So, as I’m reviving this blog (though, “reviving” is a generous term, since I’ve managed to forget to post for ten days), I’ve been thinking about what I want from this space, and what I hope to contribute to others from this space. And so, with this sort of navel-gazing in mind, I’ve been trying to come up with lists of things I’d like to cover.
But, all of that is kind of secondary to who I am, and what I believe in, particularly as it relates to hand and home crafts.
I happen to believe that craft work- particularly skilled craft work, such as knitting, woodworking, gardening, and sewing (and cooking and baking, to a degree) are incredibly mentally active fields of pursuit, if you chose to engage in them as such. Matthew B. Crawford talks about some of this in his book Shop Craft as Soulcraft, which is pretty well distilled in this essay of his. This mental engagement is part of why I love farming, as well as my craft work.
A lot of this sentiment- this deep respect for the difficulties of working with physical things to create or repair them- is deeply political. I wasn’t raised to respect these types of work- my family considered them to be largely inappropriate for someone of my intelligence, and for the number of opportunities available to me. I don’t think it’s going to blow anyone’s mind to say that certain jobs are associated with certain socioeconomic classes. And these sorts of jobs? They were definitely not associated with the class my family aspired to be.
And yet here I am, at age 26, with some pretty deep fondness for working with my hands. For the sort of tasks and activities that require me to engage with physical things- inanimate (yarn, wood, and fabric), animate (livestock), and somewhere in between (plants). I can’t really identify where this affinity comes from, but I can say that I find more satisfaction out of finished physical work than out of finished knowledge work. I’m sure someone (my own jerkbrain, perhaps?) will suggest it’s got to do with my not being clever enough to appreciate and understand abstract work as its’ own reward, though, well, I doubt that’s the case. I’m pretty damn clever.
But where does that leave me? Leave us? How do you represent the challenges and difficulties of doing, and making, in a way that is not only didactic (should someone else want to try a thing), but is also engaging and interesting? How do you represent the full spectrum of mental challenges that go into creating a thing? How do I express the full complexity of the physical things I work with, without sounding either overly dramatic or potentially delusional?
I think I’ll be trying something a bit different here from now out- while I’d still like to write about food, and crafts, and animals, I think I’ll be leaning towards some more discursive posts about process and materials, that will hopefully start representing what I see in these processes that engages me. While I’m sure there’ll be plenty of falling on my face, and seeming foolish, I hope that this will lead somewhere useful. Like I said, my love of physical work is fairly political- I think respecting the complexity and difficulty of the other people’s work (even when we don’t understand those complexities or difficulties) is an important part of being a better person (for myself, at least). I hope to share some of that with you.