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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!

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.