Second Hand Works of Love

By Veronica Smith – 31 Comments

I like second hand stores. I am not sure what they are referred to around the world, however here they are refer to as second hand stores or op shops (opportunity shops). They are stores that people donate items to charity and then the organization sells them through a retail outlet.

Anyhow, I like them.

Sometimes I score yarns and other crafty items. However, sometimes there is something there and I think it quite sad. What is that? Well it’s handmade items. Some items you can see have been well loved and then donated. Fair enough, not all of us wear or use things to death, however I have found not only well worn crochet or knitted clothing but NEW items as well. I have purchased and worn to it’s final days several articles of hand crochet and knitted clothing and some items I’ve purchased there have never been worn.

Left - shawl / Right - baby blanket / laying on $8 afghan

2 doilies about 20" that look new

Some more - many of them new

Doily and pin cushion

I have 2 huge afghans, both are about 7ft squares. One isn’t in very good condition but it is great for watching TV as it covers both kids. The other is all but new, and it is 100% pure wool, I recognize what it has been made out of and the material is very expensive. I got them for $5 and $8 respectively.

Doilies are another thing. I try to tell myself that they are from deceased estates and that the family kept a few precious ones as heirlooms and donated the rest, however I doubt that this is the case in many instances. Some of the ones I have purchased are new so I am assuming they were unwanted gifts. Do people not want a piece of craftsmanship that may have been made by a great-great grandparent?

Toys are yet another thing, new toys, especially ones made for a baby. I have purchased many over the years that have plainly never been touched by a child. I have also picked up baby blankets, clothing, bonnets, and booties. The worn ones have been outgrown. That’s fantastic that they were used, however there have been far too many new crochet or knitted with love.

I purchase all that I see that are in good condition and I re-donate many of the items to a charity that I know delivers them straight to actual living people in need, not just to be sold off. I have kept a few for myself or family. I figured love went into making these items and that they would want them to go to somebody that really needs and appreciates them. I would love my blanket, toy or clothing article to go to somebody who would use and love it than to somebody that throws it away.

Keep on the lookout yourself and re-gift somebody else’s love. Not everybody has time or the money to make items to donate however this can be a cheap and time-saving way to help.  With your love added to the makers love can you imagine how wonderful this crafted item becomes in a time of need?

Have you ever noticed a crocheted or knitted item at a second hand store? How did it make you feel to see it? Did you purchase it?

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31 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    I remember going to a thrift store when I was 10-12 and finding the most beautiful crocheted poncho. Light yellow and white. I begged my dad to get it for me and I wore it for a few years, then it really fell out of style (not to mention too small). Sad to say Im not quite sure what happened to it.

    I think it helps when gifting someone hand-made items that they understand (up to a point) the labor of love that goes in to each. I think they will think twice about re-gifting or saving (in case of baby items). I know Im very careful about who I gift items to. If they dont want the item Im thinking about gifting, I will search for a different person to give the item to.

    I have several blankets my MIL made (back in the 70’s) that I pull out when we have company and a G-ma made a wonderful blanket for my wedding that I use when it gets colder. All of these will be gifted to my kids with stories of how they came to us. As they see me create gifts, they know about the love that goes into each one.

  2. Tina says:

    The ones that you find that seem to be new but not be gifts given away. I donate blankets and other things I’ve made to thrift stores and other such stores. These are made with yarn in my stash that people have given me that I don’t want to use on gifts or other projects to family and friends. The one place that I’m donating is the Salvation Army Thrift Store here. I know when I donate there the money is going to a good cause … it’s my way of donating to a cause in a round about way :)

    • Donna says:

      Tina, I think that is a wonderful way to help “donate to the cause”!!!
      The Salvation Army is the one charity I really think works hard to
      help those in need, unlike other so-called “charities” that use it more
      as a profit-making venture than to help the truly needy. Making items
      from “spare yarn” is a fantastic idea and I will mention this at my local
      senior center where there is a group who crochets & knits for charity.
      Thank you for sharing this wonderful idea. :)

  3. Sarah Dee says:

    It’s not all unwanted gifts that end up there. Many people crochet things that they donate to charity.

  4. Liv says:

    Just to reiterate what Tina and Sarah Dee have already said, I would not assume the worst when seeing crocheted items in a thrift store. In addition to what they mention – that many people make items specifically for the purpose of donating them – these items may also be donated when someone has passed away. Many older people who have been crocheting for years may accumulate tons of items that were made for no one in particular, and when they pass away, some of it could be donated. I had a great-aunt who was a collector of all sorts of things; when she passed away, family members picked items that they would like to have and the rest was donated. I also was in a ceramics class with a woman who had been taking the class for years and did not have much family – she was an only child, unmarried and no children. She always use to joke about how much pottery there would be to “get rid of” if anything ever happened to her, even though she gifted a number of pieces. Heck, I am only in my 20’s and I have an entire drawer of items that I made just for the sake of making it, not as gifts and not for my own use!

    I don’t want to pick on Veronica too much, but I also don’t think that donating items to a charity that will give the items directly to people in need is necessarily better than donating to a thrift shop that sells items to raise funds. Thrift stores often have a worthy cause behind them and the donations and sales are a means to raising funds to support their mission. I could see a very fancy doily being sold for $5 or $10 at a thrift shop, while it would be pretty useless to a homeless person. Although, since Veronica buys the item and then re-donates it, it is the best of both worlds – she is supporting the thrift shop and she is supporting the other charity. :)

    Just my two cents. I always try to remember the advice of a former boss when people would get upset about others’ actions – “assume good intentions”!

  5. Veronica Smith says:

    Thank you all for your comments. Items in my local 2 second hand stores are very cheap and the stores still pay massive rent on the properties, I have never paid over $1 for a doily, even the new intricate ones. The most clothing goes for is wedding dresses for $20. I cannot see how they are making much profit in these stores at all. I agree doilies would not benefice homeless that the money is better however the clothing – jumpers for $3 etc (remember they are stillpaying rent, power etc), i would rather that go straight to a person.

    • Peggy says:

      I also love second hand stores and spend my free time searching through them for yarn, crochet hooks afghans, doiles, tablecovers etc…and then I rescue (LOL) them and give them a nice new home with me..my husband keeps telling me I have too much but is there ever really a thing such as too much yarn or handmade items..NOPE!

  6. Becky from Boise says:

    I shop at a 2nd hand store which supports the ARC-a mission to help children with developmental disabilities. I purchase lovely crocheted & knitted blankets/afghans which people have donated for whatever reason. Then I turn around and donate them to the local women & children’s shelter and men’s homeless shelter. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to support two charities and pay forward the love that so many people put into their passion of crochet & knitting!

  7. Charlie says:

    Have seen where some have collected these doilies, then take a large patchwork(diffrent size patches) comforter, no print in the patches, but hand stitched the dolies to the comforter. Makes an awesome comforter, they did the shams too, Like take a large one for the center of each sham. They used solids, such as diffrent shades of browns, or one I saw was pink patch , and they added the doilies for a little girls room. This can be done to throw pillows also.
    Second hand shops , or goodwills are some of the best places to pick up great items.

  8. Sherry says:

    I see where Veronica is coming from…I prefer donating to organizations that actually give the items to those in need versus seeing an item in a store that is reselling it. Used items and I can understand being in the store but new I cannot. Yes, I do donate to “Goodwill” items we no longer need but something that someone has put so much effort in to (knowing they are going to sell so cheaply) is unacceptable in my book. These are just my thoughts though.

  9. Barb says:

    Charlie, what a great idea! I am saddened when I see all that beautiful crochet work just “gathering dust” in some shop, but I did not know what to do with the doilies once I bought them. Now, I know!

  10. Bethintx1 says:

    Sometimes I find handmade items that are new and sometimes unfinished. Abandoned projects are some of my favorite thrift finds. Sometimes I can tell they were abandoned because of the mistakes. I will often frog these and re-use the yarn. Other times the item is not practical for our area. My Mother-in-law found a huge blanket made with triple stranded worsted weight yarn. It was beautiful, but it was not practical for our area. We frogged it and re-balled the yarn. The thing weighed about 16 pounds! We used the yarn to make several lap robes for Hospice & Nursing homes.

    BTW We call them thrift stores or re-sale shops.

  11. DCMerkle says:

    When I go to a thrift shop I always keep an eye out for anything that was crocheted. I feel sorry for the item, sounds silly, but there must have been a story behind it. All the time and effort that took to make something like that. I will buy the afghan, scarf, hat anything that needs a new home and will recycle the yarn to send it out just a little farther.

  12. Peggy says:

    I’ve seen and purchased used afghans at thrift shops and yard sales for very low prices; many I’ve passed along to charity drives. I don’t think I would make items for thrift shops but rather I’d donate items that would go directly to persons in need. Thrift shops sell items for too little money to merit the time and materials I use for crocheted items. It’s not difficult to locate groups such as shelters for the otherwise homeless, or for domestic violence victims, and veterans programs.

  13. Melissa says:

    That is so sad. Those are some really beautiful items.

  14. Liv says:

    I guess it just depends on the shop. I still maintain that for some charities, the thrift shop is a valuable source of funds to support the mission of the organization.

    Someone mentioned Goodwill, so I will use that as an example. Did you know that Goodwill provides employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities, so that they can make a living, be a productive member of society, and have an opportunity to socialize? Individuals with disabilities are the number one group of unemployed or underemployed people in this country.

    Also, since thrift shops that have a charitable mission are a not-for-profit organization, they may be receiving free rent as in-kind support, or they may be in a location that was donated (this is the case for at least one local thrift shop that I know of). And they don’t pay property taxes, because of their tax-exempt status.

    Often for charities, the money that is collected by selling items goes much further than donated items. The food bank in the city where I used to work used to ask people to please donate money; the $3 I spend on a couple of cans of vegetables to donate could buy twice as many cans with the deals that these charities get from buying in bulk. I have been told the same by homeless shelters who request funds in lieu of clothing items. Dress for Success, for example, has a major excess of clothes in average sizes and is drastically in need of very small and very large sizes, so they need donations of funds to make up for the fact that the donations don’t always match the need. That’s one case where a thrift shop would make great sense; sell the extra clothing that isn’t needed to generate funds to buy what is needed.

    I agree that it is sad if someone turns around and donates an item they have just been given, but again – there could be 100 different stories behind a donated item and it could have been well-used and well-loved before the donation, or crocheted specifically to be donated. I like the idea some have posted – buy the donated item and turn it around and donate it to another shop so that it benefits both charities!

  15. Veronica Smith says:

    First of all it is great to see so many supporting charities no matter what form.
    Liv – unfortunately in Australia, well the State i live in, the organizations pay full rent, power etc. There is no support for them except the tax exemption status (correct me if i am wrong but i haven’t met one yet with free or reduced rent). There is always one person working with full wage and then the rest are volunteers. Makes it very hard for them. It makes suitable donateable items going straight to the needy a good option – in my opnion – however doilies and the like really should be sold for profit. We had massive floods earlier this year and thousands lost everything and the charities were giving everything out free. These people needed furnature, appliances, food etc as well as clothing.
    It is a difficult situation. We do have here a place called “Multicap Meadows” and they have a shop that make pottery primarily, extremely good quality and sell it to the public. No extra rent because it is on the facility’s grounds. The differently abled are in the shop along with a supervisor. Excellent for self esteem and learning new skills. These children – from little to 18 (think it stops at 18) are not capable of being in other facilities due to the severity of their inabilities so there is a lot of work going into these items, a lot of pride and joy as well..

  16. Denise says:

    I love to buy handmade items from our local antique shops. Usually doilies. I look at the stitches and think about the person who made it. I have one that has a bit of a patch worked into it… and because of that it was even more attractive to me. When I was a child all the women in my family knitted or crocheted. It’s kind of a sister-hood.

    On a slightly different note – I also enjoy the cross-stitch samplers that are often in antique shops. There was one in particular however that made me a little sad but probably really illustrated the time. It was a chronology of a particular family. So on one side was a list of names and then next to each name was a space for Birth Date, Wedding Date, and Date of Death. Death is something we tend to really put off thinking about today, but then it was just an inevitable part of life.

  17. Peggy Wicker says:

    I have been rescuing donated handcrafted items for years! My husband always looks at me like I am crazy, but I don’t care. Someone sat lovingly creating something for hours. It deserves a home where it is appreciated and so I bring it to mine. I wasn’t sure if anyone felt like I did. Glad to hear I am not alone

  18. Charlie says:

    Peggy Wicker, I have some pieces that my great great grandmother done. One is a small table cloth, with some stains in it that I haven’t been able to get out. So thought of trying a tea stain for the whole thing. If anyone has done this let me know as I’m not sure of the process. Thanks much.

  19. Debra says:

    Last year I found a afgan large for a king size bed for $8.00 I could not buy the yarn for that price .

  20. Darlene says:

    We have a 2nd-hand store here that benefits one of the churches and the soup kitchen. Lately, they have donated stuffed animals for me to send to soldiers to give to children who are in the hospital. They have also donated all of their yarn so I could make toys to send to the deployed soldiers. I try pay for the yarn and other craft supplies but when they ask and I tell them what I’m doing, they donate it. I know that the items have been donated to them to raise money for their benefit and I do appreciate their donations to the troops. I will start looking for afghans and other knitted/crocheted items to buy so I can donate them to the homeless Vets and the senior homes. Thank you for your comments because they give others’ ideas!!!

  21. Jan says:

    thanks for the comments here. I think they are great ideas. I know that some of my children will treasure the items that I made for them, but the others will probably donate to a thrift store to get it out of the house. It makes me sad also, when I think of the hours that someone spent on those projects. Glad that you are bringing them to your home where they will be loved.

  22. Melissa Gray says:

    Could I get a close up picture of that shawl? I would like to make that. I like the pattern.

  23. Peggy says:

    What a great idea — to see that project reborn again as a pattern! (Re Melissa’s comment.) I may also try to reuse yarn in an item I find at a thrift shop or at a yard sale. I’ve bought lovely afghans at a sale at a senior housing center that I gave to someone else, but now I’ll think about yarn reuse, too. Many of our seniors have handmade items they can no longer use.

  24. Veronica Smith says:

    Melissa,
    As soon as i figure out a suitable place to post a picture (Crochet Spot is not my blog) i will put one up for you and let you know via this comment section.

  25. Rachel W says:

    I always wonder how a handmade item made it to a secondhand store but I generally assume the best. When we had each of our children people were insanely generous with handmade gifts and I did my best to use them all in equal rotation but we just don’t have the room to keep every last gift. We had the kids pick out a couple favorites each and donated the rest to local charities where they can get a new life rather than sit around in storage bins in our home.

  26. Jessica says:

    Please do not limit you opinion of thrift stores based on the amount of money they donate. It is not all about the cash, they also provide a big service to those of us that have a tight budget but a generous love of yarn. I can not afford to purchase new yarn to feed my crochet addition, so I pick up yarn at my local Goodwill. I either purchase afgans and frog them to reuse the yarn or Goodwill also sells donated balls of yarn. I usually pay $2-$5 for the afgan and end up with as much as 10 balls of yarn. At my local yarn shop I would pay at least $3 for each ball! If wonderful people did not donate these items to Goodwill, I would not be able to purchase them to use for my own projects.

  27. Peggy says:

    The point is to find a thrift shop with whom you feel comfortable. I take a bit of a different tack with this. I buy inexpensive afghans for donation to Project Linus. That group is active across the US and provides blankets to children in need. The group does accept second-hand blankets, crocheted, knit, and fleece. I don’t give blankets directly to thrift shop because people like me by them, not those directly in need. :+D.

  28. Peggy says:

    It is so wonderful that you donate the blankets to Project linus! I look for baby blankets, sweater sets, booties, etc. and make up baby bags for teen parents…I also make and sometimes purchase from thrift shops afghans that we call cuddleghans to donate to grieving children…it is nice to see so many people helping out others.

  29. Peggy Wicker says:

    Many times wonderful works of art are created by repurposing yarn from one item into another.

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