Talking With Martha Stewart About Bygone Crafting Skills
I’m a big fan of Martha Stewart and I like to think she’s my crafty kindred spirit. Not only do we both love to bake and make DIY projects, but we’re both also alumnas of Barnard College. When I was offered the opportunity to interview her over the phone about her latest how-to book, “Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids,” I was really excited! I found Martha to be a funny and engaging person — and she spoke openly about some bygone handcrafting skills that are slowly disappearing.
Some of these skills include sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidering, hemming, measuring hats, setting collars, making the back of shirts, gathering a ruffle, and tatting. Even though I consider myself crafty with other little-known skills like quilling and heat embossing, I could check off only two of the skills she mentioned (sewing and and knitting), but even they’re basic at best (I never mastered a sewing machine). And I had no clue what tatting was (turns out, it’s the process of making lace by hand using loops and knots…not the process of making tattoos). While knitting has seen a revival in the past decade and sites like Etsy.com and Folksy.com show there are communities focused on artisanal products, most handcrafting skills are not commonly used. While I can certainly learn these skills in short-term group classes, they often come with a hefty price tag.
Skills that are fading away can be more than ones related to handcrafting — they can be any specific ones that were once popular or common but have now disappeared (or are in the process of disappearing). An article in the February issue of Parents magazine (“Skills of Tomorrow“) focused on how old-school educational skills (cursive writing, library research, and analog time-telling) are now being replaced by new-school skills (keyboarding, online research, and digital time-telling).
I’m a millennial, which means I’m part of the generation that relies heavily on technology (smartphones, computers, tablets) to communicate and to make life easier (like buying an embroidered pillow rather than making one). As technology keeps changing and expanding and our lifestyles keep getting faster and faster, there is certainly less focus on slowing down and taking time to create and make things with our hands. So all this got me thinking: What other skills are we losing or have we lost? Share with me your thoughts below!
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