Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gentle Domesticity week 2...

I agree with Jane Brocket about there being a common belief that domestication and domesticity are the same thing, and this week in our book study we'll explore more about that through the author's eyes and through our own.

Here's the first paragraph for those who do not have the book...

"This book is about domesticity and the pleasures and joys of the gentle domestic arts of knitting, crochet, baking, stitching, quilting, gardening and homemaking. It is emphatically not about the repetitive, endless rounds of cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping and house maintenance that comes with domestication. Domesticity rises above the bossiness of cleaning products and media exhortations to keep our house pristine and hygienic, and focuses instead on creativity within the domestic space." page 8

Now I don't know about you, but just separating the two harmoniously different areas of our domestic life in this way - the necessary chores and the wonderfully creative - got me quite excited the first time I read this book! It was as though looking at my life through completely different eyes.

On one hand the everyday chores and responsibilities of being a homemaker, whilst usually giving me a relieved sense of accomplishment once completed, were a never ending cycle of the same thing over and over, almost like pressing repeat on a favourite song and listening many times over until quite frankly you've had enough and won't listen to it again for many weeks or even months. 

On the other hand, the time I spent creating a home that is pleasing to the eye, smells amazing, has evidence of my personal creative touches both inside and out, and tells a story of what makes my heart happy...well, that's the side of domesticity I crave the most. It's when I truly took hold of my role in a much more delightful and adventurous way.

Being a homemaker was always going to be the path I chose, but before becoming one I did have a slightly enhanced vision of what that would be like.  The realities of housework and babies was a bit of jolt.

Jane writes that it took her years to realise she was "thoroughly domestic and only grudgingly domesticated" and once this made sense to her she was able to embrace the creative arts within her home and let go of that banner of housework perfection too many have pushed in our faces.

As a young mother the television bombarded me with advertisements for cleaning products that would have my bathroom sparkly and germ free, sprays that would lift every stain from those cotton dresses my girls wore outside when they climbed trees with their brother, or instantly remove the constant tread of black scuff marks off our kitchen floor. The bar had been set high for having an immaculate home and not once did I think to lower it.
Never did my thoughts turn to being creative with domesticity and ditching the perception of perfection.

Jane Brocket is a well educated woman who gained degrees and accomplishments both before and after having her children, but during her first pregnancy (with twins) she and her husband moved to Germany and it was then she realised full-blown domesticity would be forced upon her. 
Rather than fighting what had become society's 'drudgery' view of a wife at home Jane had a joyous epiphany when she realised there was no need to kowtow to a particular set of expectations, that domesticity could in fact be very liberating!

Home-based and craft activities she had loved for years yet felt guilty about pursuing, suddenly became worthwhile and she threw herself into all of them.
Knitting, baking bread, buying and growing flowers, reading, art and writing (to name a few) and then after starting her blog a delight in photography grew as well. 

Jane did return to study when the children were a bit older in order to gain a PhD but after a year the conflict between her intellectual and creative life was too great so she opted out of study and pursued a different work path whilst fully embracing her gentle domestic life with its ever increasing creative avenues at the same time. She came to the conclusion that variety and choice were integral in understanding the values and pleasures of the gentle domestic arts.

I love what she wrote on page 11...

"For the gentle arts are just that; gentle. They do not demand to be practiced. No one is obliged to pursue them....They are a matter of individual and personal choice. They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a colour or wield a pair of scissors."

There's a deep emphasis within the pages of "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" to remove the burden of perfection from your tasks or creative pursuits and simply enjoy the process because there are no  rules to restrict your creativity, no awards you must achieve. 

Gentle domesticity is a journey of discovery within yourself, to become acquainted once more with the arts, hobbies or activities which you used to love to do, and then to make a beginning with the ones you've always wanted to play at.

Jane continues...

"The whole point about the gentle arts is that they are non-competitive, soothing and utterly pleasurable. Anyone who tells you otherwise should be tied up with acrylic yarn and deprived of her knitting needles for a long time."

"Ignore all calls for perfection and focus instead on what you can achieve and the pleasures of the gentle arts will be yours for the taking."

There's some delightful moments which will make you laugh out loud within the  pages of The Gentle Art of Domesticity and plenty of inspiration to be adventurous, inquisitive, relaxed and at peace with love for living the gentle domestic life. I have personally found myself liberated through the obvious pleasure Jane shares in her writings as she steps forth into the many and varied (beautiful) aprons that domesticity can offer.

Each week I'll share a few questions you can ask yourself about what we've just read and these will most probably trigger my own reflections much of the time. Like the fact that Jane also shared how she was a bit of crafty nerd growing up but it wasn't until she was expecting her twins that she became totally knitted into the beauty and fun of creative expression again, and with gusto!

When I was a little girl living in my Nana and Pop's tiny flat there was a lovely lady who lived in the flat above us and she had this marvelous black treadle sewing machine which she would use to make almost anything you could imagine. As a nine year old I was in awe of her skill and the day she asked if I'd like to take her fabric scraps, a needle and some thread downstairs and make clothes for my doll - well, my heart was won over forever to the idea of creating new things out of old. 

One of Nana's dear friends was a lovely woman I called 'Auntie' and when I was about seven she sat me down right beside her in the heavily cushioned wicker couch on her front porch while we were there to visit. Between pouring cups of tea and spreading measured spoons of jam over the scones Nana had made for our morning tea, she taught me how to knit. It was wonderful! To see how two thin tortoiseshell needles and some spindly yarn could become a square so pretty that I thought my heart would burst from my chest, I knew this was something I wanted to do forever.

Watching Nana cook and bake with no recipe to guide her, how she'd take ripe mulberries from the tree branches which hung over the fence from next door's yard and bake us the most delicious pie, and the way she'd gather the pastry scraps left over from an apple pie just gone into the oven and press them over a china bread and butter plate before spreading with jam and criss-crossing a lattice of more pastry scraps to bake as my 'jam tart' afternoon treat...I fell in love with baking, fell in love with baking 'with love'.

I see now as I look back over my life that many of the creative domestic arts I pursue today began when I was a child when someone took the time to show me something wonderful, and to encourage me to learn and explore them myself. 

Child-like delight in something new is an art in itself and one many of us have sadly forgotten. Perhaps we can consider this when new opportunities to 'play' come our way in future.

What crafts or creative domestic activities did you pursue when you were young?

Have you continued with them?

Is there one or more that fell by the wayside but which you'd like to try again?

What inspired you in our study this week?

Share with us in the comments; or write your own blog post and join in with the Link Up so we can come visit and read. I'd love to hear about your journey and discoveries living the gentle domestic life.

NEXT WEEK we're going to study pages 16-25.

The WINNER of the GIVEAWAY from last week is...

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you soon so I can send that sweet parcel your way. 

A little gift...

If you noticed that 2019 bookmark in the photos above and you like it, be joyful because I'm going to share the pattern with you today!

It originally featured on a similar bookmark which I stitched a couple of years ago and use all the time so I've updated the design with '2019' and sewn it up as a fresh new bookmark which will mark my place inside "The Gentle Art of Domesticity".  
You might want to do the same!

This will be a free stitchery pattern all year and you can download it here.

Every week in the Tuesday book study post I'm encouraging readers and lovers of the gentle domestic life who have a current blog and have blogged about Living the Gentle Domestic Life this year to link their relevant post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired.

NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 

I hope you'll join in!

My dear friend Fee has shared her own thoughts on this week's study here on her blog. Why don't you pop over for a visit?

May you be blessed in all things that bring a sense of joy and gentleness to your wonderfully domestic life...



  1. How wonderful to actually see those words written in a book that I have felt all along. This journey is going to be fun. Thanks for the bookmatk pattern.

  2. I do not have this book so thank you Jenny for typing it out for those of us that are wanting to join in on this wonderful journey. My Grandma taught me how to crochet when I was 11, my Aunty was having a baby and I wanted to crochet a blanket for the baby. I have been crocheting ever since and love it to this day.....

  3. I have taken up hand embroidery again. I learned it as a child. When my daughters were young I took it up again. Now I have again taking it up doing some of your designs. I've been enjoying the pincushions.

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  5. Thank you for the lovely bookmark pattern. I enjoyed all things domestic growing up helping out on a large farm Helping my mom make, jams, jellies, relish, pickles, putting up tomatoes in jars, many veggies in the freezer and meats too. Leaning to sew from my mother who was and still is an expert seamstress. Her teaching me and my siblings to sew with hand needles and make doll blankets and then doll clothing. Learning to make some of my clothing and scrap quilts with Momma . I also did some cross stitch kits, and taught myself to crochet. Momma gave me my very own sewing machine at a young age. it was a very old well worn in machine she bought from someone. Learning to cook and clean and do laundry a ta early age. I loved home Economics class. I remember the home Economics teacher telling me how to sew the neckline on to my top and I knew this was incorrect as I had read and re read my pattern. And I told her this was incorrect and she made me do it her way I told her fine I would but it wouldn't be correct and nor would it work and then I would take it home rip it out and resew it the correct way and bring it to class sewn correctly the next day. The next day I told her I redid it correctly and from then on please don't help me with my sewing projects as I read my patterns first and followed the directions step by step..... She said good cause the patterns I bought and chose to make were way to advanced...lol... I let crochet fall to the way side and cross stitch as well. I picked up machine embroidery which fell to the way side along with smocking and making doll clothing . I have done some quilting not a lot... It's not really my thing...And I have fell in love with hand embroidery. Congratulations to the winner of your giveaway.

  6. Is it ok that I grabbed my book & went back to underline all the quotes you shared! I don't normally write in books this nice but I just cannot bear not to make notes in this one! I plan to go back & enjoy it many times over.

    I remember making doll clothes as a child as well as building & decorating dollhouses from crates & cardboard boxes...it was so much fun. In fact I've been yearning for a dollhouse to decorate again. i also have a piece of embroidery I did as a child that I'm planning to frame for my craft room. It's a picture of three sweet little lambs jumping over a fence. I remember choosing the pattern & my mother helping me transfer it to fabric. Then I chose a bright, bold blue trim to hand sew a border on it.

    That's what I've loved so much about reading Jane's book! It brings back all the excitement I felt as a child when I baked, sewed, gardened with my mother. All the newness & joy of creating something beautiful or delicious.

    Thank you Jenny for introducing this book to me.

  7. Oh I am so enjoying these Gentle Domesticity posts Jenny. Thanks so much for all the time you put into these posts. My Nana & Grandma were not in the least bit interested in me ... or any of their many grandchildren as they both had so very many! But my Mum was very much of the "make do & mend generation" & she practised all the home making skills. One of the memories that popped into my head reading your words today was how Friday in our house was always "baking day". I remember my brother & I used to run especially fast home from school every Friday as we knew there would be tempting homemade cakes & biscuits on our arrival home. Funny that that should pop into my head today as I had long forgotten that. Xxx

  8. Thank you for the lovely bookmark pattern. I plan on making a couple of these very soon. My Grandma was a professional Milliner. She taught me how to so and how to crochet and knit when I was very young. My mother continues to teach me more skills in all these crafts. Cooking was not something Grandma or Mum were very good at. I have learnt my cooking skills from my husband and his Mother when she was alive.
    I lived in the topics of rural Darwin for 20 years and didnt crochet or knit in all that time. Since we left Darwin 6 years ago I have reignited my love of crochet. Our house is full of crochet blankets and my family all have blankets that I have made. My son is getting married in September and I am making a fusion quilt of fabric and crochet as his Wedding present.
    I find myself so much happier and content when my domestic duties are mixed with domestic arts. I love Jane's book and her explanation of 'Inspiration'.

  9. I remember my aunt teaching me to knit when I was 7 or 8, we both struggled as I'm left handed and she was right-handed, but we managed and had some good times together. The same aunt and her sister both loved to sew, as well as an aunt on my mom's side, so that must be where I got my love of sewing originally. Actually anything textile related. I was so happy when my dad pounded a few nails into a wooden spool so I could spool knit those little round tubes and later wind them around into hats or doll clothes. Now in my 70s I still love to quilt and sew with my vintage Singer machines, every day if possible!

  10. My response is on my blog...
    Needles Pins and Dragonflies
    I look forward to continuing this with you Jenny.

  11. I am so very grateful to you Jenny Dear for sharing “The Gentle Art of Domesticity” which I am embracing in my 70th year of life. My wonderful Grandma taught me to sew and crochet and knit and cook and clean and to always look at things with “different eyes”. Through the years these skills sat dormant while life happened, however I never gave them up completely and am now enjoying them even more as I find time each day to be JOYfully domestic. Thank you for this sweet 2019 Stitchery made into a bookmark. It will be a perfect gift for mmy sister who reads voraciously and collects bookmarks. Blessings Dear...

  12. I read the introduction to Jane's book finally last Friday and enjoyed it immensely. This book has been sitting on my coffee table for over a year I think and I just needed the encouragement to sit down and read it. '
    My father raised three girls nearly single handedly and he taught me to knit. Hence a very awkward knitting style but it is neat. Thank you for the book mark too.
    I start minding my first grandchild this week so my life is becoming busier and busier and finding a quiet time to sit and devote to my crafty interests is getting harder. Oh well, I will have to let the dusting go. LOL.

  13. A lovely read Jen-girl....seeing as mrB is off work for three months we are learning to cook using the humble items in our pantry and freezer. It certainly is a lesson in domesticity which i'm enjoying.

  14. Thank you so much for the beautiful bookmark pattern. So enjoying the journey with you

  15. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks so much for sharing and writing today's post! Love the book mark!
    Time to get a coffee and enjoy week 2 ! mid January already!

  16. Hi Jenny great post i have enjoyed reading it,i have just ordered the book cant wait to get,i have your logo also on my blog and i hope to link up next Tuesday xx

  17. I am enjoying the posts so much and really looking forward to the whole series. Just this morning I managed to get myself a copy of the book on Ebay and am now eagerly waiting for it to arrive. My Gran used to bake all time and I learned along with her, never using a recipe or weighing anything. I remember standing on a chair helping her with the jam tarts and buns. Baking is something I love to do and my husband calls it my therapy. She used to knit and sew all of my clothes for my dolls too, they were never bought at silly prices. Every single jumper and cardigan I had was made by my Gran. I miss her so much and her creativity, she really was the best thing about my childhood. x

  18. I am really enjoying following along with your posts about Jane's book. The words you wrote today have really helped me realise that whatever you are making or doing is enough. No need to strive for perfection. Advertising and media have a lot to answer for as far as that is concerned and it is nice to give yourself permission to just be yourself! Thank you Jenny! xx

  19. Your post has made me realise how much I enjoy domesticity. Just having the time to do the things that I enjoy - cooking, knitting, cross stitch and looking after my home brings me a lot of peace and satisfaction. I've also realised that there is nothing wrong with that.

  20. I'm enjoying finally reading through this book after having it for several years. I was blessed with a stay at home mom and learned a lot from her so when my time came, i was ready. Thank you for the book mark, as always, beautiful!!! I will be answering you questions in my own blog post.

  21. It's funny - reading through this book and your writing, I realize that enjoying Gentle Domesticity is what I did for so many years when homeschooling my boys. I relished every moment of teaching, playing, crafting after they went to bed [lol]. After the boys were raised, I somehow got off track - thanks to you and Jane, I'm going to get back on. Love the bookmark, dear heart, thank you!

  22. Sadly, this book doesn't seem to be available in the UK. The cheapest I can find it is a poor condition, used copy for £25 plus postage! Out of my price range I'm afraid, but I am enjoying reading your critique of it.

    1. I live in the UK and managed to get one online for about £10 as my husband's birthday present to me in March. Hope you can find one.

  23. Debby in Kansas, USAJanuary 16, 2019 at 1:22 AM

    I wanted to post a little something about the women that came before us. I think that my Grandma had this all honed to perfection, as probably many women in her generation (born 100 yrs. ago). They really did do it all. I lived with my gparents for several years and watched up close. The house was immaculate, meals were from scratch, the garden burst with fresh veggies & beautiful flowers, & my Grandma made time every single day for her hand arts. While there are still only 24 hrs. in a day, lol, I think we gave up much of this for far less worthwhile distractions. And bigger homes that create more work to maintain. She cleaned her entire home end to end every single day. It took her 2 hrs. She was done by 9am and then free to practice the domesticity that she loved so much, in between/part of meals.

    I don't ever remember NOT crafting so I must've started playing with craft items at a very young age. Sort of how I don't recall learning how to swim. In my brain, I've always done both. Felt is what comes to mind at the earliest I recall. And decorative trim with either small or large pom poms attached. I made mice. And a shoebox was their home. I glued the leftover trim around the top to make a wallpaper border or drapes. And their beds were little boxes with material/lace scraps. I was creating a home before old enough to create a home! Whenever my grandma went to the craft section of Woolworths, she let me buy a half yard of trim and two pieces of felt. Pure heaven!

    My favorites today are hand embroidery and card making. I do some art journaling, but I'm no artist. I just enjoy playing with watercolors.

    I love reading about how everyone started their creative lives & the bookmark is so beautiful with that long ribbon!

  24. I really enjoyed this post. I used to feel guilty about doing crafts even though they brought me joy but no more. My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was a girl and it is still one of the things I love to do. My mom inspired me to quilt which I love and continue to do also.

  25. Bonjour Jenny

    Je suis de tout coeur avec ce que vous exprimez au sujet de la vie domestique .
    Ici en France c'est un peu mal vu d'être femme au foyer ...
    mais moi j'ai beaucoup de plaisir à coudre , tricoter , faire la cuisine ce n'est pas débilitant c'est une source de joies la création .
    Bises de la France

  26. Thank you Jenny for the wonderful blog and the new book study. I read the introduction with much anticipation because this book is not what I thought it was going to be. I love it, it is a memior with some how tos mixed in as illistration. I have been an academic too long. I love the opening sentence about the difference between domesticity and domestication. In 1964 when I was married there was not distinction they were the same, at leat here in the USA. I learned some of the arts that I still practice in brownies and Girl Scouts (7-12) Job's Daughters (12-18) and on my own with friends, neighbors, classes and books (19-). I am still learning. In the ERA and enviorment that I grew up there were not gentle arts as described by Jane Brocket. If it was not perfect you took it out and did it again until it was perfect. I still have trouble and I am getting better. Needlework and Sewing are the two places that I excell. I do fight my perfectionism and I put it down when I get too crazy. Cooking has never been my art. My husband is so much better at it than me. I am trying new things as I retire. I have the group on Facebook and am going to enjoy the book study. I save your patterns, I have purchased some and one day they will be used. Thank you.

  27. What crafts or creative domestic activities did you pursue when you were young?
    Embrodiery, Tailoring and Sewing.

    Have you continued with them?
    Yes off and on over the past 54 years. Also I would go in depth with one they switch to another.

    Is there one or more that fell by the wayside but which you'd like to try again?
    Yess knitting, crocheting and tatting.

    What inspired you in our study this week?
    That the gentle art of domesticity is also the art of possibility.

  28. I am grateful to my mother for involving me in the kitchen when she was baking and for encouraging my attempts at sewing. Her treadle machine is still my all time favourite sewing machine and I so enjoyed my dressmaking at home as opposed to the long drawn out process at school. Thank you Mum. xx

  29. Good morning Jenny ........ my grandmother was my inspiration, teaching me to crochet and to enjoy the home in soooooo many ways! I'm sure I also got my love of gardening from her. I'm hoping to post in this respect in the next couple of days xo

  30. Like you I remember sitting sewing & knitting with my Nanna when I was little & painting & drawing with my granddad. I spent a lot of time with them. Nanna had an old Singer treadle sewing machine which I learned to sew on. I did a lot of hand embroidery too. I used to help her bake Christmas cakes but admit to eating too many of the almonds I was supposed to be skinning & more than my fair share of the glace cherries.
    In those postwar days we had very little money so always had to make the most of what we had & make sure that our clothes lasted. There was no telly & not even wireless as we had no electricity until years later. Happy days and I still mend & recycle lots of stuff.
    I taught myself to crochet from a babay pattern book when I left work to have my son & have done a lot of crocheting since then. I do love the sweet pea blanket you are making Jenny & I see you're making the Posy version which is lovely. Happy crocheting.

  31. Hi Jenny

    I learned knitting and crochet and cross stitch from my Mum's youngest sister who lived at home for a long time. She enjoyed passing on her skill to me and I enjoyed learning from her. She was the only one of the family that did this kind of work as my grandmother didn't and neither did my Mum. Mum did do all her own sewing and for us too but didn't want to teach me as she said she would take over if it wasn't going quick enough, LOL. I went to one of our neighbours who had taught sewing in her home. I currently do a lot of cross stitch and knitting of dishcloths, crochet not so much and would really like to get back into sewing my clothes again but my craft room needs to be rearranged before I can get back into that. Love baking and cooking.
    I would like to do more preserving and maybe try my hand at drawing/sketching.

  32. I am so excited to work our way through the book. My post is a bit long so here is a link to it on my blog.


  33. Ooooh, dear Jenny, I do like the thought of some people tied up in acrylic yarn........ hee....heee.....

  34. Thank you for pulling out quotes from the book to highlight. I read it a long time ago but have to admit that I was distracted from the text by all the patterns and bright colors Jane uses. The softer, floral colors and patterns are more to my liking so I think I missed some of the important thoughts she was offering. I can remember knitting on pencils on the playground in grade school but I have no idea who taught me. I have always loved embroidery, crochet, and reading old books about flower arranging and setting a lovely table. Again I don't know where I learned it as my mother was not the kind of mom to sit down and teach me. So a BIG thank you to whoever sparked my interest in domesticity! It is who I am.

  35. What wonderful eye-opening ideas this week by you and Jane both. I loved reading about your journey and reflecting on my own. Thanks for the great bookmark idea, too!

  36. The first sewing I did was in kindergarten, so around 5-6. My friend and I took my moms fabric scraps and laid our Barbie dolls on it then cut out clothes. We hand stitched every seam. The next thing I learned was embroidery. I made a few pieces and sent them to my grandma. When she passed I got them back. So they are around 55 yrs old. They are hanging over my sewing machine. My mom was amazingly talented and she saw right away that I love all things creative. She became a single parent of 4 kids when I was 8 and we struggled financially but she never denied me any craft supplies I wanted. I sew, quilt, embroider, paint, refinish furniture, ... Since she died at 49 I cherish these memories deeply. She could do it all. If she wanted to make something she made up a pattern. I remember her laying a plate on some yellow checked fabric to make scallops for curtains. She was even a trained classical pianist. There was nothing she couldn't do. I can't do all that she did. Thank you for the walk down me,our lane.

  37. I was very lucky that my Abuela and my Mami eagerly encouraged me in the domestic arts. I learned to sew when I was six. My mom is the master seamstress and has been doing this craft since she was 13, and she's 92 now and still sewing. She even does alterations for a little mad money. She bought me a little machine (a hand crank) and off I went making doll clothes from scraps. My Abuela taught me to crochet and to cook. My mom didn't really like to cook. I started making meals when I was nine as mom didn't get home from work until 4:30 or later.

    In my 30s and 40s I was way too busy to do these fun activities. But now the urge to go back to them is upon me with this book. I look forward to our study of the year. Thank you,

  38. I learned to sew in Home Ec which they no longer teach in school. I really liked sewing and did some crafts and simple clothing. My mother thought I would be a clothing designer because I would sew a lot for all my dolls. The only craft my mom did was crochet. She was very good. I tried some granny squares but never kept up with it. I used to do cross stitch also, when I was younger. I finally started sewing again to try to teach myself quilting. Sewing tops is good but the actual quilting has been intimidating. The last garment that I sewed was my wedding dress back in 1993. I thought it was beautiful even though it was homemade. This year has been rough for me. At 61 having health problems and being depressed at times, I haven't been doing much lately. Hopefully soon I can retire and get back to doing the things I used to love. I want to get back to making doll clothes and maybe a doll house, quilting, and cross stitch. Maybe even teach myself to knit and crochet. I would also like to take some photography classes. Learn to cook and bake.

    Thank you so much, Jenny for encouragement. I love reading your blog. Thank you also for the patterns you share. I might just do some stitchery someday.

    Sherry in NC

  39. Hi Jenny. I’m enjoying your discussions on the book. Unlike you, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my Grandma, but she had taught my Mum so much that I feel her influence in my crafting. Mum grew up on a farm, her parents were orchardists and market gardeners, as well as having sheep, chooks, a dairy cow and a pig for bacon. Grandad used to do a weekly run to town selling fruit, veges, eggs and Grandma’s preserves. Mum was a dressmaking teacher at tech before she married, after which she became a full time homemaker. I think she was quite happy with her role in life. There was always sewing and crafting happening at home. I learnt tapestry, basic hand sewing, helping baste patchwork hexies, embroidery, knitting and crochet before I was eight. I started making my clothes when I was nine. When I got married in the mid 80s I went to classes to learn fabric covered boxes, frames and books. I also eagerly started doing cross stitch at that time, and I made curtains etc for our house. I don’t think Mum loved cooking, but we always had tasty meals and Friday was baking day. I can remember sitting on the floor in the kitchen with the blue plastic bowl, rubbing the butter into the flour for rock cakes. This was the first thing I made and I was probably three or four at the time. Dad always had a large vege patch so there was lots of fresh produce and preserving - jams, sauces, pickles, bottling and freezing. I must say that I very rarely knit or crochet these days, and if I do they are small projects. From making all my clothes in my teens and early 20s, I make none now. Patchwork and stitcheries are really the only things I still do. Like Mum, I’m no goddess in the kitchen, but I do enjoy baking and Mick and I enjoy making preserves. We have always had a vege patch. I would like to do a bit of crochet and a few years ago even bought some wool when Lucy from Attic 24 first made a ripple cushion. I think I will try to get it made this coming winter. You have me inspired. I also bought a very simple blouse pattern at the recycle shop recently. Hopefully I’ll give it a go.

  40. How enlightening to read about the difference between domestication and domesticity. I often feel guilty at my neglect of the domestication part of running our household. I use the fact that I work as a GP and have 4 kids as an excuse, but really, I'd just much rather be occupied with the "gentle arts" as you call them :-). I should get this book! I have a feeling it will help me find my peace with how I'm wired! I often ask my husband if he doesn't mind me "wasting" so much time on sewing, gardening, quilting, reading, making music and whatsnot, when the floor could do with a sweep, and the laundry still needs to be folded, but he assures me he doesn't! He takes equal part in the domestication part of our household (we both work outside the house for about 30 hours a week), but very little in the domesticity part. Lately he has started to do more in this area, like making jam, and baking pancakes, and I feel a bit threatened by this, like he is making me redundant as a mom :-). But maybe we could agree to carry the burden of domestication together (neither of us are naturals in this area), just as we are both breadwinners, and enjoy the homemaking/domesticity together as well?


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