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In Praise of The Stash

Behold, The Stash, newly reorganized and ready to roll. And quite the fine thing it has turned out to be!

All artsy types have their weaknesses. Some of us like to stockpile materials for whenever we get the urge to make something. But needleworkers have a particular need for a stash. In the long run, it can save us money. In the short run, it saves time and gets us started more quickly than if we had to run out and buy what we needed. My stash was crammed here and there, and I couldn't get my hands on some of it because it was buried so deeply in the "box room" in the basement. This was troublesome because the basement wasn't the best place for this kind of thing.

The porch project meant the box room had to be dealt with, and I finally was able to unearth parts of my stash. Goddess Bless The Rubbermaid Container! Nothing smelled even remotely basementy! But I had to deal with a lot of stuff that had accumulated over the years that I knew needed to go. It was past time. And deal I did. I found treasures that simply gave me the giggles because I had been hunting unsuccessfully for them. That, my friends, was the crux of the issue. I couldn't find what I needed. I needed to condense the accumulata and I needed to organize it. The little blue chest of drawers was already crammed. The closet already had a stack of containers. Something had to be done.

A chance visit to JoAnn yielded an expensive, but likely possibility. The High Holy ArtBin Satchel. I have used these in my studio and love them. You can put all manner into these American-made, sturdy containers and they latch closed. The contents are kept in good order and the handle helps get them off the shelf. They come in different sizes, and I had already begun using them for things like thread.

This is an ArtBin container of DMC #5 Perle Cotton. DMC has a trick for undoing a skein, but if you do that, you have a helluva time cramming those olives back into the jar, if you get my drift. My solution is to put the whole thing on a spool onto which I have affixed a sticker with the color number. The spools can then be threaded onto a big ole binder ring kind of thing, and your threads are thus kept captive. No running off to join the box of Vineyard silks, or Caron Watercolours. Nope. They are right there for your stitching convenience.

But I digress. This was the way I was dealing with current materials. Other things, such as small needlepoint canvases were likewise neatly stashed in satchels. What I spied that day in the store were boxes of cubes that were just for creating a way to make the satchels into drawers. I had a coupon, and they were on sale. I brought home all four they had in stock. (One had to go back because the cube was damaged.) I am good at building cheap furniture of this nature, and I got those three cubes together in no time. They came with little dowels that would facilitate stacking the cubes. The three were a good start until I got into that basement room and found all the other goodies. It necessitated an online order from the good people at ArtBin, and the result is as you see above. The pink satchels are the sewing junk - separate from the needlework, or handwork, as GranRuth called it. Segregated for their own good. (Turns out that was very smart of me - some things you won't know until you put the plan into practice. This one worked really well.)

I am teaching some friends how to needlepoint, and I have stressed to them the importance of keeping your materials organized at the get-go. They mostly get it, but they also haven't exactly been religious about following that dictum. They will have to learn the hard way, but they may also find methods of keeping their materials that work better for them than my system. Each of us has our own tolerance level for a tangled, snarled up mess. Mine is non-existent, which is why the careful way of keeping threads.

So far, they only have needed floss and pearl cotton. They share the same color numbers, so I have suggested they buy two sets of number stickers that DMC sells. That way they can spool both, have a color number for both, and be able to unroll easily. They are free to ignore me, but if they branch out into other fibers, they will see the need.

Planet Earth Pepperpot; crewel threads; Paternayan (yeah, that stash is elderly, but still fine);Caron Impressions silk/wool; Rainbow Gallery silks, lamé braid, Neon Rays, etc.; Caron Watercolours over-dyed, Caron Waterlilies silk over-dyed; floss; pearl cotton... The list is endless and unless you get a handle on it, finding what you need when you need it is difficult. The ArtBin people apparently understand the needs of artsies who maintain extensive stashes.

Adding to this confusion has been the lack of a full-service local needlework shop (LNS). A tiny corner of another store opened, strictly for needlepoint, but its size and mission are limited in scope. We were also less than impressed with the helpfulness of the owners. One did everything she could think of to keep from interacting with my students, who were there to BUY STUFF. My point in taking them there was that the selection of pearl cotton colors is always. better in a needlework shop, the chain craft stores keep only a limited palette. They are great for floss, but pearl, not so much. Also, it is essential to build a good relationship with one's LNS. Our old one closed after three or four different locations, and many years of staying abreast of needlework trends. The ladies who owned it simply wanted to retire. I really miss them. I'd been their customer since September of 1981, and they were wonderful to me. I had hopes for this little place, but I was disappointed. My students were offended, and so was I.

Silver linings, however, are always there if you go far enough afield. Charlottesville yielded Poppypointe and I cannot wait for a road trip with my stitchers! Big Kitty and I visited there a few weeks ago. I was just on a fact-finding mission, but a birthday canvas was purchased, as well as the threads (Things I didn't have, can ya believe it?!), and also a pair of cute Vikings to stitch for Christmas. Lauren and Allyson were simply lovely to us, and very, very helpful. It felt like home. (You dedicated stitchers know exactly what I mean.) The Vikings can be stitched entirely from my stash! Whee!

Best of all, that little trip reminded me that one of the most helpful ladies at my previous LNS was also a designer, and my stash now includes a pair of Faith and Grace canvases by Lynn Mason of Sharese Designs. Faith and Grace are her kitties, and their bubble bath and tea party got my attention! (Geno and Ivan were a little iffy, but I told them I could add stripes. Geno was adamant. He likes our tea parties.) Not sure if I will need to add to the stash for these two pictures, but maybe not at all.

One thing is for sure. I can find what I am looking for!

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