The more my life and work comes to be ruled by abstractions, the more I feel the urge to make things with my hands.
Too much time online fills me with the queasiness of abstraction. You can’t touch the internet, you can’t taste it, you can’t smell it. The whole thing is just electrical impulses organized into patterns by workers who write algorithms that few of us will ever see and fewer can understand. A lot of my day is spent passing bits back and forth across buried wires and invisible energy waves. It makes a guy want to build a birdhouse or something — an object that has weight and goes thunk when it hits the floor.
Alanna Okun has long been using handicrafts to deal with modern-era angst, and you can read all about her crafting adventures in The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater.
This is a snapshot of her life through the lens of knitting, needlepoint, et cetera. Okun derives real satisfaction from being to make and share physical things. It sure as hell beats sharing a link on Facebook!
I’d like to be more self-sufficient, more skilled, less reliant on service workers — more handy. So I’m thinking of getting back into basic woodworking (thanks to Nick Offerman), putting a small garden in the back yard, and learning new ways to prepare the veggies I hope to harvest from it. The less you need, the more you can be.