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Are You Handy? | Not Quite Amish

Are You Handy?

I’m really excited about this post since I get to share with you another part of my life that I am very passionate about.


What is a Handicraft?

Handicraft n
1. skill or dexterity in working with the hands
2. (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Crafts) a particular skill or art performed with the hands, such as weaving, pottery, etc.
3. (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Crafts) the work produced by such a skill or art local handicraft is on sale Also called handcraft

My mother was Amish until her mid-20s and in early years learned so many handicrafts, namely crocheting, sewing, quilting, rug-making, and canning. Of course, she learned all of these handicrafts from her mother, my “Mammie” Liddy from Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. It is very important to the Amish way of life to hand down life skills and handicrafts.

Some of my fondest memories growing up when we visited my Amish “Mammie” Liddy was when her quilt frame was up in the living room and we’d sit around it and chat. Since she was getting paid for it, I never learned . . . it wasn’t the right place for a beginner. Someday, however, I’d love to learn to quilt. She would also occasionally bring out a rag rug and let us choose one. She also gave me one for my high school graduation, and I had it in my dorm room in front of my bed all four years. She made us grandchildren patchwork dogs one year also. My childhood was filled with handicraft items.

Now that I’m a mom of two little girls, these things have become even more important to me. I learned some of these handicrafts growing up, but it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized how important these skills can be. Crocheting, some sewing, and repurposing and painting old furniture has become my favorite hobbies.

As a homeschooling mom I want to incorporate handicrafts into our lesson plans. My oldest, Felicity, is six and in the first grade—such a wonderful time to begin with some of the basics in so many handicrafts. Since we incorporate a lot of Charlotte Mason methods in our homeschooling, handicrafts fit right into our philosophy.

Last week I started Felicity on finger knitting! She was excited all week for our Fun Friday Handicraft time. My youngest, Mercy, is three, and she joins in with school when she wants and I decided to let her “play” finger knitting with us.

This is the video that we learned from!

It gave us a complete rundown of the basics, and we were off. I have TONS of yarn since I’m a crocheter (though I rarely have time lately since starting my Amish historical book series), so I have a huge variety in my stash.

Here are a few pictures on how our first try at handicrafting went.


As you can see Felicity got very into her new skill. Mercy was just as enthusiastic, and I let her have at it.

I encourage you to bring back these skills most kids will never learn to do. Yes, my kids play with iPads and iPhones and know how to work our AppleTV, but we do our best to limit that and put handicrafts and nature studies in front of them as much as possible. If you didn’t notice both girls were extremely proud of their handicraft and showed them off proudly at the library.

Here is a great resource about handicrafts. This website is filled with information on handicrafts.

Handicrafts aren’t just for the skill, though. The quality time we got with one another learning this skill was worth more than the yarn in gold! Felicity and Mercy are growing up fast, and I want to soak up every minute possible. I want them to look back at their childhood and remember it as unhurried and filled with face time with people who loved them and invested time and energy into them.

YOUR TURN: What handicrafts did you learn as a child? What have you taught your children or plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on handicrafts and life skills.


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Elizabeth Byler Younts (29 Posts)

Elizabeth Byler Younts used to be Amish, and even after her family converted, she still grew up among her Amish family. She is still very close with them and still speaks Pennsylvania Dutch regularly. She is the author of an Amish memoir titled Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. Seasons is the story of her grandmother Lydia Lee Coblentz who grew up in an impoverished Amish family through the Great Depression. Seasons was released in August 2010 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in three categories. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an Air Force Officer’s wife with two young daughters and makes her home wherever her family is stationed.


  1. Mackenzie says:

    One thing that’s pretty obvious across the country is the link between being part of an immigrant community (or a community that once they immigrated, refused to assimilate, like the Amish) and doing things with your hands. “Why learn to make something, when I can just buy it?” is not something you hear in those groups. You also don’t hear any of that hooey about a craft being “rediscovered.”

    Well, my mother was baptized in a church that doesn’t have a word of English spoken in its services. I have for a long time explained my life and crafting thusly: my grandma’s an old Rusyn lady who required that I be able to sew, embroider, crochet, and bake before I was ready to start preschool. You know, get all the important life skills out of the way first.

    Since then I’ve picked up knitting, spinning, dyeing, lucet, and fingerloop braiding. As a kid she also taught me to make Easter eggs the old way, with a pin and hot wax. Her husband was Ukrainian, so I later learned their method, using a tiny funnel on a stick, and hot wax.

  2. Tricia, I LOVE this!!!
    It’s always been an important part of our family life, as well.
    My paternal grandmother and my father immigrated to America from Passau, Germany when my father was 16. She was a wonderful handicrafter and owned her own shop in Eagles Mere, PA. My earliest memories of being with her were perched upon a high wooden stool with a crochet hook in one hand and spun wool in the other. She designed her own crochet, knitting, and weaving patterns that she worked out on her hand-made loom.
    She never talked much. She was a haunted woman with too many harsh memories of the War and time in a work camp. Her broken English frustrated her, but her beautiful creations conveyed her heart and talent perfectly to all those who received her work.
    I have been taught the skills of crocheting, sewing, weaving, pottery making, stone tumbling and setting (jewelery), as well as woodworking, sculpting, gathering of wild edibles, and artisan bread baking all from this one creative lady.
    I have passed down some of those skills to my sons – now 21 and soon to be 20- and am working with my 6 year old niece in sewing, crocheting, baking, and home crafting.

    These skills go far beyond home decorating and gift shop sales. They are part of our life story and serve as a fresh connection to our family roots each time we pull that afghan up on the bed, take that bite of a down-through-the generations bread recipe, and place those ornaments on the tree.

    • Elizabeth Byler Younts says:

      Fantastic!!! I especially love how you said its part of your life story. I pray my children will say the same thing when they are grown! Thank so much for your story. No prob that you thought this was Tricia. 🙂

  3. Oh, my! My apologies, I see that this didn’t come from Tricia, but from Elizabeth♥ Elizabeth…LOVE your post!

  4. My mom was a kindergarten teacher before she had kidlets. So she was not afraid of messy handicrafts. We learned to do ceramics in our basement. She also let us fingerpaint a lot. Mom taught us all kinds of things: knitting, needlepoint, cross stitch, macrame, painting, scrapbooking, etc. So many happy memories.

    I had fun passing along some of these skills to my son. He’s 20 now but he can sew on a button, cook up a storm, and cut and paste with the best of them. teehee.

    • I need to learn how to be less afraid of the mess that comes from some of the teaching handicrafts. My daughter stuffed an almost new skein of yarn in her pack today as we left the house…when we pulled it out for finger knitting at the coffee shop it was one huge tangle. A mess I am untangling now. 🙂 thanks for stopping by!

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