Hello and welcome to Handmade History! For the past year I have been thinking of starting a blog about my interests, including women’s history, social history, craft and domesticity. Today I actually created it because of an article I read by James Clear. When I read the opening paragraph I decided that today had to be the day I started the blog. He detailed how he had been writing blog posts for a year before he actually published one. I had been thinking about doing exactly the same thing –writing unpublished ‘practice’ blog posts before I started the blog. But unlike James, I hadn’t gotten to this stage. I realised that years could go by where the blog would only exist in my mind, not even in a private Word document.
I had a lovely name picked out. But then I realised that the domain name had already been taken. I then battled it out with the WordPress website, with idea after idea being knocked back because the domain name was already in use. The worst part was that I didn’t even love most of these ideas anyway. In my frustration I Googled ‘blog name generator’ and came up with this article that sent me to the Hipster Business Name Generator. While this website is quite amusing, it made me realise that I needed a moment of inspiration, or my hope of starting the blog today was not going to happen. Before I could load a thesaurus in my browser, Handmade History popped into my head. I had been playing with a number of names that had ‘history’ in the title, but none of them seemed right. However, I love to make things by hand and I love history, so this seemed like a good fit. But more importantly, Handmade History represents the type of history I am interested in.
While military and political histories are essential for understanding the past, for me, they are only the starting point. For example, to say that you understand the First World War, you must have at least a basic understanding of the Schlieffen Plan. However, I am personally much more interested in looking in detail at how women and children knitted socks for soldiers to wear, rather than military strategy. While as a crafter I am particularly interested in the history of handmade items and practices, I also believe my approach can more broadly be described as ‘handmade’. I believe that all history is subjective and that when we try to understand the past we do so through our own frame of reference. I like that by referring to the history I am writing as ‘handmade’, I am acknowledging that my fingerprints are all over it. The history I am interested in is influenced by my own life and experiences. While my honours degree in history did not lead to a career as a university professor, my study of women’s and gender history means I am better able to look at the practices and beliefs of earlier women to better understand and shape my own life. To me, this has been a wonderful gift that I look forward to sharing with you.
As James Clear outlines in the above article, we need to try and overcome our fears in order to achieve our goals. Starting this blog was really scary for me, even though, as I will look at in my next blog post, women have had to overcome much scarier barriers in order to have their voices heard in the past. When is a time you have faced your fears in order to achieve your goals? What is a current goal you would like to achieve but you haven’t acted on because of your fear?