Domestic Hobbies: The Search for Calm in Life’s Storms

Domestic Hobbies:  The Search for Calm in Life’s Storms

“I knit so I don’t kill people.”

You can buy a mug, a tote bag, or a shirt with this phrase emblazoned on it. You can meet a handful of fellow knitters out on the town for World Wide Knit in Public Day or you can share your projects and patterns with the 5.5 million registered users of Ravelry, the social media site for knitters and crocheters. Surprised? You shouldn’t be: knitting, along with other “domestic hobbies,” is exceedingly popular, and has never really gone out of style.

Cross stitch embroidery piece by Emily Ross, 1825, Age 10, The Strong, Rochester, New YorkKnitting, sewing, crocheting, needle point, cross stitch, embroidery, quilting, scrapbooking, crafting, building miniatures and doll houses, vegetable gardening, canning and preserving—all traditionally viewed (and often dismissed) by society as “women’s work”—are thriving in today’s do-it-yourself culture. The modern feminist movement of the latter 20th century and the normalization of women in the workplace were assumed to be the death knell for domestic hobbies (and domesticity in general). If women were no longer expected to dedicate all of their energy to creating a tranquil home environment for their husbands and children, then surely they would turn away from the drudgery of hand-stitching samplers. We picture oppressed Victorian ladies hunched over their needlepoint and can’t imagine that there is a place for such an activity in our modern, technology-driven world.

Margaret Woodbury Strong: Collector and Philanthropist

Margaret Woodbury Strong: Collector and Philanthropist

As an “everything” intern at The Strong, I had the privilege of working with different teams within the museum on multiple projects that relate to my education as a history major. Through my work with the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, I became acquainted with the story of the woman behind the museum…

Colonial Shell Souvenirs in The Strong: An Australian Connection?

Colonial Shell Souvenirs in The Strong: An Australian Connection?

Margaret Strong obviously loved shells and crafts made from shells, judging from the quantity of those items in her collection. In fact, Margaret’s shell collection drew me all the way from my home in Australia to Rochester, New York. While researching The Strong museum’s collection of Victorian shellwork during my research fellowship, I stumbled across…

Your New Best Friend–A Robot!

Your New Best Friend–A Robot!

Do you ever wish you had a magic robot to clean your house for you? Do your homework? Or just be around to talk with? You may not be the only one. In some ways, advancing technology makes our lives more convenient or efficient. In other ways, it keeps us connected through social media and…

To a Galaxy Far, Far Away

To a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The wait is finally over. After three years of patient anticipation since the film was announced, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally upon us. Expectations were high, and fans who felt disappointed with the last trilogy were afraid that they will be disappointed again. You see, for many Star Wars fans, it is more…

The Big Book of Christmas Past

The Big Book of Christmas Past

One of the best aspects of working at The Strong is the endless opportunity for nostalgia. Last year, I wrote about my family’s tradition of treating Black Friday shopping like a game. Shortly after writing that post, I was reminded of another cherished holiday tradition when staff at the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of…

Venturing into Barbie’s World

Venturing into Barbie’s World

In August 2015, I received a research fellowship from The Strong that provided funds for me to come to the museum to study artifacts and printed materials from its vast collection. My dissertation work focuses on studying interactions with Barbie among Puerto Rican females, making The Strong the ideal destination to build my understanding of…

Seeing Is Believing: Play Twister!

Seeing Is Believing: Play Twister!

When Twister’s three developers brought the concept to game publisher Milton Bradley in 1966, the firm agreed, initially, to manufacture the game. All it took was a demonstration of the play and they were persuaded. Twister’s play was simple and innovative. It had few rules, and never before had a boxed game’s players served as…

Puppets Stage a Big Showing in the National Toy Hall of Fame

Puppets Stage a Big Showing in the National Toy Hall of Fame

Maybe you read a blog I wrote about four years ago proclaiming (politely, of course) that the puppet belonged in the National Toy Hall of Fame. That year, 2011, the dollhouse and Hot Wheels cars took their places among the classic toys in the hall—which may suggest that my talents at prognostication are somewhat wanting….

Super Soaker Joins National Toy Hall of Fame

Super Soaker Joins National Toy Hall of Fame

The National Toy Hall of Fame is awash in good news these days. On November 5, 2015, The Strong announced that Super Soaker—along with puppets and the game Twister—joined the 56 classic toys in the hall of fame. Kids had water toys before the Super Soaker debuted in 1990, but the drenching machine altered the…