Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book: The Home Maker by Dorothy Canfield

I recently read the book The Home Maker by Dorothy Canfield. It was another recommendation by the lovely Jane Brocket in her delightful book The Gentle Art of Domesticity.

It was written in 1924, and is an amazing, compassionate take on family and relationships then (and now). It's the story of a wife who is unhappily trapped in domestic drudgery and a husband who loathes his job. A tragic "accident" leads to him being injured and the wife going to work. What unfolds is an incredible journey for them all, including their children. It said so much to be about how we communicate with our children, how we think about homemaking, how important it is to follow our joy, even about school and learning. I just LOVED it!

Dorothy Canfield was an educational reformer, social activist and bestselling American author. Eleanor Roosevelt called her one of the ten most influential women in the United States. I think this book is a perfect foil for her radicalism. I just also read online that she Dorothy Canfield brought the Montessori method of child-rearing to the United States.

There are so many bits I want to reproduce that I really think I need to buy the book. But here are some gems. The first is a conversation between the husband and a well-meaning neighbour.

Mattie turned, saw what he was doing and pounced on him with a shocked, peremptory benevolence. "Oh Lester, let me do that! The idea of your darning stockings! It's dreadful enough your having to do the housework!".
"Eva darned them a good many years," he said, with some warmth, "and did the housework. Why shouldn't I?" He looked at her hard and went on, "Do you know what you're saying to me, Mattie Farnham? You are telling me that you really think that home-making is a poor, mean, cheap job beneath the dignity of anybody who can do anything else."
Mattie Farnham was for a moment helpless with shock over his attack. When she slowly rose to a comprehension of what he had she she shouted indignantly, "Lester Knapp, how dare you say such a thing! I never dreamed of having such an awful idea."
She brought out a formula again, but this time with heartfelt personal conviction, "Home-making is the noblest work anybody can do!"
"Why pity me then?" asked Lester with a grin, drawing his needle in and out of the little stocking.
"Well, but..." she said breathlessly, and was silent.

In another part of the book, Lester is realising how frustrating his wife must have found the "unfinished" nature of parenting.

But you couldn't put through the job of bringing up children. No amount of energy on your part no, not if you stayed up every night of your life, could hurry by a single instant the slow unfolding from within of a child's nature...

I've also discovered that Dorothy Canfield wrote a collection of short stories titled "The Bedquilt". A blog post about the book says "there can be no better story than The Bedquilt for conveying the joy and thrill of creativity". Think I have to find more by this wonderful author!

In quilting news, I haven't sewn for couple of weeks. I seem to be stuck in a rut of going to bed late and getting up too late (I do most of my sewing early in the morning). I have two quilts on the go, including one that was meant to be for my cousin who turned 1 yesterday. Some serious re-prioritising of joyful sewing is what I need!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sleepy fox feltie

It's my Dad's birthday this week. As he lives in the States I usually buy him something on Amazon. However in line with our new frugality, Lily and I made him a card and present from materials we already had.

Lily sewed this felt house and I turned it into a card.

I made a little Sleepy Fox from a book from the BCC library called Felties: How to Make 18 Cute and Fuzzy Friends. His bed is a repurposed tin with Amy Butler scrapbooking paper. Lily sewed his doona and pillow out of felt.

There are lots of other cuties to be made, check it out on Amazon. I love this Babushka doll.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Little house in the city

So...we have had a big change here. Paul's job finished up last week, and he is officially unemployed. It's been a huge blow to him, and a real strain on our family, emotionally and financially. However, I see it as an amazing opportunity, to create a way of life which allows us to spend more time together, deepen our relationships with each other, strengthen our principles and live by what is important to us.

I don't want him to get another full time job! He has a small business already, and has begun trying to start his own law firm. I do a little paid work as a health consumer representative on hospital and government committees. And earlier this week I went to a session which was part of the Saviours of the Lost Arts Workshops. It was called HOW TO TURN CASUAL CRAFTING INTO A BRILLIANT BUSINESS, presented by Bizness Babes. I'd love to turn some aspect of my crafting into a small home based business. I have some ideas bubbling away and I might apply to do a Bizness Babes' development course.

We've really got to tighten our belts, but I'm excited! I've put my credit card away in a dark drawer, no more big trips to Sewco! We're going to plant up our vegie garden and I've even begun baking bread. (Freaky photo of me but at least the bread looks good!). We're borrowing Little House on the Prairie today from the library, for more tips on how to live frugally!

Already I've experienced wonderful generosity from friends. One has sent yummy baked goods and offered to ply me with dessert whenever necessary. :-) Another gave us two big bags of clothes for Lily, all pink and now much loved! Yesterday, my dear friend Sarah opened up her stash, giving me SO much INCREDIBLE fabric. She is so, so generous. I have literally been stroking my cheek with these from Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley range.

Beautiful Michael Miller Flora and Fauna fabrics. Quilt ideas are coming thick and fast!

Beautiful Liberty fabric (the pink), I want to make Mia a skirt from the strawberries and I love the orange/brown fabric. Thank you Sar!

We have wonderful friends and family, a roof over our heads, our health and each other. We'll be more than fine.