Orts are those little pieces of left-over thread snippets that collect when you’re working on an embroidery project. If you don’t have a place to put them as you work, a resulting stringy mass that spreads itself over your work area could result. In fact, rarely do those little strings restrict themselves to the work area. They stick on clothes, they trail across carpets, they bear witness to the fact that this is the home of a needleworker.
My mind turns to orts – to all trailing, clinging embroidery threads – especially in winter. In winter, orts show their power of perseverence, their determination to adhere to all things, in any place, at every opportunity. And they don’t always show themselves right away, once they’ve found a host. No, often they wait, secluded, then rear their little heads at the workplace, or in company…
You always know when The Ort has materialized upon the scene: your co-worker, in earnest conversation with you, suddenly loses eye contact. The eye flits from you, to your shoulder. Then back to you. Then back to your shoulder. Suddenly, the focus of the conversation is gone. You try to revive it and redirect it; finally, the cause is revealed: “Uh…. you have a thread….” as your co-worker gingerly removes the offensive Ort from its transient throne.
In winter, The Ort has two accomplices in its parasitical work: warm and fuzzy clothes, and that energetic little wonder called Static Cling. The latter is perhaps the more irritating. I am not a great fan of Static Cling, yet I live in a dry, cold climate in winter, I’m prone to wearing skirts and sweaters to work, I use a dryer, and so Static Cling is, at least to some degree, inevitable. To best express my feelings about Static Cling, I wrote a poem about it a while ago, which I’ll share with you here so that you have no doubt where I stand on the subject:
by Mary Corbet
I dislike, despise, truly disdain
Abhor, detest, find quite inhumane
That horrid, despicable, bothersome thing…
That great irritation we call Static Cling.
In my sheets, my skirt, my socks, my shirt
On rugs, on wood, on vinyl, on dirt —
No matter how calm, no matter how hectic,
I hate to encounter this cling that’s electric.
That about sums it up!
So, in winter, we have at least one more big reason to be wary of orts and to make an extra effort to tame them.
Yesterday, I tamed mine, and we’re all a lot happier for it.
I was dealing with a bit of static in my sweater, and I noticed that, after sitting in my favorite spot to stitch, a small army of Orts were attempting a foray on my arm. Odd, since I have a handy Ort Bin hanging from the arm of the chair, into which all Orts are unceremoniously stuffed once used to their potential.
I made this little bin from two placemats I picked up for very little on clearance at Target. If you haven’t seen my little article on constructing a thread catcher, you can check that out, if you wish. It’s nothing fancy-schmancy, and there are no extras to it, but it works. This is what it looks like:
Well, it wasn’t working yesterday! And I discovered why. The Orts were full up! So I emptied the pouch, and this is what I had:
The whole heap was about the size of a volleyball, when taken out of its compressed state in the Ort Bin. No wonder they were venturing forth to habitate my arm! There was no breathing space!
Oh. Do you see what that is?
Now, do you see? It’s a length of pearl purl – 2% pearl purl – with some silk wrapped around it.
I suppose those dear Orts could tell us a lot about ourselves! But though I’m in the mood to wax poetic, I am not up to waxing philosophical or psychological right now. I’ll leave that for you to think about!
This is the thing: I started picking over that little pile of offensive, instrusive Orts, and I could connect almost all the threads, or clumps of threads, to a particular project I’ve worked on that I enjoyed. And some pieces I rescued altogether, because I knew I could use them for something. Like the pearl purl – what a waste, to resign it to the Ort Bin.
By the time I was finished, I realized that The Orts are not quite so offensive, after all. Intrusive, maybe… but not offensive!
So the ort bin is empty, back in its place, awaiting new threads.
And while I was at it, I decided to remove all the pins and needles from one of those really expensive pin cushions, also known as “the couch”:
Yes, this is the home of a needleworker. But it’s time to be a bit less obvious about it!