My father used to go to “night school” every week throughout my childhood. He had been a Prisoner of War in Poland, having been shot down during the Second World War. Despite this unpleasant experience he was never anti-German and he very much admired their approach to business. He learnt some German during the war and wanted to become proficient. He also spoke enough French and Spanish to get by on, and I am sad to say I did not inherit his ability.
But I did inherit his attitude to life long learning and going to classes after work as an act of self-improvement.
My mother, too, went to learn flower arranging, upholstery, pottery, watercolours, and braille. So you can see that we all enjoy learning and meeting people.
I have tried to encourage my children. When they were small we went to “Family Workshops” which included activities for the children and the adults in the same room, with two teachers. That was bliss. And when she was older Esme went to journalism classes, and sound engineering, and joined me for a term of pattern cutting. Gus and I went to learn about short story writing together. I love the concept of learning together with family members.
At the moment, however, I go on my own, and know that I will always meet interesting people, some of whom will become good friends.
This term I have done the modelling on the stand course, but it will soon be over and I will sign up for something new.
What will it be? I know some readers, especially those that don’t live in big cities, believe that we are spoiled for choice in London. But despite there being thousands of courses I am finding deciding on one that works for me to be something of a challenge.
Here are some of the topics I am considering.
- silver jewellery making
- more modelling on the stand
- tailoring, or couture sewing techniques
However I am restricted by the timings – in the week Monday and Friday evenings are best for me as work meetings and events are less common on these nights. There are weekend courses too, but I usually like to relax a bit more at the weekends. So I have been searching by the colleges for a suitable topic.
- There is a contemporary millinery course at Morley, but takes place on a Wednesday so that more or less rules it out for me. All their other courses in hat making are sadly in the day.
- The same problem exists with a jewellery making course at Mary Ward – Wednesdays are just too busy for me.
- I have considered doing an Art Foundation course at Mary Ward. This involves doing a range of classes. Some of the textile course students who I met last year were on the Art Foundation course. This is a one year course, with two evening a week being required, plus some weekends, and would be very demanding. I have always thought I might do this when I retire, but I feel it would be amazing to do now. I know I would have to do some courses I am not naturally attracted to like drawing, water colours or sculpture, but I always learn more when I do things that I wasn’t originally attracted to.
- Kensington and Chelsea college do some interesting millinery courses including thermoplastics and fabric hats, both of which appeal, but the dates are no good.
- I have found a six-week pottery course on a Saturday which might be good if Nick wanted to do a course with me, although it would cut into the sewing time.
- There are some amazing one week courses available at Central St Martins which is very close to my Kings Cross office. Taking a week off work to study knitwear design, or couture tailoring techniques is appealing, although I actually prefer doing my learning in chunks with a week to think and possibly practice in between.
- There is a serious tailoring course over 10 weeks, one day a week, at Morley, run by Daniel Kinne. I don’t think I can justify taking the time of work, but if you want a really good course this one is recommended by many people.
- I have searched in vain for knitting courses. I don’t want a beginners course. I can knit quite well. What I cannot do is knit shapes to make clothes with. I have never made a jumper or cardigan and want to know how to get the tension, sizing, shaping, fitting, blocking and joining sorted out, with supervision. There are a few of these but they seem to be based in suburbs – and I don’t really want to be travelling home late at night. I also found a great machine knitting course at the CASS, but I know where that would lead. To the purchase of a knitting machine and then my sewing machine would start crying.
- On Mondays at Morley I could do more draping – skirts with Lynda – which is an attractive option. I have almost completed her draped dress course.
- I am hovering on Vanda’s Intermediate pattern cutting. This is on a Tuesday night at Morley and comes recommended by my friend Galina.
So after hours of searching I think I have narrowed it down to either pattern cutting or more draping on the stand. I will let you know what I decide on.
Are you signing up for any courses this autumn? Or do you prefer to learn with videos, from books or just trial and error?