Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All things home

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know my love for everything home-made, home-grown, home-spun, home-cooked... well, you get the idea. :o)

There's just something very special, a personal touch, to things that are made at home with the thought of the one(s) that will eventually be using them - something that is lost in the era of mass manufacturing and de-personalization of homes, clothes, food and people.

Mass production is convenient. In the past, everyone made everything from scratch for themselves - food, clothes, even houses, with the entire family, often extended family, working together. Not having to do that frees up a lot of time for personal pursuits, but we pay the price of fast-paced life, detached families, and constant fatigue. Somehow, with all our miraculous modern appliances, computers, convenience foods, dishwashers and cars, it doesn't seem we work less. Expectations have soared along with the convenience of everyday life. We are in charge of more possessions and larger houses which require more upkeep, most of which we are expected to do on our own.

Perhaps not many of us would like to go back in time to a period when we'd have to chop wood for fire and carry home heavy buckets of water from the well multiple times a day. But I think many are looking for a quieter, simpler and more meaningful life, which is achieved most naturally and blissfully in a home setting.

I think that is why so many people nowadays are getting back to trying their hand in hobbies which require manual skills and quite a bit of time and patience - sewing, knitting, stitching, making soap and candles, canning and preserving, and many more. From scoffing at these traditional skills, now seemingly "unneeded", people are going back to valuing them and hurrying to learn the secrets of traditional home keeping before they are lost forever. Perhaps we (well, most of us, anyway) no longer milk our own goats and spin our own wool from the sheep we sheared, but many make homemade gifts for their loved ones and enjoy filling a multitude of jars by a generous summer harvest, just the way their grandmothers did.

In the pictures above, you can see the beginning of a crocheted scarf. Crocheting is one handy hobby I acquired before marriage, and I'm so glad I did - it's so much more difficult to find the time to learn new skills once you are married, have a home to run all on your own, and little ones come along.

I think the educational value of growing and making things at home cannot be overestimated. There are just so many opportunities to teach your children this way, while having fun and making real useful things with real tools at the same time, with a most interesting process along the way. Digging in the garden is both more fun and more effective than looking at diagrams of plants in a workbook. Harvesting what you have grown teaches the connection between land, plants and the food that ends up on our table. Teaching a child how to knit or crochet teaches patience, perseverance, and satisfaction in a job well done. Just compare this to passive entertainment such as watching TV, and things that pass for "education" these days.

There are many things I would like to try, or learn better, such as knitting or candle-making. I'm not sure when time will allow me to do that. In the meantime, I'm happy with what I can do, and inspired by the work of other people. Inspired to live slowly, peacefully, with a presence of mind and time - at home.


Jan Hatchett said...

My hobby that "called" me was quilting. I grew up watching my Granny and Mom put quilt tops together. Even so, they didn't teach me to sew at all. Once I was married, I was just drawn to it and have learned through books, the internet, classes, and asking questions. I have made many useful items and spent many enjoyable hours working on my quilts!

Kimberly said...

Oh I agree. There are some modern conveniences that are a true blessing, and some that just seem like one.

Like a washing machine-now that's a true blessing. Women used to spend almost all their time on laundry, but the washing machine frees up time do other things-like canning or crocheting.