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Editor's Note: From raising chickens and goats to knitting a masterpiece to pickling and preserving, we present your ultimate guide to mastering the homespun, do-it-yourself life in Indy. So slip on your gardening gloves, and let's get dirty. (See all Indy DIY stories here.)
Start with a Scarf
Get help with the basics at Knit Stop’s two-hour ROOKIE ORIENTATION: casting yarn onto needles, knitting, and purling—generally for a low-pressure project like a scarf. Even better, show up early to explore the shelves at Nancy George’s northside shop—and don’t miss the wacky yarns made of paper and stainless steel, or the couture cashmere and silk fibers. Free. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. 3941 E. 82nd St., 317-595-5648, knit-stop.comHave Sewing Demystified
Within the first 15 minutes of SEWING 101, Crimson Tate owner Heather Givans fixed a bobbin problem that’s been plaguing a sewing machine for 10 years, and then demonstrated how to use that pesky needle threader. Figuring out your own machine is Step 1, Givans says, because it boosts your confidence to work on projects at home. After the two-week or six-week introductory session, try easy project-based classes on pajama pants, iPad sleeves, Christmas stockings, and even basic quilts—all using the shop’s hip cotton fabrics from designers like Amy Butler and Julia Rothman. $60 or $150. 845 Massachusetts Ave., 317-426-3300, crimsontate.comWork Yourself into a Lather
At Agrarian’s new two-hour SOAPMAKING CLASS—taught by Cindy Kitchel, who sells her Sylvia’s Soap Kitchen suds there and at local farmers markets and festivals—students are walked through the “cold-process” steps: safely adding natural oils like coconut and apricot to a lye–water mixture, blending, enhancing with fragrances such as rosemary and lavender, and then pouring the creamy mixture into a mold. (Kitchel even shows you how to craft economical molds from household items like shoeboxes.) At the end, you’re sent off with a pre-measured kit of your own. $45. May 8. Agrarian, 661 E. 49th St., 317-493-1166, agrarianindy.comMake Your Own Gifts
Look for an amped-up class schedule when Broad Ripple Knits moves to its new digs this spring, in the Cornell Avenue spot formerly occupied by Big Hat Books. Beginner KNITTING CLASSES focus on baby sweaters and other small projects; intermediate students make gloves and custom-fit adult sweaters (and get help with tricky finishing work). Stop by between classes for the knitting equivalent of jam sessions. $45. See website for schedule. 6367 Guilford Ave., 317-255-0540,broadrippleknits.comCraft a Rug from Memories
In the cozy textiles studio at the Indianapolis Art Center, instructor Nina Suntzeff teaches seven- and 15-week WEAVING CLASSES that are open to students of all skill levels. You’ll pick your own projects—often scarves, dish towels, or rag rugs. “You can buy a cheap rag rug, but it’s nice to weave your own, especially if you have old clothing from your kids that you want to recycle,” she says. “Then you have a rug with memories in it.” $249 or $399. 820 E. 67th St., 317-255-2464, indplsartcenter.orgCrown Yourself Sweater Queen
Pay the fee for the BEGINNING KNITTING CLASS at Mass Ave Knit Shop, and you can keep coming for as long as you want—really. (Some students have been on the roster for years.) Once you master your needles, be ready to craft a basic sweater, and as the weeks roll on, you can matriculate to fancier patterns—swing styles, cardis, and Fair Isle alike. The semi-annual weekend in-store knitting retreat (next one: April 25–27) is a beloved ritual. $65. Weekly classes; see website for schedule. 862 Virginia Ave., 317-638-1833, massaveknitshoponline.comGet Your Bachelor's of Quilting
Enroll in QUILTS PLUS UNIVERSITY—a nine-class program at the eponymous shop in Nora—and you’ll soon have all the skills you need to create a keepsake from scratch. The curriculum progresses from the free Quilting 101 class to more advanced skills like rotary cutting, piecing techniques, and applique. Choose your fabrics from the store’s stock of more than 6,000 cottons. $15 to $45. See website for schedule. 1748 E. 86th St., 317-844-2446, quiltsplus.comWhip up a New Wardrobe
If you don’t know your presser foot from your feed dog, head to French Seam, where the four-week BEGINNING WITH THE BASICS workshop gets you started with garment construction. “We’ve taught some ladies who never used sewing machines before, who are now making beautiful dresses and jackets,” says president Courtney Young. Bonus: French Seam has the city’s widest selection of designer apparel fabrics. $225. 3909 E. 82nd St., 317-841-1810, thefrenchseam.comBecome a Dream Weaver
Why buy fabric when you can make your own from scratch? At Tabby Tree Weaver, students learn to dye wool, spin yarn, and weave projects ranging from rag rugsto heirloom linens. Start with the two-day BEGINNING WEAVING session, where you’ll learn the difference between warps and wefts, heddles and shuttles, as you design and craft a project on one of the shop’s looms. $125. 107 E. Main St., Arcadia, 317-984-5475, tabbytreeweaver.comFind Your Inner Ron Swanson
Whether you’re hoping to make a simple photo frame or a showpiece wine rack, woodworking lessons at the Indianapolis Art Center hit the nail on the head. Try BEGINNING WOODWORKING, a seven-week course, and then bevel your way to classes on joinery, furniture construction, and more. Sound too complicated? Start with a weekend workshop like Power Tools for Sissies. $299. 820 E. 67th St., 317-255-2464, indplsartcenter.org
This article appeared in the April 2014 issue.
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