Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keep or Toss?

Is this trash? Should it be kept or tossed?

Every now and then I get the urge to purge my house. Before Baby C. was born I, like many expectant mothers, turned the house upside down throwing things away and organizing like a madwoman. I don't know how productive this was, since the whole house looked like it was a casualty of WWII bombing after we brought home the little 8 lb darling. As much as I would like to blame the mess on Baby C. it's hard to frame it on him since he can't walk and pretty much slept and ate the entire first couple months. Hmm...maybe I'll just blame it on my husband instead. It can't have anything to do with me. Oh no...not me. I'm innocent.

Whoever's fault it is--not mine, I swear!--cleaning and organizing your house can force a diligent crafter to face one of life's most difficult moral dilemmas: should this be kept or tossed?

Sometimes keeping things makes me feel like one of the squirrels I see outside this time of year, frantically hoarding nuts like an obsessive compulsive. Other times I have nightmares that the police will have to come to my house to investigate a crime scene, and they'll have to wade through a bunch of junk that I've hoarded to collect evidence, finally giving up b/c there's no way they can navigate through all the stuff. Funny how the actual crime is not part of the nightmare; it's the obtrusive junk. This reminds me of the advice to always wear good underwear in case you have to go to the hospital. Again, apparently going to the hospital in an emergency situation is not nearly as bad as the nurses seeing you in underwear with a hole in it!

So even though my house is not nearly disorganized enough to have nightmares about, I sometimes feel compelled to just "throw it all away." We had a massive yard sale last spring and it felt awesome to see everything go...

Except that feeling didn't last long. Because a couple days later I was looking for a cookbook I rarely used but have held onto for years. I NEEDED a recipe for a coffee cake that was in that book. The book that I just gave away with a stack of others for a dollar. No biggie, right? I just went on the internet and got another recipe that wasn't quite the same but was just as good. No big deal...

But then a month or so after that it happened again! This time it was a bag full of 5 skeins of yarn and a set of knitting needles. It was also sold for a dollar at the yard sale. It went to a lovely woman "for her mother." I must have held on to that bag for twelve years. At nine months pregnant I thought, I haven't used these in years, the yarns are too dark, and I like crochet better than knitting anyway. Let me toss it. Of course within two months I was cursing myself for selling it; I became interested in knitting again and the dark yarns would be perfect colors for a little boy. What was I thinking?

It's uncanny how an item that has collected dust in the basement for over a decade can suddenly seem so important and necessary after it's been thrown/ given away. I'm sure it's some subconscious desire to always have what you can't.

This is very troublesome for crafters when it comes to scraps/ supplies. I wonder if the items in question are trash or treasure. Will I ever use those fabric scraps from my first quilt again? Sure, I haven't used my chalk pastels since college, but will I suddenly be struck with the motivation to use them once they're gone? What about that beautiful yarn that's too scratchy to use for anything, but is too beautiful to get rid of? All these things are stashed away in rubbermaid bins, hoping they escape the next yard sale.

I like to imagine that woman's mother from the yard sale has used the yarns that I took for granted for so many years and made something really special with them. Or maybe that exact bag is now sitting in her basement! As for me, I'm off to the craft store to buy the exact yarns and needles I sold last spring. I solemnly swear to be more discriminating from now on when it comes to purging.


  1. def keep! you may need those scraps of fabric for your next quilting adventure.

  2. Ugh! I hear ya, Sista! I still have my pastel chalks and paint sets from grade school (with Sister Michelle's handwriting on it, too). I figure my girls might get use out of it in the nearer future. Keep!


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