Gift bags and hashtags

Maybe you remember (but probably not) about a year ago when I knit a little sweater and finished up a cozy flannel quilt for a newborn baby boy. Well, that baby boy is now a chilled out chubby little one-year-old cutie pants, and we were invited to his birthday party last weekend. Though Stuart knows the family better than I (the mom and dad are co-workers of his), it was up to me to buy the birthday gift. In fact, it seems that the vast majority of the gift choosing and buying falls to me, even in situations where he knows the recipients better than I do. (I could make a snide comment here about the assumption that women are somehow predisposed to shopping and are better at this sort of thing...but the reality is that of the two of us, I was the one who had a spare 45 minutes to run to Barnes and Noble to pick out some board books. Of course, the reason I'm the one who can do these kinds of errands in the middle of the day is that I'm not working full-time, but I digress. The other reality is that I'm finally writing this blog post as a way of procrastinating actual work I need to do tonight.)

So where was I? Oh, yes. Birthday gifts. I picked out board books of some of our favorite stories from when Daniel and Anya were very little (The Napping House, Going on a Bear Hunt, Sheep In a Jeep) and instead of wrapping them in something that would get tossed in the trash right away, I made a gift bag for them.

The bag took less than an hour, I think, to sew up on Saturday morning. I used some UW Badgers fabric and a bit of ribbon, all from my stash. (Why on earth did I have Bucky fabric in the first place? Don't ask.) The design is simple, but I wanted it finished as neatly as possible. I don't think anyone is likely to inspect the details, but I'm enough of a perfectionist that I care, even if no one else does.

I sewed French seams:

I attached a separate strip of fabric with three rows of top stitching for the drawstring casing and added buttonholes for the ribbon.

The books fit in very nicely, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. If everyone and their mother weren't selling stuff like this on Etsy these days I'd probably give it a go. 

When I posted this picture on Instagram, I used the hashtag #stash_less. Stash-Less is a concept discussed in depth by Felicia of The Craft Sessions (click here for all of her posts on the topic) to encourage makers to be more mindful of how they consume craft supplies. I have mixed feelings about my own stash. I know I have enough yarn and fabric to make lots (and lots) of beautiful things for a long time. Years. 

On the one hand, I do feel some guilt and shame for having too much because excess in general really bothers me, and I know that having a large stash is, in some ways, another form of consumerism and materialism. These are not personal attributes I'm proud to possess. On the other hand, I wonder if the negative feelings are in no small part because I live in a culture where women are supposed to feel guilt and shame about nearly everything. Maybe my stash is bigger than it needs to be, but it's a collection of beautiful supplies and materials I've accrued over several years, paid for with my own hard-earned money (mostly - I mean, there have been lovely and thoughtful yarn gifts here and there), and I use those supplies to make beautiful, useful things, many of which I give to others. Why should I feel guilty about that, now?

If I were buying for emotional reasons, or spending money I don't have, this would be a completely different issue. 

So I've decided that while my overall goal is to use up my fabric and yarn faster than I acquire it,  I'm not going to agonize about what I've got. Yes, it's a lot, more than I need right now. Yes, I need to reduce the volume for the sake of storage space. Yes, I ought not pledge not to buy anything for a long time until I can use it up (no promises...someone gave me a lovely gift card to a LYS for Christmas!). But I'm going to actively work against feeling guilt or shame, or even overwhelm, at the amount I have. It won't spoil, after all (unless the m**ths get to the wool.) I'm going to use it, and love it, and maybe give away or sell some things I no longer want. Stash-Less is a good idea, after all!

Now, I really need to get back to work. Freelancing, like using up stash, takes a fair amount of self-discipline.


Jodi said…
What a lovely and thoughtful gift! Our kiddos love those books, esp. Going on a Bear Hunt with the charming illustrations. I actually love the Bucky fabric, but we're a family of proud alumni (BA 00, MA 03 for me). I'll bet that the bag will go to good use for storing things like wooden blocks, etc.

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