06 Aug 2009

Episode 85: Sixty Six Coupons

Sarah Moise Young discovers that doing her part is as easy as picking up her needles; Jasmin Canty escapes death by stash; I attempt to Make Do and Mend on 66 wartime rationing coupons.

Look, Mom! I’m on the 4th plinth!


Or rather, I will be on Saturday, September 19th, from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. Check out some of my favorite plinth-sitters thus far: Bob the Pot, who shared his clay and incorporated all the little figures into this sculpture; Mr Swing Patrol, The Atheist Thriller guy. Details about the full project here.

This week’s Audible recommendation is Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson.


Special thanks to writers Sarah Moise Young, and Jasmin Canty, and to readers Sage Tyrtle and Tim Ralphs.

KniTunes were provided by and used with the permission of:

Additional music by The Brady’s, Glen Miller, and Horace Heidt.



  1. Joan wrote:

    What a neat surprise – for some reason I thought you were taking a break ’til October or so! Must learn to listen better!
    Joan in Ellicott City, “Merlin”

    Posted on 8.6.09 ·
  2. Liz T. wrote:

    Dammit – I’m up north that weekend. Good luck for your stint on the plinth and I hope the weather bucks up for you.

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  3. Rachele wrote:

    Hi! Brenda,
    It seems to me that maybe you should do one of the other (aside from knitting, since there have already been so many knitters on the plinth) things that you are good at and known for – podcast on the plinth!
    I am sure that that would be a really hard thing to do (what with the equipment and all) but you could certainly make that interactive – using a fishing pole (like the sculpter that you mentioned) to lower a mike down to the crowd so that they can say something to knitters all over the world! Perhaps something about making due and mending? You could gather ideas for making due and mending from the audience, or record their stories about how their grandmother made great cake during the depression (or, you know, whatever).
    Or you could lower learn to knit kits from the plinth and then teach people how to knit from the plinth (with some ENORMOUS needles) and have Tanya and the kids recording the new knitters first attempts.
    As always, love the podcast!

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  4. Congratulations on your plinth experience.
    I absolutely loved this series on “Making do & mending” – I particularly like this last episode. You have encouraged me to do even more than I now do in this area.
    Thank you again & looking forward to the new series.

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  5. Nicole Garrison wrote:

    Somewhere in the past week I saw knitting needles that had been made out of broom handles. They would certainly make your knitting unique and large, not to mention the connection to your podcast theme.

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  6. Denise~ wrote:

    The best podcast of the series!

    I can’t wait to see the clip of you on the plinth! Congratulations!!!

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  7. Clare wrote:

    I may be being noodle-headed and you’ve posted this already, but where can I get a pattern for turning old shirts into un-frayed summer tops? It sounds like such a good idea, and with a hard working (and very sweaty) partner I have so much source material.

    ps. I LOVE your pod-cast! I discovered it last week and spent the whole of my five day holiday happily knitting to your back catalog.

    Posted on 8.7.09 ·
  8. Amy wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    Just want to say Thank You for another superb series. The “Make Do And Mend” series has been a surprisingly sentimental experience for me. It has brought to mind hours of my young life learning how to “make do and mend” from a beloved Great-Aunt and Grandparents – all of whom immigrated with their families in the 1920’s and 30’s. It has reminded me how influenced I have been by them in my life, and how I will carry those lessons with me for the rest of my life. Congratulations on doing such a fine job in bringing the concept to your listeners.

    Congratulations as well on your upcoming Plinth experience! How exciting to be part of a history-in-the-making event like that!

    Posted on 8.8.09 ·
  9. Kathy wrote:

    I just wanted to thank you for mentioning the book, Pain Free by Pete Egoscue a couple of podcasts ago. I have been having back and hip pain, and this book has been a life saver. I am recommending it to all of the people who I know with any type of pain. While I am yet to be back to “normal,” I am able to move about with much improved flexibility. I hope that it helped you as well.

    Posted on 8.8.09 ·
  10. Megan D wrote:

    That last bit. Wow. That spoke to me. Do you have a transcription? I’d like to email it to a couple of people.

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  11. Denise~ wrote:

    It was really interesting to hear the list of ration coupons and what they would purchase.

    I’m not a big clothes horse at all but I can imagine how exhausted and tattered my meager wardrobe would quickly become living during the rationing.

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  12. Gina wrote:

    *Loved* this series! Definitely had me thinking of ways to reuse and repurpose all kinds of things in my house. This summer I’ve been getting in touch with my craftier side and instead of buying all new for baby, I’ve been making as much as possible and only buying what’s necessary or too cute to hold back on. As a result I’ve become much better at sewing infant pants/skirts and finding patterns on using old shirts that my husband & I have worn out for baby clothes!

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  13. Robin wrote:

    I got my first iphone in June and discovered Cast On shortly afterward. My husband and I are both knitters and we share earbuds, knit and listen to Cast On together. We are catching up on all the back podcasts as well as subscribing to the new ones. How delicious that there are so many to catch up on!

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  14. Marianne wrote:

    You mentioned that the Bob-the-Pot’s completed sculpture is on his website… could you give the URL? Sorry if I missed it, but I could not find it on the web.

    Looking forward to watching you on the plinth!

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  15. Donna Boring wrote:

    I think I agree with you that this series has been some of your best work. It is timely with an important reminder, yet creative and best of all, leaves much to inspire the individual imagination. I have been listening for almost the whole time you have been podcasting, and see you just getting better and better. Enjoy your break, but remember that we are here waiting.

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  16. i absolutely love your work. your community is your knit sibs, mine is my cafe customers. you give me strength to keep up the quality. enjoy your time away and come back more fab than ever!!!!

    Posted on 8.9.09 ·
  17. Lydia wrote:

    Hello Brenda
    Make Do And Mend has been just wonderful, nostalgic and up to the minute all at the same time. Even though I grew up in England not long after the War ended I knew very little about rationing. I think my parents just wanted to get on with life and forget about it all. My mother was a great knitter and would have experienced all the yarn restrictions that you talk of. I do know that women drew seams up the back of their legs to look as though they were wearing nylons, a rare snippet of knowlege from my Mother. The Shipping News brings back my childhood just like that – the simple poetry of all those unintelligible beautiful words drifting through the house.

    I shall try and watch you on the Plinth if I can, and will be cheering you on from over the seas……

    I am so looking forward to your next series too, touring around the British knitting world, what an absolute treat. Your podcast is such a treat, thank you.

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  18. Susan wrote:

    I’m coming out of lurkdom to say how much I enjoyed this series. Having grandparents who were young parents during the depression and WWII, I totally related to everything you talked about and I realized how much their make do and mend ways have affected my life and therefore my children’s lives. Although we are in a postition to always buy more or better or newer, we don’t and I think that’s good. Anyway, thanks for a fun trip down memory lane.

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  19. brenna wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    love your podcasts so much, especially make do and mend. Whilst we wait for another episode i’m going through the archives right back to week 1.
    I’m off to west wales pembrokeshire area camping, are there any must see yarn stores or the soft stuff farms nearby that you can recommend? I’d love to get some souvenir yarn to add to the stash.
    thanks for all the great musings and music

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  20. Renee wrote:

    Oh my, what a fabulous end to this series. You seriously got me on the 66 coupons. I’ve been replacing some older clothes, and would have used way more than 66 just since Jan 1. And the Malabrigo song, and one of the Knitmore girls, and… It was all terrific. Can’t wait to see what you do on the plinth!

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  21. Lorri wrote:

    I like Rachele’s suggestion of using broomsticks (or something similar) to knit on the plinth, so that people could see what you’re doing. For “yarn” you could use strips of bed linens or crime scene tape (I’ve actually seen this done at the State Fair).

    Good luck and have fun!

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  22. Sarah wrote:

    66 Coupons. I’ve reflected a lot on this podcst. I tried to place myself “there” as you did in front of my closet with 66 coupons, and found I could do it. I’m lucky (or unlucky depending on how you see it) for my job I wear suits. A good wool suit isn’t easy to find, but once found, classic styling in wool in basic colours lasts a long time. When I picture women from the WWII era they are almost always dressed in classic, basic wool. The only thing I can see being a bit of a hiccup would be pregnancy – somethings just aren’t gonna go around that belly. Plus there’s all the needful for a new born. I’ve got some lovely patterns from my Nana that are for woollen baby things including wool ‘soakers’.

    Thanks for the thoughtful podcast.

    Posted on 8.10.09 ·
  23. Kate wrote:

    Hi Brenda, have just caught up with the latest podcast and just wanted to say in general how much I appreciate all the work you put into them. I always really enjoy, and look forward to, hearing what you have to say – thank you, and I’m looking forward to Hallowe’en!
    Have fun on the plinth!

    Posted on 8.12.09 ·
  24. Amy wrote:

    Hi there, first time poster…I never, ever post comments to podcasts but felt compelled to do so now. I’ve been listening to your show for almost a year but I am absolutely thrilled with the path you have taken this past six months. The make due and mend has been soulful and inspirational. Our family has been living a similar lifestyle for quite some time but I love to hear the stories and ideas and it gives me hope that others are spreading the message. Listening to your podcast is like having a cup of coffee with an old friend. I thank you for that.

    Posted on 8.12.09 ·
  25. Cheryl S. wrote:

    Really enjoyed this series.
    There’s a pattern for a knitted dish scrubbie here that you might be interested in:

    Posted on 8.13.09 ·
  26. Cathy wrote:

    I’ll miss you too. — I like listening to you as I fall asleep –your voice is just so soothing. I also love your music choices and I just think your’e cool. Enjoy your time off. If I think of a plinth idea I’ll email you.

    Posted on 8.13.09 ·
  27. Karen wrote:

    Dear Brenda
    Thank you for a wonderful, brilliant series! It has been a joy and a priviledge to listen to you, and I have thought many thoughts during the weeks, some of them about changing my own style and enjoying what I have instead of wishing for something I haven’t.

    Congratulations on your plinth place. I really wish I could go support you, but though London isn’t that far away, I’m sadly not able to be there. But I will be watching via the net! Good luck!

    Looking forward to the podcasts return.
    Enjoy the break

    Posted on 8.14.09 ·
  28. GrannyPurple wrote:

    Hi Brenda:
    I’m a long time listener, though rarely comment. But your latest podcast has me jumping up and down with delight in every direction. Starting with the fact that I WILL BE IN LONDON ON SEPTEMBER 19!!! So look for me from the plinth. And Miss Pettigrew lives for a day was a wonderful discovery we made from Persephone Books a few years ago. I can picture the hotel room we stayed in as I read chunks of it out loud to my husband and we laughed uproariously. And the Malabrigo song–heard as I worked on a sweater in Malabrigo yarn.
    On the make do and mend front, I still have a (rather disgusting) blanket made from repurposed wool. In the late 40’s and early 50’s, we would help Mum pick apart old and worn out wool clothing to remove all non-wool bits, then take it to the local woolen mill (in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada) where it would be carded, respun and then woven into tweedy looking blankets. And my son has a quilt I made which is a combo of reuse (his dad’s old sea island cotton shirts) and extravagance (Liberty tana lawn). Ah, that was the 90’s! Have a lovely break, and see you on the 19th.

    Posted on 8.17.09 ·
  29. Ruthie D wrote:

    Hi Brenda
    This episode was fab! I loved the shipping/knitting forecast. I also wanted to let you know that I would love to come and support you on your plinth and as I love teaching people to knit, if you go ahead with that idea, I’ll be sure to help out. Off to search out Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day…

    Posted on 8.17.09 ·
  30. Carol Bateman wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    I enjoyed your “66 Coupons” as I sat out in my hot garden here on the NE coast of England , topping and tailing a huge pile of french beans from the family allotment.

    One of the things I often wish you would encourage your UK listeners to do is to give the name of any good wool/yarn shops that they find. I live in a wool wilderness ……My shops sell yarn that is ” worthy “, but nothing you could get excited about. You have a stash!!!!!! If only i could be so lucky ! Yes I buy on the net but its not the same……… ( where is the smell , that wonderful woolly smell .)

    Enjoy your summer/autumn break and i hope that you get on “the narrow road to the far north” . It is really beautiful up there BUT TAKE THE MIDGE CREAM!!!!!!
    Regards Carol B.

    Posted on 8.20.09 ·
  31. Erin R. wrote:

    Thank you for the really wonderful series!
    I think i’ve gotten more practical use out of this series than some of the other, which is saying something because my knitting getting better by leaps and bounds after listening to some of your trials and tribulations with your sweaters.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed it. One really nice thing about a bum economy is getting a chance to really enjoy all of the good things we have, and it sounds like you have an awesome stash, and now that I’ve really looked at it, I realize that so do I! I’ve got about a years worth of knitting in there, I’d better hop to!
    I am so very glad that you are now much better, and that you are looking forward to traveling. I especially liked your singing welshman, and the woolen factory you went to it would be fun to hear more adventures.
    Happy gardening!

    Posted on 8.20.09 ·
  32. I think this may be my favourite of all the episodes! Things to think about, plinth ideas to muse, a challenge in the form of 66 coupons, support for a mindful life…wonderful.

    I listened as I cleaned at my parents’ for my sister’s wedding. This has been a very participatory wedding for our family. I designed and drew the guestbook, my parents are hosting the whole thing, my husband is making the hundreds of nibbles of traditional German cakes, the kids and I helped with the pinata. We’re finding solutions and making do. Not because of money (entirely), but because we’re not a family to buy our life prepackaged off the shelves. We want custom lives, artisan lives.

    Posted on 8.21.09 ·
  33. Brill! Loved the Knitting Forecast and 66 Coupons especially. You’ve done very good work with this series… Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!

    Posted on 8.23.09 ·
  34. Eva wrote:

    I’m not even finished with listening to this episode, but just needed to let you know that I loooove the Knitting Forecast! I have to admit that sometimes I don’t get all the details of Todays sweater, but with the Knitting Forecast we definitely speak the same language!! 🙂

    Thanks for another great episode and and an awesome topic for this series – very moving and inspiring!

    Posted on 8.24.09 ·
  35. Knittah wrote:

    Plinth ideas: wear an old sweater and knit the yarn directly off of it, as it unravels! Or collect all of our knitting forecasts and read them to the crowd. Except your voice is so soothing it might cause too much relaxation in Trafalgar Square. In any case, enjoy and I’ll be watching!

    Posted on 8.24.09 ·
  36. Jen Wells wrote:

    What an excellent series! Great job, Brenda! I’ve been trying to live greener for a long time. Each step I take in the direction of reducing, reusing and recycling makes me feel that much more satisfied–a veg garden complete with compost pile, recycling every last bit I can, reusing things and giving them new functions. I’ve always been thrifty and crafty, but now I’m looking at my old clothes and old fabrics with new eyes–thank you! I’ve recently been thinking about all the napkins, tissues and paper towels I use. While I won’t give up toilet tissue, I can certainly use washable fabrics for these other functions–I’m going to work on building up a store of these kinds of cloths over the next year, probably out of recycled items!

    Posted on 8.25.09 ·
  37. Erin R. wrote:

    Read this in E. Zimmerman, Knitter’s Almanac p 27, smiled, and thought it may be a good note for the series.
    “Thrift and conservation are in the wind: how delightful to find that using up wool-remains improves the appearance of the finished products… Let us give some thought to the well-being and enjoyment of our descendants, patch up are lares and penates, and hang on to them, so that the future will inherit at least some relics of our heedless and wasteful age.”

    Posted on 8.25.09 ·
  38. Laura wrote:

    The Knitting Forecast is such a neat idea. In the US we have something similar to the Shipping News- it is a continuous weather forecast broadcasted by NOAA and you can listen to a sample here (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/wxradio.wav). Growing up my dad loved to be out on the water so I spent many family vacations on boats and he would always have that station on. Whenever I hear that robotic, monotonous voice it puts me right to sleep, because that was my favorite thing to do out on the deck of the boat, in the hot sun, gently rocked by the waves!

    Posted on 8.26.09 ·
  39. taj wrote:

    Thanks for mentioning my name correctly. Really, you don’t know how crazy-tickley it is to hear it said the way it is spelled. My partner found you when I decided to be a knitter and you’ve been nothing but intelligent, practical fun. That would seem to be a couple of oxymorons, but isn’t that how the best life goes? Have fun on hiatus!

    Posted on 8.28.09 ·
  40. Linda wrote:

    I’m listening to this episode at my dining room table, setting in a sleeve, and your comments about doing without resonated with me, and you actually articulated some thoughts and future blog post that have been percolating in the back of my brain. You see, me and my dining room table are in Nairobi, Kenya. Since coming here two years ago, I, too, have gotten a completely different perspective about deprivation and doing without. For the first time, I’ve looked true poverty in the face and realized how rich I am. And I’ve come to the realization that as long as I am able to make choices based on what I want or what is convenient, I am rich.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Posted on 8.30.09 ·
  41. Nancy wrote:

    I read a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture ARS bulletin that reported research that showed the most effective method of disinfecting a dishcloth was one minute in the microwave. The following report says more time:


    Posted on 8.30.09 ·
  42. Daniela Richardson wrote:

    Hello from Tennessee Brenda!

    I discovered knitting pod casts 10 days ago. The ladies at my local yarn store get-together mentioned knitting pod casts and I was definitely intrigued. My husband listens to pod casts all the time… the techno geeky kind. He never mentioned there were cool ones… knitting ones even! Anyway… I listened to a couple of others and then fell in love with yours. I have spent the last 10 days trying to catch up… I’m finishing up episode 37 as I type. I’ve been listening to them at work, as I drive, as I shop and, of course, as I knit.

    Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. I’m so glad I have a backlog to listen to… I’ll be itching for the weekend and a new episode once I’m all caught up and current with the episodes.


    Posted on 8.31.09 ·
  43. T2 wrote:

    I listened to this show while taking a walk, my favorite way to enjoy your shows by the way. And as I was walking and hearing your voice, I was reminded of many walks through oh so many neighborhoods that I’ve taken “with you”. I was enjoying the show, and the trip down memory lane at the same time.

    There are a couple reasons why I highly recommend combining Cast-On with a walk. #1 you can laugh out loud without having to explain to the people near by. #2 when a great song (like the Duke Ellington or Lyle Lovett songs of this show) comes on, you can dance in the street or at least put a little more roll and rhythm into your step. #3 You’ll never cut a walk short, no matter what the weather is throwing at you, if you’re listening to Cast-On.

    Congratulations on the plinth!

    Posted on 9.1.09 ·
  44. EstherGrace wrote:

    Excellent edition of the show, just excellent!!
    Thank you!

    Posted on 9.1.09 ·
  45. Ketutar wrote:

    Thank you.
    Yes, I want things, I get jealous to people knitting away, buying lovely yarn and all that – but I have never felt real deprivation either. I am poor by the modern European standards, but here I am sitting with my laptop I got as a present to my 40th birthday, knitting while I listen to the podcast… we don’t have money to buy food right now, but we have enough in cupboard, fridge and freezer to get us comfortably to Monday when we get more money… and there will be money on Monday.
    We are so blessed today. It’s “bad times”, but the standard is so unbelievably high… so high that I, a poor and sick woman, don’t need to worry about… anything. Really.

    Posted on 9.5.09 ·
  46. anita hadley wrote:

    I’m addicted to the plinth LOL! Though I’d just stop by and observe once-in-a-while, but NOOOOOOO, I couldn’t sleep, it’s 3:40 am here, so what do I do? Turn on my computer and start watching the plinth for a couple of hours, and daydreaming about what I would do on the plinth, knit, read poetry, perhaps I should move to England so I can be a part of Plinth 5 LOL!
    Thanks Brenda 😉

    Posted on 9.7.09 ·
  47. Angeline wrote:

    Oh no!!!! After MONTHS of listening nearly every day, I have to do without the dulcet tones of the lovely Brenda until October!!!!! I have been listening since May and just had to go right to the beginning, careful not to skip ahead, I wanted the complete picture. Oh well I wait with baited breath, my knitting will not be quite the same without you urging me on. I am really looking forward to the next episode, please stay well and happy and enjoy your break.

    Posted on 9.9.09 ·
  48. Anna wrote:

    I can’t tell you how much I loved this series, and this episode was just wonderful. The essay about the coupons was fascinating (and I think if I use too many more adjectives, this will end up sounding silly).

    Posted on 9.9.09 ·
  49. Nichola wrote:

    Great series, probably one of the best! I agree so much with what you said in this last episode….we so rarely stop to appreciate ALL the wonderful things we have.

    One small, but important question….when you said at the end of this episode that all music used was in public domain, or used with permission of the artist…except one artist “who never returned (your) emails”…did you use that artist’s song anyway? I know you take ownership and copyright quite seriously….if you used it anyway, does that mean you only take it seriously, ah, when it’s convenient? Explain! It’s just odd, because using someone’s artistic product without their permission would be really, very, quite hypocritical. Please let me know so I can put my mind at rest!

    Posted on 9.28.09 ·
  50. Elspeth wrote:

    I have been saving the last episode of this series until just now, trying to shorten the amount of time that I have to go without.

    Thank you, Brenda, for the lovely podcast. I truly enjoyed this whole series, and all the work you’ve done. This episode especially made me think: my father was born in March 1945 in the north of England, and my grandmother, therefore, had to not only get through rationing, but to get through it pregnant and then with an infant. I can only imagine what that must have been like, and I find myself wishing she was still here to tell me about it. Grandmommy passed away before I was old enough to ask her or to really understand about her experiences, something I’ve always regretted. Hopefully we will be able to learn some of the lessons that she, and the rest of the greatest generation, learned in those tough times and apply them to our own, much less materially strained, lives.

    Again, thank you Brenda for a wonderful series, and I can’t wait for the next one!

    Posted on 10.12.09 ·
  51. Diane Cusimano wrote:

    I was thrilled to read the plinth appeared in the news here. And there are photos too!

    Posted on 10.13.09 ·
  52. Donna Hrynkiw wrote:

    The Knitting Forecast! (Okay the rest of the episode was terrific as well.) But the Knitting Forecast! I was listening in the car on my way to work and actually had to pull over, I was laughing so hard. Then I rewound and played it again and chuckled all the rest of the drive to work. And played it again on my walk from the parking lot to my office, laughing all the way in.

    Especially the terminal “Stalled” on several projects.

    “Pooling: fair to moderate”. Bwaha-ha-ha-ha!

    (Aside: And with that episode, I’ve listened to every episode of Cast On from first to last, in sequence. I’ve caught up just in time (hopefully) to start listening to the new season in real time.)

    Posted on 10.16.09 ·
  53. I cannot wait for the next podcast! I tremble with anticipation for which a putting on a sweater is not a good remedy.
    I love you, Brenda! Hurry!

    Posted on 10.26.09 ·
  54. beckydjd wrote:

    Brenda, you are my knitting touch stone! I only found you a little over a month ago and have lessened to all your podcasts! You are my inspiration! Can’t wait for the next seres, till then I’ll be living off Cast On re-runs!

    Posted on 10.27.09 ·
  55. Jennie VH wrote:

    I’m finally catching back up to you. Loved, Loved, LOVED the Knitting Forecast. Delightful! I laughed out loud at the end! Here’s my vote to include it in each podcast.

    Wonderful to catch up with you.

    Posted on 3.1.10 ·
  56. Madeline wrote:

    Is there a transcript for this program? I’m doing a report on the impact of WWII and the Great Depression on fashion and the last section of this podcast would be really good for citing in my essay.

    Posted on 2.21.11 ·

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