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Matchar is sympathetic, even admiring, of much of what's involved in New Domesticity, but balks at its solipsistic tendencies. "Let's not retreat to our homes, the way the women of the original nineteenth-century Cult of Domesticity did," she concludes. "Let's invite the world inside." While I'd argue that that "inviting the world inside" was in fact precisely what women like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Sarah Josepha Hale were trying to do, much of Matchar's analysis of this cultural phenomenon is intelligent and insightful—essential reading for anyone who has ever felt inadequate or guilty for not DIYing it all.

And now I'll get back to knitting a sweater. I'm not going to blog about it, or post it for sale on Etsy. It's for another friend's baby. And I don't think I'm changing the world with each stitch. Sometimes a handcraft is just a handcraft.

Rachel Stone is the author of Eat With Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food (InterVarsity Press). She blogs at

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