Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Back in October, I discovered the delight of Yarnstorm, a wonderful blog written by Jane Brocket. I fell instantly in love on my first visit. Bright, funny, beautiful photographs and artful design. I just know Jane is a kindred spirit. And, if we did not live in different countries, I have no doubt we could become bosom friends. Jane knits. Jane quilts. Jane bakes. Jane gardens. Jane makes quince jelly and keeps three hens in her backyard that cluck around her feet as she hangs out the laundry. Jane revels in her domesticity and isn't afraid to write about it. Jane Brocket makes me feel really good about myself.
"Domesticity is not synonymous with housework. In fact, I think there is far too much media bossiness about cleanliness and tidiness these days, and nowhere near enough celebration of the joys of homemaking...live and let live, use the space instead of attempting to subjugate it to our wills, and get on with doing what needs to be done in order to make enough time to enjoy the more pleasurable gentle arts." -Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, 2007
Jane Brocket's book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity was released in October. It took a terrible ripping in the London Telegraph. I immediately rushed over to amazon.co.uk and bought myself a copy. Take that British press! It took me more than a month to read. Not because it is some massive tome, but because I savored each and every page. It is essentially her blog put to the page, but more of it. This is a lady who shares my heart. She is me, but not afraid to talk about it. How many times have I heard the "you have way too much time on your hands" comment, or "well, you can do that because you don't work." I've been bouncing this kind of thinking off my domestic goddess armor for a very long time. Now some Tribune journalist says my enjoyment of the domestic arts - baking, sewing, knitting and gardening is anti-feminist?!
"Just as many aspects of domesticity are often derided as old-fashioned, quaint or downright useless, so the skills and practicalities associated with it have fallen out of fashion. Despite the efforts of many contemporary knitters, quilters, stitchers, crocheters, crafters and bakers, the fact remains that the gentle arts are frequently regarded as mildly eccentric, touchingly nostalgic and outmoded..."-Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, 2007
With luck maybe all those letters to the editor will force the message home that real women knit, and cook and sew and lead brownie troops and do carpools to soccer practice and hundreds of other things each and every day while holding down jobs. My choosing to be a full time mom doesn't mean I'm wealthy, or have any more time to devote to other pursuits than a woman working outside the home. I don't have domestic help who clean the toilets or do the laundry or cook our meals. As my mother would say, I am chief cook and bottle washer. I'm the laundress and doggy daycare. If I choose to express my creativity via baking or quilting and in turn provide warmth and food for my family I am not setting women's rights back 100 years. Martha Stewart was the first person to bring home keeping out of the closet and Jane Brocket makes it feel like an art form. She makes me want to go out and buy a t-shirt emblazened with some kind of catchy phrase like Domesticity is an art, or Domestic Feminist and proud of it.
..."Embedded in the gentle arts is a slyly subversive streak that encourages free thought, individuality, creative self-expression, imaginative thought processes and not a little self-determinism..." -Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, 2007
I'd always known there were others like me, there just weren't any nearby to commiserate with. People whose need to create a home, care for family, and release their artistic talents in ways that celebrate this love is as important to their survival as oxygen. Blogging changed all that. Suddenly I wasn't strange, or odd, there were thousands of us out there in the world. I blog in the hopes of reaching others who share my interests. I blog to connect with extended family and distant friends. I also blog to entertain. My life isn't perfect. There are plenty of things I don't say. There is a very real and gritty life that happens in between all those posts. I write what I'm comfortable with, choosing to focus on my creative endeavors and the humorous and upbeat aspects of daily life. I allow myself a little creatively licensed escapism.
My fellow artist and blogger Nancy summed it up better than I ever could....."To make the argument that by engaging in the domestic arts we've given up feminist ideals is intellectually flaccid. What's more feminist than having the choice to create as you desire, be it a post-modern political treatise or an heirloom quilt? What's more feminist than finding one's voice in an open medium? Isn't that what the movement was about? The freedom to be comfortable as women and to follow our interests, whatever they may be? I think we'd do much better to focus on women around the world without choices than to spend so much time picking at each other..."
Tigerlily is coming out of the closet. Yes, I am domestically inclined. It's what I am and what I do, and I love it. I knit, I bake, I sew, I quilt, (I try to garden but stink at it, but I would love to have chickens) I love making my home a home and I feel very lucky to have a job I love so much, and thank you Jane Brocket for your wonderful blog and being a kindred spirit.
"The gentle arts are all about comfort. They are soothing, relaxing, consoling and caring. " -Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, 2007
The orange tea cozy was knitted in Cascade 220, tangerine heather yarn. The leaves came from Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers book, and the beads are Gutermann.