Fall Projects

leaves  Mmm… fall, my favorite time of the year. The air is getting crisp, the leaves are starting to change, and I’m getting ready to snuggle in. Every fall, I start feeling crafty and kitchen-y, and ready to try something    ambitious.

This fall, I’m going to…

Try knitting socks. I have successfully knit in the round on a few occasions, and then lost patience. I think I have more patience now. This may be a ridiculous lack of self-awareness.

Make this soup. I do a mean chickpea-noodle, but this marinated tofu recipe is intriguing.

Go to this event.  I received a membership at the Chicago Botanic Gardens for my birthday, and I love to take advantage of it. Just because we’re renting doesn’t mean I can’t stick some spring bulbs in the yard, or in my flower pots on the windowsill.

Make my own laundry soap.  My boyfriend is going to think this is stupid, and as the person who does most of the laundry, he really should get more of a vote. But I want to try it.

Make this jam. Pear doesn’t get enough play in America, I feel. You can get pear ice cream in France, I would like to point out.

Can some applesauce–which I’ve done before. Look for a tutorial coming your way soon.

What are you trying this fall?


Domesticity Has No Gender

When we talk about “domesticity” there is a general cultural assumption that we’re talking about women. Obviously, the home has been the female domain for much of history. However, I think home is for everybody.

It is never my assumption that cooking, crafting, vintage fashion, or entertaining are just for women. There is room for everyone at my house.

With women now an accepted part of the workforce, men doing housework isn’t the unheard of idea it used to be. But, I would argue, ours is still a culture that is highly invested in policing masculinity and femininity, and that is mostly unprepared to address those who travel between those borders. Just take a look at the commercials on television, and you’ll start to notice just how much comedy hinges on the assumption that husbands are domestic idiots. Home, and the things that happen in it, is still very gendered in the popular imagination.

Studies have suggested that women still do the majority of housework, though men are certainly doing more than they used to. Of course, these studies still divide the human population into a very strict gender binary, which certainly doesn’t include everybody.

Domesticity is what you make of it. My (male) partner is a much better homemaker than I am. If we were the only people living in a society, sociologists would conclude that the male role is to keep the home in order, and the female role is to make things and proposition the male. He keeps on top of laundry, is an organizational whirlwind, and actively thinks of new ways to clean things. He notices clutter, which my eyes tend to bounce over. On the other hand, I freak out a little if the pantry couldn’t keep us through a Laura Ingalls Wilder-style winter. I suffer from the deluded belief that given enough time and semi-appropriate tools, I could figure out how to make anything.None of this has to do with gender. All of this has to do with the people we are, our strengths and what we enjoy.

I think it helps if we think of homemaking as a field that was pioneered by women. Just like other professions and fields were lead by men in the beginning, because they were the only people who were allowed to, the activities of daily life in a home didn’t used to hire men.  And now that we’ve opened up gender roles a little, I can be a physicist and my boyfriend can be a top-notch ironer, or whatever floats our individual and collective boats.

So Retrofitting Vintage isn’t for women or men. It’s for people of all genders or lack of gender, who value home.

Retrofitting Vintage

There’s a lot of good stuff from the past. And a lot of garbage.

Retrofitting Vintage is about taking the good from historical skills based in the home and private world, while ditching the rest. It’s not about romanticizing the past, or getting off the grid, or “old-fashioned values.” It’s about being a radical feminist who knits. A guy who makes cakes. A two mom family that appreciates a trip to the apple orchard. At Retrofitting Vintage we believe that home is for everybody, and that we can bring our own worldviews to traditional tasks. We retrofit them with our own values, taking the good and leaving the rest.