Saturday, June 23, 2012


Every day I read crafty blogs with pleasure and interest. Sewing, knitting, dyeing, stitching, home-dec – whatever DIY projects people come up with. I love to watch people become aware that they can indeed Make Stuff and I love it even more when it’s not just pretty stuff but actually really useful too. I want to see everyone blending the me-mades into their real life to the point where it just becomes absolutely normal. Yes you can. We did.

We’re swiftly coming up to T-Man’s and my 41st wedding anniversary early next month. No, I’m not soliciting congratulations. (Though it seems like that’s a big deal to some it’s just another day! We try to celebrated them all. Heh.) But as I sit here on my bed with my little netbook plugged in beside me, I suddenly realised how much I’m surrounded by things that we have either made or made over in those 4+ decades. The rag quilt (sewn) and woollen blanket (dyed and woven) on the bed, the bed itself (woodwork), the headboard (rug hooked), the 3 small rugs on the floor (one latch hooked, 2 handspun and woven), the trunk (family antique, painted and upholstered), the vintage bureau (new handles and painted), the desk (another family antique, stripped and refinished). And that list doesn’t include the smaller things like the handwoven runner on the antique dresser, the bowls (woodturned) that hold jewelry (mostly me-made) and coins, and let us not forget a lot of the clothing in the closet (woven, knitted, sewn, crocheted). There’s also more handmade stuff in the bedroom not made by us but by other people. And this is one single room in our house. I could give you a similar list for every other room.

But I won’t bore you to death! I realise that T and I were kids in the 1950’s when everyone was trying to put the WWII deprivations behind them and pretending to be the Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver families. We were teenagers in the Beatle-mad and Mad Men ‘60’s and young parents who where just trying to get established in the ‘70’s with little money and less credit. What a lot of younger people might not know is that there was quite a strong movement towards “back to the land” and DIY that is kind of mirrored today in the “green” and “sustainable” movements. The difference today is the Internet which allows information to be transferred among all the like-minded so much easier than in the past. You want to learn how to do something and there’s 217 blogs, 25 videos and a Craftsy course available! It’s truly amazing. Don’t take it all for granted, ‘kay? I still remember how hard it was to learn to use my first spinning wheel with nobody around to teach me.

Now do NOT get me started on how busy everyone complains they are these days! You have the same 24/7 as folks have had since folks began. And nowadays there’s also washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, vacuums, lawnmowers, cars, child care and schools. You don’t have to cook over an open flame nor grow, harvest, dye, spin and weave all of the textiles in your house. Unless, of course, you want to! It’s all about priorities. People have an uncanny ability to find the time to do what they want to do badly enough. Think about it.

Yeah, I know. This post is swiftly getting out of hand. (Hah! Pun.) And no pictures to distract you either. Didactic Damselfly. Actually what got me thinking hard was following a link to this article. It’s an excerpt from Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, a book by Elizabeth L. Cline. I’m sure there’s much more food for thought in there but I’d be afraid I wouldn’t want to buy anything ever again which isn’t realistic. However, now that we’re on A Fixed Income, I’m quite pleased with the way my wardrobe is becoming even more Me than it already was and all without buying anything except sewing supplies. And I’m even swearing off that as long as I can stand it and just working from the stash…er, stashes. Perhaps I’ll make an exception for thread or zippers or the like – but only if there’s absolutely nothing suitable available in-house. Let’s see how long I can go! Me-Make with Me-Stash.

Changing the subject entirely, I was really happy that we did NOT go camping this weekend. Although yesterday morning was pretty nice, it went downhill into sogginess as predicted. I never did get out into the garden. We went to a movie instead.

Sidebar: “Prometheus” in 3D is really excellent! I almost forgot I was wearing the stupid glasses on top of my own because I was too busy rooting for Noomi’s character. Do I detect the hint of a sequel some day? I want to find out what happens next.

Stoopid weather. It rained hard all night but this morning of course, just to tease us, it’s sunny out again. OK. Done. Now lets all go make something.


Heather said...

I was a teenager in the '70's and that's when I learned how to spin, weave and sew. I was lucky to go a high school with a great applied design program. Ahh, those were the days. I am happy to see the DIY movement happening now, but it is a wee bit annoying that some of the kids act like they invented it! It's been just a couple of generations from the time when people had no choice but to make things themselves.

Valerie said...

Interesting essay....thank you for the food for thought.

Also, thank you for the link to the Slate article.

Louisa said...

I took applied design too, Heather. That's how I learned how to dye with Procion MX. "Acting like they invented it" is just enthusiasm talking!

Glad to present some ideas for you to ponder, Valerie!

Sharon in Surrey said...

Ahhhh . . Yes. What's old is new again!! They used to tell us that back in the 70s when we put our bras back on & settled down with our spinning & knitting. Like you, I had no one other than Coquitlam Crafts where I bought the Indian spinner or Place des Arts where I took both of the spinning/nature dyeing classes. I was on my own. We baked & sewed & knit & canned & recycled before we had microwave ovens, breadmakers & computers. But it's so much easier today!

Urban Rustic said...

I much prefer to make my own things rather than just go out and buy over priced rubbish from the same shops that can be found all over the country that all the rest of the population are buying from.I have made the effort to wear at least one item of me made clothing each day since June 2011 and very often I wear an outfit that is entirely me made.Likewise much of the things in my house are me made or have been made by other family members including towels,rugs,spoons and entire chairs.I think it is a shame when I am invited into other houses and everything within it has been bought..but it wouldn't be right if we were all the same I suppose!