Today I’m unpacking more boxes of studio stuff. I’ve set a goal for myself: Five boxes a day, more if I can fit them in.

At the first the haphazard packing was unsettling. (There are many ways to pack. But when you’re in a hurry or can’t do it all yourself and other people are doing it, and space is limited, you pack very differently!)
For example, one box might hold six earring holders, a small book, a rock and a beanbag. (I use them in my display, so it’s not THAT weird….) Today, one box held one pottery display stand. That broke. (And that’s okay, too, because I can glue it back together.)

But I’ve decided to now view each box as a puzzle ball, those charming presents I used to make for the kids when they were little. I’d take a tiny treasure and wrap it with strips of crepe paper, adding coins, confetti, flat-ish treats and toys, until the whole thing was about the size of a large softball. (They also took about 10 minutes to unwrap, which really prolonged the excitement and added to the joy.) (I think.)

My third box held my ink stamping pads and most of my spools of thread. If you ever visited my studio, you know my thread collection was extensive.

And here’s my thread tip:

Be aware that thread has a shelf life.

If you’re a seasoned sewer, you already know this. But when I first started sewing, I didn’t.

I would go to an antique store and buy old sewing baskets full of thread, giant spools of thread from manufacturing companies (sturdy thread from shoe-making companies, etc.), large spools of cotton threads, vintage spools of thread.

I would start a project, thread my sewing machine, and start to quilt.

And the thread would break.

I’d re-thread the machine. The thread would break again. And again, and again.

Then I realized the thread was too old, or sun-damaged, to use.

This can occasionally happen with new thread, too. I took my machine in to Russ Moline at The Moses House in Keene. He was baffled, too, until he finally tested my brand new giant spool of quilting thread. It was a faulty batch, and broke easily. A sad, but fortunately inexpensive “repair” of the sewing machine!

Cotton threads are especially prone to this. But sometimes silk thread can deteriorate, too.

So before you buy a wonderful stash of vintage thread, unwind a few inches and give it a yank. If it breaks easily, you will have nothing but heartache when you use it. (Even hand-sewing may be problematic, because it will wear even as you pull it through the fabric over and over….)

On the other hand, sometimes thread that LOOKS worn out or faded will still be strong enough to sew with. If you don’t like the fading, simply wind off enough thread till you get to the layer that was not exposed to heat and light.

And of course, just because that old thread isn’t functional anymore, doesn’t mean you have to throw it away. Fill a mason jar, a thread rack, or a pretty bowl with your thready treasures, and put them on display. As I go through my stash, the rejects are tossed into a new lamp I just bought, with a clear base that can be filled with….spools of thread!23mtn6t6 (2)

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