Use it and Lose It?

October 27, 2006

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…