Stash: the stitcher’s hermit crab

Hermit crabs have no shell of their own, and so they use empty, left-over shells to protect themselves. The trouble with using someone else’s shell, however, is that when you grow, it doesn’t grow with you. And so every now and again the hermit crab will find that it is getting rather cramped in its present abode, and that it needs to look for a new, larger shell.

Isn’t it remarkable just how reminiscent this is of stash?

You start stitching. It doesn’t take much – a piece of fabric, a needle, scissors and some thread. At first, it all fits into a small plastic bag, with room to spare. Then you get some more fabric; different counts, perhaps, and in several colours. Possibly you even venture into pretty hand-dyeds and opalescents. And of course for every new project colours are needed that you haven’t got yet. They get added, as well as speciality threads, metallics, perle cottons, silks, for that special touch. Talking of special touches, how about beads? And charms? The original plastic bag is now only just big enough for the fabrics, and all the threads and beads and other thingummybobs need their own boxes.

So you’ve got everything in neat boxes and bags, either sorted by number or colour, and doesn’t it all look wonderful! Then you buy one more colour – will it squeeze into the box? Just! But the next colour doesn’t have a hope …

That’s what happened with my perle cottons. They were housed in two boxes: the #12 perles in the drawer of my Dragonfly box, which also holds my Caron threads and silk perles, and the #8 and #5 perles in a wooden box I was given by a kind friend. The #5 perles live on hinged metal rings, and were draped on top of the balls of #8. But what with Rainbow Wings and the SAL and Gingham Gems my collection was rapidly outgrowing its comfortable "shell"! So I started looking for shallow boxes to hold the #8. I found some in laminated cardboard, which looked quite useful but came to about £15 each which seemed a bit much for cardboard; I looked into wooden boxes with drawers but they were either not the right size, or beautiful antiques several hundred pounds beyond my budget.

Then we went to Holland on our holiday and in one of those useful shops which sell anything from underwear to baking trays to camping gas I found these, at €1.99 each:

Three useful boxes

Not particularly attractive, but the right size, stackable, and cheap. And once I’d put my threads in, they suddenly looked quite pretty!

All my perle #8 neatly stored

And just to demonstrate the way in which stash simply keeps growing – while in Holland I bought a few more things; some useful, some just very pretty and very moreish. A metre each of White and Antique White 25ct Lugana falls into the first category. These lovely Au Ver à Soie silk ribbons definitely come in the second. One of them will be used in the speciality thread version of the Song of the Weather SAL; I haven’t decided yet which one, but I can’t wait to stitch something with the coffee/chocolate ribbon!

Au Ver A Soie silk ribbons