Old crafts still go­ing strong

Broome Advertiser - - Happenings - Sarah Ison

The new­est phone, the new­est car and the new­est way to com­mu­ni­cate and con­nect have been our cul­tural ob­ses­sions for decades.

But a resur­gence of old-time crafts and crafts­man­ship is our new re­bel­lion against the harm tech­nol­ogy can do to our lives.

Be­yond the fads of “vin­tage” and “retro” mem­o­ra­bilia is a resurrection of arts and skills that have been rapidly fad­ing and be­com­ing for­got­ten... un­til re­cently.

Par­tic­u­larly in re­gional towns, res­i­dents are in­creas­ingly turn­ing their backs on their de­vices and pick­ing up “her­itage crafts” such as knit­ting, sew­ing and cro­chet.

Far from an “old lady’s pas­time”, these ac­tiv­i­ties are spread­ing from town to town, grand­par­ent to child, man to woman.

“Her­itage is the new ‘cool’,” Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion of WA Nyabing branch pres­i­dent Alyson Cooper says.

“We’ve had 30-odd years of tech­nol­ogy mak­ing us closer across the world and bridg­ing time and ge­og­ra­phy, and yet we’ve all grown dis­con­nected and dis­tanced from real hu­man con­tact.”

She added her­itage crafts were surg­ing in pop­u­lar­ity across the State and sat­is­fy­ing the grow­ing need for con­nec­tion and com­pany in re­gional towns.

Owner of Kal­go­or­lie store Sew Much Yarn, Julie Dalla-Costa agreed there had been a clear resur­gence of old crafts such as knit­ting, which prompted her to open her store in 2016.

“Every gen­er­a­tion is pick­ing it up,” she said. “Young peo­ple are com­ing to it for the first time and older gen­er­a­tions are com­ing back to it af­ter learn­ing it years ago.”

Ms Dalla-Costa pressed the im­por­tance of the pas­time ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, which typ­i­cally suf­fered as a re­sult of tran­sient work­forces and lack of men­tal health ser­vices.

“A lot of peo­ple are hav­ing is­sues with men­tal health,” she said. “And Kal is such a tran­sient town, peo­ple are look­ing to pick up new things that lets them meet new peo­ple.”

Re­gional res­i­dents also have a lower tol­er­ance for all things com­mer­cial and mass-pro­duced, which makes many doggedly seek out the au­then­tic and hand-made, ac­cord­ing to Heather Bordessa.

“Peo­ple are get­ting fed up with the com­mer­cial,” Ms Bordessa, past sec­re­tary of the Al­bany Spin­ners Club, said.

“They want to get back to hav­ing some­thing per­sonal and hand­made, so are get­ting into the old crafts them­selves.”

De­spite be­ing typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with women, the old-time crafts were sur­pass­ing gen­der bar­ri­ers and be­ing picked up by men as well.

Lind­say Co­hen of Duns­bor­ough said no mat­ter the age or gen­der, every­one was feel­ing the pres­sures of mod­ern so­ci­ety and were be­ing in­creas­ingly at­tracted to ac­tiv­i­ties of the past.

Ms Co­hen holds Knit like a Thug work­shops in town on Tues­days, to en­cour­age men to over­come their un­cer­tain­ties and get in­volved. “The world is un­sta­ble and we all want some­thing we can tan­gi­bly hold on to these days,” she said.

“Knit­ting and sew­ing are def­i­nitely mak­ing a resur­gence over the last five or so years and it’s sim­ply a re­ac­tion to ev­ery­thing go­ing so fast.

“It’s even more im­por­tant in re­gional towns, where there’s the added iso­la­tion on top of that.

“Peo­ple come to­gether when they do these crafts and are able to con­nect, re­ally con­nect.”

Pic­ture: Louise White

Julie Dalla-Costa with daugh­ter Josie Dalla-Costa pick­ing from colour­ful yarns.

Pic­ture: Louise White

Julie Dalla-Costa at a Learn How To Weave work­shop.

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