Day 20: Home (Y)Ec(k)

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they called it “Home Economics.”

NO PART of that class had anything to do with the financial side of home ownership, or even how to budget to run a household. We did have to create a shopping list for the things we planned to cook, sew, or otherwise create, so I guess managing the shopping money nudged it into the realm of “economics,” but just barely.

I wouldn’t have taken the class at all, except that I had all my required classes for moving from junior high into high school. We weren’t allowed to just stay home till graduation, so I had to fill my last semester with a couple of electives. I thought taking Home Ec 1, 2 and 3 all at once was going to be cake. Figuratively as well as literally: how hard could a class be if it involved baking something sweet to eat?

Boy, was I wrong.

Home Ec 1 started us in the kitchen, “the heart of the home.” In my case, the home was having a serious case of cardiac arrest. NONE of the kids in my “unit” knew a spatula from a spittoon, which was really unfortunate when we had to scrape a bowl. On top of that, our group included the only guy in the class, and he was only there to avoid shop. He had no interest in learning how to plan a dinner party for 12, or where the salad fork or dessert spoon should be placed.

So there we were, five groups of six kids each, all charged with creating some dish for a dinner that would be served to our unsuspecting parents.

My group got “dessert,” and we figured Cherries Jubilee sounded just … peachy.

We did pretty well, till we set the dessert aflame and the flame made a mad dash for freedom, grabbing hold of the dish towel we were using to keep from burning our fingers. The excitement lasted only a few minutes, but all six of us were banned from cooking anything else that involved heat for the rest of the semester.

Home Ec 2 was a little better. Sewing. Not that I’d ever used a sewing machine before, but I figured with a carefully selected class project, I could skate through this.

Not for me the useful kitchen apron or the go-everywhere black skirt. I talked to Mom, who knew my skill set better than anyone (remember those marble-sized potatoes from Day 18), and Mom thought I should make … a bedspread.

“It’s just two straight seams,” she explained. “Even you can manage that.”

We set off for the fabric store, and bought two lengths of fabric: one that would form the main part of the bedspread, and another that I’d cut in half to form the parts that would hang on the sides of the bed.

Now, you’d think that a project that involved making two straight (albeit lengthy) seams could be accomplished in … what? One good Saturday afternoon, right?

Uh-uh. See, in order to sew those seams, I first had to cut the one piece of fabric in half, lengthwise. And I was no better at wielding the scissors to cut a straight line on fabric, than I was at using them to cut a straight line on wrapping paper.

My bedspread ended up with a quilty-looking pattern on one side, and a patchwork of remnants on the other. And who forgot to tell me about hemming the thing all the way around? My bed became the poster child for “you’re ugly and you mother dresses you funny.”

I figured Home Ec 3 would be my saving grace. This was the “pick your project” class, the one where the kids who knew how to do homespun tasks could shine.

Well. My mom was a world-class knitter, and she had taught me a thing or two. I decided that I’d make my instructor a pair of knitted slippers, the kind that had pom-poms on the toe section. Mom wrote down the instructions, and I got down to work.

Cast on 29 stitches. Done!

Row 1: K 9, p1, K9, p1, K9. Okay, this was tricky, because the length of yarn stretching between the needles on the first row kept getting longer. I tore that first row out about a dozen times before I figured out how to work the yarn so that didn’t happen.

Row 2: K all. Yes! Easy!

Rows 3 – 12: Repeat Rows 1 and 2, ending w/Row 2.

Row 13: K1, P1 across, dec 1 st every other row 3 times.

Continue in K1, P1 pattern for an appropriate length for adult or child size. Bind off.

Here’s where I got lost. What’s an appropriate length? I didn’t know my teacher’s shoe size!

I ended up with a slipper that was about 15 inches long, from heel to toe.

It took a while to do that much knitting, and when I finally got the heel seam and toe section sewn together, I took the slipper out to show Mom my handiwork.

About the same time that I re-read through all the instructions and discovered that I’d missed the instruction on the very last line:

Make two.

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About Billie Noakes

The writer you want for crisp, clean copy.
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2 Responses to Day 20: Home (Y)Ec(k)

  1. Tia says:

    Unless you are blurring the line between reality and fiction, you have an uncanny ability to bring forth the past. Loved this post and your storytelling. “Make two” should be the mantra for us poor souls who seem to miss that one line of instruction.

  2. Alana says:

    I failed home ec in junior high. Yes, really. Can’t knit. Can’t cook. Can’t clean. Haven’t made my bed in years.

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