In which I go on about my Buy Nothing group

It is everything good I need to be constantly reminded of

A few weeks ago my friend started posting about odd and amusing things being exchanged in her Buy Nothing group. Like, tiny plastic hands photographed as if they belonged to a cat. I may be misremembering that, but as you can imagine, such weirdness stuck with me, and I started looking forward to my friend’s updates.

Eventually, I realized I could look into what a Buy Nothing group is and consider joining.

What I learned is that Buy Nothing groups are everywhere.

They are intensely hyper-local. There is one Buy Nothing group you are eligible to join, as determined by your home address, and that is your group.

So I found my group on Facebook and I joined.

I’m sad to report that I have, so far, witnessed absolutely zero weird posts in my group. However, I am desperately happy to report that my group is lovely. I suspect that every Buy Nothing group is lovely.

The language of Buy Nothing groups is the language of offering and requesting gifts.

What I love about this is that often the things on offer would not, in other circumstances, be considered desirable gifts.

I gave my first few gifts this week, and among them were a few partially used stationery sets, an incomplete set of interchangeable knitting needles, and an unopened package of bookplates.

I put each item in a plastic grocery bag on my porch, labelled with the recipient’s name, and they came one by one to pick them up. There was even a mishap! One person accidentally took another person’s bag. She was so apologetic! I assured her it would be totally fine, and it was.

Tomorrow I’ll be hosting Digits & Threads Studio Hours from my kitchen, for a natural dyeing demo. I have a dedicated pot for dyeing; it lives in a cabinet in my home office. But I realized I’d been planning to have two dye pots going, without considering that I do not have two pots.

So I asked in my Buy Nothing group if anyone had an old stainless steel pot they didn’t want anymore. Within a couple of hours I was offered two. I accepted the first and walked two blocks to pick it up from my neighbour’s porch. It’s not as large a pot as I’d have liked, but it was free and from a kind soul in my neighbourhood, and it will be wonderful. (It’ll even be wonderful if it turns out not to be great stainless steel – we’ll see if there are any errant metals around to influence colours when I do some dyeing in it. The suspense is intense!)

Pretty sure I will eventually decide to be the weird neighbour adding some colour to our group dynamic, but I have to say, knowing that a network like this exists in my neighbourhood gives me deep, deep joy. Like a well of joy I can draw from whenever I want.

Folks posting random stuff they no longer want. Folks lavishing gratitude. Folks asking for help and so often receiving it, and quickly.

It’s been a long time since my tanks emptied out. I’ve managed to establish an equilibrium that avoids grumpiness and otherwise undesirable behaviour, but I haven’t been able to do much more than that for a long time.

My Buy Nothing group is filling my tanks. It’s reconnecting me with the kind of gratitude that is my most high-octane fuel. Taking my gaze away from scary virus numbers in my province, taking my mind off strained social dynamics, taking my energy away from wishing time would pass faster and putting it into finding and creating tiny bits of joy.

And just think, I haven’t even met anyone from the group yet. Imagine how much delight awaits when we’re able to start saying, “Come knock on my door to pick up” instead of “I’ll leave it on my porch for contactless pick-up.” It’s going to be next-level.


We’ve got April discussion threads going:

One about books, and one about crafts.

Come hang out and chat!

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Items of Note

  • So much Muppets talk after last week’s email. ❤️

  • The Craft Ontario gallery had to close to visitors right as we were publishing these features about its current exhibition, Security Blanket, by Jennifer Smith-Windsor, so at their request, we made all three pieces public. These works exploring security of the home and of the state through embroidered and appliquéd vintage military blankets is stunning and moving. Check it out.

  • Want to knit these someday, eventually, maybe.

  • One year ago last week, I was supposed to be celebrating my dear friend’s birthday with her in Marrakech. She’s had a helluva year, and I love that she’s taking her incredibly hard work and her company’s success and promoting ideas like this.

  • Adorbs wee embroidery project and a great tutorial. Backstitch is my all-time fave.

    • Perhaps at some point I’ll think and write about the preparations I’d made for that trip, and what I might do with those preparations a year after the trip didn’t happen. Sigh.

  • Our weekly video hang-outs are held on Discord, on Thursdays at 1:30pm Pacific / 4:30pm Eastern Time, in the Community Hangout voice channel. To join us on Discord:

    • Head to Discord and download the app or proceed to use it in your browser. Then click or enter this link to join our server:

What I’m making: Still a Pi Shawl, and still a toque from my handspun yarn.

What I’m watching: Thunder Force, which is good for a few chuckles.

What I’m reading: Still Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville, which I managed to renew from the library (a rare event for a borrowed ebook!). It’s long and rich and wonderful. I described it to my husband as having all the rich world-building and treatment of human/humanoid/alien races of Becky Chambers books, but with page-turning and plot. As for what the kid and I are reading, you may recall that last week I told you I’d insist we read at least one Winnie the Pooh story, and of course my plan worked: We’re still reading Pooh now. He’s enjoying as much at age ten as he did at age four, and so am I. ❤️ I haven’t mentioned in a long time what he’s reading on his own: These days he’s reading the Eragon series.

What are you enjoying (or hating) reading these days? Head over to the book discussion thread!