This business is built on a skill that comes from my hands, a skill that has been passed down for many generations. We learn the skills necessary for survival from our elders. For better or for worse, we mimic the behaviors, patterns, and the habits of those who have reared us. If we are lucky, we receive a nuanced legacy from those who come before us. The more we listen, watch, observe and absorb, the more conscious we may be about how life may have been before us. We are able to draw parallels to the present and the future and increase our capacity for compassion, we may even identify that which may be universal.
The legacy of hand crafts, very much like the legacy of cooking is formed by the translation of the imagination into a practical application, often driven by need and always informed by the resources of the surrounding environment. These elements form our cultural identity. When I asked both of my grandmothers where they learned to knit, embroider, crochet, they described a time where everyone knew how. It was like learning to write, perhaps even more ubiquitous for women. Their understanding—both having come from very different places in the world—is that every generation within memory possessed and shared these skills. Hand crafts exist in a place similar to oral history, if not recorded those skills can vanish with the oldest living member of a culture. Anyone who makes things with their hands knows that the transmission of a skill from person to person is different than learning from a book.
Randomly digging through the internet, looking for answers to the simple question, “where does this skill originate?” has been personally illuminating. Within a consumptive culture, I struggled many times to find a broader meaning of putting things I have made into the world. Reaching far back for me has deepened my sense of meaning, and for the next while I hope to inspire you as well. I am researching knitting, crocheting, the act of creating a fabric by organizing a matrix of loops. Regardless of the skill, I aim to create a discourse, have conversations, hear and share stories. There is power that comes from our hands, they are our direct tool for manifestation. When a race of people is erased, so are their skills. To me it is the subtleties of life, those things that appeal to our rich senses that make it worth living. The perceived value associated with handwork is directly influenced by economics, relationships of labor and industrialization. Every time we pick up a tool to mend, to draw, to build, to nourish, on some level we connect to our ancestors. This is one of many ways to unlearn taking this world for granted.
Images top to bottom: Crochet needles from the The Maglemose Culture (9000-6400 BC), photo: A. Hobbes, photo: Julia Burlingham