Unskilled in the domestic arts, I visit fabric stores as if they were museums.
Intimidated, I thread past the exhibits of completed artwork, then pore over the patterns of possibilities and reach out to touch the canvas. Then I scurry outside, exhaling and happy that I didn't break anything and wasn't asked to sew on a button or perform some other incomprehensible task.
Fortunately, for people like me who somehow sidestepped Home Ec classes in junior high then went on to navigate lives without needing to hem pants or replace a zipper, there is an easier way to interact with those who can sew. Added bonus: Wine is included.
Fabric of Vision Quilt Shop in downtown Ashland has been offering Swig & Stitch sewing classes at the nearby Liquid Assets Wine Bar for four years. Here, needles-and-seams expert Sandi Globus gathers a group at the long bar, sets up her Pfaff sewing machine near the Ninkasi Tricerahops beer tap and jackhammers away, showing slightly interested wine drinkers how to make wearable art or decorations.
In January, the group learned to make an apron with a hidden hook to hold a wine opener. In celebration of Globus' birthday, on Feb. 8 they will watch her zip up party napkins, place mats and a banner.
In between the whirring of the sewing machine and clip-clip of scissors, Denise Daehler-Piotter, who owns Liquid Assets, explains the wines she is pouring: Irvine Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir ($28), William Augustus 2008 Cabernet Franc ($24) and Trium 2010 Viognier ($20), as well as imports.
When I attended one of these sessions a year ago, I said that teaching a sewing class at the narrow part of a wine bar is like holding a gymnastics class in an elevator. You're dealing with incredible spatial constraints, makeshift equipment, lots of unrelated action going on and distracted participants.
But Globus likes it. She conducts classes here at night rather than at her small shop during the day because, as she tells the busy women attending Swig & Stitch, "I have no space, and you have no time."
As the two-hour session wears on, the women — yes, only women so far — get a little boisterous and sidetracked. At one class, Globus waved a piece of fabric like a surrender flag and told a trio in the corner that they were getting rowdy. Another time, she tinked a wine glass with a Hera marker to get everyone's attention for a critical snip.
Between lectures on lapels by Globus and talks about labels by Daehler-Piotter, there are lots of giggles and sharing of shopping secrets. When the ladies leave the bar, they have materials to duplicate the project, a wine glow and accelerated interest in interfacing and binding.
Afterward, Globus uses her Pope-shaped church key to pop open a Blind Pig IPA and she starts thinking about the next class.
The cost for the lesson and wine tasting is $20, and reservations are required because the clasess, offered January through May, sell out quickly. Globus also holds monthly sewing demonstrations in Medford through Women Enjoying Beer.
To reserve a spot, call Globus at 541-482-4009 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EVENT: All would-be "American Idol" contestants can show off their musical skills at South Stage Cellars starting March 10. Organizers of the first South Stage Rising Stars competition hope to attract 50 solo, duo or trio groups. The winner, based on people's-choice voting, will perform at the Britt Festivals' Table Rock City Stage and receive a cash prize and studio time at Blackstone Audio in Ashland.
Musicians — amateurs and pros — should contact Rising Stars organizer Porscha Schiller at email@example.com to register (the fee is $20 to $30, which all goes to the winner).
The rest of us can show up at the South Stage Cellars tasting room in downtown Jacksonville starting at 3 p.m. March 10 and vote for our favorites. The cost to vote is $2, with all the money going to the nonprofit children's court advocates, CASA of Jackson County. There is no charge to watch and clap.
The competition will continue until on Saturdays until all performers have had a chance to be in the spotlight and the top vote-getter is announced.
"I want to alert all the musicians and singers in the area about the Rising Stars contest and get the word out to everyone how they can support and vote for their favorite performers," says Schiller, who has been booking acts at South Stage Cellars for almost four years. "I am so surprised to realize how many people and businesses in the community are unfamiliar with all of our amazing artists."
TASTED: Generous friends invited over to dinner recently brought a bottle of Cowhorn Vineyard 2008 Reserve Syrah ($45; www.cowhornwine.com) that paired perfectly with the peppery conversation and the steak au poivre. The Biodynamic wine just received 91 points from Wine Spectator.
Reach columnist Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.