Use it and Lose It?

Good Heavens, what if I use it up?!!

Do you have items in your stash that you don’t want to use because it might not be the right project? I’ve come across several comments lately in e-mails and blogs in which people are saying that they didn’t want to use a particular item from their stash, because then it would be gone. Judging by these comments and the way I feel about my stash, this club has a fairly large membership, and I’m certain I could be elected president-for-life.

I’ve had remarkable success, usually at estate sales and thrift stores, in finding needlework treasures. When the estate of a very talented and prolific needleworker was donated to a local church for their thrift store, I was able to purchase literally miles of various kinds of silk thread and other interesting items for a fabulous price. Pearsall’s Silk ThreadThey are carefully stored in their own containers, awaiting the perfect project. But what if the perfect project never comes along? I’m awash with excuses not to use the silk threads. First, I could never replace what I have without spending big $$$. Second, it’s the “silk is too nice to use on a utilitarian object” rationale. Then there’s the “what if I need it for a different project that really is the perfect place for it?” question. So finally, I did give in and break out the silk floss; after all, I bought two skeins of every color. Also, I’m currently only using the most boring of the colors. The project is a Wyoming landscape, and until I start adding flowers and creatures, etc., we’re in a golds, oranges, tan and sage green rut. I’d love to get back to work on this project, if I could only figure out where it’s hiding.

Among the silks were two huge cones of buttonhole twist, in two different weights. Undyed Silk ThreadAnd yes, I’ve barely scratched the surface of those as well. I did take a few yards of them to try my hand at dyeing with Kool-Aid, which came out great and was a lot of fun. However, the lion’s share is still on the cone, and not going anywhere anytime soon.

It’s not just the silk thread, oh no. I have cotton threads in all shapes and sizes, and even a little wool. And let’s not leave out the bits of lace, trims, crocheted edgings, etc. Then there are the beads. It used to be just seed beads, mainly due to some really great aquisitions. But after seeing some really wonderful work that went beyond the mere seed bead, of course I began collecting non-seed beads. I call them non-seed beads because they run the gamut of bead types, from the basic base metal beads to be found at my local Ben Franklin to some really cool vintage beads from a local estate.

There’s that word again. Estate. I’ve been to a lot of estate sales. I’ve been lured to them by newspaper ads, auction notices, announcements at guild meetings, and chance comments from friends who know I love to collect this sort of thing.

There’s an underlying current here. I’m buying from the heirs of people like me. Ladies who collected, horded, stashed their stuff. But the big question, to me anyway, is: Did they use it? Or am I buying stuff they purchased in hopes of using one day, on the perfect project. In two cases, I know they did use it. Both were very prolific textile artists, and they DID many things with their materials. One lady was a dealer for the thread company, and a lot of the things in her estate were backstock that she originally intended to sell. But what about the others? Was I pawing through the things of a woman who had great plans and ambitions, but was waiting for the right project? Perhaps the family members had scooped up all the beautiful finished things these ladies made and kept them as keepsakes. I sure hope so, because they weren’t in evidence at the sales.

I’m kind of a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ person. I have a terrible time maintaining a calendar, and I’m not very good at planning out a daily schedule. I often realize I’m supposed to be somewhere ten minutes away five minutes before I should be there. Given my blonde hair, the word ‘ditz’ has probably entered a few minds after an encounter with me. A rigid scheduler, I’m not. Like the project finishers previously mentioned, I have a hard time comprehending the people who are always there and seated quietly well before an event begins. I just don’t see how they achieve all that punctuality. So why then do I have such a hard time breaking free to use a particular item from my stash until the right project comes along? Why do I agonize over using things from the special stash? When my husband of 26 years proposed after we had been dating only 3 weeks, I blurted out “Yes” without spending even a tenth of the time it takes me to decide it’s okay to use some of that silk thread. That lightnening fast decision has worked out awfully well for me, so how come I can’t bring myself to cut into the silk?

While this whole thing isn’t me worrying about my ultimate departure from this world, I can’t help but wonder what people will say about me at the estate sale my family will undoubtedly hold. Hopefully it won’t be “How sad, all these beautiful materials and they were still brand new.”

Until next time…


9 Responses to Use it and Lose It?

  1. TeresaB says:

    I understand your dilema because I am working to overcome the same tendency. I have adopted a new logic. Yes, replacing all the wonderful silks, beads, etc. would be expensive, but I am only using little bits at a time. Replacing 1 card or skein of silk is not expensive, so I can use a little and replace a little without breaking the bank. So far, it’s working – so far…

  2. Jo in NZ says:

    Janet, could you please start an email list for your family, so they know who to inform about the estate sale. Can I please be at the top of the list?
    I have trouble with using stash, but I am fairly new to CQ, and don’t have alot …yet, however I do see this becoming an issue for me in the future. My mother has already organised her estate sale, and the ‘trustees’! I am not one of them…..wonder why.

  3. Lillian says:

    Can I be Vice President?

  4. NormaH says:

    Well, Janet, I might have been where you are at one time, but so many people have given me so much stash that if I don’t use it I’ll have to find a place to live!!!!

  5. Susan says:

    I decided I could use at least half of everything. =) Actually, until I get down to that last one yard piece, I’m not going to panic. Okay, I admit I did by my favorite Needle Necessities variegated cotton before I finished the first one of that color. It gives me such peace of mind to know that when I finishe the first one, I still have another. =)

  6. BRENDA MINOR says:

    I’m kind of guilty of the same thing. However, I recently started working on some practice samplers and attempting to learn new stitches. And in doing so, I decided to use whatever I have and hope I can find more of it, IF I ever need it. The payfoff is that I will be learning something in the process. I’ve also elected to use it on my Round Robin blocks. The whole idea is to leave a part of yourself behind….to be remembered. Why not make it extra special?

    Are you kidding? I love bargain hunting! Going to thrifts shops, flea markets, yard & estate sales…. OMG—-the just the mere thought of it gets me excited. Each time I go it’s like a scavengar hunt and you never know what you’re going to find. The last estate sale I went to, I didn’t find too much. It was late in the day. Then I spotted what looked like an old sewing box off to the side… And lo and behold…that’s exactly what it was. There were needles, pins, tools, and lots of little goodies in it. I think I paid $2 for it. It made my day…. And it made the long drive across town worth it, too.

    We have a Saver’s Thrift Shop here in Tucson (2 of them, actually). I love to go in there on a search and find mission! Threads, ribbons, fabrics, recycled fancy clothes (on $1 day), beads, buttons, etc…. Whatever you can think of. It makes my day! And yes, I have wondered about the person the stuff belonged to. I wondered if she was older like my granny and unable to use her stash; I wonder what kind of UFO or WIP she had….; I wonder about whether she was a smoker or not and if the items needed a good cleaning….. The thought that always comes to my mind is: When my time comes, what will my DD do with all of my things? Is she going to call a local charity and donate my stuff? Or will she, hopefully, keep it and use it someday? I’d like to think that since I’ve invested so much time and energy….and money….into building a stash AND the fact that I raised her up sewing and quilting….that she’d keep my stuff and use it someday. THat is my hope. But! I see her leaning towards not wanting to mess around with it. I’m starting to think I should make a will and give her whatever she wants, then leave instructions for her to pass it along to other stitchers like myself. Maybe to the local guilting guild….or to my online friends (smile). Lol….I’ve even thought about leaving it ALL to my grandaughter…..

    I say…Use it or lose it! Heck, you know you’re going to go to more estate sales and find more stuff! So why not use what you’ve found so far. You can also trade some of your less favorite items with others that are doing the same thing some where else! It’s all good…. VBG…. Good luck & have fun!

  7. Sharon b says:

    I am a use it up person as a couple of years ago I was inthe area that were hit by the bad fires in Canberra – on the day quilts and journals were rounded up and tossed intheback of the car ready to evacuate if we could not hold the fire back (In OZ citizens fight fires) I realised that if we lost the house I would lose the stash – from that day I have been using it – all those special bits – the lot as 5 houses in our street went up in flames –

    on another note – where did you buy the silk buttonhole twist by the cone _ I would love to locate a supplier

  8. Janet says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I’m sorry I can’t help you with a source for the silk buttonhole, as this was part of the massive estate sale from which I was able to glean many treasures. If I do come across a source, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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