When the gusty winter winds and freezing temps drive you inside, why not pick up a new hobby – especially one associated with curling up, hearthside. The Stitchery RI in Portsmouth is the perfect place to try your hand at cozy crafts like sewing, knitting, and apothecary that you can practice socially or solo, fireplace not required.
The Stitchery first opened in February 2017, when co-founder Traci Vaspol saw a need in the local community for knitting classes after many local yarn shops shut their doors. Vaspol, alongside Karen Katin, decided over coffee one day to combine their talents and rent a studio in the bay as classroom space.
The pair first met through the Great Rhody Yarn Crawl four years ago, a pub crawl-esque event for local yarn enthusiasts. Katin, a self-taught sewer, first picked up a needle as a child, learning the craft and its techniques from her mother and grandmother. “Teaching sewing classes combines all of my past experiences into the ideal job,” says Katin. Vaspol learned when she was a child, too, from her grandmother, an extraordinary knitter. She also took the time to study aromatherapy when her own children were young, and “enjoys opening doors for other folks to learn these skills.”
To the duo, their success is partly dependent on timing. Amid a renewed interest in making things with your own hands as a response to “fast fashion” and wanting to know where clothing is made, and coupled by the lack of home economic programs in most schools, they’ve created a welcoming studio space where children and adults of similar interests can get together. According to Katin and Vaspol, “There aren’t many places where you can go to learn things previous generations took for granted.”
Classes and private lessons are available for students of all ages and ability levels throughout the week. Class sizes are small, no more than eight, presenting the opportunity for one-on-one skill work with The Stitchery’s talented instructors. Classes typically run after school, during the evening, and Saturday mornings, but are available during the weekday. In the winter months, projects coordinate with the season and holidays: In December, they’ll sew holiday decorations and make scented candles, and in January, they’ll focus on cozy quilts and knitted hats. For more information on classes, visit their website.