It always takes me by surprise how serendipitous sisterhood often is. Ever since this summer I was playing around with the idea of reaching out to my neighborhood association and starting a knitting group. And then at the end of August I saw a last minute notice that some of our neighbors were going to meet-up at our local Palette and Pub, and I spontaneously decided to check it out. (Palette and Pub is a cute bar in the area that sells delicious wine and appetizers and also offers painting and craft lessons.)
There were only a couple other women attending – women I know and am friends with – but they’re very active and well connected in our neighborhood. As we chatted over appetizers and drinks, I pitched my idea of launching a monthly knitting get-together, and they were very supportive.
I’d already decided that knitting might be too restrictive, so we decided to promote it as a general craft night instead. I’d been envisioning something low-maintenance at members’ homes – or my home if others weren’t comfortable hostessing – where women could hang out and craft together for a few hours once a month. But as we were chatting, the owner of the Palette and Pub offered her space, which was already set up with tables and work spaces for crafting, as an option, and it seemed like a perfect fit. We would promote the craft night through our neighborhood association, but it would be open to all who wanted to participate.
So we chatted and planned and put some dates together. Open craft would be available every month, where women could bring whatever project they’re working on – knitting, coloring, painting, beading, scrapbooking, etc. – and then there would also be months where the owner offered a class. (Our first class coming up in November will teach us how to make cute burlap wreaths.) It just happened to work out as one of those great situations where we can support a female entrepreneur who works right in our neighborhood, and she in turn is offering us a space to meet. And while participants have the option of ordering food and drinks and signing up for classes, attendance is free so it won’t be cost prohibitive for those sisters who are on a budget.
We had our first meeting in early October and it was a great success! We had eight or nine women attend, and it was fun and social and relaxed. We even had a “little” sister there, who made the sweetest minion painting for my four-year-old. And it seemed like everyone was working on a different project. We were:
- Knitting a baby blanket
- Practicing calligraphy
- Making jewelry
- Giving crochet lessons
- Painting with watercolors
And it was, as always, so comforting to see sisterhood in action. One of the attendants was actually a woman who I went to high school with, and it was fun catching up with her. She was teaching her co-worker how to crochet, and one of the other women was assisting in the lessons while she worked on scrapbook pages that would be a wedding gift for a friend of hers. And all of our drinks and food supported a local business.
If you’re looking to make some connections with women in your area, I highly recommend organizing a craft night. Creativity is a great form of self-care – many people feel emotional benefits from creative pursuits – and the format is open enough that even people who don’t typically see themselves as super creative can participate. Even if someone doesn’t knit or make jewelry, etc., they can always grab a mandala coloring sheet and some pencils. I also think there is something about having your hands busy that makes chatting and socializing pretty effortless. I know there have been studies showing that men communicate best when they’re not staring at someone while conversing, and I think crafting creates that same easy buffer space if you’re talking with people whom you don’t know well yet. And with everyone working on projects, you automatically have something to chat about.
We lucked out having a neighborhood business that was willing to host us. (Thanks, Palette and Pub!) But this could work just as well at members’ homes. You could either have one consistent place to meet if someone enjoys hostessing, or you could rotate from month to month to minimize the work for any one person. And as fun as it is to get fancy with food and beverages, I think there is something to be said for keeping it low maintenance so that hosting isn’t intimidating. There is also the option of having everyone bring something to pass so that the expense doesn’t fall on one person. I would definitely try to keep things easy and affordable so that nobody feels excluded based on monetary commitment. As always, the main focus is on creating opportunities for you to connect with your friends and neighbors and build lasting connections.
If you’re in the Green Bay area, our next craft night is on Tuesday, November 1, from 6 – 9pm at the Palette and Pub Allouez, 516 Greene Ave., Allouez, WI. If you would like to sign up for wreath making, call ahead to pre-register so that they have materials ready for you, (920) 940-8448.