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A little carried away

I got a little carried away Thursday evening at a quilting auction in Perth.

Elva Jackson, a quilter from the Lanark County Quilting Guild, died last year and her husband donated her fabric stash and quilting books to the Guild for auction. The proceeds went to Dignity House.

I bid early and I bid often. I won the very first lot for $5. By the time the evening was over, I had a big long line of boxes and bins, I was $157 poorer, and people were laughing at me.

I was bidding blind most of the time. Even though I attended the preview, none of the lots were numbered. Once the auction started, one box looked just like another. You could see that there was fabric and books in the lot, but other than that, it was pretty hard to know what you were bidding on exactly.

But…since I’m really into fabric and books, and I’m an incurable optimist, I got carried away. I ended up with 44 quilting books and a bunch of bins of fabric, a bin of quilting needles, a pair of fabric shears, a bunch of unfinished quilting projects, templates, tools, bias tape, magazines, binders of design notes and quilting inspirations, and a lot of scraps. My haul filled the trunk and the back seat.

Once I got it all home, I started digging through it. There were some happy surprises and some not-so-happy surprises. I had to be careful, though, because I found myself starting to develop sentimental attachments to things I didn’t even like, just because they were Elva’s, whom I didn’t even know. It was the strangest thing. I would look at a carefully hand-drawn and labeled template and I’d think about the time she spent drawing it and thinking about it, and I’d start to feel it would be wrong to throw it out. It should be preserved for all eternity because she had died. Is that crazy or what?

I looked up her obituary and it said, among other things, that “to know her was to love her.” I saw a picture of her. I read her quilting notes, and the postcards she’d saved. I started to feel like I knew her.

I remember reading an article written by a professional organizer who worked with people who had hoarding issues. She told the story of one woman whose house was almost like an archeological dig. There were layers in it. Basically, she’d had her own house, which was well organized. But then someone close to her died, and she acquired all this person’s stuff. She couldn’t bring herself to get rid of anything, so she arranged it all on top of her own stuff. And then someone else died, and again she did this. As the professional organizer dug deeper, she realized that under all these layers of other people, was a very well organized life.

I was in danger of doing this with a complete stranger’s stuff. Not only that, but I was about to incorporate her clutter into my own clutter, at a time in my life when I’m trying to declutter!

In the end, I kept most of it, but I forced myself to throw out a bunch of stuff that I knew in my heart of hearts I would never use and probably nobody else would either. I have another box of stuff that other people might want. Do you want anything?

6 comments to A little carried away

  • Can I play professional organizer with you for a moment? You know the drill – keep, trash, and donate? I think because of the value you place on things you need to focus your decluttering on the donate pile. If I were to give you an assignment on one of those shows it would be to make a list of groups to donate to. Not an anonymous come get my junk charity – organizations that will value what you have to give away. Then when you approach a category of stuff – like craft supplies – you will be better able to decide if the value is real, or imagined, and you’ll already have made the decision you don’t need it, so it will firmly find a place in either the donate or trash pile.

    As to stuff I need. We’re decorating Nature Girl’s room Her reading corner has a vinyl loveseat in it. I need to cover it with a throw so it’s comfy to sit on and not black. Her room is full of all sorts of colours and is painted a midtone shaded teal and her bookshelves are getting painted green. She was suggesting purple to cover the couch but we’re open to anything. Got anything that might fit the bill? Her style is decidedly eclectic and I’m using single colour saris to curtain her closet and window.

  • Brilliant. You’re absolutely right. I would happily re-home many, many things if I knew they would be used/appreciated/loved by others. I feel like I am Stuff’s Last Chance. I hate deciding that anything is worthless.

    I picked up something at the Old Ottawa South Porch Sale on Saturday that might work for Nature Girl’s room. It’s primarily coral and floral. There are white petals and green bits on it too. I’ll send you a photo!

  • I think you probably got a pretty good deal for what you spent.

    If you have any fabric scraps you won’t be using, I’d be happy to take them off your hands – maybe trade them for some homemade cat-nip toys for Duncan? I’m hoping to make my neice a pile of barbies dresses for Christmas.

    • I’ll be happy to send you some fabric, Valerie. And Duncan would love some catnip toys. Send me your address, and I’ll send some fabric that Barbie might like.

  • Okay, I just sent pix to your gmail address.