Granted, in Austin, this is not that hard. But on those occasions when you find yourself saying things like, "Screw shopping, I'm going to SEW!" here are eight places with real arts and crafts instructors, so that you don't end up crying into a pile of fabric and knitting needles.
Think wall-to-wall yarn: Hill Country Weavers is a little house on South Congress that offers knitting classes, abundant knitting patterns, and more yarn balls than even the most determined kitten would know what to do with.
With summer art camps for kids, year-round art education for adults, as well as its own gallery and theater, Dougherty Arts Center has long been a beating heart for Austin's creative community. There is a lot of art class selection here, but I would particularly recommend their darkroom photography classes. Call me old-fashioned, but just like books (not Kindles) and records (not mp3's), I'll always find film just a little more warmer and magical than its digital counterpart.
Surrounded by Clayways' own pottery gallery -- with pieces by some of its 10 potters-in-residence -- it's hard not to feel inspired in one of Clayways' several classes, which include wheel-throwing and hand-building.
If Stitch Lab is the cool, irreverent aunt of Austin sewing classes, Sew Much More is the bumbling, endearing grandmother. That's because Sew Much More doesn't just offer classes (led by sweet, often older ladies), it sells sewing machines and fabrics, from gold clubbin' wear to teacher-friendly pumpkin prints.
A paint-your-own-pottery and mosaic studio, Cafe Monet is special in that it requires no studio fee: You only pay for the piece of pottery you select. Of course, we can't all be Monets, so it may take a pottery piece or two before you get the hang of it ... but as any mom can tell you, even the mistakes (like all of my elementary school clay Christmas ornaments) are pretty adorable.
Under Pressure is a part of one of my favorite birthday gifts for friends. Simply bring in a photograph or even original artwork, and the friendly (both environmentally friendly and emotionally friendly) folks at Under Pressure will help you turn it into a uniquely hip garment: No American Apparel shopping required.
The "twist" here is alcohol. It's a BYOB art studio, and every so often, they hold "Pet-Casso" nights where you learn how to paint your pooch's portrait. In a matter of hours, you'll walk out with your own pop art-esque picture of your favorite furball.
Stitch Lab is governed by the same principles as the (dearly departed) Austin Craft Mafia: Keep it fun, and keep it badass. Classes here range from sewing to stitching, handbag-making to animal felt toy-creating.