There's nothing like a new year to get you revved up to learn a new skill or (finally) take up that hobby. Here's a look at a variety of good-for-beginners classes being offered this month.
1. Learn to sew
If you ambitiously bought a sewing machine or got one as a gift, you aren't going to get far until you learn how it works. Sew Time in Westbury offers a two-hour "Sewing Machine 1" class for $30 that teaches you how to thread the machine, work with various stitches and adjust settings. Participants will complete a pillow with a zipper. "We'll hold your hand and walk you through learning how to use your machine," says owner Susie Blumstein (store loaners are available if you're not ready to invest in a machine). The next classes are offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (516-997-2702, sewtime.com).
Also consider: the three-session "Basic Sewing" course, which teaches students how to read patterns, measure people for garments and repair clothing ($100; meets Saturdays Jan. 7-21).
2. Learn to fly
Here's the thing about learning to fly -- it's an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. To give you a taste of what it's like in the skies, Long Island Flying, which operates out of Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, offers an introductory class for $115 that's taught by a licensed flight instructor. The hands-on experience includes -- gulp -- supervised time at the controls of a single-engine Alarus.
"After the class, you'll have a pretty good idea of whether you like flying a plane," says owner David Bragg of Islip. For a pilot's license, he estimates it takes 60 to 70 hours of instruction ($220-$260 for a two-hour class, 631-807-1373, longislandflying.com).
3. Get tech savvy
Did you recently get a new tablet, e-reader or smartphone? Several retail stores offer free how-to workshops to help you maximize the power of the device.
Apple hosts sessions, including the one-hour "Getting Started With iPhone 4S" (9 a.m. Jan. 11, Roosevelt Field, and noon Jan. 13 at Walt Whitman Mall) and "Getting Started with iPad 2" (9 a.m. Jan. 17, Manhasset). Go to apple.com/retail to register.
Barnes & Noble offers free monthly in-store tutorials on using its Nook e-reader that can help even experienced users pick up new skills. "For example, most people don't know that you can highlight passages and takes notes in the margins while you're reading a book," says Meghan Smith, a manager at the Manhasset store, where the next tutorial is 7 p.m. Jan. 19 (516-365-6723).
4. Brew your own beer
Serve home-brewed beer and suitable appetizers at this year's Super Bowl party. Lynbrook-based A la Carte Culinary Services is holding a two-session class, $179, on the basics of brewing beer. Owner Polly Talbott says students will break into groups, each focused on making a different type of beer. Everyone takes home a 12-pack assortment that includes a malty Oktoberfest, a dark-ale Porter, a Kölsch (similar to a pilsner) and a wheat beer. Additionally, the class will prepare beer-friendly snacks ranging from Buffalo wings to bratwurst. Sessions are 6:30-10 p.m. Jan. 19 and 6:30-9:30 p.m. Jan. 26 (516-599-2922, alacartecs.com).
Ever wonder how milk ends up as cheese on your table? The cheesemakers at Goodale Farms in Aquebogue are unraveling the mystery in a new class. Students start in the milking room where -- yes -- they can milk a cow. Afterward, the class moves on to the three-step process of making cheese: adding rennet to the milk, cutting and draining the curd and seasoning the blocks. "We'll have cheeses in various stages so students can see the whole process," co-owner Kevin Dunathan says.
The class wraps up with sampling of goat and sheep's milk cheeses and students will take home some cheese ($75, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Jan. 28, 631-680-7499).