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The New Domestic Index 

by Leah Sottile


Needlework created by interlacing yarn in a series of connected loops using straight eyeless needles or by machine

In 1950, knitting was generally an activity reserved for making things that people should never, ever wear -- like teddy bear stockings, crappy Christmas sweaters and homely sunbonnets. In the past, many a knitting project inspired schoolyard ass-kickings and dorky family photographs. But today's knitting takes on a different face, with patterns for knitted bikinis, Pippi Longstocking socks, Joey Ramone dolls and even knitted phalluses (call 'em throw pillows when Mom comes over) circulating through modern knitting circles. But scarves are still a popular choice, too.


Joining or attaching by stitches

Sure, the fashions have changed, but the object of sewing is the same as always. Design your own clothes, curtains, sheets and purses. Pick out the fabric. Sew it yourself, save money and put your own personal touch on something that, if bought, would usually be boring. In 1950, you might have sewn a chintz pillow; today, make throw pillows from green satin, topped with purple sequins. There are no borders in this craft. Sew a skanky halter-top out of old jeans, and a matching one for your Chihuahua. Copy those patterns you see as you're walking through Nordstrom with nothing but overdraft receipts in your wallet. By sewing, your bank account will thank you and -- get this -- you'll be original.


The act of preparing food for oneself (duh)

And by cooking, we don't mean tossing a Top Ramen cake in a pan of water, adding powdered cheese to cooked macaroni or removing plastic from a pre-prepared dinner. Cooking has taken on a new spin. Instead of thinking about it as a daunting, daily practice, why not think about cooking as a wholesome, comforting experience? Today's craftsters are not just making the same old thing; they're spending their after-work hours rolling sushi, vegetarian meatloaf and vegan ice cream. Cooking is about eating what you want, what makes you feel good and what you feel proud to make with their own hands.


Otherwise known as embroidery; to decorate with needlework

You know what we're talking about: the bunnies hopping across every pillowcase, the daisies adorning every hand towel, the simple, painfully feminine designs poking out of white handkerchiefs. That's the old embroidery. The newest forms of needlework take on the mood of biker tattoo art, with hearts pierced with arrows and daggers, toppling bowling pins and sneering snakes adorning the pillows and wall samplers of today's craftista.


The art of making home beauty treatments, remedies and therapies

Is there no product that will cure your insufferable acne? Does your husband keep forgetting to use that pumice stone on his rough heels? Do those dark undereye circles have a permanent place on your face? Try something homemade: You might find the answer to your beauty questions that no commercial product can give you. Try making the homemade scrubs from almonds and other natural items that Nava Lubelski lists in her book, The Starving Artist's Way. Whip up a new lip gloss before going out, and clean your apartment with a lemon-scented, tea tree oil-based floor cleaner and lilac bathroom soap. Not only will you have the cleanest place, but you can rub it in your friends' faces that you did it all yourself.


Do-it-yourself: the mantra and lifestyle popularized by punks, starving artists and survivalists

You've seen 'em -- the black clothing encrusted and Goth-makeup shellacked young 'uns crossing Sprague or Riverside on their way to the bus station. They look pasted together, their clothing stitched and refurbished from old favorites, their hair tinted and hued. But before you shudder at the entourage and inconspicuously reach for the automatic locks, think about what they are doing as you sit in the security of your Subaru. These kids have the right idea, and there's no reason why you can't adapt it to yourself. They've rejected popular culture, crafted their own styles and created a unique image for themselves. And by doing that, they are making a statement, saving their money and emptying a tiny amount of lint from the deep pockets of consumerism.

Publication date: 1/27/05

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