Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Okay, I hear this sometimes...

and I heard it three times this past weekend. It was a four-day weekend of lazing about for us -except we're not good at lazing, exactly. But we gave it a shot.

I spent my time more or less as follows: I took apart and put back together a bridesmaid dress for Victoria so she could wear it in a wedding on Sunday and have it remain on her body. So for a few days, there were miles of turquoise satin spread out all over the dining room. Alarming, but there was method to my madness. The problem, though, is that if you pop over for a visit, there's no avoiding the dining room. And fabric pieces draped over chairs, lamps, and people who hold still long enough will probably get your attention. Which generated several versions of "You SEW? How traditional. How...charming." Okay, whatever....

The dress gets put back together. Victoria walks down the aisle (GACK) and totally steals the show from the bride. But that's another story -and possibly I'm biased, anyway. The next day I spent knitting in public. I had taken my beloved iPod to Starbucks to knit and catch up on work-related podcasts. Were people impressed with my ability to simultaneously listen, think, drink coffee, and knit? Apparently not. But they think knitting is...quaint. If only they had the time....

Then yesterday, the long-suffering spouse and I went tramping around at Starved Rock State Park. We wanted to be there most of the day, so I packed food. Which I cooked. Big deal. If you like to eat, eventually you learn to cook, don't you? OK, by accident, I swear, we were also sitting on a picnic tablecloth that I made and my knitting was with us. The comment this time was "Your husband is a lucky man." Well, yes ;) But not because I COOK, for heaven's sake. Which I thought, but didn't say.

OK, so what is going on here? I don't do any of these traditional crafts (arts?) because I have to. My family will be clothed and fed whether or not I sew, knit, garden, or cook. Moreover, I have the free time and disposable income to do them. If I were a single mother, making minimum wage, and working 60 hours a week, I wouldn't be knitting. If I had a spare moment, I'd be sleeping, thank you very much. So, far from being a necessity, these acts are expensive luxuries. But I don't want to be stuck with the argument that these activities I love are just another version of conspicuous consumption and classism. So let's move along.

I'd much rather make an argument that I do these things because of my feminism rather than in spite of it. Here's how it feels when I'm in the middle of one of these crafty-activities. I spend a lot of time immersed in the ugliness that people inflict on each other. I don't mind. Actually, I like helping people move past the ugliness and make something beautiful. There it is. This is my version of making something beautiful. Everyone needs and deserves to move past the mundane. Certainly, I don't need everyone to knit or bake, but I would hope that creating beauty -touching it, making it, BEING it- would be a part of everyone's life.

That's my argument and I'm sticking to it.

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