Disappearing skills

People today, she told me sadly, didn't like knitted clothing and so she didn't knit now and she missed it. She is a woman of senior years who likes to make things, and she was behind a market stall selling her kitchen towels as she talked to me. And as she talked I called up images of women knitting and realised that it is gone. As she says, people prefer these days to buy a sloppy joe, and it seems that our willingness to buy is killing off many domestic skills.

People buy cake mix rather than mix their own, if they cook cakes at all. We buy soft drink rather than make ginger beer and other drinks. Tinned fruit rather than preserving or stewing in quantity. Packets of biscuits. Pancake mix. Dollar-a-loaf bread. Jars of jam. Cleaning products instead of making their own.

We buy clothes rather than make them, new clothes rather than repair them. Few women can sew and few want to. And why would you! Darning, crocheting, doilies have long gone, and are not missed, and soon they'll be joined by the other skills and crafts.

Men, too, have forsaken many traditional skills. Changing the car oil, fishing for food rather than occasional sport, fixing household machines and appliances, changing tap washers, using a handsaw, and if we make anything at all it is likely that a cordless drill/driver and self-tapping screws has left the hammer idle. Indeed, there are probably more men now who can't drive a nail straight than can.

Some skills I don't have and don't want, among them killing and plucking and dressing a chook! And I wish my wife would stop ironing altogether.

Tell us of the skills you see as gone or endangered. Will we miss them?

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