Friday, January 09, 2009

Made By Hand

A great story. At the Henry Street Settlement House on the Lower East Side of New York there is an 85-year-old lady named Ruth Taube who has taught people since 1966 --for free--how to sew, knit, crochet, upholster, repair shoes, furniture and electrical wiring, build and fix things themselves. Some of her students have been coming for 25 years plus.

Recently the program was threatened with cutbacks, but her students fought to save it.
"Maybe Ms. Taube evaded the ax just long enough to enjoy a bustling revival — thrift and repair are in, after all, and a free class is harder than ever to come by. Her workshop combines both, as well as the perspective of someone who started sewing in the Great Depression and is still toiling away, finding joy, as she has her whole life, in creative resourcefulness."

A new green economy means far more people learning and using skills like these. It saves money, builds community, and is creative. The young hipster version is Church of Craft, which meets nationwide--monthly in Brooklyn at the Etsy Labs ( is an online marketplace itself dedicated to all things handmade). A new craft store just opened up a few blocks from me in Williamsburg, too.

More sewing, gardening, home projects, canning and cooking from scratch are all on my list of resolutions for 2009. ReadyMade magazine is another great resource along these lines.

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