The Sweet and Sinister Swap was ostensibly about Halloween. But I wanted to make some things for Ms. B that would be useful year round. She shared a lot about herself with me in various communications, so I felt like I got a good idea of what she would use year round. She is an avid crafter- she even does it on vacation and on her daily commute- and has dabbled in cross stitch so this seemed like the perfect thing for her:
A matchbox Ort Box/Scissor Fob (A matchbox covered in black print calico with a patch of black work embroidery and ribbon for embellishment) and a beaded mini stitching châtelaine (needle threader and a needle mounted as a stitching pick with a black and white enamel "starry" focus bead and glass accent beads).
Orts are the tiny snippets of thread left over from sewing and embroidery. For many generations and in many cultures these bits of thread held great importance. On a base level, they represented a part of a resource (thread) that still had use as fire starter materials, stuffing, etc. But there was a higher significance as well. These were remnants of the spirit of the artists or crafts persons who used them. So, like hair or cast off clothes, orts gained a spiritual designation and were saved for special uses. They have been found in “Witch Jars” in Viking Era York and Colonial Era New England in both Pagan and Christian context. In Latin America, they are mixed in with the straw in the Christmas Manger Scene. Overall, they are considered to be lucky and full of positive energy.
In the Appalachians , where my family is from, orts are used to help keep good luck near. My Great Grandmother Neal would collect them in a jar. Each time she put one in the she would say “Snip, snap, good luck trap.” When she would empty out the jar she would say a prayer and say “Tangle up every bane, let not a piece remain.” She would always empty the jar outside so the birds could use the orts to decorate their nests and surround the house with good fortune. There are many ways to save orts. Some people put them in a jar or vase. Others pack them into little bags to use for pin cushions. The little box I made is meant to collect them when stitching on the go so that they can be saved for later.