I LOVE learning heirloom skills.
I’m not sure when exactly it all started, but I’d guess early adulthood. I wasn’t a club kid, didn’t care for playing pool or bar hopping, but I loved spending my time canning jam, trying my hand at a new quilt pattern, baking bread or crocheting. Yeah, my Friday nights were wild. Wild, I tell you. It all accelerated in 2004 when Angus was born and I left the job force and became a stay at home mom. While I loved having a baby and staying home to care for him, it was a huge transition going from working as an instructor at a loud, boisterous, upbeat gym to the intermittent silence and screaming of stay at home mommyhood. When I felt isolated from the rest of the world, sewing, baking or painting kept my hands and mind busy and kept me sane. These skills also became my “income”, my contribution to the household economy; I provided the fruits and veggies for the majority of the year, made soap in the garage, made quilted baby bedding out of the scrap bag, refurbished old furniture on a dime. I cannot tell you how greatly being skill in heirloom practices improved our quality of life and kept this mama sane. ills
Unfortunately, the handing down of these skills have stopped. I personally believe the downhill slide began in the mid-40’s to early 50’s, when women left the home in large numbers to work and our nation began experiencing relative prosperity following the War. Women were no longer at home to teach the skills the daughters so desperately needed to learn. And there was no need to make do when you could buy new! And so now, we no longer know how to sew on a button, turn berries and sugar into jam, make fat and lye into soap, weave a chair seat or crochet a hat. That may sound harsh; s’il vous plait, pardonnez-mois. This is by no means an indictment of the Greatest Generation, God bless them, their accomplishments were incredible. But, in large, they stopped teaching us. Their knowledge died with them instead of being handed down like an old family relic. Now, it’s up to our generation, to both learn AND pass down wisdom our great grandparents took for granted. It’s a doubly difficult task, but I’m determined to do it and I hope you are as well. So let’s figure out our game plan.
Over the next few months, I plan on doing a series specifically on heirloom skills. Each week, I’ll choose a skill, such as sewing, knitting, maple-sugaring or baking and we’ll expound on it. I’ll research useful links for you, try my hand at videos and try to provide you with a working knowledge for each skill. You’ll not come away an expert by any stretch, but you’ll know enough to begin moving your feet forward. My hope is to create in you a desire to learn what you never had a desire to learn before. I want you to become curious enough that you’re willing to further pursue it and become successful at it, whatever it happens to be.
I’m passionate about continued learning, but I think sometimes folks get stuck on what they think that means: college courses. Oh my sweet friends, continued learning is anything that keeps your mind awake and your heart on fire! Whatever that is! Be it mundane or impractical. The moment we become satisfied that we’ve learned enough, done enough, grown enough….we die. Let’s never stop learning! Til next time—