If you are like most of us, you have an enormous stash. Depending on your likes you may have a “wad” of unidentified stranded silks. You may stockpile your favorite shade of Watercolors. You may keep certain colors and threads that are basics for what you stitch on hand. You may even be an opportunistic buyer of threads that are at great prices.
I’m guilty on all these counts.
Even if you don’t actively pursue adding to your stash, threads accumulate. You’ll have leftover skeins from completed projects or threads that were extra in a kit.
None of this is bad. In fact it’s good for many reasons.
The Benefits of Using Stash
First, you have threads on hand to start a new project. Some of my best pieces ever were mostly stitched from stash. By stitching from stash I don’t need to be tied to a shop’s schedule or the whims of the mails. I can start something new when I want to, even if it is 9PM on a Saturday.
Second, stitching from stash gives your needlepoint some depth and variety. Let’s say you are planning a set of six figures. All of them have faces. Think about your friends. Do they all have lips and eyes the same color? Of course not. But a stitch guide will give you one color for the lips. If you stitch from stash you can pick different colors. This makes your stitched pieces have more variety and makes them look more realistic.
Third, using stash is thrifty. In today’s world thrift is not always thought of as a virtue. But why spend money needlessly? Is a new spool of gold Kreinik in the exact same color better than the old if you will not be using it up on your piece? Do you need 5 partial skeins of white DMC pearl cotton? Isn’t buying new from scratch for every project wasteful? Couldn’t you buy a new thread with that money instead of buying a third skein of a thread you already have?
The canvas at the top this post is a perfect example of this. They are stitch-by-stitch adaptations of vintage needlepoint pillows. They use 50+ colors. Maggie told me that in looking at the originals it was clear the stitcher had used what she had, sometimes changing colors partway through. You have to agree this thrift made something beautiful.
Fourth, using stash uses your creativity. Let’s say you need a violet metallic and had a stitch in mind. All you have in your stash is a violet metallic ribbon. Will that stitch work? If not what other stitch could you use? You’ve expanded your creativity just a bit by the simple act of picking a different thread and not buying new.
The Quest for the New
We’re conditioned by stitch guides in shops, class projects, and magazine articles to expect to buy everything new.
That happens for several reasons.
In classes you are not necessarily near additional threads so the kit needs to be complete. In shops they also sell the threads, so they would like you to buy everything. The articles go to a wide audience so they need to list everything, even if not everyone buys all the threads.
In addition some people want to buy every thread completely new for every project. I’m not one of these people and nearly every stitcher I know or have worked with prefers to use stash. I even knew one woman who referred to her shop-size stash as her “collection.”
The Vote Is In — Use Stash!
Stitchers love that they are encouraged to use stash. They like that a Napa Needlepoint stitch guide takes this into account. They want the challenge of using threads they have. They like that I realize they have made an investment in buying threads for a project and try to use them.They don’t want to waste money buying more of threads they have ay home.
I always shop my stash first and, as you can see, many lovely projects have come from it.
How about you, do you like stitching from stash?