Crafting International

Two centuries ago, women sent their friends on the hunt for worsted wool and new crochet patterns when they visited the big city (lovingly described by Elizabeth Gaskell in Cranford) and American scrap-quilt enthusiasts placed ads in the newspapers to find other women with whom they could exchange fabrics. Needlework wasn’t just something that women did. It allowed women to be creative; it formed the basis for friendships; it resulted in acts of charity; and, indeed, it could even become an expression of patriotism (the picture shows the cover of a knitting book published in New Zealand during WWI – you can find the whole story here)

Two hundred years later, the “gentle arts” still fulfill similar purposes (with the exception that needlework is no longer considered a necessary female accomplishment – today most of us sew, knit, crochet, etc. because we want to and not because we must). What is different today is the scale: thanks to the internet, the world is quite literally open to us. We swap patterns on blogs with people from all corners of the world. We can buy books and magazines and fabrics from Japan, France, Australia, the Netherlands, the USA, etc. Styles and techniques easily cross borders, are adapted and re-interpreted, cross borders again, and so on and so forth. Private charity drives reach enormous dimensions online as people from different countries rally together to knit blankets, sew softies, make quilts, and so on. (You only have to read Craft Hope or Quilting for Peace to know what I’m talking about!)

If you stop to think about it, it’s astonishing and amazing and vastly thrilling and gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. 🙂