Vintage skills – are they all but lost?
I was watching an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford last night and it got me thinking (gasp). In the episode Queenie brings her handmade lace (bobbin lace) to sell at the local dress shop. The shop owner tells her they will no longer need her lace because they’ve been convinced that is antiquated; machine lace is the future. Later we see Queenie making some lace when the dress maker pays her a visit. The dress maker is motherless and Queenie had no daughters, so she begins to share stories and skills on bobbin lace.
For some reason this scene brought tears to my eyes. I thought about it for the rest of the night and found myself still thinking of it this morning.
Skills like knitting, sewing, cooking from scratch, canning, gardening and, yes, making bobbin lace seems to belong to a bygone era
In a generation full of technology are we watching the slow death of vintage skills?
I hear more today, than ever, about the trouble with children and teens. Could it be they, we, lack a sense of connection? Not just to one another (don’t get me started on families eating with phones at the table) but to a purpose. Have we a connection to creating the world around us?
Let’s start with education. There was a time where parents, mainly mothers, educated their children at home. Not only out of necessity but because it was expected; it was the norm. Children learned to read on the laps of their mothers or around the kitchen table; all the while watching and being part of her day-to-day life.
Now our children spend more time at school than at home during their week. They spend more time with their peers than any generation before them. They lack the connection to wisdom and maturity that once existed.
I am not saying today’s modern homeschooling could perfectly model the past, or what fix what ails our society. But I will say it is a marvelous start.
I’m a homeschooling mom…but more about that in another post.
See my book Homeschooling Fundamentals.
What about cooking? We eat out more than any other country in the world and any other generation in time. Convenience food lines the shelves at the grocery store…even the ones considered “health food stores”. According to Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Americans spend 27 minutes or less a day cooking…. We have lost an art form in the preparation of food; not to mention our health. I for one can admit there was a time where 2-3 meals a week contained Cream of Mushroom soup from the can. Since going Paleo/Primal I have cooked a lot more from scratch than I have in years. But you don’t have to go Paleo to bring back the vintage skill of cooking real food. Check out fellow homesteader, The Elliot Homestead’s book, Cooking From Scratch.
But I know all to well how a busy schedule can keep us from a home cooked meal eaten around a table… Skills that have nearly disappeared in the kitchen – canning, fresh baked bread (machines don’t count), making delicious stocks.
Not to mention sewing, knitting and crocheting! I remember my grandmother making me pretty sundress, pillows, even dolls as a little girl. She could sew, knit, crochet and embroider! I still have a blanket she made me when I was in high school. I know all too well how much she wanted to pass these skills onto me but I didn’t see the value in them then. I sure do now. I have tried picking up the skills, I sew, but not well. My knitting and crochet skills are still lacking and I’d love to embellish a shirt. Even more, I would give anything to have that time with her; and to be able to pass those skills to my 3 daughters.
And then there is gardening… A garden used to be the life blood of communities and homes. Everyone grew and ate from their garden. During war times we were encouraged to keep gardens and chickens as a means of patriotism! Families spent time tilling, planting, tending and harvesting from the soil. I call it dirt therapy. Sure it was work, hard work; but in replacing it was factory farms and grocery shopping what have we lost? Nope, no soap box on GMOs today. There was a time when we relied on each other. There was time when we were connected to each other and our food – as families and as communities.
BUT! I see a revival!!! Homeschoolers. Backyard Farmers. Crafters. Survivalists.
Homesteaders. These movements are growing and beginning to cross paths. They are cool, hipsters, conservatives and hippies. This “vintage revivalism” is gaining momentum. I am glad to be a part of it in my small way. I hope to only grow in my skills and pray my kids will find some enjoyment and enthusiasm in joining me in them.
There is a saying that every old is new again…what do you think? Can we agree to share our vintage skills with other and continue to learn vintage skills from other? YES! Let’s do this!