Battlepanda: Taking the Lumps of Labor, part II: Work is for producing, leisure is for consuming.


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Taking the Lumps of Labor, part II: Work is for producing, leisure is for consuming.

(In the first part of this loose 'series', I railed in general about the work-and-spend cycle. Now, I'm going to rail some more.)

If you've been reading this blog with any sort of regularity, you'd know I've recently become an avid knitter. I find it a satisfying habit. One falls into a relaxing rhythm while knitting. And it's seemed quite miraculous to me that two sticks is all the tools you need to make all sorts of garments. I also naively thought that I'd be saving money on pretty sweaters by making them myself. Well, no. Actually, I paid $80+ dollars for the yarn in my last sweater, plus extra for the pattern and the needles, of course. In the beginning, before I knew how gauche I was being, I would wonder out loud why yarn is so expensive. The answer was always something along the lines of "Well, I'm putting time into it, so I wouldn't want it to be cheap."

My boyfriend and I have also been getting into brewing our own beer. Again, the main satisfaction lies in the process, the sense of accomplishment, and the creativity (the optional extras you can add to beer range from spices to cereal flakes.) But penny-pincher that I am, I logged into a home-brewing forum and asked how I could keep the cost down (homebrew probably ends up costing as much as many microbrews by the time all is said and done). I did get some sensible advice on how to save yeast, etc. But many replies echoed that of the yarn store customers: You shouldn't be doing this to try and save money.

Now, I understand that many DIYers are simply trying to insulate the craft they love from the harsh realities that you can simply buy everything cheaper than you can make it yourself nowdays. But I sense a second dynamic here. There is a sharp line being drawn in the sand. Work is for producing, therefore leisure is for consuming. If one saves a few dollars by knitting a sweater, its tantamont to working for an extraordinarily low hourly wage. But if one knits a sweater that costs more to knit than to buy, then that's O.K., because it's leisure.

Trivial? Perhaps. But it's kind of sad to me that even our desire to make stuff, to be useful, now have to be sated by consumption.