Sunday, May 6, 2007

Confessions of a Stash Collector

A few years ago when PDAs became popular, I purchased a Handspring Visor. I used it for obvious things like the calendar, address book, reminder notes, etc. But what I really loved was being able to keep track of my stitching stash.

At the time, other stitchers were creating databases, called tinybites, for fibers and fabrics. You could mark off what you had, in say, DMC, so you always knew what you were missing or needed to replace. This was really handy when you wanted to kit a new project or just happened to find yourself in a needlework store. I even customized a database that I used to inventory all of my charts, WIPs and finished projects. My Visor became an invaluable tool.

Then one day, it all ended. My batteries were running low and I foolishly put off replacing them. Big mistake. They eventually went completely dead -- and I lost all my data. I know what you're thinking. Why didn't you backup the data? I did when I had an iMac. Then I bought a PC. By that time, Visor was defunct. I think Palm took it over. Although I searched around, I couldn't find anything that would let me back up on Windows XP. Then the batteries went kaput.

The State of the Stash
I decided I didn't want to inves
t in a new PDA, so I no longer have any system for keeping track of stash. That's unfortunate since I don't have the most organized stash collection. Some things are better than others. Charts are relatively organized, threads, not so much.

With that, here's a snapshot of the sorry state of my sta


My charts are alphabetically filed in five large binders, which works well when I'm looking for a particular design I know I own. Not having an inven
tory can be a problem when shopping. though. If I'm looking at recently released designs, I know I don't already own them, so no problem there. But if I'm looking at, say, Prairie Schooler charts, which I own a lot of, it's a little trickier. The last time I was at Tawny's, there were a couple of older Prairie Schooler charts I was considering, but I wasn't sure if I had them or not. I decided not to buy them, which isn't such a bad thing since I have so much already.

But here's a confession about the binder filing system: I haven't keep it up-to-date for at least a couple of years. I have a shopping bag full of charts that have yet to be filed or need to be refiled.

When I kept an electronic inventory, even if the chart didn't make it into one of the binders, I would enter it into the database so I always knew what I had. Since I don't plan to buy a new PDA, I may just have to resort to good old-fashioned pen and paper to keep track of things. I certainly have enough small notebooks that could easily fit into a purse for a shopping excursion.

I don't have a huge fab
ric stash, so it's not essential to inventory it. Whatever I have is kept in a storage bin. When I'm looking for a fabric to start a new project, I can easily paw through the bin. I don't feel compelled to use the exact fabric a design calls for. But sometimes, like in the case of The Village of Hawk Run Hollow, I purchased the recommended fabric. Not so much because of the color but because of the size. For 40 count, a 27" by 20" is needed, which I knew I didn't have. Lakeside Linen provided custom cuts for this design, so I bought one.

I own almost a complete set of DMC, a significant amount of Sampler Threads and Weeks Dye Works, various Silk 'n Threads and Gloriana silks, and a few miscellaneous skeins of other brands. I started out trying to keep them organized, using the baggie system. I like the baggies, especially because it helps to keep partially used skeins tidy.

But here's where things start to break down -- the majority of the fibers I own have never made it into those baggies with the nice neat little labels.

It can be very tedious to sort through this jumble looking for threads I need for a project. With the Visor, even though these threads weren't organized, everything was recorded in the database. I still had to sort through this mess, but at least I knew what I had and didn't have.

I really need to bite the bullet and get all of this sorted. It shouldn't take too long, if I just chip away at it little by little -- a handful or two every couple of days. We'll see.

Final Confession
Now for the worst of it. What do you do wi
th your project bag when you've finished a project? Here's what I do:

Into the basket graveyard they go. Most of this is UFOs. (Maybe one day I'll get back to them.) But there are also project bags from finished projects with charts and threads or kit packs that were never refiled. When I'm looking for threads, I sometimes ransack these bags, including the UFOs. Of course, if I ever go back to any of the unfinished projects, I'll have to fish around to find all those threads borrowed from Peter to save Paul.

It would be nice to have a craft room with a place for everything. For now, though, it's shoe boxes, plastic bins and baskets. With a little more effort, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.

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