The term “ort” originally meant a scrap of leftover food, but I’ve long heard the term applied to the ends of thread one snips off and generally discards from a sewing project. Some say ORT stands for “old ratty threads,” and I like the way the word works in both contexts at once. Wordnerd over here. Geeking out over language.

I’m not sure when I first discovered ORT jars, possibly on Hugs Are Fun! when she started posting photos of hers along with Daffycat’s TUSAL. In any case, I think they’re a lovely way to keep your bits of thread. They’re like an art project that shows a timeline of your stitching, and, of course, they also appeal to my hoarder tendencies. So when I visited my mom earlier in the week and noticed she had a tall glass pickle jar sitting on the kitchen counter, the first thing I thought was that it would make a great ORT jar.

ort jar 3

Also, I love that my mom had run this jar through the dishwasher and cleaned it up, not because she had any specific purpose in mind for it, but because it was a nice jar, and it “seemed like a shame to throw away such a nice jar.” I concurred. And I took that jar home and gave it a place on my sewing table. (After I took some pretty pictures of it outside, because the light is better outside.)

ort jar 2

Mom thinks it will take forever to fill the jar with ort, and I think she underestimates how much stitching I do. Up to this point, I’ve been throwing my bits and ends in the trash, admittedly only after piling them on the corner of the coffee table or the arm of the couch, or after dropping them on the floor and tracking them about the house for days. I’m not the persnickety-est housekeeper. (Which is  really just another way to say I’m a total slob while still practicing self-compassion.) Sometimes when I stitch outside, I’ll just throw the bits in the grass, thinking they’ll pretty up some bird’s nest nicely. YOU’RE WELCOME, birds!

So here are the first tiny bits to grace the jar.

ort jar

I’m sure they won’t be lonely long.

What do you do with your ort? Save or toss? And do you throw out nice jars, or find new uses for them? 🙂


7 thoughts on “ORT Jar

  1. All yarn ends and thread ends go in a basket for the birds. Then I hang the basket in a large shrub, a safe enough distance from the ground to give protection from lurking cats.

  2. I’ve never heard the term ort before. I love that your mom just saved that jar because it was a nice jar – my mom has done the exact same thing (and passed that trait on to me).

    I have one of those fabric bags that hangs from my sewing table, and most of my threads end op there. When I embroider, they tend to pile up on the corner of the coffee table until I throw them out. I should put them in the backyard for the birds, though!

  3. I started an ORT jar this year; just a Moccona jar as I love the shape. It’s nearly full, and I have about 1/4 of a brandy glass here on my desk at work. Zeb and Anne say that they use the threads to stuff an ornament at Christmas; I think I will do that too as I have no big trees around for a nest.

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