Stay Home and Tool Up!

Part of the Crafting a Better World Series
Hello! We’re still in a pandemic here,
stay home and Tool Up!


Tools. I love me some tools. I remember bonding with my dad over power tools my freshman year in college. It’s what softened him to my decision to study scene design for the theater: my new interest in power tools!  Dad always liked tools. And containers to hold his tools.  But I learned after a while that there were a lot of tools he owned that he didn’t really know how to use. They gathered dust in the garage while a “professional” was called in to do much of the fixing. 

I think we as Americans have gotten pretty crappy when it comes to knowing and using basic tools. And the tools we do tend to know seem to be far too skewed to gender stereotypes. And even when we’re aware of these stereotypes we can feel stress about knowing or not knowing certain skills based on our gender identity. But everyone should know the difference between a phillips and a flat head screw driver, how to thread a needle as well as wield a hammer, how to change a tire as well as use an oven or a washing machine.  Honestly I know some of these but definitely not all.  Always more to learn!

Regrettably we often don’t remember that we have tools. And we actually literally purchase duplicate tools while perfectly good ones lie unused in a drawer somewhere. Personally, we sometimes have tools to deal with things that we forget to use.  For example maybe we learned breathing exercises for calming in a yoga class but then when we’re in a stressful situation we forget to breathe or to help someone else take the time to breathe. 

It’s good to know your tools and how to use them. But it’s also good to know how to be creative with what’s available. Because sometimes you get an avalanche of dropping stitches and you don’t have the right tool available to you. Grab a safety pin, a chopstick, a pencil.  Whatever is handy to put into that live stitch loop so that it doesn’t keep falling. Stop the bleeding!

We have to be willing to GO MACGYVER (dated reference)–but you know the guy who made stuff out of what was available. Get creative people! If you don’t have the special whatnot to do the thingy, find something that you do have and adapt it! We may have to look at a tool or a room or some other resource at our disposal in a new way. 

Interestingly enough, in knitting one of the most useful tools to grab is a tool that isn’t for knitting–a crochet hook. It’s the best tool for pulling up a stitch or flipping a stitch to the right configuration. So knitters, stop talking trash about crocheters. Cause we depend on their freakin hooks a whole lot!

Often the tool we need is not the one designed for the task at hand. Often the tool we need wasn’t ever passed out to us.  Not the one that came with our own limited cultural mindset.  So look around you and see what tools are out there that might come at the problem you are facing in a better way. We can get really limited in our vision and our ability to fix things when we limit our tools.

Meanwhile let’s Tool Up! Take stock of the tools we have, share, trade, and learn skills and tools from one another. The world we can craft will be stronger than ever because of it. 

silhouettes of tape measure, drill, sander, and flashlight. words are coming out of the tape measure shape as if the extending shape and read: "We get limited in our vision when we limit our tools."
Illustration by Rik Lain Schell

Possible questions to explore:

Think of a tool of your craft (or any craft)wooden spoon, spatula, shovel, hammer, sewing needle, etc.  How is this tool used? How does it transform something into something else? (i.e. a spoon stirs and mixes changing the consistency of things; a spatula moves things that are hot and untouchable from one place to another; a shovel helps you dig and/or helps you move piles of things from one place to another…..) Now, make it a metaphor: How can you apply how that tool is used to a larger conflict/issue/struggle in your life/relationship/community/culture? 

Black background with wooden toolbox pictured full of various colorful handtools. Printed on blackbackground in white letters: "What's in your personal toolbox? how can you use your tools/skills/resources to help build a better world for all?"

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