A Spring In My Step

Snowdrops!

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and signs of spring are popping up all over. The crocuses are out and I’ve even seen a dandelion flowering already! In the garden my garlic is up and the rhubarb is showing its red covers over baby leaves. We ate the first snipping of chives on our baked potato. Admittedly I felt as if it was cheating since they were only about 2” tall. Yummy though! And we have lots in several patches. There’s work to be done out there but every time the sun comes out, it’s so precious that we end up going for a walk instead. Also it’s still very soggy ground from all the monsoon rains we’ve had so it can wait and dry out a bit first. At least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

No sewing and not much knitting has been getting done. I’m struggling with the next phase of the Make Space Project, namely my upstairs work and storage spaces, actually the entire top floor of our small house. It’s a ridiculous amount of work! Although I’m actually a pretty organised person, the multiple stashes have gotten completely out of hand. A year ago I went through and downsized some of the stuff that I absolutely knew I wasn’t going to be using. But I wore out and never continued throughout the whole space. There’s more. Oh yes, is there EVER more!! It’s amazing what one can accumulate over 40 or 50 years of mad making!

And it’s not as if I actually bought all of it myself either. I’ve been the (mostly) happy recipient of other people’s stashes! Or perhaps a convenient dumping spot? At any rate, over the years I’ve been given yarn, fabric, tools and equipment from other crafters or their families. Some of it found other homes or got used up but some of it is still lurking about. Unfortunately I have quite extensive storage areas! For example, this is just one of my four attic spaces.

The North-East Attic, before…

They are all only a sloped space under the eaves with the highest side about bust height down to the (rather questionable) patchwork flooring and with a lovely little dwarf-sized door in to each. But they hold a remarkable amount of stuff! Pictured is the first one I started on, aka the Fabric Stash, with a side order of Paper Bins. This isn’t even all the fabric since about 9 more boxes were out in the main studio space. It took me more than a week of schlepping, sorting, chucking, inventorying and putting everything back in some sort of functional order.

After. Better?

That’s all that’s left including all but 4 of the 9 extra boxes. Whoo-hoo! The flat Paper Bins aren’t back in there though. I haven’t sorted through those yet and I’m hoping to find another place to put them. I kind of like having more clear space to actually get in there and grab the box I want. Every piece of fabric that’s in each box is in my inventory with the box name attached. I use an app that I’ve had for years called Sortly which works great and could even produce QR coded labels if I wanted but I move everything around too much to make that practical. (I’m sure there are other apps out there that would do the job too.) Now I know exactly what I have and it’s already inspired some ideas for new makes. Like I needed more ideas, right? Sure I do.

True confessions: I chucked a whole lotta scraps in the garbage. Yes, I know I could have made one of those ubiquitous poofs. Or 6 of them! But I don’t need one and neither does anyone else I know. Some of those scraps have been in there for-absolute-evah! I even found some from the 1970’s and nothing actually big enough to make anything much out of unless it’s patchwork. And I don’t quilt. I saved 2 big boxes of the best bits just because you never know. And the rest…out. I’m generally one of the most environmentally friendly folk you could imagine but sometimes you just have to get rid of it in the most expedient manner. I’m trying not to feel guilty.

However, I didn’t chuck anything at least a yard or more. That pile along with any other sewing/knitting supplies that I decide to part with (including 4 bags of old/vintage patterns!) is all going to Our Social Fabric, a local non-profit textile recycling initiative. At least then it will have a chance to be used instead of sitting around in my attic for another 40 years! Helps my guilty feelings a little anyhow.

It’s interesting that when you’ve been sewing as long as I have, I can see my own “history” of pattern styles and fabric choices over the decades. My pattern sizes changed! Can you believe I used to fit in an 8? Me neither. And ditsy floral prints? Yuck. No offence to those who love them but they are not me. At least since the ‘70’s anyway. Granny dresses, ruffles, oversized drop shoulders with giant shoulder pads? Nope. Okay, nearly everyone agrees the ‘80’s had a lot to answer for! But some preferences remain constant. My favourite colours of rust, green, black, brown, charcoal grey are well represented even in 20-year-old fabrics for example. There’s some polyester as you would expect but there’s also quite a lot of natural fibres. Knits are less common than woven fabrics. They got used up quicker because I definitely wear more knits than wovens. I do plan to use the nicer polyester because it’s already in existence and it would be stupid to get rid of it before it actually gets used first. Just my not-so-humble opinion. I have made better fabric choices more recently so my environmental impact continues to improve going forward.

So all this cleaning, sorting, assessing, etc. stuff is still ongoing. I have 3 more attic spaces! Most of two good-sized rooms. And another closet. This one is finished already.

The Pattern Stash, plus some weaving & spinning equipment.

All sorted and inventoried. Only took me at least four days. I’m slow and methodical? Or I wear out too easily! Note that I didn’t have any of those cool pattern hanging hooks so I made do with binder clips and bent coat hangers. There’s several patterns on each hook so I sometimes have to shuffle them to get to the one I want. Otherwise it works pretty well to keep the unfolded paper patterns together. When I’m sure I’m not going to be using one anytime soon, it gets folded into its manila envelope and filed in categories in the clear bins below. According to Sortly I have 158 patterns left in my collection! I think that should be sufficient to keep me busy for awhile. Maybe?

Trash or Treasure

I’ve just begun a rather difficult reassessment of all my crafty stashes. This is not going to be done quickly or without pain – both kinds: physical (books and magazines are heavy!) and emotional (that item reminds me of a special time/place/person and I had plans for it!). No, I haven’t gotten on the Kondo bandwagon. I’m not going by “it sparks joy” but more like “will I use it, ever”. Some of this stuff has been lurking about here for 40 years! Also needs and tastes change. Honestly, I only have just so long left in my life even if I consider the best-case scenario. How many projects can I finish before I’m incapable of finishing them?

So here’s part of the first lot sorted off the shelves:

Yes, I’ve read every single one!

Some has already found new homes. This bunch represents crafts that I think are exciting and inspiring and all, but I don’t want to do them myself anymore. These books and magazines are mostly from the early 2000’s – kind of the heyday of publishing before the Internet stole it all. Showing off these types of embellished creations are what Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for and all you need to see them is a device and an online connection. Since that is considerably cheaper for most people, bye-bye paper magazines. If you’re into perusing through them though, a lot of the lovely stuff in these publications remains relevant today. But I’m ready to move them on to someone who hopefully can appreciate them. I’ve already booked a table at a one-day craft supply sale in April (at the Silk Purse, West Vancouver, BC, noon-4pm). We’ll see how that goes. I hate selling. Just sayin’. Mostly I’ll probably just be giving it away.

And I’m not finished sorting yet! I’m kind of stalled on the beadwork shelves. Actually I would love to do what I did with my lacemaking supplies – find someone who belongs to an interest group and let them have it all to distribute in whatever way works for them. Know any local-to-me beaders? I used to years ago but interests change. Another thing that is stalling me is that my oldest granddaughter is becoming interested in making jewelry as an adjunct to her cosplay makes. She needs a chance to tell me what she would like to use before I sell anything. And then there’s the beads that will fit on my knitting yarns that I’d like to keep. And Thom doesn’t want me to get rid of the wire stuff quite yet. Ummm…it’s complicated.

Which is why I haven’t already done this job in any major way before now! I’m (mostly) ready to do it but it’s obviously going to be an ongoing project for awhile as I make multiple passes through everything. The good news is I’m getting a chance to look more carefully at it all and remember what I actually already have. That should prevent me from adding very much to the collection(s). Notice I’m not saying that I’m never going to buy any crafty stuff ever again? That would just be mean, wouldn’t it? Especially with Fibres West coming up very soon!