Pick up a new cold-weather hobby at local community centers

Several weeks still stand between us and the warm weather of spring.

In the meantime, staying indoors isn’t all bad. In fact, it may be the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby — like sewing, quilting or knitting.

The Hixson Youth and Family Development Center offers free classes in quilting, sewing and crocheting every Friday and on some Saturdays. The classes, called Sew What Chattanooga, are led by professional quilt artist Joyce Teal.

“It’s a very come-when-you-can, leave-when-you-must class,” she said.

Newcomers to sewing and quilting start off by learning the basics, including cutting, knowing the difference between ironing and pressing, and working with a sewing machine, said Teal, whose students range in age from 9-80 years old.

“I believe it is the only multi-generational program in the [YFD] department,” she said. “It’s something all [generations] can share.”

Once students become more comfortable with the basics, they can start bringing in their own patterns and experimenting with new projects — all with the help of Teal whenever necessary. The large tables are perfect for laying out fabrics, patterns and quilts that need basting, she added.

“[Sewing] allows you to be creative,” Teal said. “It’s totally unique to you; no two people will make something exactly the same.”

Similarly, the North River Civic Center offers free knitting and rug-hooking classes to the public. All students have to do is bring the supplies, said center Director Lynda Rugina.

“It’s a tradition that could be carried on for generations,” she said of the hobbies, “and knitting is relaxing. They do a lot of socializing and knitting. It’s a fun time.”

Class leaders are very experienced, Rugina added, and the classes are open to all ages.

“We have young people there learning from their grandparents,” she said.

Learn more information at chattanooga.gov/youthandfamily.