June 23, 2018
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Milk crates help tame fabric stash

By Ardeana Hamlin, BDN Staff

One of the best things ever given to me was half a dozen plastic milk crates last spring. These came my way from a friend who had filled them with kindling wood intended for the fireplace of another friend who had just moved to a new home. I didn’t expect to keep the milk crates, but months went by and the crates remained in my shed, unclaimed by the woodcutting friend, who, much to my regret, moved away, leaving the milk crates to fend for themselves.

When summer came, I needed something to serve as an outdoor table between two lawn chairs so I pressed into service one of the milk crates. Then I needed stands for a half-dozen geraniums in pots I wanted to tuck into a sheltered corner outside my house, out of the wind and protected from the sun during the hottest part of the day. So I pressed two more milk crates into service. I still had five others, and I got to thinking: Why not use those milk crates to organize my fabric stash?

That took some work. First, the milk crates had to be scrubbed clean of a summer’s worth of dust after being stored in the shed for weeks. I hosed them down, went at them with a scrub brush and left them to dry outdoors in the warm September sun.

The next step required me to wallow through a few plastic tubs and half a dozen shelves brimming with lengths of fabric and enough fabric scraps to quilt from here to eternity.

Sorting through the cloth was fun and reacquainted me with what I had tucked away and in some cases forgotten, such as the cotton batik fabric decorated with a delicate frond design. I also unearthed a cardboard box of material in shades of mostly orange, red and yellow — prints, plain and striped. Whatever was I thinking? Clearly, the contents of that box will require some creative thought on my part. I look forward to that.

I transferred some of the fabric stored on the shelves into the milk crates turned on their sides. This arrangement keeps the fabric nicely corralled, prevents the stack from falling over and makes it easy to see what’s in the pile.

The task of sorting and storing didn’t take a lot of time, and going through the stash served as a refresher course, reminding me of projects I had dreamed up months — and years — ago, but had forgotten or put aside as daily life intervened.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 8, I went to the Winterport Clippers quilt show at the Frankfort Congregational Church. The pews were draped with gorgeous examples of the quilt group’s works, including fabric bowls. The quilts on display reflected their makers’ lively sense of color and design. A few vintage quilts also were on display, a grace note of color subdued by time.

The quilt show offered quilt-related items for sale. Guess what I came home with? Yes — several bundles of quarter-yard pieces of fabric. Good thing my fabric stash has been rearranged.


Here’s another reason to rejoice: The Eastern States Exposition and New England Sheep and Wool Growers Association will sponsor the second annual Fiber Festival of New England, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, in the Mallary Complex on the Eastern States Exposition grounds in West Springfield, Mass. The idea is to promote the use of wool, other natural fibers and related items.

The event offers shopping, exhibits, demonstrations and workshops. The festival also will feature a Fiber Fashion Show at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.

Admission is $5, free to children under 12.

Volunteers are needed for the festival. For more information, visit FiberFestival.com or call 413-205-5011.


In last week’s column I reviewed Robin Hansen’s new book, “Ultimate Mittens.” Many readers called to ask where to get the book, a detail I neglected to put in the column. Check with your local bookstores or local libraries, call publisher Down East at 800-685-7962 or visit downeast.com.

Call Ardeana Hamlin at 990-8153 or email ahamlin@bangordailynews.com.

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