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  • Writer's pictureRhona Norrie

Saving 'orts' and what to do with them!

Sounds like some endangered species need our help! But it's's just stitchers with their own lingo :)

So what on earth are 'orts'? Orts, in stitching-speak, stands for 'old ratty threads' or 'odd random threads', basically it's those little bits of thread that you cut when you have finished working on a colour, or the even smaller bits you snip off when you're at the end of a length of thread and can't stitch anymore as there's not enough thread left in the needle. Basically any left over bits threads that you have stitched with.

Many stitchers use a specific container for collecting their orts, it could be an old jam jar, a small vase, a cute box, in fact any type of container will do. I'm sure some visitors to my house are confused as to why there's a jar in my living room containing a veritable rainbow of tiny pieces of threads. Teehee....but now you know!

So why keep those scraps of threads? Good question! First of all, you don't have to keep them, many stitchers just throw them away at the end of their stitching session. I never used to keep mine until I came across a blog post about them and then decided that it would be nice to see how many scraps there were at the end of the year and what colors I had used most of.

This is my ort jar, it's quite small (as I'm the Queen of slow stitching and never have lots of orts!) but if it gets full I just squish the threads down a bit and can add more, but if you're a super-speedy stitcher you can always decant the threads from the small jar and pop them into a bigger jar or even a vase.....whatever container works for you. Check back soon for a tutorial and free chart for the design shown here.

So what do you do with your orts after you have saved them? Lots of stitchers save their orts and use them to stuff ornaments and pincushions. Some save their orts then cut them into tiny bits and leave them out for the birds to make their nests - although I have heard conflicting reports as to whether or not this is a good idea. This is what I do....

Each year I take all the orts and quite literally, stuff them inside a Christmas bauble.

Once the orts are stuffed inside (you can add some sparkly glitter or confetti for more Christmas cheer!) and the bauble closed, all you need to do is grab a bit of Aida, or whatever fabric you like to stitch on, and back stitch the date or something to commemorate the year. Cut your fabric to a size you like and tie to the bauble using the same colour of thread you used for stitching the date or simple is that! You can add a new ornament to your tree every year.

And now treat yourself to a candy cane for all your hard work throughout the year :)

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