The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The embroidery stash


Shereen's embroidery stash

Photo: Shereen's embroidery stash

Just before Christmas Shereen emailed me and asked if I would be interested in giving a home to her embroidery stash. Of course the answer was Yes Please. There’s nothing like examining someone else’s stash let alone being given one. I was thrilled.

I used to do quite a bit of embroidery as a child. In fact I made this embroidery thread roll at some stage back then for myself (photo below). It even has a little lint book inside to store the needles and a row of soft compartments to store threads. The material is Swiss and from an old dress always known as The Swiss Dress.

When I started to make the lavender bags for our online shop the embroidery bird started to sing again. There was so much inspirational work on the Internet that I was keen to start incorporating some simple embroidery into my work asap. Danny is as enthusiastic as I am.
“Once you’ve built up your skills again you are only limited by your imagination.”

Of course a comment like this has the instant effect of momentarily snuffing out the imagination!

So Shereen’s offer came at the perfect time. As you can see from the photo the stash is huge and even includes a gorgeous little trunk covered with a pretty Art Deco material. Sewing silks, embroidery threads, buttons, beads, lots of cross stich materials and even little Christmas trees – enough for a small forest!

She wrote on her card that the tin packed with sewing silks was a jumble sale find that turned out to have come from an old family friend of her husband. So this is a third home for that stash – it’s spread out in front of the trunk. The tin is like a tardis!

Homemade embroidery roll

Homemade embroidery roll

Shereen I can’t think you enough. I’ve already started using some threads and have rediscovered the gentle joy of embroidery. Sitting in the kitchen as the wood burning stove burbles away, listening to Radio4 punctuated by tiny Min Pin snores. This is true contentment and bliss.

  Leave a reply


  1. What a wonderful thing to be given, I’m sure you will have many hours of pleasure from it. Have a great 2011!

  2. Dorothea

    Life is bloomin wonderful isn’t it ! Happy New Year to you both and thank you for your blog…it’s much appreciated, keep it up !

  3. I am just popping in to wish everyone a fabulous new year.

    I am sorry I havent been around much, but I only have a dongle so connecting to the internet is EXTREMELY slow. and by the time I have commented and tried to make it save it has gone wonky so I have given up.

    lets hope we find a house and I can get broad band soon.

    love to all

  4. I’m looking forward to seeing what you create out of that little lot. It’s so much better that it goes to a loving home than it sits lost on top of the wardrobe in the spare room.

    I kept the needlepoint stash I uncovered in the same hoking session. It turns out I have a few unfinished project there that I still like the look of.

    Happy New Year, Fiona and Danny. Thanks for all the inspiration over 2010 and I can’t wait for 2011!

  5. My mother-in-law left me a big ice cream tub before she died 3 years ago, full of embroidery thread, felt squares, cross stitch material and buttons. She meant my daughter, then 6, to have them as she had just started to teach her to sew. My m in law was a fantastic quilter and needlewoman. Her legacy lives on in all the quilts she made the children, for cots,and then beds as well as wall hangings, xmas decorations and a wonderful circular quilt to go under the xmas tree. Of course, I have thought of her every xmas when this gets put out, but more so every time my daughter (now 10) dips into the ice cream tub to make and sew something from her box of goodies from a very loved granny.

  6. What a treasure box!

    Isn’t it wonderful to return to a creative passion after some time? I share your excitement about embroidery and can’t wait to see what you create with all those lovely bits.

    This holiday I had the chance to share my fabric stash with two young girls — my daughter (6) and the daughter (9) of a dear friend who still loves the quilt I made for her when she was born. Both girls recognized treasures and familiar pieces of fabric in the bundles they were given.

    I don’t think I’ve ever given any gifts that have brought me such joy.

    So there is at least one good reason for building a stash: the chance to give parts of it away.

  7. Ooh, an acquired stash, marvellous! You can justify hours of browsing as you have to sort it all out, meanwhile you are really just admiring all your new finds. How lovely to have time to do lovely creative things. Between working and arthritic hands my most creative things these days is making new flashcards for my primary French classes.

  8. Fiona
    I too love to sit with my needlework -either embroidery or cross stitch – listening to radio 4 but unfortunately have to grab every opportunity when not at work.
    Happy sewing.

  9. Nothing quite like being given a stash. I inherited one from my husbands grandmother when she died, and I love using her threads and things. I have her ancient leather covered needle book and a battered tin full of embroidery floss, lovely pieces of lace made by her, wools, all sorts. I’ve had fun working out what some of the stranger bits of equipment are too.

    I recently took up embroidery again after many years break, and am greatly enjoying it. My current project is customising some plain denim skating skirts for my little girls. Everything I am doing on them is freehand and totally unstructured, but they are loving the skirts already (working on them alternately) and especially seeing what I’ve added each time.

    Enjoy your new treasures!

  10. Ah- embroidering. I did some recently when my husband and I purchased a new stash of nearly identical pocket tees, the difference being his shirts being so much larger than mine. So I embroidered designs along the pocket on the ones that were the same color. Then I got carried away and embroidered all my new pocket tees.

    Have lots of fun, which I know you will!

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