How this college girl is spending her summer vacation: crocheting an afghan, caring for a sourdough starter, drying home-grown herbs. And I'm not alone; from Taylor Swift making jam to Zooey Deschanel's character in "New Girl" regularly hosting knitting parties, seemingly old-fashioned crafts and hobbies are becoming increasingly popular.
People have all kinds of theories about why this is -- why younger generations are flocking to hobbies and skills typically associated with grandmothers. Some say it's nostalgia for the simpler, more stable times of old, while others believe it's a search for authenticity in a modern world based on mass production.
But that isn't why I love making things. For me, it's because homemade means love, and homemade means family.
When I graduated from high school, I received an afghan that my grandma made for me. Even though we had lost her 10 years earlier, that hand-crafted gift meant she was still there -- just like the gift I know I'll receive on my wedding day, a quilt she planned and pieced and that my mother carefully finished.
My interest in old-fashioned crafts comes from generations past. I spent my first days wrapped up in an afghan made by my great-aunt. My mom is the proud owner of a quilt made by my great-great grandmother. My grandma showed me how to sew yo-yos, helped me draw patterns on her quilts, and let me pick out fabrics for a blanket that is on my bed to this very day.
To me, homemade is intrinsically linked with family and all of the love that comes with that. The quilts and afghans, the jars of jelly, the hot meals every time you visit, the stained and faded handwritten recipe cards teaching you how to make something delicious: they're all just another way of telling someone how much you love them.
When you make something from scratch, it's a truly transformative process. Instead of just picking up a perfectly fine blanket at Target, I'll be able to see each loop of yarn twist and add to my ever-growing afghan. I'll have an extra sense of satisfaction every time I snuggle up under that beautiful blanket, knowing that I took thousands of yards of string and made it into something that I and my family will be able to use and love for generations.
These actions -- cooking, crafting, creating -- help bridge generations, help pass down traditions, help preserve the people and memories of days past. That's why I'm proud to have "old lady hobbies." That, and the fact that I genuinely enjoy being productive instead of wasting my summer watching Netflix -- because at the end of the day, I created something beautiful, or delicious, or useful, or all three.
Every night, I curl up under the tattered quilt my grandma made for me so many years ago. And I know that she'd be proud of me for keeping traditions, and all the love that comes with them, alive.