This week included several big firsts for me, as I finally joined in some of the groups that I have been planning to join since before I moved.
First, on Monday night, I went to my first dance class in Michigan. For those few of you who do not know me personally, I will explain. I really love Scottish Country Dance. This is the traditional social dance of Scotland. You dance with a partner, interacting with a larger group, called a set. You don't have to bring a partner, though, as etiquette dictates that you dance with a new partner for every dance, so there is a lot of mingling and meeting new people. It is a lot of fun, and the people are very welcoming. There is a broad age range of dancers, and there are groups all over the world. I have been dancing since 1999, and I roped both my best friend and my mother into joining me. I had even taught class occasionally in Atlanta, so you can see how strange it was for me not to be dancing, even though there is class four nights a week within about 45 minutes of my house. I just kept putting off calling the contact people. I was so glad I went on Monday, though. The class and the room are both fairly small, but there is a wood floor and live music. The thing that was the most exciting, however, was that one of the dancers is an old college dance friend of mine. She was a freshman when I was a senior, but she had been dancing since she was a kid, and she attended two of the classes I attended each week. She and her sister and best friend all attend the class.
On Sunday, I went to the monthly meeting of the Spinner's Flock, which is a handspinners' group that meets west of Ann Arbor. There were about 100 spinners in attendance, and nine or ten vendors, mostly of fiber, but one sold handmade soaps. There was a program on Estonian lace knitting, and a special area where people were giving assistance to beginners. While the group is large and convivial, I did not feel like they were as welcoming as the Peachtree Handspinners Guild because the group was fragmented. Everyone was clustered around tables scattered throughout the room, whereas at PHG they form a big circle. Also, there was no way to go around the room and share introductions, news and knitting, though there were announcements made. Once I just picked a spot and introduced myself, everyone was very nice. I just found it relatively difficult to break the ice. Still, it seems like a good group with a whole lot of resources, and I met one girl that I may be joining for other knit nights and LYS excursions.
The next thing that I may be joining is the Crepe Sew Along over at Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing. Gertie's blog started as a project to sew all of the patterns from the 1950's book Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing, but it has turned into much more. She has made it a forum for interesting discussion and a place to find great sewing information and tutorials. She is very inspirational, and she makes difficult things seem totally approachable. After watching her most recent sew along, I think I could tackle a custom fitted, hand tailored, fully interlined coat. Still, it's probably not a good idea for me to start there. Fortunately, her new sew-along is the beginner-friendly Crepe dress from Collette Patterns.
I have been an admirer of indie pattern company Collette Patterns since the first collection, when it was the owner Sarai's side venture, rather than her main employment. I can't quite remember whether I found it through Gertie or if I found Gertie though Sarai, but the designs are lovely, and from everything I have heard, the patterns are exceptionally well put together. The price is steep compared to what you pay for patterns a a chain store, but it sounds like what you get is higher quality, and you are supporting the livelihood of the designer. One main reason that I haven't purchased any of the patterns yet is that I haven't been sewing much, and I haven't used what I already own, so it is hard to justify buying new, especially given my employment situation.
Still, given the discounts available for the sew-along, and the rave reviews I have read recently, I have decided that if I can finish some of my existing sewing projects by the end of the month, then I can justify joining in, even if I'm a little late. I would check out local independent fabric shops first, but I found myself following Gertie's links to online retailers giving discounts, and I am finding the fabrics so inspiring.
I could do a light bue or green and white polka-dot:
Or a more fall-appropriate brown polka-dot:
Or something more abstract:
Or something more figurative:
Ahh, so much beautiful, tempting stuff...