Winter classes to keep your head, hands and psyche occupied

Learn how to make pizza, create stop-motion animation and more at these winter classes; come spring, you’ll have a whole new set of skills to show off.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Brooklyn Brainery

    Brooklyn Brainery

  • Photograph: Matt Tarr

    España-Streb Trapeze Academy

  • Lion Brand Yarn Studio

  • Pizza a Casa Pizza School

  • 3rd Ward

  • Vino-Versity Wine Tasting

Photograph: Courtesy of the Brooklyn Brainery

Brooklyn Brainery

Just because you’re trapped indoors until the thaw doesn’t mean you have to be bored. Keep warm at these winter classes, in which you can get schooled in everything from knitting to pizza-making, or bone up on the murky history of the Gowanus Canal. When there’s this much to do, you have no excuse to feel depressed.


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Brooklyn Brainery

This DIY institution’s mission is to provide affordable education for the community, by the community. Local experts share their wisdom on various topics—many suggested by Brooklynites—at affordable prices. The course offerings are diverse, covering everything from the history of doomsday cults to Southeast Asian appetizers. The Brainery also just opened a second location in Prospect Heights.

Coming up: Learn the basics of screenwriting at “Writing Your Original TV Pilot” with small-screen scribe Ian Grody (Carroll Gardens; Jan 24, 31 and Feb 7 7–10pm; $105). Urban-planning and sewage buffs should check out “The History of the Gowanus Canal,” taught by journalist and Gowanus expert Joseph Alexiou (Prospect Heights; Jan 31 8:30–10pm; $11). 515 Court St at 9th St, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn • 190 Underhill Ave between St. Johns Pl and Sterling Pl, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn • 347-292-7246, brooklynbrainery.com

  1. Various locations
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España-Streb Trapeze Academy

Who among us doesn’t dream of flying through the air with the greatest of ease? The España-Streb school is a collaboration between seventh-generation circus performers Ivan and Noe España and maverick choreographer Elizabeth Streb. Part of the larger Streb Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM), a home for both choreography and theoretical exploration of space and motion, the academy offers classes for beginners and experts.

Coming up: Most dance, tumbling and parkour workshops last 90 minutes and cost $15 per session ($135 for ten). For $25 you can take a trampoline fitness course or a class on the traveling rings (suspended rings that you swing between monkey-bars style). Two-hour open sessions for trapeze amateurs take place Thursdays (6:30pm), Saturdays (10am, 12:15, 3pm) and Sundays (10am, 12:15, 3, 5:15pm), and cost $37.50. You can’t weigh more than 220 pounds or be taller than 6'2"; so, sorry, Tyson Chandler—you’ll have to buy your own trampoline. 718-384-6491, streb.org

  1. 51 North 1st Street, (between Kent and Wythe), 11211
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Lion Brand Yarn

There are few cozier ways to pass the time than with a ball of yarn—which makes knitting the roaring fireplace of hobbies. This three-classroom studio offers courses for everyone from longtime knitwits to neophytes who are nervous around needles. You can also buy hundreds of kinds of yarn, as well as all the other necessary accoutrements, if you decide you want to try the activity at home.

Coming up: Noobs looking to learn the ropes can try out a two-week Beginning Crochet class (Jan 22, 29 6:30–8pm; $50) or Beginning Knitting (Jan 27, Feb 3 10:30am–noon; $50). Materials are included for beginner classes, so you won’t need to sink a ton of extra cash into high-end needles and yarn. If you already have some practice but your relatives are sick of all the scarves you’ve been making them, take a two-week Sweater Design workshop (Jan 22, Feb 5 5–8pm; $75). 212-243-9070, lionbrandyarnstudio.com

  1. 34 W 15th St, (between Fifth and Sixth Aves)
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Pizza a Casa Pizza School

Pizza a Casa Pizza School

If those limp, greasy slices they sell down the block from your apartment aren’t doing it for you anymore, why not learn to make actual delicious pizza yourself? Find out how, from dough to oven, at this academy founded by Mark Bello, who worked for half a decade in pizza education around the city before opening this LES school in 2010.

Coming up: Four-hour courses, which are held three times per week, cover dough preparation, sauce recipes and topping proportions (Thu 6:30–10:30pm; Sat, Sun noon–4pm; $150). Lovebirds can sign up for the Couples Pizza-Making Workshop (Feb 14 or 15 at 6:30pm; $295 for two), where you’ll make up to four pies in tandem, just in time for Valentine’s Day. 212-228-5483, pizzaschool.com

  1. 371 Grand St at Essex St

3rd Ward

The classes at this Brooklyn artistic hub are taught by seasoned professionals in their fields. You can take primers on design software like Adobe Photoshop and After Effects, as well as analog pursuits such as upholstery and woodworking. If you’re a regular, it’s worth it to invest in a one-year membership ($99), which nets you 20 percent off courses, plus access to free members-only workshops.

Coming up: Check out artist Robyn Hasty’s two-part Screen Printing Intensive (Feb 8, 15 6–9pm; $175, materials $70) or filmmaker Owen Cook’s Stop-Motion Animation workshop (Feb 24, Mar 3 1:30–4:30pm; $179). 718-715-4961, 3rdward.com

  1. 195 Morgan Ave, (between Meadow and Stagg Sts)
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Vino-Versity Wine Tasting

Created by Shari Schneider (of the now-shuttered Divine Bar), Vino-Versity aims to educate both newbies and amateur enthusiasts in the ways of the grape. The introductory course will help you learn to navigate a wine list without sounding like a hillbilly. More advanced courses delve into vino history, geography, and wine and food pairings. There’s something for you (including plenty of wine to try), whether you can appreciate a fine bordeaux or you don’t even know how to pronounce that word.

Coming up: Each one-off session lasts between two and three hours. To bone up on the basics, enroll in “Wine Sense for the Wine Dense: A Total Understanding of Red & White Wines” (Jan 24, 31, Feb 6, Mar 7, 14, 21 6:30–9pm; $70.76, including a take-home glass). If you want to learn about the storied America–Europe vino rivalry, reserve a spot in “Sideways Meets Bottle Shock: California vs. France” (Jan 29, Feb 2, 12, 16, Mar 2, 12, 16 6:30–8:30pm; $70.76). E-mail thedean@vinoversity.com to find out more about classes. 212-860-6600, vinoversity.com

  1. 1657 First Ave, (between 86th and 87th Sts)
More info


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