Nature v. Nurture

At last week’s EBMQG meeting we determined the subject of our June meeting – Family. This really got me thinking about my roots, and about quilters and traditions and sharing. My maternal grandfather was an upholsterer, and woodworker among other things. His mother was an amazing seamstress as well, from sweet dresses to polyester leisure suits. My grandmother and great, great grandmother on my paternal side were quilters. What I’m getting at is, there is a long history of crafting, sewing and quilting in my family.

A regularly debated question in my own household is, is this propensity towards sewing/quilting (or some other behavior) nature or nurture? There is alot of gray area here, but I am more in the nature camp myself.  My other half, sees things more absolute than I and wholeheartedly believes you are a product of your environment.  Agreed, kids often imitate their parents/role models.  I too, saw my mother sew regularly – she made many of my finer church dresses for years. I wanted to learn to sew because I saw my mother doing it. What keeps me interested though, is deeper than that. As an adult I yearn for the tactile experience.  The need to solve the puzzle (every project is a puzzle in it’s own way) is something that comes from within me. It’s not just a need to emulate or a practical solution to preserve tradition, although both those things play into it.  I also love the camaraderie of sharing with others, and learning from others too.  It’s a bonding experience that I treasure weather it is with my own mother or my lovely friends at the EBMQG.

I believe sewing & the need to sew/craft/create is part of my genetic makeup somehow…  Or… maybe it’s determined at birth by how the stars are aligned… How else do you explain that so many of us at EBMQG are pisceans???  Coincidence?  I think not.

Where do you stand in the nature v. nurture debate?

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6 thoughts on “Nature v. Nurture

  1. Dan R says:

    That’s a tough one. I have to look pretty hard in my family for a precedent of creative impulse. My mom sewed, but only rarely. She made a few costumes and completed at least six nylon/down sleeping bags from kits. But otherwise her machine was used only rarely for repairs. My dad channelled his creative impulse exclusively in the garden, but it has always been a very utilitarian drive. Sure there have been some flowers, but always arranged in the most efficient way to create lots of flowers, not for any sort of garden effect. But he likes to work with his hands to achieve tangible results.

    I think I inherited an urge to be productive, to channel my energy into accomplishing things. Whether that is nature or nurture I cannot say.

    But to back up a little and consider the broader nature/nurture conundrum, before I adopted Malcolm 9 years ago I was squarely in the nurture camp. Now you couldn’t rip me from the nature cult with the jaws of life.

  2. lhungler says:

    This is a very thought provoking post. I tend to think it is a bit of both. My mother sewed a few costumes and mended a lot of clothing. My grandmother made several quilts, but died when I was 7. I discovered quilting after Rad was born. I enjoy the tactile aspect as well as making something useful. My creations keep people warm. This makes me think I was born to do this since my greatest satisfaction comes from making something usefull which is a quality my mother loves. That being said, my twin sister does not quilt. She has very little interest in fabric or textiles. She bakes and cooks. We have been encouraged to do things differently so that is my argument of nurture. Of course, her hobby also proeduces a useful outcome (feeding the hungry)so maybe this is more proof of nature. I can see how parenthood changed Dan’s mind. Seeing how different my boys are certianly makes me think that nature is a bigger influence, but as a parent I hope to nurture and encourage my boys talents and interests. Rad is already showing an interest in sewing and I hope to make that happen. Who knows, I hope this made sense.

  3. sharona says:

    Some of my BEST memories are of Mom sitting at her machine, sewing a dress for me to wear to the Stockdale dance on Saturday night. She whipped them up…lots of love and lots of full circle skirts. I also remember my Aunt Na sending some silk from Japan when she was stationed there in the Korean war, Mom made me a dress from that…I still have a treasured piece of that silk (much earlier than the dance dresses)…I remember Grandma having a group from her church sitting around quilting…I didnt know WHAT they were doing until I started quilting myself, then I knew she had a quilting bee and they were handquilting and sharing with each other-just like we do today.
    My memories work backwards…I don’t remember my Grandmother teaching me to sew on her treadle machine, but I know she did and I have the treadle machine here at home now…these are etched in my memory bank…I have some of my Great Aunt Margaret’s quilts here with me now…she taught me to knit (take one ball of yarn, knit it up and send it to the soldier’s for bandages)I don’t even know which soldiers but it was in the early 50’s…anyway, Aunt Margaret quilted too…who knew and now I hug her handmade quilts – I’ll bring one to next meeting.

    I love to tell MY journey into quilting, but going back to my roots…that is really delicious…thanks for starting this conversation.
    I’m gonna stay here in the early part of the journey for now…its so rich, thanks.

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