Do You Collect, Use, or Both?

Boy is that a loaded question! I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world I’m asking about! Many people are collectors. They collect all kinds of things. It could be stamps (not a lot of people do that any more). You might collect china dolls or bottle caps. There are as many different things to collect as there are material things in this world. No collection is right or wrong, although I can think of a few from movies I’ve seen that would seem a little on the bizarre or just gross or unethical side. Each person is unique and therefore their collections are unique as well.

Are you a user? Hmmm That could lead into a very a broad spectrum of ideas of the term “user.” I’m not talking about being the user of drugs or an abuser of drugs. I’m not even talking about being a user of people, which many people blame others for doing in their lives. No I’m talking about, do you USE the things you collect? Or are the things you collect allowed to just sit and collect dust, never being touched by human hands except to be dusted, never used for the purpose they were made for, never repurposing their old use into one of new usefulness?

Or are you one that does a little bit of both? Do you collect some things that just sit and collect dust, looking pretty upon a shelf or being carefully locked away until a later time maybe for children needing to grow up. And at the same time have other things that you’ve collected strictly for the sole purpose of using to its fullest or at least once for the purpose it was intended.

You may not know this yet–if you have not followed my past blog, or if you have no background at all of me from somewhere in your wanderings to get to this point in a blog post of mine, but I am a former Home Economics teacher. I grew up the only child of an Air Force Chaplain and an extremely talented stay at home Mom. She was very gifted in the art of sewing and tailoring. She taught me how to sew beginning at the age of 4. Mom and Dad had both lived through the Great Depression as young children and they were as a result very thrifty. That’s not to say they didn’t buy things or didn’t get the things we needed–and often the things I wanted. But they were also not the ones to just throw money out the window out for things. They did LOTS of bargain shopping. Auctions and thrift stores were my parents favorite places to shop.

Things that might have a purpose someday were never thrown away in my house. So tin cans from any vegetable, soup or cat food was always washed out well, rinsed and stored away just in case we needed it–and all of those cans did come in handy at one point in my Dad’s life when Mom became very ill. He bought a ton (that’s not an exaggeration, that is, he bought a literal ton) of nuts, bolts, and screws at one point. While Mom was in and out of the hospital or was too sick to get up to do anything on her own, he would often sit there with a big bowl full out of the ton of screws and sit and sort all of them into those different cans by type, size, shape, color. He’d spend hours sorting them knowing that at some point he could use them.

They saved magazines and books–oh my did they have magazines and books. At one point in my life I think we owned enough books to fill a library. And indeed many of their books and magazines were donated to libraries that Dad went to the most often frequenting their Friends of the Library sales. A good number of them went to a near by college library with a large religion and philosophy curriculum.

But the question came to me as I was sitting collecting free embroidery designs and quilt patterns from different embroidery and quilt designers the other day. Do I just collect all of these beautiful designs or will I ever use them all? It is true that I digitize. I can’t digitize everything that I have collected. There are many things I can’t do–I either never learned how to in the first place or I have forgotten how to because I have not done so in such a long time. Of course, the fact that I often have very, very poor short term memory doesn’t help things either.

I love the designs others make. I love to see the skill sets that each designer has and how they best make use of it. Whether it is an embroidery design that someone has spent countless hours manually hand punching or one that someone has just hit a button for the computer to manually digitize (and many you can tell the difference), I love to see new ideas. Because there are SO many new and different people digitizing embroidery designs now, there are as many different and varied styles of designs as there are people.

Some designs you can look at and almost peg exactly who the designer was (or narrow it down to one of a group several that use the same style and same colors). Others their designs are so outside the box you wonder what exactly what they were thinking when they made the design. Still others have so much beauty is no longer considered just an embroidery design, but the beginning of a piece of art that you can create. Each designer is special, each designer has a skill set, each designer spends precious time and energy and puts not only their talent but many times their emotions into their work. I love that about their work as well.

And I so appreciate every free design they offer to the public. Yes it is often a marketing ploy to get you to their website, to get you to try their designs. After all, if you like how a design is digitized and stitches out, the more likelihood you will return to their website to get another free design or to buy a design or two or more. And before long they have a loyal customer. It’s a proven way to gain loyal customers and fans of your work. Because I have been in their place before, I often collect the free designs, but I also often go back to purchase an item as well.It may not be a large purchase, but it will be something.

It is the same way with quilt patterns and quilt designers. I have my favorite designers that I follow of course. And the favorites often are doing free block of the months. Do I collect all of the blocks for those quilts? You bet I do. Do I get them all done? Never. Do I get half of them done? Rarely. Do I always start all of the block of the months that I collect? Oh but NO!!! Even though theoretically, if you only did 1 block everyday for 30 days, you’d be able to complete 30 different blocks of the month. Notice I did say theoretically. I can’t ever seem to get more than 1 or 2 done within those 30 days. Life just seems to get in the way–or my adult ADD gets in the way and I find every distraction in the world that keeps me from getting things done.

So once again, I ask Are you a Collector? User? or Both? Personally, I’m a bit of both. I’d like to be a LOT MORE of both than I currently am. But I need to get either more motivated, more disciplined, or more focused. And I’m not sure which it is. Of course, I need to spend less time on this computer as well. But I’m not sure that will happen–that goes along with that discipline thing.

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