Friday, 4 April 2008

My New Best Friends

I've been looking all over for yoga and sewing classes (not combined activities, you understand, but looking at the same time). I want them to be within walking or cycling distance and very inexpensive, which I realise is asking a lot. I've not found a yoga class yet, but I've scored on the sewing big style with a class that meets from 10 to 1 on Tuesdays at an old school less than a mile away from my house.

It's more of a sewing circle, really, but with an (antique industrial) overlock and a regular sewing machine supplied. The eight women who were there are mostly retired employees of a nearby factory that is now shut down (it all comes from China now) and my experience with previous sewing instructors is that these people have a wealth of practical knowledge. I was there a little early. When the others began arriving I chipped in right away by helping to move the tables into a smaller square and picking up an almost dead bug in a paper towel and taking it to a waste bin down the hall (yuckkk). The ladies I met first, Nora and Ruby, made sure I was introduced to each of the others as they arrived. A pile of handmade cards collected at the place where a Hazel normally sat and she brought pastries for everyone to celebrate her birthday. We started with a cup of tea/coffee and then got down to work. Nora invited me to sit next to her.

They mostly bring their own projects, but Nora said she often gets requests for alterations and other bits of sewing from other people in the building and so she doesn't bring a project. They have cabinets full of fabric and notions and she pulled out a roll of denim and several of them began making shopping bags. Others were knitting sweaters or sewing furniture covers. There was lots of bustle between the tables, the machines and the cabinets. I went around and spoke with most of them about what they were making and they were all lovely. Enid doesn't sew anymore, not having good use of her hands now, but she comes along for the company and was contributing to the shopping bags project.

Before long, I decided to run home and get Ellen's sweaters to see how they might suggest altering them. Nora threaded the overlock machine and stitched the first neckline for me. As soon as I finished the handwork on it I did the second sweater myself. Enid suggested a different approach on the third one and though I didn't have time to do it there, I finished it up at home. It wasn't as easy and took quite a while, but it turned out OK. I wanted to be able to go back next week and tell her I took her advice.

Nora brings sandwiches for everyone and they took a break about noon for a sandwich and another coffee or tea. I worked through, though Ruby offered me half of her sandwich; I wasn't hungry enough to stop (one of the benefits of keeping hands busy!) Nora said she would bring one for me next week if I wished. I'm going to have to think up some projects to take advantage of all this lovely expertise! I'm really annoyed I didn't find this sooner and I can't wait to go back next week!

The only problem is that if the 'little job' comes through, it will likely have to be on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I may not be able to continue for long. We'll have to see. In the meantime, I thought I got excellent value for the money: a whopping 50 pence to cover the coffee supplies.

No comments: