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What Are Orts?


What Are Orts?


© Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com
Question: What Are Orts?

An ort is a leftover bit of thread, or the last bit of thread before snipping and removing what's left from the eye of the needle when working embroidery projects, knitting and crochet projects, or a hand quilting or sewing pattern.

No one really knows where the term originated, but some suspect in may be an abbreviation of a long-forgotten term. Some believe it's an abbreviation of old ratty tails or odd remnants & threads since it often applies to bits of fabric as well as thread.

While most stitchers toss their snippets of embroidery threads into the waste bin after stitching, some embroiderers have saved their orts, offering them up to the backyard birds as nesting material or displaying them in clear glass jars to create a keepsake of their endeavors.

The practice of making ort jars was probably inspired by witch bottles displayed in museums that contain knotted bits of thread and string. The saved fibers were intended to ward away evil spirits or protect the home from evil spells cast by enemies.

To make your own orts jar, save your snippets of thread in a small dish as you work your project, saving them for your orts display. Once you have completed a project, place the bits of thread in a decorative glass bottle or jar. Small, clear antique apothecary jars, perfume bottles, medicine jars or bottles, empty spice jars (labels removed) or salt shakers, small jelly jars, or unusually-shaped jars look particularly pretty when filled with a collection of orts.

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