Sewing, knitting, cooking, doing alterations. The pinnacle of domestic and female-oriented tasks. It is very rare finding a girl, leave alone a man, born in the ’80 as me, but even in the ’70 or ’90, who could manage in a semi decent way, at least two of these skills. When we were growing up they told us that we would become dentists, professors, lawyers, pharmacists or judges. Not seamstresses, knitters, gardeners or bakers. The message was loud and clear: get away from domestic tasks, do not become an housewife and earn enough, so someone else can pick up this sh**t.
And then the financial, and ideological, crisis happened. It started way before the allegedly famous collapse of Lehman brothers in September 2008. We finally admitted something that we never had the courage to confess to others and ourselves during the roaring ‘80s and ‘90s: doing something that fulfills your skills is amazing and gratifying. And it is something that we usually achieve through manual work. We also start considering manual works as the way forward. We all read the tales of the corporate lawyer who leaves the City to become a beekeeper, of the engineer who moves to the countryside and opens a B&B in the middle of nowhere.
Even if we do not twist our lives inside out, we started doing things that sounded pretty crazy a couple of decades ago: baking bread at home, growing vegetables on our terrace, staying in instead of going out, watching tutorial on youtube to learn how to knit. Last Christmas I received two handmade presents: a scarf and a hat. I gifted handmade jewelery and necklaces several times in the past few years. My mother’s handmade woolly hats and shoes for the little ones are better received than a personalized Prada bag. Ok, my mother is almost an artist in the knitting department and plays in the Premier League of knitting, but you got my point.
India Knight, one of my personal guru, wrote a very insightful book around this, The Thrift Book:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrift-Book-Live-Well-Spend/dp/0141038233 Following her advice, I decided to invest 4 days of my holiday allocation and attend a sewing course in leafy Wimbledon. Good results followed swiftly: in two lessons I made a cushion for my sofa and by the end of the course I had a perfectly fitting skirt, inspired by Mad Men. Not only I learned how to sew with a sewing machine, but also how to cut some fabric and how to use the paper models. The most astonishing discovery was that Burda, the bible of the perfect 1980’s housewife, something that represents that era as much as Wall Street, the movie. This magazine is still going strong, despite the pervasive crisis in the publishing sector.
The design and layout hasn’t move too far from its former self. Forget about Vogue and the artistic direction of Carine Roitfeld, its images could have been shot in Eastern Germany before the fall of the Wall. Choosing substance instead of form, this magazine still rocks and fulfills its role. The star behind my enjoyable sewing experience is Katya, who taught me and a handful of lucky Wimbledon and Barnes housewives this important skill, thanks to lots of experience and bags of patience. I am now converted and convinced that spending just over £ 100.00 on a sewing machine is a really good investment. I am sure my local alterations shops will miss me, but on the other hand I gained a new skill and discovered – once again – that producing or repairing something with my hands is priceless.
For further infos: http://www.sewpretty.me.uk/