Our office overflows with pregnancy (three women due at the same time and one man whose wife is due with twins). It’s a recurring phenomenon – apparently something in the water as it happens every two years or so. As it happens, one of the managers here knits in her spare time and made a beautiful baby blanket for one of the expectant mothers. Oh how people gushed! It was beautiful! How did she do that? Where did she find the time? When did she learn to knit? Etc…etc…
Now, having grown up with a stepmother who can crochet in her sleep, I’ve seen this reaction before (no, I’m not kidding, she’s drifting off to sleep and the fingers are still going!). I even had it myself when she made me a baby blanket for my daughter. For these women, the skill of looping needle and yarn is as simple as boiling water. Baby blankets, afghans, placemats, doilies….all whipped out in amazingly quick time. I have friends who sew, and scrapbook, and make greeting cards – all professional quality and turned out effortlessly. For me it’s making jewelry – earrings, necklaces, etc. All these crafty projects have one thing in common – they are art forms slowly disappearing from society.
Scrapbooking and jewelry making may be million-dollar industries, but they are utilized by a small sect of the population – 98% middle aged women. Crochet and knitting are done by an even smaller group, mostly older women. In a world of instant gratification, why make what you can buy?
Why? Because when you do, people go ape for it! The baby blanket was proof of that! When people realize I made the earrings I’m wearing, I get looks of amazed respect! When my friends whip out something adorable on the sewing machine, they get loads of compliments (and bonus! its way cheaper than the department store version).
There are green movements to get people to go back to basics: ride your bike, compost a garden, plant trees, utilize rain water. Maybe we need a lost arts movement? We should encourage younger generations to knit or crochet, or make preserves (in awesome jars!), or sew, or make pottery, or create stained glass, or weld, or leather tooling, or how to make hand-tied fishing lures (jump in here guys!).
What lost art form do you keep alive? If you can’t answer that – you should go out and learn one. Join the movement and pass it on….