5 Lessons learned from an embroidery floss stash

While at a thrift shop this weekend, I found the score of a lifetime. Well, if you’re into embroidery floss, that is. And I am. (Are you?) Two large bags, full to the brim with hundreds of colors of embroidery floss. I immediately grabbed them and hugged them to my chest. Smiles for hours afterwards. Happy dance. All that.
Turning two giant bags of embroidery floss into part of my collection was a herculean task. And while I sat at the kitchen table, sorting color after color after color, some things started to occur to me:

1. Organize! But you don’t have to go nuts. The thing that made this stash so useful was that each color was wound around it’s own little card with the color number written on it. Imagine if these flosses had been left loose and unspooled. That many together would have become an impossible to navigate Gordian knot of color. Without references to the color number, it would be impossible to get more of a particular shade. However, while each was wound around a card, there were many different styles of card used. Plastic, cardboard, store bought, homemade. It doesn’t really matter that they don’t all match. Naturally, some threads were loose. The loose threads got tossed.

2. Understand the value of neutrals. Hands down, there were more shades of brown than any other color. (Grys were the closest second.) I’ve always been attracted to the bright colors in any given display, but it is so crucial to have the neutrals you need to tie it all together. The lady* who assembled this collection knew this. Color is fabulous, but without the unsung heroes of neutral hues, it’s missing something.

3. Impermanence. Sooner or later, all our cherished collections are going to wind up out of our control. I know this is a grim thought, but bear with me. The odds are decent that whoever sifts through our belongings might not grasp their significance. And even if they do, what was important to us might not be important to them. The point being, use what you’ve got. Cherish what you’ve got while you’ve got it and the ability to enjoy it.

4. Too much of a good thing looks an awful lot like clutter.
I’ve always dreamed of having a vast rainbow of embroidery floss hues to choose from. But when I incorporated this haul into my own humble stash, I found I could no longer easily select colors for a project. Too much choice suddenly became overwhelm. Which has me thinking about my fabric stash now. If too many choices lead to decreased creativity, well, yikes. Which leads us to:
5. Share the wealth! There’s more in this collection than any one person could use in a lifetime. Obviously, I can’t keep all of this goodness to myself. Would you like some? I’ve got a bunch of little* envelopes full of embroidery floss to send out.Please, like us on Facebook, and/or share this post however you like the best. Then leave a comment below (and make sure I have your email address so I can contact you!) if you’d like one.

UPDATE 9/20 – Bonk! Giveaway over! All the embroidery floss has now been spoken for.


*Actually, I don’t know for sure if it was a lady. I’m assuming this based on the handwriting found on the floss cards. Don’t take offense, you fine foxy man embroiderers. You exist, right?

About Claire

Absolutely Small is textile artist Claire Chambers. Claire Chambers is a crazy-pants artist/crafter who spends most of her time indoors, very near to Portland, Oregon. She likes making people laugh, chickens and pugs, and writing about herself in the third person. She is utterly obsessed with making things out of fabric.


  1. macey milstead says:

    I would like some! I really want to be more crafty. So, you should tell me how I should use them! But, I don’t have fb! :( hope that’s not holding me back lol

    • Hi Macey,
      No, of course not! :) Not being on Facebook is not a problem. Actually, it’s probably a virtue. Anyway, I sent you an email. Let me know if it doesn’t come through.

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