To be honest, I tend to agree with lewmew who said she'd have to keep all her threads as she never knows what she wants to stitch next, and Rachel of Virtuosew Adventures who said that it's not really possible to have a minimal stash if you're into multiple embroidery styles. Even just one, (unless it were whitework or blackwork), can see you with a meaningfully plentiful collection. I mean, have you seen how many threads one can use for cross stitch? Besides stranded cottons, there are metallic braids, blending filaments, silks, over-dyed cottons etc etc etc. I reckon there'll be some passionate cross stitchers whose thread stash easily rivals mine. =)
Having said that, for interest's sake I decided to do a simplified 500 Thread Challenge to see which 500 items I would definitely want to keep of my over 1600 if it was ever necessary.
Why simplified? Only that, if I were to do this for real, I would take longer than about half an hour checking colour charts and would go through the whole lot very carefully determining the actual usefulness of almost each and every shade. This time I just decided that I would want to keep the whole of my complete Anchor thread collection and then choose a few extras that would allow me to do as many different styles of work as possible.
You can't beat good old stranded cotton for general purpose use, so selecting mostly from those was a no brainer. As there are 444 shades of Anchor (aside from the variegated ones), that left me with just 56 items to choose, and here they are:
I was surprised at the number of DMC skeins I owned that were substantially different from Anchor shades. There will be plenty of others in other colour families of course, but I only have 86 DMCs, which were all chosen for being 'gap pluggers' - esp. the greens, which you can never have enough of. I don't know why it is, but I can settle for a passably close match with most other colours, but I absolutely require the correct shade of green! To be honest, I feel fairly similarly about brown and grey too. Natures basics, I suppose. If I were working abstracts, patterns or stylized designs, it would concern me less, but for representing nature, the basics have to be right. How do you feel about that? Similarly? Or do you go more for getting the brights spot on? Or maybe you're ok with whatever you have??
Besides the DMC stranded cottons, there are a few basic Anchor Pearl Cottons in all 3 thicknesses in both bright and antique white (as well as a ball of #12 in black for blackwork), and those plus an ecru shade - #926 - and black in Coton à Broder. Lastly, I had space for only 2 metallics and chose Kreinik silver and gold Cable as it's 3 ply and possibly could be separated for finer strands. Of course, DMC stranded metallic would do this as well and probably separate more easily as Kreinik Cable is designed to be used all in one go.
Of course, whilst doing this exercise, I started wondering about completing my DMC collection. Later on, whilst looking up designs I wanted to work soon, I began to think about getting one or more of those oval embroidery 'hoops'. So much for no more stash!! I haven't bought any, and wasn't really planning to get any more threads just now, but the idea began to appeal again and the large collection felt more comfy. Phew!! =)
I've sold a lot of threads in the past, anything from surplus duplicate stranded cottons through silks to hand-dyed threads etc. I remember getting a complete set of 20 hand-dyed cottons at a show and never using one of them. They sold well on e-bay. I also sold all the GAST, WDW and SSS (remember them?) shades that I was never going to use a few years ago before we went for the year in Taiwan, along with various other stash items. I've also sold all the kits I was never going to work, fabrics I knew I would never use and part-kits and charts that I had already completed, but that would be of interest to someone. With one exception, they all went and I'm pleased I did it. So, you could say that my stash is maybe 20-30% smaller than it could have been.=)
So, what about you? What could you absolutely not do without? What do you regret having bought and did you ever clear it out?
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2015