By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for something NOT made in China.
Americans have witnessed an increased interest in handcrafted items over the past few years. More and more people are learning to crochet, knit, sew, and quilt. Handmade toys made in America are highly sought after items. Festivals featuring hand made in America items, some even restricting to items made within that state are springing up in ever increasing numbers. Most of these items could be mass produced at a lower cost so why the resurgence in handmade items?
One reason might be the search for something unique and individual. In an age of mass media advertising, items are available to almost everybody at the exact same time regardless of where you live. What you have is just like what everybody else has.
Perhaps it is a way to connect with the past. With computers, i-phones, i-pads, the internet, we can immediately connect to people around the world instantaneously. But how do you connect to the past? One way to experience the past is through crafts that have literally been "handed down" to the next generation or by learning a skill as it was done in the past such as quilting. Hand quilting is done today in the same manner as it was done a hundred years ago.
What makes the handcrafted items so "valuable" is the story that goes with it. It could be the doily your grandmother made that was the centerpiece of the dining table every Christmas. The pillowcases your aunt made from flour sacks, then hand embroidered with your name, hold special meaning. The christening gown your great-grandmother made and trimmed in tatting , brings forth special memories each time a new baby wears it.
Handmade quilts add more than physical comfort when wrapped in memories of snowy Thanksgivings, camp outs under the stars, or pallets on the back porch in summer. Quilts don't have to be old to be treasured. I have a quilt that was made by my 4-H Horse and Pony Club. My group used crayons to color in the outline of a horse on cotton squares to match the horse they rode. They added their name and the name of their horse on the square. I pieced the squares together, put a backing on it and then took it to the next 4-H meeting. The kids helped tack the layers together. The quilt isn't valuable in terms of skills or materials, but rich in memories. A couple of the kids have since passed away. I wouldn't take for my quilt. A modern quilting machine can make the stiches; it can't stitch the memories.
Whether you are seeking that one of a kind gift, connecting to the past, or passing on skills to future generations, handmade carries with it the love and care those hands used in the creation of it. Handmade, from my hands to yours.