Voyage To The Center Of The Stash

A few months ago we decided it was high time we take a spin out to Mesa, AZ to visit our stitching friends at the Attic Needlework shop (and swing by some of our old Scottsdale haunts, like The Roaring Fork and the dessert counter at AJ’s grocery store). We haven’t been since 2005, and that’s just a long time to go without replenishing the stitching stash. Well, replenishing in person, rather. It’s one thing to sit at home on the computer picking out charts and ordering kits of thread. It’s another entirely to spend hours with friends pulling fibers and linens, changing one shade of “very dark chestnut brown” for another.

Knowing that I had three days to spend surrounded by the extraordinary materials the Attic has to offer, I decided it was time I gathered my stash together for some assessment and some much needed organization. In the heady days just before we moved into Maple Hoo, I had some grand, grand plans for the (mostly) finished basement room. I figured we’d line the walls with bookcases and then put a long table in the center; the bookcases could hold charts and threads and linen, and the table in the middle could be used as a work-surface for laying out and organizing projects. What I forgot to factor in was Boomer’s inclination towards clutter. Now, really, I’m not much better, but still, I was a little dismayed when, after about three days of living here, this was what that room looked like:

Boomer’s collection of cross-stitch, needlepoint, knitting, and quilting projects exploded in a picture-perfect display of entropy at its worst. Still, knowing how much Boomer does for me, and knowing that the stash room was well tucked away from any outsider’s eyes (well, until I publish it online for all to see), I staked out a few small areas for my stuff. The framed pieces were tucked on and near the table in the rear of the room. My thread collection and some older charts were tucked away in a big rolling ArtBin, while in-progress pieces were contained in a big plastic tub tucked under the table.

Everything that didn’t fit in those two places — i.e. dozens of charts, charts with threads, charts with linen, threads and linen with no charts — was stuffed, in no particular order, into four drawers in the armoire at the back of the room.

If I wanted to look for a new project to work, I had to stumble through Boomer’s piles of stuff (oddly, she knows exactly where every thing in that room is. We used to challenge her to find specific books in the waist-deep piles she had in her previous house and it never took more than five minutes for her to retrieve them) dig through jumbles of disorderly charts and kits, hoping I’d find what I was looking for. It was a disaster. Boomer attempted to introduce some order by bringing home towers of plastic drawers perfect for threads:

This solution? Waaaay to fussy for me. Organizing that many little drawers is too reminiscent of taking the dreaded cataloging class in graduate school. I needed something different. Something easier. Something more flexible, more organized, and most of all, more fun-office-supply-y. Enter some funky binders, lots of sheet protectors, many index cards, and a few hours of getting down and dirty with my collection of projects.

My idea (well, actually Schnookie’s idea) was to put all of the charts into binders for easy browsing, organized into WIPs, charts with all the materials, and charts without materials. Index cards tucked into the sleeves record what various materials are already in place and which need procuring before the project can be started. The threads and linens were all tucked into smaller bags, again with index cards recording the corresponding chart and notes about materials. All the smaller bags were then tucked away in the plastic bin, with my WIPs laid carefully on top, and then the binders were placed on the built-in bookcases in the living room.

Not only do I not need to stumble around the basement to ooh and aah over my charts, they’re now conveniently located right behind the couch for easy access! No more digging through drawers! No more wondering where those old Prairie Schooler santas are! No more wondering if I’ve already ordered that Moira Blackburn sampler about how there are three things that never come back (that chart has been purchased at least three times between all the stitchers of Maple Hoo)!

I have to admit I was thrilled to discover that, when collected all in one place, I could carry my entire stash from the basement to the living room in one trip. That surely means I have free reign to go nuts at the Attic, right? Full disclosure: I’ve already ordered two more binders. One is for overflow; the current binders are pretty close to being too full. The second is so that I can gather all the seasonal charts together. When I’m desperate to whip up a piece for Spring or Winter? I’ll be able to flit over to the Seasonal Binder and away I’ll go!

Like the nerd that I am, I couldn’t be satisfied with just organizing all my projects into binders and baggies. I also had to put together a spreadsheet while doing it so I could keep a catalog of the stash contents. My original thought was “Ooh, I can cross stuff off the spreadsheet when I finish it!” After the peals of hysterical laughter subsided, I instead decided it would be a nice way to make sure I didn’t buy duplicate charts. Anyway, when the spreadsheet was complete, I was able to crunch some numbers.

Works in Progress, aka Things I Intend To Finish At Some Point: 5

UFOs, aka Unfinished Objects That Will Probably Never Get Finished: 3

Charts with Threads and Linen: 14

Charts with Linen but No Threads: 4

Charts with Threads but No Linen: 7

Charts with No Threads or Linen: 48

Total Projects: 81

Random Pieces of Linen Not Earmarked for Specific Projects: 14

And now, because I’m a big nerd, here’s a full list of the contents of my stash, now perfectly ordered and waiting to be put to good use!

WIP
SDW, Scarlet Letter
Manchester, Carriage House
True Wisdom, Exampler Dames Design
Berlin Woolwork, Needle’s Prayse
Shores of Hawk Run Hollow (aka MFB by the Sea), Carriage House Samplings

UFOs
Light Your Way, Blackbird Designs
Christmas Sampler, Scarlet Letter
Deers Among Wood, SARL Designs

LINEN AND THREADS
Harvest Time, Prairie Schooler
Woodland Santas, Prairie Schooler
Santas Workshop, Prairie Schoole
Prairie Birds, Prairie Schooler
Winter Samplers, Prairie Scholer
Limited Edition Santas 2005, 2007, 2008, Prairie Schooler
Quaker Study, Carriage House Samplings
Circling Alphabets, Scarlet Letter/Hester’s Sister
Garland Fair, Blackbird Designs
Town and Country Sampler, Brenda Keyes
Peaceful Paradise, Midsummer Nights Designs
We Gather Together, Blue Ribbon Designs
Marakech, Kay Montclare
Elizabeth Muir Sampler, EGA
In the Bulb, The Workbasket

CHART AND LINEN
Just Hatched, Prairie Schooler
Farm Fresh, Prairie Schooler
We Will Adore Him, Homespun Elegance

THREADS
Marianna Lignani Anno 1825, Essamplaire
Maria Spence, Essamplaire
Sarah Brignell 1769, Scarlet Letter
The Contented Mind Sampler, Brenda Keyes
Friendship Gathering (spot sampler), Birds of a Feather
Colonial Harbor, By the Bay Needleart
Meadow Hills, By the Bay Needleart

CHART ONLY
With My Needle, Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers
My Gift To You, Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers
Sweetheart Sampler, Blackbird Designs Loose Feathers
Trix or Treat Book, Blackbird Designs
Just Hatched, Prairie Schooler
Farm Fresh, Prairie Schooler
Barnyard Christmas, Prairie Schooler
Home For Christmas, Prairie Schooler
Songs of the Season, Prairie Schooler
Santa Collection 88-91, Prairie Schooler
Santa Collection 96-99, Prairie Schooler
Santas and Snowmen, Prairie Schooler
December, Prairie Schooler
When Witches Go Riding, Prairie Schooler
Hornbook Revisited, Carriage House Samplings
One Sheep, Carriage House Samplings
Meeting House Hill, Carriage House Samplings
Oliver & Friends, Carriage House Samplings
Sally’s Feather Tree, Carriage House Samplings
Plymouth Sampler, Brenda Keyes
Heaven Is My Hope, Scarlet Letter
Four Seasons Sampler, Scarlet Letter
Sarah Wilson, Scarlet Letter
JCS 1707, Scarlet Letter
Betsy Manchester, Scarlet Letter
Hornbook Bestiary, Scarlet Letter
Peaceable Kingdom, Goode Huswife
Beehive Sampler, Moira Blackburn
Strawberry House Sampler, Moira Blackburn
Pains of Love, Moira Blackburn
Peace Hall, Moira Blackburn
Three Things, Moira Blackburn
St. Hippolyte, Long Dog
Joie de Vivre, Long Dog
The Daisy, Long Dog
Wisdom, Long Dog
All Things, Long Dog
All Things II, Long Dog
Bertha Massiet
Berry Patch Rabbit, Cedar Hill
19th Century Birds, Hands to Work
Autumn Hill, By the Bay Needleart
Live Each Day, PLC Samplers
Welcome, Brightneedle
There’s No Place Like Home, Drawn Thread
Snow, Bent Creek
Gobble, Bent Creek
Cinnamon Stick Santa XVIII, Homespun Elegance
Cinnamon Stick Santa XVII, Homespun Elegance

LINEN
28ct R&R Kansas City Blend
28 ct R&R Dk. Cappuccino
40 ct Lakeside Sienna Night
40 ct Lakeside Blue Moon Java
40 ct. Lakeside Autumn Gold
36 ct Lakeside V. Examplar
36 ct Lakeside V. Autumn Gold
36 ct Lakeside V. Misty Rain
36 ct Lakeside Remembrance Rose
36 ct Lakeside Meadow Rue
36 ct Birds of a Feather Sparrow
28 ct. Lakeside Pearled Barley
36 ct. Colorscapes Cherub
40 ct Newcastle Heritage
36 ct [Unknown] Creme Brule

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Voyage To The Center Of The Stash

  1. Like the nerd that I am, I couldn’t be satisfied with just organizing all my projects into binders and baggies. I also had to put together a spreadsheet while doing it so I could keep a catalog of the stash contents. My original thought was “Ooh, I can cross stuff off the spreadsheet when I finish it!” After the peals of hysterical laughter subsided, I instead decided it would be a nice way to make sure I didn’t buy duplicate charts. Anyway, when the spreadsheet was complete, I was able to crunch some numbers.
    OMG, are we related? Seriously, this is SO me. Except that I would have gone full steam ahead with crossing stuff off my spreadsheet and waited for my friends to laugh at me later. At least that’s what I do with my “moving” spreadsheet. I number all my boxes and label the contents in the spreadsheet.

  2. HA! Chaz, I sometimes consider being all organized like that, but then my rational brain kicks in and says, “Who are you kidding?” :P

    This organization project has been such a big deal for Pookie. She’s such a librarian. Heh.

  3. I am. I can’t deny it!

    Chaz, I think a moving spreadsheet makes a lot of sense. I hope never to have to move again, but if I do? I might be asking for moving spreadsheet advice!

  4. I’m speechless.

    First, I love the picture of the basement. It’s perfect.

    Second, I love how passionate you are about stitching, and, at the same time, organized about it. I’m also amazed at the amount of “in progress” works you have. I think I would find that a bit overwhelming, but I suppose that is part of the stitching culture.

    Also, I spell stitching wrong every time and have to spell check it. Grrrr.

  5. EEEE! Kristin, I love your icon! I only just noticed it now! :D

    This is hilarious how organized it’s making Pookie look. It should be noted that she’s been stitching pretty seriously for the better part of a decade, and it’s only now that she’s made an effort to organize her stash. Heh.

    (“Stitching” is a word that looks wrong all the time.)

  6. I hate that stitching is just an annoying word to spell! It drives me bonkers!

    Yeah, the basement is a piece of work, isn’t it? Sigh. I really honestly thought it would be all beautiful and organized. I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, Boomer decided she didn’t need the bathtub in her last house since she had a separate shower stall, so she filled the tub with paperbacks that she didn’t have enough bookshelf space for.

    I love how passionate you are about stitching, and, at the same time, organized about it

    Well, I’m organized now, at any rate! :D We’ll see how long it lasts… Heh.

  7. Ah hah! the magical powers of Excel spreadsheets and getting paid to organize things come to the rescue again!

  8. I love that I will most likely find myself standing in front of a lab-ful of students looking blankly at me as I try to explain how Excel is useful. “You know, if you have years worth of stitching projects piling up and you need to keep them organized… Uh… Look at that hobo!” As for the getting paid to organize things, I was proud of myself for not alphabetizing them or arranging them by Dewey numbers for the subject matter of the piece.

  9. I love that I will most likely find myself standing in front of a lab-ful of students looking blankly at me as I try to explain how Excel is useful.

    They’ll think we’re both totally nuts very soon. I’m going to have to restrain myself in my next digital photo class from talking about how the magic of flickr allowed me to host a 6 inch tall chrome capital letter E and take it to the beach and the library and it was the funnest thing ever… and… what? why are you looking at me like that? You’re just learning how to use the internet? And can’t quite grasp the idea of internet friends? Well, let me tell you!

    I was proud of myself for not alphabetizing them or arranging them by Dewey numbers for the subject matter of the piece.

    uhhh have you seen my books? that I organized by color because I emphatically didn’t want to be such a library geek as to organize by actual books by subject? yeah.

  10. You’re just learning how to use the internet? And can’t quite grasp the idea of internet friends? Well, let me tell you!

    :^:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    (That’s the IPB-invented emoticon for “you just made me laugh so hard I snorted milk up my nose”.)

    I would love to organize the books in the library by color just for a week or two! No one uses the reference books anyway, surely no one would mind!

  11. Ohhhmigod this is amazing.

    I have chart-envy now! ENVY! This is awesome and it just makes me want to spend more money like crazy.

    Which is totally ridiculous because I have fifteen new projects to start or something like that.

    The binder idea is genius! I’m so impressed. Mine are sitting in a little fabric cube right now, looking at me longingly like, “Work me! Work me!”

    I would kill for your basement. (And your furniture is so cook!) Sure, property values in Texas are low, but try finding a house that has a basement. Is it odd that I’ve always wanted a house with a basement?

  12. Oh, and I am so excited to see the stuff you’re bringing back from the Attic!

  13. That must have taken you ages, you a can come and do the same for me if you like! Enjoy your shopping, definitely a lot more satisfying to do it in person

  14. Caitlin, you’re just starting out! It’s taken Pookie almost 10 years to accumulate this many charts — give yourself time! It’s a marathon, not a sprint. :D

    And thanks for liking our furniture. Heh. That’s all the odds-and-ends bookshelves and end tables left over from combining two households into one that has a lot of built-in shelving. And it is a pretty enviable basement, if I do say so myself. It’s partially finished, and only takes on a little water in the rain, but the space is huge. There’s even a second room the same size with the furnace and oil tank and whatnot. It’s such a luxury to have that space! After living in basementless Arizona, I totally know what you’re talking about with Dallas having none either. What a bummer! Maybe you can find something with great garage space or something…

    Miss376, thanks so much! And I think if this organization scheme holds up to everyday use, I might start renting Pookie out to other stitchers in need. You’ll be first on our list. ;)

  15. Chaz, I think a moving spreadsheet makes a lot of sense. I hope never to have to move again, but if I do? I might be asking for moving spreadsheet advice!

    It’s a perfected art. Each time I move it gets further improved. Including the “I label it A” on the box, but it’s really “B” so the movers won’t know it’s a TV. It really is a thing of beauty, ifIdosaydomyself.
    =)

  16. Yeah, Caitlin, give it time! :D

    Miss376, the organization didn’t take quite as long as I thought, but it was definitely a big job! I should totally quit my job at the library and start charging to do “Stash Rehabilitation”.

    Chaz, you’re a moving-packing evil genius! That’s awesome!

  17. Thank you, thank you

    It has gotten me through two cross country moves with not one stolen piece of electronics or art. I have friends that were not so lucky.

  18. Sandy Cornett

    Hello, I am trying to find a copy of the pattern for Peaceful Paradise by Midsummer Night Designs. It’s in your stash! Would you consider selling it?

    Thanks a bunch,
    Sandy Cornett

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