Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Homemaking Arts

Yesterday after getting a massage (thanks to my great friend Roz at Cleansing Springs!) I headed over to the library since it's right nearby. I had forgotten how much I love going to the library - all those books, and they're FREE. It's like Christmas! I usually get books on a theme, so this time I checked out their local Florida section (replete with gardening guides and cookbooks) and their craft section (how-to books mostly).

The Benedictine Melk Library in Austria, courtesy of Emgonzalez

I successfully navigated my way around the gardening and cooking books. But then I came to the 600s and gaped. There's a difference between knitting and crocheting? Needlepoint and embroidery? Does anybody  hand quilt? I realized in that moment how little I know about homemaking arts, and how their decline is probably the number one reason why people ask me, "what do you do all day if you don't work and don't have kids!?!" Women back in the day were probably quite busy, but now, if you buy everything, what DO you do? My mom has also pointed out that it used to be cheaper to make your own clothes, but that it's not true anymore. You can get kids dresses on clearance at target for $5, but you can't make one for that amount.  Granted, it probably balances out if you're making in bulk and of course the quality is probably better if you make it yourself, but strict financials might go to the side of buying clothes at least.

Girls used to learn these things from their mothers, I suppose. I just never did. Now, my mother was excellent at most of these things: cooking, keeping a beautiful home (decorating AND cleaning), sewing, quilting, and gardening. Kim enjoyed needlepoint, I seem to remember, and I think my mom has a framed sampler of hers. I just never learned anything but cooking and keeping house (although I seem to have really been failing at that last part lately...). And I realize now that I want to. There is little I love more than when I get things done around the house, and I get so excited for Tom to come home and see what I've done. I love having others over and opening our home to them. I don't care if it's dated or that some people think it's silly. 

Can anyone tell me where this picture came from? I found it online only after MUCH searching, since I've seen it in stores before, but couldn't find the title or artist. 

The truth is that I am proud of working in the home, more proud than anything I have ever done as a student or professionally. I receive greater peace working at home, helping others, gardening, cooking, learning to serve, than I have in my studies of history, politics or the law. I cannot express how ashamed I am that it took me 8 years, several degrees, and thousands of dollars to learn this. I wish I had known sooner! But at least I am doing his will now, and if I am called outside the home, I am sure I will follow. But for now, I want to learn more - I want to learn knitting, crocheting, quilting, needlepoint, and sewing...I want to be a woman who can do things with her hands, not just think of great -ologies and -isms. I got a book on knitting at the library, so maybe I'll start there. My neighbor can sew, and Cam can do anything, so I'm sure I can ask for help as I learn...! 

I hope you all are finding some activity that lights up your mind and heart to learn this New Year. Even if you think it's too late to acquire a skill, remember it's never too late to be what you might have been (George Eliot, aka Mary Ann Evans). And on a light-hearted note, remember we women can always find one way to make our husbands happy:

This is Tom's favorite sexist 1950s add. We spent a little bit this morning looking up some of them and dying laughing. This one he seemed to take quite seriously.


  1. You can definitely ask for help if you get stuck! And YouTube is great too. Whenever I can't figure out what a knitting term means because I haven't used it in a while, I search for it on YouTube and there's instantly a clear demonstration of how to do it!

    And, while we were lucky to have an optional quilting class in middle school (after school), all the other stuff I've learned since I got married, so I'm relatively new to it too!

    My biggest beginning knitting tip is not to pull the yarn to tight, because it makes the whole process much harder!

    Anyways! We definitely have to get together this week if you have a break! See you soon!

  2. It also took me many years, two degrees, and a ridiculously large student loan to figure out my vocation was at home! Of course, I can't do that (for a few reasons) until I have a baby, so I'm stuck for a bit. But I have been trying to get started on some things, so I took a beginner's knit class last Thursday. It has been very frustrating so far, but I'm trying my hardest not to give up (the old me would have given up, the new me realizes I won't ever do anything 100% if I always give up when it's hard!). Let me know how you like the book- at this rate, I might need to check one out after the class is over lol!

  3. I think having the time and opportunity to be a homemaker before having kids is a real blessing and gift. Enjoy this time! I dream of when my kids leave home and I can just "putter around the house", volunteer, pursue hobbies, learn new skills, read lots of books, learn a new language, etc. Learning how to garden, and cook and decorate and knit and crochet would be a 1000% easier before you have kids. I also think that learning how to structure your time and be productive even when you don't HAVE to (because you don't have a boss, or a deadline, or an exam to study for, or whatever) is really important and something that many people never really figure out.

    Sounds like you are making really productive use of your time. That's awesome! I want to learn all those things too, but it's a lot harder with kids (and homeschooling).

  4. The photo of laundry I believe is by a guy with the last name bouggero--Italian. Nelson fine arts has a lot of his prints for sale (my husband used to work for them). Good luck searching!


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