Creatively Social

Whether you “do” lunch, hike, bike, or just schmooze over an after-work- cocktail — getting together with someone you know or complete strangers is a good thing!

According to Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane, coauthors of The Net and the Butterfly: The Art and Practice of Breakthrough Thinking, your brain doesn’t care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. It needs solo and group-time to be creative — in that order.

“When you’re alone, you’re essentially building a woodpile in your brain,” the authors write. “Then when you join a group, you’re igniting a shower of sparks that might light it up.”

“Summer’s why we live here” has long been the mantra of those who live in this gorgeous Rocky Mountain setting. The glorious weather allows for farmers’ markets, food festivals, people-watching from a restaurant deck — or just hanging out in your own backyard. It’s also a time to take time to participate in a plethora of creativity. Essentially — feed your brain. Build its woodpile. Challenge it.

Hike that fourteener that you’ve thought about forever. Go to lectures and gatherings. Pick up the 600-page book you’ve thought about reading for years. Learn a new skill. Listen to your soul. Then feed it.

Knitting is not just a knit-two, purl-two mindless sort of occupation or hobby. Oh no. These days it’s become an indoor adventure — and, at times, an outdoor adventure, as well, if you hook up with Liza Alrick and Cathryn Cooper, owners of Maker+Stitch, a destination yarn shop in Edwards. It’s become a vibrant social center for crafters who share an interest in knitting. Appealing to newbies and experienced knitters alike, Maker+Stitch’s summer programs are set in the shop’s fun space or connected with the outdoors in places where people can learn, practice and explore new skills. For some, knitting is a fresh hobby, a way to relieve stress or simply the excuse to sit around and socialize with friends. But knitting is a timeless tradition. In fact, the earliest knitted fabrics, dating back to 1000 AD, were excavated in Egypt.

Alrick and Cooper rediscovered their love of knitting while on separate weeklong workshops held in Iceland’s interior. They each went to Iceland alone but both experienced how a common interest can unite people who speak different languages and have different cultural backgrounds. Within a month after Cooper returned home, she approached Alrick with a business plan for a knitting shop in Edwards. Five months later, Maker+Stitch opened its doors.

This summer the shop leads the community-focused knitting movement with an array of workshops for of all levels. Knit-Alongs will span a six- or eight-week period at during which participants will work through the same project the same time. Knitters encourage and learn from each other along the way — and finally see, in the end, how each person’s project turns out — be it a sweater or a scarf. Drop-in workshops include the always-needed, free Stitch+Bitch sessions, which bring together knitters and their works-in-progress from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays for social knitting, crocheting, weaving and crafting. Café Knit, another group session that follows a similar format, is offered weekly at the shop on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon for a fee of $10 that goes toward coffee, tea and snacks.

“At these social sessions, everyone brings what they like both knitting and chatting-wise,” explains Alrick. “This makes the sessions inspiring, supportive and always different and interesting. Knitting provides a great opportunity to socialize because you know that you have a common love already even if you walk in not knowing anyone. From there, sharing other interests, information and news flows easily.”

If you’re a book lover, book clubs, literary events and workshops abound. Our libraries and The Bookworm of Edwards, this valley’s much-loved bookstore, have the latest titles — to borrow or buy. What’s more, these places also make it possible to engage with others while being exposed to new, exciting subjects — perhaps a genre that you never thought about exploring. “Books are the best way to get people talking,” says Amy Gornikiewicz, an adult reference librarian with the Eagle Valley Library District. “It never ceases to amaze me how books start all kinds of conversations.


Stories trigger connections with our lives, and reading books with others is a great way to get people to engage with each other.” Gornikiewicz spearheads Eagle Valley Library District’s It’s In The Bag! Book Club Kits program, which equips book club leaders with a check-out kit that contains everything needed to lead a book club, including ten copies of a single title and a notebook filled with information designed to spark discussion. The kit comes in a sturdy canvas bag that’s ready to grab and go to a book club gathering held in a cozy living room or outside around a picnic table. How easy is that? The Eagle Valley Library District, Vail Public Library and The Bookworm of Edwards also offer ongoing book club opportunities for those who would rather participate in a book club than lead one. And while these community centers are book-based at their core, they offer a coterie of workshops and classes that extend beyond the traditional bounds of what libraries and bookstores do.

The Vail Public Library’s Evenings of Engagement series features programming ranging from live music performances and living history presentations to educators and artists sharing their passions. Events are held every Wednesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., the perfect time for those who would like to follow-up the workday with some socializing, before heading out to dinner. The library also offers Zumba, gentle yoga, meditation and more as part of its Healthy Lifestyle Series. And, as usual, The Bookworm of Edwards’ summer calendar is packed with cool community get-togethers that make learning new things social and fun. The store’s workshops span topics such as succulent arranging, high-altitude baking and outdoor survival training. As well, the store never fails to bring terrific author events.

In fact, there will be a series aimed at helping authors expand their knowledge of the publishing industry. And make sure you check out the bookstore’s bustling café — a thought-provoking place for relaxing or talking with friends. And, of course, scarfing down some delicious crepes! Whether you want to connect with your inner Picasso or simply step up your appreciation of art, valley-wide options for exploring your artsy side range from hands-on workshops to public art tours and buzzing gallery socials. Alpine Arts Center in Edwards continues to be a hub of artistic expression and learning, with summer art offerings that appeal to aspiring artists and professionals alike.

There are community classes, events and private group classes taking place throughout the summer, along with drop-in hours for painting, crafts, sculpture, pottery wheel, mixed-media, and more. Our valley’s awe-inspiring vistas also allows for some classes and events to be held outside in Edwards or at Ford Amphitheater in Vail.

Whether you arrive at the arts center alone or convince a group of friends to join you, expect to find a social setting that’s centered around art. “Art is such a special way to bring people together because it stretches the imagination while giving us the chance to interact in new ways and grow together,” says Lauren Merrill, Alpine Arts Center’s owner and director. Hands-on art projects challenge the body and the mind by encouraging creative thinking and requiring focus. The physical and mental results of being immersed in an art project can range from reduced stress to enhanced problem-solving skills. Plus, friends and peers can giggle together over a botched project or congratulate each other on the creation of a masterpiece.

If you’d rather spectate than create, gallery events and art walks take place throughout the valley from Vail to Eagle. The Vail Art In Public Places program’s free weekly art walks happen each Wednesday in Vail Village from June 26 through August 28 and are open to the public.

This guided tour takes you through an exploration of Vail’s public art collection, that includes more than 55 works ranging from paintings, sculptures, murals, and playground components to site-integrated art. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and socialize with others along the way, and the tour’s timing from 11 a.m. to noon allows for continued conversation while strolling along Gore Creek or relaxing on a creekside bench — before grabbing lunch. So, go. Do. Create. And schmooze.