Sunday, 22 July 2012

What can you make?

I believe that it is important to be able to make stuff. Using your hands.

In the same article on busyness in the NY Times, author Tim Kreider writes, "More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter."

I've often thought about what we do in our working days and the 'importance' thereof, especially when I hear of natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan.

In an apocalypse situation it would be far more valuable for me to know how to build a wattle and daub structure, make a fire sans lighter and to cultivate food*. Closer to home, if electricity and water in Jo'burg went off, city-wide (so you can't just go to your friend's place to have a shower and get water), for more than a few days, most of us would be screwed. Just what would you do? Stockpile from the shops? And when stock ran out?

* Food is a tough one 'cos when disaster happens crops get wiped out and if I plant seeds now I'll only get food from the plants months down the line. Bad news this past week about drought in the US - not great for food aid.

While I really enjoy writing articles, seeing them published and occasionally getting feedback, if we had a natural disaster here to deal with would they matter? Nope. Not many occupations matter in an apocalypse and somehow I'm more and more feeling an affinity with those that do.

At the moment I have a NEED to make things. For over a year I've been getting such satisfaction from crochet mostly because it fulfills this need to create something useful from something that can't really be used for anything practical. I think of it as taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something that can keep people warm versus sending off a dozen emails. Yarn wins hands down for that sense of accomplishment even though those emails ultimately turn into something a little more tangible.

Handmade comes and goes in the 'what is trendy' commercial arena. Me, I like handmade because if a friend has made something for me (meals count too), it is extra special. Handmade items take time, which is a helluva precious commodity.

I've decided that where possible I'm going to my Friday afternoons my 'Make Something' afternoons. Time that is dedicated to making stuff. Last week I crocheted a super special beanie (my most fabulous so far!) for a friend who enthusiastically exclaimed, "I'd love a beanie". He's a passionate cook so I've traded the beanie for a yummy meal. Trading is cool.

This past Friday I tried a bread recipe from my new book. It's a slow-rise process and these breads take pretty much 24hrs from making the dough to eating the bread. There are enough recipes at one-loaf-a-week to keep me busy for two years! I baked it last night and it came out well - I'll make a few adjustments for next time. I also tried a new recipe for ginger-grapefruit curd. For comparison, I made two batches: the new recipe and my old favourite. Old favourite is still better. I only got started on these creatings at about 3pm and finished juicing, blending, cooking, mixing, sterilising and sifting around 19h00. A very satisfying afternoon.

Sooo... what can you make? If I like, I'll trade you. A jar of curd? A scarf? A beanie? A loaf of bread? 

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