Why DIY?

I’ve been inadvertently posting lots on handmade things and crafting in the past few days. It’s on my mind because with work, school, moving, and weekend commitments, I’ve currently got three or four projects started…and left. I am literally itching to continue them. Literally.

My current works in progress:

1) scarf, knit (3/4 inch done) (but I have the supplies and I’ve decided on the pattern and it’s sized right finally, so it’s less lame than it sounds) (still pretty lame, though)

2) quilt, sewn (numerous squares cut. need to learn to “quilt”)

3) Weighted Companion Cube footstool (frame built, fabric almost ready, lots of stuffing and sewing left) (I feel especially bad about the delay on this one, since it’s for the Gentleman Friend’s birthday, which was over a month ago)

That’s all I can think of now, but once I get my fabric scraps out I’m sure I’ll remember- or think of- a few more. Maybe I should block off some time this weekend to get started on a few of those again. Or one. I should pick one, and finish it. Or go back to the Salvation Army to find unravelable sweaters…no! I will pick one. One that I have started.

Clive Thompson at Wired wrote an interesting article on the pull of Doing It Yourself, and how the growing movement to make things may save our souls. Or the world, or at least some money.  I think he’s got a great point.  I’m a mechanical engineer, and instead of ever showing us machines and their workings, our curriculum was 95% math and book-learning.  If it weren’t for a particularly uppity and old-fashioned professor (he walked straight out of 1955, proudly, and insisted on hands-dirty labs) I might never have learned what a pump looked like, or seen one work.  When I talk to older engineers, I’m ashamed of my total lack of knowledge on useful things, and the rest of my shop and home-ecless generation probably feels (should feel) the same way.  Unless, of course, they were smart enough to learn it on their own.  Knowledge is pitched as books and computers now, and that’s not going to be very helpful when the apocalypse comes.  I’m hedging my bets by learning a few actual skills, so I don’t get eaten first…

What do you think- books and computer simulations vs knowing how and what to weld?  Do we have time to know the “old” skills and learn the new ones?   Will the new wave of DIY-building robots from toasters translate into an intellectual renaissance?

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4 Responses to “Why DIY?”


  1. 1 Stacey Derbinshire March 5, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Stacey Derbinshire

  2. 2 biking person March 6, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Yay for learning on your own!
    If you need lessons in house wiring, sheetrock-hanging, painting, welding, or using power tools, you’re always welcome to come over!

  3. 3 virescent March 6, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I got my powertool fix a few weeks ago with the weighted companion cube- but, if you’ve got a corner and more wood scraps, I have an idea for a compost hut to keep my unit out of the rain…

    Also, I would love to come help paint. And hang sheetrock and I never did learn to wire well enough and…well, everything.

  4. 4 virescent March 7, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Thanks, Stacey!


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