full sleeves and the sweet floral design, a little voice took a swipe at my joy, saying ‘really Katie? What the hell do you think you’re doing with this, are you crazy? Look at how not black it is?’ But I didn’t listen. I bought the dress and was finally able to fulfill my pioneer dream…now I just need to find a field to run though.

I Have Been Wearing The Same Boots Since 2010

I say the same boots, what I really mean is the same style. I’ve gone through 3 pairs of black French Military Ranger boots in 7 years, wearing them almost constantly.

I always keep my boots until the soles are so thin they let in water, and the leather is cracked enough that pieces of my socks end up peeking out through the cracks.  I’m not one of these women who will wear a pair of shoes and get bored of them within a few weeks.

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If I buy shoes, boots, whatever – I need to love the shit out of them. I need to love them forever. I don’t like to buy needlessly. Anyway, I stuck with these boots because they became a big part of my character. Plus, they’re outrageously comfortable when they’ve been worn in.

My current boots are getting to the point where they’re going to need to be replaced, and I’ve been wondering when I should put in an order for them, but then something happened…

A little pair of red shoes from Office came along my way for free. Slipping them on…well, you’d have thought I was fucking Cinderella. There was very little of that self pitying whine of ‘oh, but they’re not black.’ I got over that pretty bloody quickly. I love this Oxford Style too much to be depressed about the fact they’re oxblood not black. I haven’t worn them outside yet, but when I will, I’ll be a proud woman walking.

 

A Thrifty Witch Haul : Ox Blood Dress

I live predominantly in black and have for the past, hell, about 17 years? But now and then I’ll see something and I’ll think ‘maybe…maybe just this one time…’and I’ll feel all brave and go getting. I’ll feel like I’m throwing myself outside of my neatly arranged all black box.

However my excitement quickly turns to panic, and 9 times out of 10 I’ll quickly back THE FUCK AWAY from the colourful-whatever-it-is. But the other day, on a thrifting adventure, I landed on an ox blood dress (though it might just be a long-ish top) for £2.

I thought to myself ‘the man likes red, and it feels a bit Goddess-ishy.’ Red is good too, because it’s the colour of passion, the colour of action, the colour of energy – all things I need to be channeling right now.

The dress still had the original Zara label attached to it. Who knows, maybe someone with much the same thought process as me had bought it originally then failed to find the courage to actually wear it outside the house.

I tried it on, and, while it’s not made of the loveliest materials in the world – polyester and elastane – it fits gorgeously. It’s tight where it should be tight, and beautifully flowy where it should be beautifully flowy.

The fact that it’s an ox blood red colour is quite the big deal for me, and, yeah, you can scoff at this, it does take a lot of courage to step out in something that isn’t charcoal.

 

 

Wyrd Things For Wyrd People

My shop A Living Witch is a treasure trove of wyrd things for wyrd people. Some of the things I part ways with have been found during thrifting adventures…

I was on my way to the library the other day when  my heart said ‘stop by the thrift store…’ Never one to ignore my precious organ, I made a detour. Once inside, my sixth sense led me to the home ware section, where I found three Konge-Tinn napkin ring holders in immaculate condition. I scooped them up, knowing that I’d found something very fucking special.

My research told me Konge-Tinn translates to King’s Pewter, and this special, Viking era pattern circulating the holders had been in use – and celebrated in Norway and across the world – since 1958. One source told me these date back to the 1960’s…though another one said the 1980’s. Either way, they’re probably the most epic looking napkin ring holders you’re going to find. Buy them here!

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As well as thrifting for my shop, I also made things. We’re hardly out of winter and already I’m missing it’s chilly breath on my neck. To cope with my loss, I’ve been wearing snowflake earrings, so I can always carry a little bit of winter with me.

I’ve always thought it magic that no two snowflakes are the same, and that singularly they’re so fragile, but when collected together are powerful beyond imagining.

This earring set, composed of two unique pewter snowflakes, embodies the fascination, and respect I hold for the crystals of the cold.

I made three sets to sell for other winter craving creatures. You can find them here!

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Trading With Schwarzkopfnonne

A few weeks ago, I was sifting through a wicker basket of delicate vintage collars in Myrona, one of my favourite thrift stores in Borås. Little did I know that one of the three I would take home with me would, a short time later, find itself on its way to Austria to make roots with artist Olesya Alexjewna Parfenyuk AKA Schwarzkopfnonne.

The 19-year-old student has been living in Austria for almost a decade. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, her art is inspired into being by her fascination with the mysterious and the past, predominantly the Victorian Era.

Oleysa contacted me through Instagram about the possibility of a trade. One of my collars in my Etsy shop for one of her prints from her Etsy shop.

I’ve admired Olesya’s evocative, thought-provoking art from a distance for some time, so I couldn’t reply quick enough with something along the lines of OH MY WORD YES PLEASE THANK YOU WHAT A GREAT IDEA OF COURSE!

I’m so used to getting the same routine emails, and the same routine crap through the post  that getting the offer of a trade made  life immediately that much more exciting. I waited until I could sit down properly with a cup of tea and examine each print in her store meticulously before making my choice. I was torn between her Muse drawing inspired by Scout Paré-Phillips, and The Gale Of Winter photography print. After some hours of deliberating, my heart whispered The Gale Of Winter, print 2.  (It’s part of a larger series of photographs.)

It took barely 72 hours for the package to make it’s way from a small town in Upper Austria, to a small city in the south of Sweden.  The package was so beautifully put together, I almost didn’t have the heart to pull the bows out, move away the old book pages, the sweet hand written note (which has encouraged me to start writing joined up again…) and tiny duck feather, then take back the thin, delicate paper and the piece of white card that was between me and the print.

I also became fascinated with where these little pieces of goodwill had begun life…what book were the pages from? Which bird had the feather once warmed? What was the origin of the piece of paper with the hand written note on it? I languished in the mystery of it all…and still am languishing.

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But when I did finally pull the print from the packaging, winter was in the room with me. The print was in immaculate condition and astonishingly sharp. I’ve been missing the snow since the last of it left a few weeks ago, and The Gale Of Winter will be framed and put on the wall where I work, as a reminder that the cold is never that far away. It was the perfect trade.

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If you have some time to spare, I suggest you make tracks to Olesya’s Instagram where you’ll find a wealth of visual treasure. And if your wallet is looking plump, navigate your way to her Etsy store and make an investment in art that you’ll not regret.

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*If you’re interested in doing a trade, check out my Etsy store. If you see something you like that you’d like to trade something for, get in touch!

I Opened My Shop Today

The moon is distracting me from writing this post. It’s full in the sky, glowing like an expectant mother. When the moon is full, it’s the perfect time to practice gratitude, and that is exactly what I’ve been doing, in between piecing together my Etsy Shop selling things ‘too wyrd for most people.’ Today has brought one beautiful surprise after another, and it’s like the universe is looking out for me. I can practically hear it say ‘you’re going to be alright kid.’

One of the surprises was that I actually succeeded in opening up my little shop. I’ve been doubting myself over the past few days, looking at my cross stitch and thrifted pieces and thinking ‘Are people going to want these things? Am I being a total buffoon by opening this shop? Am I just going to embarrass myself with my rudimentary embroidery skills? Do I even know what I’m doing?’

It got to the point where I thought about selling everything much less that I’d originally intended, simply because I didn’t think anything I’d done or found was good enough, and because, basically, I’m winging it. But then something moved in me.

I remembered all the hard work, all the time, all the love that has been put into every stitch, every moment thrifting, every day writing and re-writing and editing. I remembered all the daydreams I’d had about people finding something in my shop that they could connect with, be it a book, a cross stitch or a piece of vintage clothing. Yes, I’m winging this, but aren’t we all just winging everything? I read a brilliant quote from Charles Bukowski which made everything feel that bit better.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received: ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’

So I went ahead and finished establishing my little shop and launched it, leaving those negative, detrimental thoughts out in the cold. While the things I make and find won’t be to everyone’s taste, I know there are people out there walking a similar journey to my own, and hopefully they will find A Living Witch – both the shop and blog – and feel like they’ve arrived home.

Here are some of the things I’ve created and thrifted and am now parting ways with…if an image starts to speak to you, click on it to be taken straight to where it sits in my shop.

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Snow Falling On Pines Cross Stitch

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The Scandinavian Witches Cross Stitch

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A Fragile Vintage Collar Trimmed With Lace

“While I can promise that there will always be handwoven embroidery and my writing available, you will need to think of this shop as a place where you’re never quite sure what you’ll encounter.

Much of what you will find here will have been thrifted and altered, and you know the nature of thrift stores…they’re a treasure trove of the wyrd and wonderful, and are never the same from one hour to the next. That’s very much the nature of A Living Witch – it’s a place with a pulse. I’m deeply passionate about re-homing precious things, and giving objects that have been abandoned a chance to breathe again and be loved.”

 

 

 

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A Thrifty Witch Haul : True Love Tarot Deck & Book

I went thrifting with the intention of finding some fabrics to cross stitch on – sadly all the nice ones I unearthed from the heaps had curious stains on them – but instead came away with A True Love Tarot : Deck & Book Set for 35 krona (about £3.20).

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I was hugely taken with a raw food cookbook (can’t remember the title) but at 45 krona it was a little bit steep for this haul, plus, the ingredients were slightly too exotic and included the likes of nuts found only in the Himalayas and grass that needs to have been meditated on for a week before eating. (Sarcasm). Though if it’s still there next week and I have enough dough, you can bet I’ll pick it up. All the raw food meals I’ve eaten in my lifetime has been sublime to the point of orgasmic, and I would be only too happy to eat more raw.

There was also a gorgeous vegetarian recipe book from the early 90’s. It was so used it’s pages were cotton soft, and every recipe used ingredients of the like that we could actually afford, like onions, carrots and lentils.

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So, the tarot package. While I’ve already found true love, this guide states that as well as being a lovers guide to dating, it’s also a guide to mating and relating. And anything that’s going to help me be better at ‘mating and relating’ is worth exploring.

If you’ve been here since the beginning, you’ll know that one of my goals this year was to learn tarot, and I’ve been on a search to find a set to get started with. Like with my other haul, I think fate led me today and put this tarot set – which is in impeccable condition – in my hands. The artwork has already spoken to me, and the guide looks to be superbly well written. (I will be doing a review of the set and book, as well as my experience using it!)

Created by tarot experts and ‘legendary lovebirds’ Amy Zerner (she’s responsible for the deck) and Monte Farber (he’s responsible for the accompanying guide), I think I’m in good hands to learn how to use the ancient power of tarot to empower the relationship I have with my man.

A Thrifty Witch Haul : A Glass Polar Bear & Candleholder

Being a writer is an unpredictable (albeit unbeatable) career path. Getting paid on time in the world of freelancing is something that seldom happens, and chasing after money that has been rightly earned is something none of us enjoy doing.

Even though you’re the one in the right, asking for money you’ve worked hard for, you do always feel shitty, and about the size of Thumbelina when sending that initial email, trying to chase the coin that you need for your bread and butter.

Then, when the email is sent, you feel even shittier and, for some inexplicable reason, greedy. You wonder how much longer you could make that loaf of bread last for, and if you could add some water to your cleanser so it can keep you clean(ish) for a few more days. Or is that just me?

Anyway, the other week when I was eventually paid for a job, I thought to myself ‘Katie, you deserve a bloody treat.’ So, I celebrated by marching to one of my favourite (the cheapest) thrift stores in Borås with a 100 krona budget (just under £9). I felt so rich.

For those of you who haven’t followed my writing before, I exist (mostly) to thrift. I’ve honed my thrifting skills over the past thirty years – for generations my family has always shopped second hand so it’s in my blood – and can say, with quiet reassurance, that I’m pretty well practiced in the art. And yes, it is an art.

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We were in desperate need of a candle holder at home, so I went with the intention of finding one that would see us through into old age. I’m not one of these people who needs a new candle holder each season. I want one that will work in spring, summer, autumn and winter. I want one that will outlive me, and my children and my children’s children.

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I believe the universe listened to me on that day because, about thirty seconds after walking into the thrift store, I found a handcrafted iron and glass candle holder for 25 krona. I picked it up and we literally fused together. I’m one of these paranoid thrift shoppers. I think if I put something down for just a second it’ll be swiped up and someone else will make if their own.

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Fate was on my side that day because, the next thing to catch my eye was a glass polar bear. If something would have said to me even an hour before I went in the store ‘So, you like glass polar bears or what?’ I would have been like ‘You mean those tacky ornaments they usually sell in Scandinavian airport gift stores for the price of a small house? No. No I don’t.’

I never would have envisaged myself actually ever buying one. But my heart. My heart opened up all the way for this glass bear. And, at 30 krona, he was well under my budget. I’ve been researching into, and writing about polar bears for at least a decade, and consider my spiritual relationship with the Lord of the North and his cold realm integral to my creative and emotional well-being.

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The polar bear symbolizes perseverance, something which I need to embrace on a daily basis to deal with my mental health, and to move forward as a writer and creative. I was supposed to find this glass bear, and he was supposed to come home with me and watch over me while I write.

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He went carefully into the basket, and I walked around the store like I was carrying a newborn elfling. When the time came to pay, I put him down so, so gently, and watched, eagle eyed, as the cashier handled him with an aggressive roughness, like he was made of stone.

In my head I was screaming WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? I don’t know, I always expect people in thrift stores to have some kind of extra respect, like they understand that one persons trash is another persons treasure. Thankfully he wasn’t broken, and I left 65 krona poorer but more content than I’d felt in days.

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My glass polar bear took up residence on the window sill next to the kitchen table when I do most of my work. His back faces the forest and he looks over me while I write. I pondered over what to call him for hours. I wanted to go with Nanook which means polar bear in Inuktitut.

But then little Tyra, my man’s three year old daughter bounded into the kitchen after daycare and saw him standing on the window sill. She shouted ‘Isbjörn!‘ which means polar bear in Swedish and that was that. I decided Nanook would be saved for when we get our husky.

As for the candle holder. I would marry it if I could.

My favourite thrift stores in Borås

Erikshjälpen

Myrorna

Emmaus Björkå Borås