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The Hidden Treasures in your Stash

Embroidery is said to be an expensive hobby Ė and it can be. Especially if you buy new threads for every project, work from kits, and use only specialist fabrics or threads.

Now, however, with money tight, itís the time to go back to the basics of embroidery and rediscover why this is a skill that has lasted thousands of years.

In this series of articles, Iíll be looking at some ways that you can get your embroidery fix for little or no outlay!

Now is the time to take a long hard look at your stash

Donít try to tell me you donít have a stash! All embroiderers do, and often we donít ever look at it from one project to the other. And yes, there are even some embroiderers who never even check what threads they have before they start a project.

So Ė now is the time to collect your stash from its various hiding places. Go on Ė pull it out. Donít be afraid Ė your stash could be the start of many new projects, or even a hidden source of money! Important note When you start gathering your stash in one place and you start talking about rooms, rather than boxes or shelves, itís time to cut the stash!

Right Ė youíve got all your stash together. After you get over the shock of discovering that you own 127 skeins of exactly the same colour of blue thread (and itís not even a particularly nice blue!) itís time to get some organisation into that stash.

To make it easy, divide it into 4 piles Ė Keep, Sell, Swap and Trash. Why trash? Well, that chart that when you picked it up disintegrated Ė you donít want that. Nor do you want the thread that is covered in moth cases.

Time to be ruthless Ė and to think ahead. If you have a particular kit or project, why havenít you done it? If you donít like it, then decide whether you will or, rather can sell it or swap it with other embroidery nuts (more on embroidery swap meets later).

You may have to outlay some money here Ė for this to be effective, your stash needs to be neatly kept and organised, so you may need to purchase some thread bobbins and boxes and plastic boxes (see my article Storing your Embroidery Supplies). It will be worth it in the end and you will end up saving more than the cost of these boxes.

When organising your threads, make sure that you label them with not only the colour number, but also the brand. This makes it easier when deciding to use a thread from another brand in a project (Iíve listed some online conversion chart links below) or when replacing it. Decide how many skeins of each colour you need to have on hand. I find that, except for base colours like black, white and cream, that having no more than two additional skeins (in addition to the one I am using) is more than adequate. For those basic colours, I like to have 4 on hand at all times.

Of course, this applies to basic stranded floss. More specialised threads, like silk or perle, you can generally get away with having one skein spare.

Now Ė have a look at the rest of your stash. Do you really need all of that 10 count Aida? And will you ever get round to stitching that major piece that youíve had the pattern for over 10 years (I canít say anything here Ė I have a half finished needlepoint that is now 25 year old Ė my dad bought it for me to do because he loved the picture). And now that your children are teenagers, really, you probably donít need the seven height chart kits you have Ė or the one about the new baby.

Be ruthless!! If you donít adore it to pieces, get rid of it. If you do love it, then make sure you remember you have it Ė after all, youíve already paid for it!

The patterns and charts that you have decided to keep Ė now is the time to match them with the materials that you have on hand, thus making them into kits, all ready for you to stitch!

There Ė with no expense, youíve just acquired some more projects! (Oh yes Ė and had a great time going through your stash!).

And now Ė you can look at what you want to do with the rest of your stash.

Next time: Sell and Swap Ė Making money out of your stash!

Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please contact me with your suggestions.

Happy Stitching

Happy Stitching from Megan

© 2009 Megan McConnell

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