My mother sent me this very cool little book:
It's a vintage instruction manual for making well-fitting clothes. It was published in 1942.
In all the pictures of her youth, my grandmother is wearing homemade clothes, the creations of my great-grandmother. They are stunning and complicated. The skirts are pleated, the jackets have shoulder pads and tons of pannels, the blouses have scalloped hems and dainty collars. I couldn't even begin to create such fine and beautiful stuff.
I am often saddened by the loss of my great-grandparents' knowledge, and the knowledge of their era. In a story famous within the family my great-grandmother picked up a cucumber at a grocery store and said, "we threw better than this over the fence for the hogs."
I can't grow a good cucumber to save my life; I know this because I've tried. Once I grew them too close to a watermelon plant, and both fruited with bizarre hybrids of each other: the cucumber pink and watery, the watermelon more than a little too firm. Moreover, I can't dig a well, or plant a truly abundant food-bearing garden, or plow a field with a horse. There is inherent value in this knowledge, even if it doesn't fit with current lifestyle.
That's one of the reasons I am such an ardent supporter of this creative movement that exists on the Internet. We're keeping knowledge alive, and who knows who will use it in the future?