Monday Musings: The 5 Ss--Riffing Off Wegmans

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(Awhile back I was doing Monday Musings. I've decided to reinstitute them, at least for a short series.)

A couple of weeks ago I was doing my usual grocery trip at Wegmans (got one near you?), and noticed this sign hanging next to the employee office near the check-out lines. 

As I read it, I thought, "Hmmm. I could apply that to my quilt studio/sewing room." 

And so, here's my riff on Wegmans' advice for store employees, adapted for us fiber-folk. I'm going to do this in five parts, every Monday, just to keep it--ahem--simple.

S-1 Sort and Remove

You can pretty much guess where I'm going to go with this one, right? 

We may like to think that all those boxes and bins and stacks are the mark of wonderful possibilities. But the reality is, a lot of it may just be getting in the way, keeping us from moving forward in the way we want to move forward.

How much stuff is sitting on the shelves, in the drawers, in the closet, hanging on your wall, that you haven't touched in more than a year? Not only does all this extra stuff tend to get in your way when you're looking for what you need (stealing precious time from your creative endeavors) but it can actually become a burden.

  This photo is a few years old. Tellingly, it looks much the same now.

This photo is a few years old. Tellingly, it looks much the same now.

If you've heard my recent episodes, you know I've been struggling a bit with what to do with my stash. Now I'm in a very different place in my quiltmaking than I was six or seven years ago. Yet my stash still largely reflects where I was six years ago, seven years ago, ten years ago.... I've sorted my stash a couple of times and gotten rid of things I wasn't using then, but I hung onto a lot because they're all quite handy fabrics. I kept thinking, "But this could come in handy," or, "but this one's really pretty."

So I kept doing make-work. In other words, I'd find projects to do simply to use up my stash. Those weren't projects I'd have normally done. They may have been somewhat entertaining (although not all of them were), and sometimes I even learned something (although usually I was just going for quick-n-easy). But still, all-in-all, they were a distraction from what I really wanted to be doing. When I realized that I kept putting off my True Love Quiltmaking to try to knock out yet another Stash-User Quiltmaking project, I understood that something was out of whack.

I finally came to the conclusion a couple of months ago that my stash was actually a source of obligation and guilt--not guilt over its size, as it's a reasonable stash. Not guilt over the money--probably half of my current stash was inherited from my mother. Rather, just guilt over all these great fabrics sitting there, not being used. Obligation guilt. I was feeling the burden of needing to use fabric just because it was sitting there--to create projects for myself just to use fabric just because it was sitting there--to not do the projects I wanted to do just to create projects just to use fabric just because it was sitting there....

The lightbulb came on. My stash was actually holding me back. Sure, it was a great stash. I'd actually been very intentional about building a good, usable, stash for those times I wanted to do an impulse project--I could just grab and go pretty easily. But my quiltmaking has changed. Just because something is a "good stash fabric" doesn't mean it's right for my stash. In fact, it might be even better stash fabric for someone else. The only good fabric is fabric that's being used. Everything else is, really, just clutter. No matter how pretty it is.

So I'm giving myself a few more months to use up the fabrics that are still really calling to me, then I'm going to embark on a major clearing out. I'll be sorting and removing. And I'll feel lighter for it.

Rulers. Books. Gadgets. Marking utensils. We all tend to amass collections. If you're using them, even semi-regularly--great! Keep 'em all! But if, instead, you keep seeing a ruler every time you open a drawer and catch yourself thinking, "I really should use that someday," maybe it's just not the right ruler for you. Maybe it reflects things you thought you were interested in a couple of years ago, but you've mentally moved on. Perhaps the ruler would be happier living with another quilter who would love it and use it and make great things with it, than languishing out of loneliness and boredom in your drawer. 

So, this week--my suggestion to you is to practice a little S-1. If you don't want to tackle your whole sewing room, choose one drawer, one shelf, one bin. Sort and remove. (If your sewing collection is just fine, thank you very much, think about the rest of your home or your workplace. Everyone's got a problem drawer somewhere!)

My goal? 

On the left of the two photos below are the rulers I use on a regular basis, although there are even a couple hanging on the ends of that wall that I don't know that I've ever used. (The ones right next to my cutting table are my go-tos just about every time I'm working on something.)

On the right, the drawer of all the specialty rulers I inherited from my Mom a few years back and, for the most part, have never used. It's really time for me to make some decisions. I could use the drawer space.


So, go get your S-1 on.

Leave a comment letting us know what you are going to tackle and how it goes!