Thoughts from Fearless Leader

Well for the past two weeks I’ve been too ill, too away, and too busy fixing the book to really cause much trouble…hmmm…I must be feeling better. I’m starting to feel itchy. You know that itch to stir the pot, shake things up, run around with sharp objects, and scream into the silence….Either that or I’ve drunk decidely too much coffee today. Either way here goes…

When I was on the first part of our family vacation we went to a lovely little musuem in Cashmere, WA called inventively enough Historic Pioneer Villiage… Which indeed it was a museum of pioneer history and indeed had a villiage of pioneer era cabins made up like a little town from the late 1880’s in Eastern, WA.

They were all old cabins, many had been in use up till the 1950’s by folks in that area.

What was cool was how they outfitted each cabin as it may have looked “back in the day.” I actually remember some old towns having furnishings, and insides much like what the cabins were like when I was a child in Oregon. These were in out of the way places like the Oregon Coast, or Eastern Oregon in my childhood.
The people who lived in such places were interesting and colorful characters, not in the least pc or tolerant of much nonesense and tough as nails. They had to be, they were the kind of people that came from the stock that civilized the West and made it more comfortable for the people who’ve now moved to such places with their “million dollar” homes, with “great views”…oddly enough many of the million dollar homes are built on hillsides that will fall down, or slide, and are made out of materials that won’t conceivably last as long as these old tongue and groove cabins.

How the hell does this correspond to crochet? I’m getting to that…

I come from that kind of stock, mine just chose to live in a more comfortable clime earlier than the die hard folks who settled the more interesting and rugged terrains of Eastern WA, and Or.
What does my family have to do with this? Just hang on, I’m getting to that… I come from not only Pioneer stock, but folks that helped found Quebec in 1530, fought in the French Indian War (on the French Side), moved to NY in the 1700’s fought in the Revolutionary War, and when Westward expansion happened after Lewis and Clark, they went close on their heels to the great NW in search of the Fur Trade (not to mention my Spanish ancestors that were on the expidition that founded San Franscicoin 1775)…Yes, Fearless Leader comes from a long line of trouble making French folk and Spaniards (throw in some Irish, and now I start makin’ ALL kinds of sense don’t I?)….the women in my family can only be described best by my late great uncle, “Beware a Rivers’ woman (my maiden name, “de la Riviere” before anglocized) they are intrepid beasts made to civilize the uncivilized…don’t argue with ’em you’ll never win…”

Ok, you really think I’m side tracked now…but again bear with me…

As I walked through the buildings, I looked at the decor.

Most of it was somewhat period in feel, but most of the crocheted table cloths, and hand towels, dish rags etc were more modern, but they kept the feel… I thought of the hands that made these items…and why they made these items.

The same reason the ladies of my family would have made things in their rudimentary homes (waiting for the nice house to be built). A table cloth not only beautified their surroundings, but saved the pretty wood from the table that had been brought around the Cape by boat from Boston. The rag rugs saved the wood floor from spills, and mud, was much easier to replace than the floor that had to be swept, mopped and waxed.

Doilies provided some cheer, and still protected the beautiful things that they treasured…


It wasn’t peasant work. An educated woman like my great-grandmother who not only ensured that her husband couldn’t buy a car without her learning to drive (the tales of her ostrich feather hat whipping in the wind as she sped through our town are of legendary proportion), and her roofing a church on the same day as kicking her brothers out of the local tavern, axe in hand while fighting for the right of women to vote, would not have purchased doilies unless to help a neighbor who needed cash…she made her own, in her spare time (little that she had) to preserve the good furniture and provide her home with some pretty things…

No wonder people who have never had such stories in their background, or history known to them think of crochet in terms of peasant/not peasant. Instead of considering that the situation was more like this: people worked hard building a civilization that we can enjoy, and used their hands not only to work hard but to make pretty and useful items for their homes. It was leisure, it was pleasure, and those who didn’t like to do it, might have paid a widow, or poorer housewife for their labor (ever heard of buying local?) to help out and save someone’s pride…

This is where the snobbery stops… Right here! Right NOW!

Here’s the deal folks, in the total of human history we have in general (but for a few and I mean very few individuals) have had to work hard to survive. At one point in our history this was a valued thing…people took pride in what they did, no matter what they did…and to dismiss said acts with snobbery is just plain wrong…

Given the current economic climate, many of us may turn to making our gifts versus buying them in a store…Does it make our gifts less meaningful?

NO! In fact, compared to the cookie cutter, imported plastic doohickies we can pick up in any large impersonal big box store, maybe making something is the RIGHT thing to do, both economically, environmentally, ethically and morally…may it’s not…I don’t know, only you can judge that for yourself…

Let us value these things, dated as they may be, historic as they are, they are OUR crocheting heritage…Anyone want to snob on that one?? And frankly, I DO value things made by human hands no matter what social class the hands come from…I’m just that kind of people person.

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3 responses to “Thoughts from Fearless Leader

  1. Thanks for sharing pics, and this article – very, very interesting!

  2. Crochet Liberation Front

    Thanks Mimi 🙂 Supporting our local economies (no matter where that local is) is so important to me personally. I think it stops a lot of mistreatment of workers if we can value what we have at home, no matter where home is!

  3. Thanks for the inspiring entry; I come from west European peasant stock, and I’ve never had cause to be snobbish about anyone.

    Every time I go to the dollar store and see those stacks of crocheted doilies, I admire the women who will do anything to support their families while despising the culture that ensures they’re paid only a few pennies.

    Thanks for the wonderful article. We’re all glad you’re feeling better.

    Signed,

    Korina (a minion)

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