Friday, February 13, 2009

Craft Night

Last night was my second time at Katie's Cozy Craft Corner. (We call that alliteration.) It was also my fourth night this week to be out of the house, so I'm glad to be in this evening.

Monday night was my regular knitting group, Tuesday night was regular choir night, Wednesday night was a second choir that I'm singing in for a few weeks as a favor to a friend, and last night was the monthly craft night that Katie hosts at De Nieuwe Anita, an interesting little bar/something about twenty minutes from the house.

In January, there were needle felting kits available from Penelope Craft for €5. Needle felting is very sculptural, very interesting. I got about halfway through a green dog and I lost my steam. It doesn't progress like knitting does, so it was difficult to wrap my head around it. I also poked my thumb with my needle when I wasn't looking and that stayed with me for a few days, dampening my enthusiasm. I'll get back to it.

This month, the special offer was crochet lessons. I've harbored a snobbery against crochet for the past 35 years or so. I was taught crochet by one of my first friends and I learned one stitch: the shell stitch. I used light purple (yet not lavender) acrylic yarn and I made it and ripped it out and made it again - always with mistakes. When I think of crochet, I think of a horrible acrylic scarf and how cheap it looked.

People have recently said to, "You knit? That's great. I crochet!" My response is always a thin smile and a response like, "Hmm...that's nice." It's always seemed so granny to me, and so not interesting. But my new friend, Malia, was offering, so I took her up on it.

It turns out that crochet is much more interesting than I thought it would be. There's much more variation than I realized. When Malia said, "Okay. Now I'll show you the shell stitch," I told her my purple acrylic story and she said, "Okay. We'll skip the shell stitch." I'm good at crafty things, so I picked it right up. And I got home and started on a pattern that I'll need to think about before proceeding.

Crochet definitely won't take over my life - although there's a fascinating aspect to it - but I want to know how to do it so that I can get it in my hands. There are also a few little projects that I've seen on Ravelry that I've been wanting to do. Crochet is very sculptural and lends itself to different shapes, whereas knitting is more straight forward and seems to have more rules and limitations. They both have their advantages and drawbacks.

This craft night is once a month and is at De Nieuwe Anita on Frederik Hendrikstraat 111 in Amsterdam. It starts at 20:00 and goes to about 23:00. It's pretty cozy. Last night, there was a woman sewing at the bar, a couple of embroiderers, a table full of needle felters and our crochet clutch. Last time, the place was packed - mostly with knitters I'd never met.

There were also cupcakes available (for €2,50 a pop, but the frosting was probably the best I've ever eaten. It was banana flavored and not completely sugary.) And there are make-your-own (with supervision) cocktails for €5. The one I like has gin and a blueberry liqueur.

This is me with a woman named Agnes. She looks like she's just taken a blow to the head, but she's just thinking. She was learning crochet as well. In other news, there are real people running around who are named Agnes.

This is Basak and Dagmar. Dagmar is teaching Basak, although Basak has crocheted before. And how exotic are the names in this post?

This Malia, the proprietor of Penelope Craft with Dagmar. She's a good teacher, very patient. Will repeat things 1000 times if you need it. And she crochets like the wind.

Aftern last night, I feel like I've got a handle on the basics of crochet. It's interesting to be new at something and to have to think about every move. I'm working on a cloth, just back and forth, this evening. This seems like something I could experiment with pretty quickly. And it's one more way to avoid my sweater.

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