Tools, Glorious Tools

toolsI love tools.

Truly, I do—I love the tools of almost any trade. I love hardware stores and catalogs like the ones I get from Lee Valley Tools and Rio Grande and the Yarn Barn.

In history museums, I love to look at rusty tools from the farm, the sawmill, the kitchen, the workshop. I like the familiar tools and the mystery tools, the ones now obsolete, where you can only guess what their work once was.

One of the best parts of starting a new craft, for me, is the necessity of accumulating the tools of the trade—poring through catalogs, searching eBay, poking through garage sales, coming up with elaborate ways to justify the cost.

As I’ve thought about the crafts and hobbies I’m most drawn to, I’ve noticed that I seem to gravitate to the ones that take the most tools. I wonder if the reason I’ve never really connected with knitting and crocheting is because the basic tools seem so few and, well, basic?

I also realize I like powerful tools—they make me feel competent. One of the primary appeals of jewelry making, for me, was that I got to use acetylene torches and wield big hammers.

And I love specialized tools—the tool that does one thing, perfectly.

I love expensive, high-quality tools because, if you can’t trust your tools, you can’t do your job.

And, if I can get a tool that is, itself, handmade and beautiful—well, that thrills me no end.

I love old, well-loved tools that show the evidence of the work they’ve done and human hands upon them—the wooden spoon that’s getting a little flat on one edge because it’s stirred the soup and scraped the pan so often, the worn spot on the hoe handle, where the hands always grip.

I find myself consciously appreciating certain tools, almost petting them. Just off the top of my head, I can think of favorites for almost any activity I engage in. When I find these favorites, I keep them safe, and I keep them close.

I think I may tell you about some of my favorite tools, at some point, partly because I love them so, but also because I want you to think about the tools you use and rely on and, yes, love.

Just off the top of your head, do you have special favorites? A paintbrush that’s special? A crochet hook? A fiddle, or trowel, or shuttle, or pair of scissors?