Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Stash We Might Leave Behind

I've read so many mean and critical estate sale posts over the years that it makes me want to scream. Sometimes I do scream. One in particular that I read last spring motivated me to write this post, but I'm not linking because I don't want to sound like I'm attacking that particular blogger.

Why do quilters and knitters (and I'm sure all kinds of other hobbyists) feel like it's okay to attack strangers, especially dead strangers, because of how much yarn or fabric they had? Can't we just assume that they enjoyed it and be happy for whoever else got the great deal at the estate sale or auction, or for the group it was donated to?

I was going to say that unless you knew the deceased it's unfair to make assumptions, then I changed my mind. Because I've known some friends and neighbors of crafters or quilters or knitters who were just as snotty.

The idea that we shouldn't leave anything behind but finished projects seems unrealistic to me.

A decade or so back, I belonged to a church quilting group where one of the women had planned out every last one of her future projects. There were other patterns she wanted to make, but she'd decided  she only had time to finish a set number of quilts and was sticking to that list. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto her. I hope that I was, because it didn't seem like a happy way to live. She was only seventy-four. That's younger than my own grandmother was when she opened the antique mall. Grandma ran that business for quite a few years before selling it and moving on to other projects.

These days, I quilt with a group that meets at another church. Some of the members have been working through the stash of a woman who suffered from dementia. Her family saw that quilting helped her, so they kept buying fabric. Her skills deteriorated from what they had once been, but she kept making quilts until the end. The ladies who are working from her unfinished projects have had to work around uneven blocks and weirdly matched fabrics...They do a phenomenal job of turning what she left into gorgeous quilts. And you never, ever hear a critical word about what that woman left behind. We should all be more like them.  We don't have to  salvage someone else's bad quilts, but we can be happy for whatever someone else made and not pick it apart.

I'm young enough that I don't think too hard about stash beyond life expectancy. I'm definitely not going to use it all up and I'm not worried about that.  (For the purpose of this, we're calling those cross stitch kits a collection and only talking about yarn and fabric.) I hope I've got lots of years of knitting and quilting ahead of me, but anything could happen. Drunk drivers cross the center line. Blood clots are a thing....and  there are lots of other things...

From now until whenever, I'm going to enjoy making quilts and knitting socks and stitching things and not make up deadlines based on fear of the future.


Nancy said...

Bravo! Whose business is it anyway?
This is why I like dogs - they don't judge! 😁

Karen said...

Nice post and well said! You are making me feel better about my stash too. And I love Nancy's comment about dogs -- so true!

Jeanne said...

Thank you for expressing this so well! It encourages and inspires me :) Onward to MORE QUILTS !!

Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

I'm 71 now and will never use up all the beautiful and not so beautiful fabric and bric a brac that I have and I don't care! I'm enjoying my now and letting the future take care of itself. For ALL of my life I have lived for and planned for others - parents, husband, children. Loved them all, wouldn't change a thing but I now don't feel the least bit guilty if I want to buy a pretty piece of fabric for gosh sake! Making and giving away quilts is my pleasure and my therapy so let it be sew!

Tami Von Zalez said...

Amen Michelle! While I have my projects in bags (ziplocs), I try to keep the general stash manageable.
I give thanks to those mystery quilters who have passed to the great beyond. I take pieces of their creations and incorporate them into quilts.
I must admit I am awed and amazed as some quilter's stashes, those that post their studio or workrooms. I start mentally adding up the retail cost.

mpv61 said...

A nearby quilting friend and I are pretty sure that if one of us dies suddenly, her husband will call the surviving quilter to come in and distribute her stash.

She and I recently came into a windfall of fabric from a quilter who had died. A friend of that quilter had sold off what she could and gave us the rest. It was basically two minivans full. We had a lovely time looking through it..."Oh, these batiks are you" and "This purple will be great in my box quilt..." We also put aside items for my friend's guild sale, and for certain charities/events. The rest we brought a few boxes at a time to the quilt guild we both go to, under a "donate what you want" policy. The money raised went to fund programs for the guild.

Another time, I went to a free garage sale (the day after the paid garage sale) where there were just boxes and boxes of fabric, quilts, etc. I had been on my way to a quilt show, but I never made it to the quilt show! I was too busy pawing through boxes of fabric. Some of it wasn't in the best shape (mice!), but I don't mind a bit of digging to get a whole bunch of fabric for free. Beyond the fabric, I got 2 quilts and a lot of notions that day! I have a picture; it was a huge haul!

I could go on and on, but when I find leftover fabric, I'm just glad, and I know someone before me loved their fabric stash just as I love (and use) mine. If my kids have to get rid of my stuff when I die, the fabric won't be a big deal. Yes, there's a lot of it, but with a combination of giving away, selling, and donating, it's easy to get rid of fabric. It's the rest of the junk in the house that will be difficult, so that's what I'm trying to tackle.

Lynda said...

I am 73 and have a fabric stash to die for - all my friends tell me I should open up a shop. I know I will never use it all, but I do use it - I make several quilts a month along with a plethora of other quilty items. I have been joking lately that with the price of fabric climbing as it has been, that once it gets too spendy for me to buy then I will be forced to shop in my own shop. This year I have been concentrating on using what I have and not buying (much) but sometimes it just feels good to buy something that you just cannot live without (smile)!

Valensei said...

Apologies for the very, very, long post!!!

Stash is a funny thing, it has many forms and many purposes. I lost Abby, my 18 year old daughter, to cancer in January 2016, she was diagnosed in June 2013. Just before she was diagnosed she got her 1st expert Lego set and she loved it. During the time she had cancer she bought Lego sets whenever she saw them on special and she had the money to do so and she was given many sets as gifts. By the time she passed away, I'm guessing she would have had at least 50 Lego sets, many never even opened. When Abby was diagnosed, we were told her cancer was a particularly aggressive one and that survival rates were less than 5%. When she passed away, I looked at her Lego sets and of course I felt so sad that she never got to do them, then I realised it wasn't only about that. Abby had the pleasure of working out what sets she wanted and buying them and the planning of when she would do them. Imagine if we had said to her don't buy them now.

Abby and I were 2 peas in a pod, we really were best mates and did everything together. She had my love of craft and it was my plan to leave the great stash I have in her hands one day. Before Abby was diagnosed my husband and I had very good incomes and I amassed a huge stash of patchwork fabric, wool and cross stitch kits. When Abby was diagnosed we were fortunate enough to be able to both stop work immediately and spend all our time with her. During this time, much of it spent in hospital. I sat and knitted and when we were at home I made quilts, I hardly spent a cent.

After Abby passed, my husband and I decided to not go back to work and to try and live a simpler life doing the things we enjoy. I am so grateful for my stash. To date I have made somewhere between 50 -100 children's quilts which I have donated to paediatric palliative care and Child Cancer Foundation and about the same number of beanies which have gone to the same causes. I would guess I have enough stash to do what I have done already 1 or 2 more times. I have another daughter who has absolutely no interest in crafts, absolutely zip. Now, as I don't have anyone to leave it to, if I find something in my stash I don't want or won't use, I move it on but as for the rest of my stuff I love it. It keeps me busy, it makes me happy and it goes to good causes, in memory of my beautiful daughter. Oh, and her Lego sets, they're all still here. In fact we've added one or two to collections she was making.

lvkwilt said...

I get comments from my husband and sons occasionally because I will never be able to use up my stash. We just moved a year and a half ago and I gave probably half of my fabric to a local group to make charity quilts. I have been quilting for over 40 years and every birthday, Christmas, etc. I got quilting fabric, books, etc. As a military wife, I had to leave all my friends and my jobs so many times and my quilting kept me "sane." (that might be debatable) I don't feel bad about my sewing machines or my stash, however, because my family knows that I want it all gifted to groups who make charity quilts. I don't smoke or drink, but I do have too much quilting is the one thing I do for me and I love it so! Thank you for this post. I think social media has made people mean...what happened to "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

Dar said...

This was a good post and I agree with what you said too. I have a huge stash, but not the latest and greatest collections. I decided about 3 years ago that I would challenge myself to shop my stash, which I have almost exclusively. I had to shop for a border fabric on one quilt that was a scrap quilt to pull it all together, but no other fabric has been purchased. I tell my quilting friends, "come shop my stash before you buy" because I would like it to steadily decrease. I make lots of quilts for QOV, children's charities and friends and family members trying to use as much as I can. It makes me happy to be able to make something beautiful from my scraps and stash. I do have notes as to guilds and organizations and friends that I know will love getting more fabrics to make quilts to donate. They will get boxes and boxes even if I make 100 more quilts before I go. lol

Carla A Few Of My Favorite Things said...

So true! But I think it different for all of us sometimes a large stash haunts some quilters others love lots and lots of stash. But I think most of us would love to think we can quilt till the end. Why not after all it is our passion!

Laura said...

I have a different take on this. I am 56 and was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Unless I get hit by a bus soon, I will probably die of cancer. I am attempting to finish up as many UFOs as I can. I am also not buying as much fabric as I was before, though I recently bought 5 yards of blue. I am cleaning up my sewing room as much as I can now, so no one will have to do it for me, or at least they won't have as much to do later. I have gone through about 1/2 of my cross stitch stuff and have packed up a couple of boxes to give away to another stitcher. I am giving a lot of quilt fabric to a woman I know who makes scrap quilts and doesn't have money to buy a lot of fabric. Death doesn't feel like an abstract concept to me now. It is time for me to get my crafty house in order!

Barbara Sindlinger said...

I've already warned my family that I have more fabrics than I'll ever be able to use and I don't care. It won't be my problem in getting rid of it. :) Plus I like buying pretty fabrics and I like have a stash I can actually use and play with when I want. If I wasn't making anything at all, I could see it as a problem, but I do make a lot of stuff. A LOT!

I get mad when I hear people go on and on about downsizing. Not my thing.

Debbie. said...

I loved your comments,I remember my elderly mother declaring that she was not ever going to try and use up her stash, she planned on just "popping off" one day and leaving it for me to deal with, and she did. What wonderful memories were contained in her many boxes and chests, I even found the pattern she made my Dads shirts by.I wouldn't have had it any other way. Will probably do the same too my kids too.


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