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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Colcha Finale: Crafting Beer

Well we finished our Colcha!! 

I can't believe how quickly the deadline got here!  We had our last meeting (for the Colcha) this past Sunday, and worked hard to finish the quilt in order to mail it out this week.

Here's a preview of us placing the panels together & figuring out how we would stitch it together.  (I'm pretty sure my hops look more like grapes... but, whatever!)


 Barbara's Wheat preparing to be attached to the "yeast" background square...

Babs working feverishly on her barley!
Here's Risa freaking out as I cut her artwork to make the sashing fit to bind the quilt squares...


Always some crap involved somewhere...

 Risa sporting her new "Happy Hooker" t-shirt...

  We drink, therefore we CAN!

Phew!!

 The finished product!  Hops, Barley, Wheat, Yeast & Water!
And some final thoughts on our time together...

Heather:  With our busy lives, it is hard to make the time to get together to do projects like these.  We tell ourselves it is easier to work alone... Yet, when we do make the effort, we are rewarded by new friendships and a sense of well-being that can only be achieved in a group setting - shared with others.
Sunday night, I arrived to the meeting to realize that this project had become a source of frustration for one of our members (and to be honest- I was working feverishly to finish my work right before the meeting as well).  We were faced with a project that needed much more work done to finish, and no time left.  So, rather than let this get us all frustrated, or blame each other, or ourselves, we pulled together & decided on a revision of the original design & worked together for the next 3 hours to finish what we could as a group. 
I was very proud of what we accomplished, once we changed our mindset, and our design to something we all felt we could handle, the tension eased & we continued to share our stories as before, discussing all things (Grammy's, work-related issues, partnership issues, movies, generational music), and ended up singing an accapella version of "Me & Bobby McGee" while we stitched away... We also discussed how we are going to create a WIP Craft Group and have monthly get-togethers to share work, enjoy each other's company, and build on the community we have crafted.  I have really enjoyed getting to know both Risa & Barbara better & look forward to our future meetings!  Thanks so much for this wonderful project!
Risa:  What an experience this has been.  For me the one who barely knew what a crochet needle looked like it was an introduction to a new experience.  I am still truly a novice but I hope to develop this skill.  It is truly a relaxing experience.  For me it continued to be an opportunity to make and develop new friendships.  In the end, as the deadline was upon us stress came to the project.  For a few moments we thought about abandoning the project.  Ultimately a decision was made to rethink and redesign.  I have to share that my contribution was the least challenging but it was inspirational to witness the determination to confront and overcome frustration.  Thank you Heather and Barbara for time shared I hope it will just be a beginning.
Barbara:  As the night started out I was quite anxious, as it had become apparent that I had bitten off more than I could chew.  However, Heather saved the day by arranging our Colcha around my unfinished panels and I crocheted malted barley grains at a furious pace.  Risa kept the conversation going. We enjoyed a few beers and worked through the evening.  As our Colcha took shape we began looking forward to our next projects.  It occurred to us that we enjoy working on our crafts as a group and the gears are in motion not only to bring our craft projects to the Schnitzel House to work on while in the presence of friends, but to invite all of our friends out to join in the fun and camaraderie!

Lift a glass to barley wheat hops and water!
If you can guess we lift a glass to you
Who knew what barley,wheat,hops and water could do?
- Risa Novikoff



Monday, January 23, 2012

All about Colcha...

I know I've been very quiet post-holidays, but I have been busy with a new project with friends that I would like to share with you!
I was invited by Doris Cacoilo, an awesome professor & artist who taught one of my classes at Hunter College Media Department, to join her Colcha Project.  What is a Colcha?  Well, it is a quilt covering, usually crocheted.  This project called for me to organize a group together to plan, design and create a colcha as a group & also to examine the social dynamics this sort of project cultivates.

I decided to approach two women I knew who had expressed interest in joining me for a quilting circle.  We started meeting up at our local German Schnitzel Haus, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 3 Saturdays ago.  I also asked the women to write brief journal entries about their experience in this group, so that I could share on my blog & also on Doris' blog. 

[I am including our journal entries & some photos all at once on this post- so this will be a bit lengthy.  However, future posts will have shorter updates & photos.]
Heather:  I was very excited with how eager both Barbara & Risa were in doing this project.  Risa had never crocheted before, and Barbara was a bit more advanced.  However, with this type of project, we could all go at our own pace & then piece it together as a complete project.  Barbara came up with the idea of doing a quilt encompassing the different ingredients of beer; water, barley & hops.  We all agreed (while we were drinking our German beers) that this was a perfect idea & split up the tasks & came up with a design- all in our first meeting! 

By the second meeting, Risa had already made up her chained strands of water, I had two 12" crocheted blocks completed & a bunch of popcorn stitches done to applique onto the blocks in the end.  (I thought the popcorn stitch most perfectly resembled hops, and I am using different colors of green to highlight them.)  And, Barbara had picked up some really neat yarn & had begun working out her ideas of the barley.

The best part of this project has been getting to know each other & the sense of community we have cultivated.  While we are working on our project, we talk about all kinds of things; Risa is a retired school teacher, whom I met through the local food co-op, and Barbara used to be my neighbor who is a filmaker as well as craft brewer.  We discuss art, love, family, community, politics, and share our stories with each other.

I have been so pleased with people's reactions to our multi-generational project.  Our waiter coincidentally was working on a crocheted hat & share his project with us, and all the patrons & staff at the restaurant enjoy seeing us on a regular basis & watching our progress. 


Risa:  When I was approached by my friend Heather to participate in this project I did not hesitate,but had to share with her that  I had never held a crochet needle In my hands, and I was concerned that as I am not the least bit craftsy in was an unlikely participant. We agreed to meet at the Schnitzel Haus in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.
Day 1:      We are group of three and Barbara, inspired by our meeting place arrived with a suggested theme for the project. The project will illustrate the four ingredients in beer hops,barley, yeast and water.  To represent these ingredients we will focus on color and shape.
I was surprised to discover how quickly I was able to learn a basis chain stitch.  I will be working on water.  A good choice as water is fluid and imperfections less apparent.  When I returned home I continued to practice. This was indeed challenging  as my cat wanted the yarn for himself.

Day 2.  We continued our work, but was the most meaningful for me was the experience of building relationships, offering each other support as we shared our personal challenges.... Relationships, loneliness, motherhood you name it.  Oh yes drinking beer, eating German food and watching football too.  One really can crochet and do all this at the same time.  What a great day!

Barbara: 
Meeting 1:
I had met Heather, but I had never met Risa before.  I was not sure what to expect but as we got down to business I could tell that I was with a group that will be fun, no matter what our Colcha looks like.  It's a bit cliche, but sometimes it is not about the destination, it is about the journey.  :D

Meeting 2:
I was thoroughly impressed with the work that Heather and Risa have done on their portions of the Colcha.  The colors we all chose are going to look great together.  I learned alot about my fellow Colchaers as well.