Jeannen's Reviews > Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life

Made from Scratch by Jenna Woginrich
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's review
Apr 18, 2009

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bookshelves: nonfiction
Read in April, 2009

Let me preface this by saying that I grew up in a family of women making their own clothes and people singing and playing instruments. Also, I live in Seattle, where keeping chickens is not uncommon, there are enough beekeepers to support a beekeeping association, and gardening is rampant. So, many of the things Woginrich talks about as somewhat uncommon steps towards a more sustainable life just feel like parts of people's normal lives to me.

I love personal essays, and what I think of as information books -- books that let me get to know something beyond the surface and the obvious elements of an item or a process. Woginrich has a strong voice in these essays and I really liked the sections following each essay, in which she gives basic information about whatever activity she discussed in the essay. I think some of the advice is a little misleading -- sewing one's own clothes is easy; sewing clothes that actually fit well is a little more difficult, unless your dimensions exactly fit those used to draft the pattern -- but in most of the areas that I know about, she's right on target with what a beginner would need to know.

If it were possible to give the book three-and-a half stars, that would be my rating. It doesn't make it to 4 stars because of one sentence in the preface: "When you start producing your own food, even the simplest plot of potatoes, your life regains some of the authenticity we've all forgotten about." When someone starts talking about what's authentic about people's lives and, by contrast, what isn't, I want to head in the opposite direction as quickly as I can. In fact, I picked this book up in a bookstore months ago, read the preface, and put it down again. (Sorry, Jenna, the fact that I like to buy clothes made by other people and don't want to fill my kitchen with used things doesn't mean my life is lacking in "authenticity.") I got the book out of the library because I wanted to read it before listening to the Craftsanity podcast interview with Woginrich. Annoyance with the authenticity comment aside, I'm glad I did. I would recommend this book to someone who is curious about a life that includes gardening, baking, sewing, keeping chickens, etc., and wants ot know what it was like for someone else to start doing those things without having had models in family members or close neighborhoods.
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