Faculty Publications

Title

MY collection is bigger than yours: Tales from the handcrafter's stash

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Collection, Craft, Handcraft, Material culture, Stash

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Home Cultures

Volume

5

Issue

2

First Page

197

Last Page

218

Abstract

Those who create domestic arts and handcrafts are quite familiar with the term "stash" and may even have one (or more). While it is not a reference to addictive drugs (or is it?), questions regarding the stash illuminate the themes that exist within the stash and the "lifeworlds" of the collectors of the stash. The present paper focuses on the material culture, specifically the meaning and role of the stash in the lives of handcrafters. Through extensive participant observation and communication with a range of handcrafters (e.g. knitters, crocheters, quilters), we explore the many layers of stashes in handcrafters' lives. This exploration contextualizes the handcrafter in relation to their stash. Handcrafters collectively refer to their collections as "stash," hoard whatever they collect over time, find un/official support groups to support their habits, and together strategize hiding places and storage. Collecting, hoarding, and hiding stash is quite normal for crafters, yet such acts are often deviant to others, particularly those who share their living space. Often the stash is portrayed negatively by non-crafting family members and friends, as well as the popular media, and sometimes even by handcrafters themselves. In defending the time and space used to store materials, handcrafters must engage in subterfuge to enjoy their hobbies under the radar of other family members. As cultural producers, we are faced with the realization of the presence of our respective stashes (e.g. the overstock of raw materials used in making cultural objects). The handcrafter continues to acquire and stash fabric, yarn, floss, etc. despite how much space the stash demands, or how the stash influences relationships with others. The larger social structures of family, work and friends shape how we think about our stashes. The present research explores the material culture of stashes, and what we as social scientists can learn from them.

Original Publication Date

7-1-2008

DOI of published version

10.2752/174063108X333182

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