Arts & Crafts in da House Alex Nursall

I am having flashbacks to Girl Guides at Craft Week’s Knitting Workshop on Monday, as I hold up my knitting needles, trying and failing to mimic instructor Day Milman’s exaggerated gestures. She insists that it just looks complicated.

I can feel the ghost of my atrocious wool uniform scratching my leg, along with a good dose of pre-teen angst, looming over me as I fumble with my purple wool. Instinctively, I think that this is the part of Craft Hour where I re-negotiate said craft. My petulance is about to get a reality check.

“Something I always think of, when knitting, is the genius of women,” Milman says to her students. “Crafting has far-reaching social and economic implications,” she says to me, afterward. “In knitting something, you gain an awareness of the real value of the garment, something that is lost to us in first world countries.”

Indeed, in a year that caused us all to re-evaluate the value of everyday things, some old-fashioned DIY could be a great resource for penny-pinching students.

This is Craft Week’s first year, and the turnout has been fantastic; instructors were taken aback by participation. With that said, individual attention is given to students eager to learn a new skill.

“Craft Week is an extension of our weekly Tuesday Craft Nights at Hart House,” says Milman. “It’s a low-pressure, casual environment, for people interested in a variety of crafts.” Craft night is open to everyone, and every medium.

As I look to the girl at my left, half-done a scarf with perfectly-even stitches she started 15 minutes ago, I inquire hopefully: “You’ve done this before?” to which I get a delighted “Nope!”

“Knitting is like cooking!” chimes Milman. “Everyone finds their own style.” I look down at the mess on my lap and christen my style “Purple Spaghetti and Chopsticks.” Like I said: worst Girl Guide ever.

Everyone should take advantage of Craft Week: it's free, the instructors are insightful, the atmosphere is pleasant; and most importantly, yours truly excepted, a one-hour workshop could be the beginning of a beautiful and useful new hobby. Craft Week, along with the lost meaning of its namesake word, is a hidden gem.

Hart House Craft Week runs through January 29 (11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.) at Hart House Reading Room. For more information, visit www.harthouse.ca/craft_night.

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  • Subtitle: Associate Arts Editor gets crafty at Hart House
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