Time to Learn How to Use My Serger

Time to Learn How to Use My Serger

I’ve needed some yoga clothes, especially for hot yoga. Good yoga clothes are extremely expensive. A pair of short “yoga shorts,” which hardly have any fabric at all, can run $50 and up. In trying out some of these yoga shorts, I realize that they aren’t designed for women with larger rear ends and the back crotch length is never high enough. But I have this fear of using the serger to make those types of fancy knit seams. I’m also not sure if my serger can do those exposed knit seams, seeing as it is only a 4-thread serger. But maybe…I have yet to try. The best thing I’ve done with my serger is a side seam for a loose knit shirt. Otherwise, it sits there in my office, beckoning me.

Try Tuesday Morning for Cheap Crafting Books

Try Tuesday Morning for Cheap Crafting Books

Not everyone has a Tuesday Morning in their area, and not all Tuesday Morning’s will offer the bounty I have found at my local store…but check it out…back in the clearance book section (if they have one), you may find some craft book gems that end up costing only a few dollars! I’ve found books on knitting, crochet, and quilting. They are already discounted to $5.99 – $7.99, and then when they are put in clearance they take an additional 60% off at my local store. I got five craft books for a little less than $13 last week!

Most of the books are pretty decent too, though I was shocked when one innocuous-looking book on knitting intarsia turned out to have Che Guevara and Vladimir Lenin patterns in it! Che Guevara shirts just annoy me for how trendy they are among hipsters. But the Lenin thing was kind of shocking in its total ignorance of history and the people who died under his totalitarian reign. Fortunately, the rest of the books were normal crafting books with non-political projects in them. Lesson learned, next time I will look through the projects before buying any book, even if it’s $2 in the bargain bin!

Daily Craft TV – Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Daily Craft TV – Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

I was really excited when I got an email in my inbox about a new online crafting video website, Daily Craft TV (not to be confused with Craft Daily!). I am a total Craftsy addict, and I spend quite a bit of time watching online crafting classes. I’m happy to have more options if the classes are decent. I’m even more happy when the classes are cheap – and at Daily Craft TV, the classes run from $4.99 to about $9.99 – and yet they are still professionally produced. (They are associated with Fons and Porter.)

I ordered two classes to test the platform out before buying more. One was a quilting class and I was able to load it up and watch the class just fine – with one exception, in the Chrome browser I need to click on a shield in the top right hand corner to “Load Unsafe Script” to let the browser know the video is actually safe.

The other class I got was a sewing class – Sew it All 110 Quick & Easy Knit Dress - and no matter how I tried, I could not get the video to play. The page kept saying I needed to order the video, even though I had already paid for it. Daily Craft TV being a new site and all, it took a week and multiple contacts on my part before I got an apologetic response from a guy who was super nice and yet not on the tech team. The tech team did not have their act together…and I waited and waited…so finally the nice support guy gave me some free site credits to use (on my prompting) for the lack of class access.

I discovered through my own research that the problem was that any Sew It All video sold separately would only play if you purchased the entire Sew It All series – which wasn’t that much more money at any rate. But it’s a little disappointing that a website run by a company that obviously has some wherewithal couldn’t have tested the shopping cart a little better. (The site is actually served by a video hosting company that likewise should have its act together more.)

I also noticed that one of the videos has the very end of it cut off while a bonus project is being explained. Disappointing, though the full instructions are in the materials.

Technical glitches aside, I have now tried a number of classes and feel that Daily Craft TV is a good value, especially because many of the classes come with PDF file downloads such as quilt patterns. However, before you purchase something, make sure you check the class length (some are super short at about 30 minutes), and do understand that some of these videos have been recycled from other websites. Don’t expect technical support to be super fast at resolving problems though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they will improve upon this…just don’t spend a lot of dough on 20+ videos at once until you are sure the videos work on your platform.

I will review some of their classes separately…most of them have been pretty good and I’ve enjoyed them. I particularly like the quilting classes with Tony Jacobson. First, it’s nice to have a male quilting teacher for a change of pace, and second, he designs some really nice, simple, clean, modern quilts that are easy to do and would work well not just for quilts but for quilted items (bags, etc.)

The classes are not interactive like those you’ll find on other websites – the teachers are not there to answer questions. Most video classes are short one-offs and not longer series. But for a quick tutorial and some decent instruction, Daily Craft TV is decent bargain.

Pros: Cheap, good instructors; materials and patterns often included; offers videos for quilting, sewing, crochet, knitting and paper crafts.

Cons: Some technical issues; short videos; no instructor interaction; no Roku or home streaming access.

Craft Diary: Portable Design Boards

Craft Diary: Portable Design Boards

I’m going to attempt to log my crafting here as way to keep myself motivated and on track with my projects. But I’ll keep this entry short because it’s late.

Today: Worked on my third portable design board for doing mini-art quilts today. Lots of white duct tape. I’m making four of these boards. I figured I could place them next to each other to make a larger workspace if I needed it. I had looked online and saw a portable design board for over $100. Cardboard, batting and duct tape is the much cheaper choice!

Really tired right now but hoping I can fit a little sewing and knitting in before I go to bed. Feeling a little antsy about fitting in some serious sewing time when I have a lot to do with work and need to get my place ready for family visiting soon.

“Cast On Bind Off” Book Review

“Cast On Bind Off” Book Review

Cast On Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods by Leslie Ann Bestor is a useful reference book for knitters. It’s not the best book for learning the various types of cast ons and bind offs, but in today’s world of free YouTube videos, we’re all probably a bit spoiled by the abundance of online knitting instruction. You’ll find from the reviews on Amazon that the biggest complaint about the book was how hard it was to learn anything new from it, but that may also depend on how well you learn by books versus video or in-person instruction. My preference is to learn knitting from viewing someone else, but I can figure things out from a book if I slow down and go through things step-by-step. I had originally picked up this book from the library and decided to purchase it for my permanent collection if in the least that it gives me options for casting on and binding off. If I need more instruction after looking in the book, I’m sure I could find it by searching online. Your mileage may vary.

Crafty’s Free Mini Courses

Crafty’s Free Mini Courses

Craftsy has got to be my most favorite website ever. I am a bit addicted to it. They offer online video courses in sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, and other crafts, including gardening. Without shame, I signed up to be a Craftsy affiliate because I love their classes so much. (Affiliate commissions help me buy more Craftsy classes! Yay!) Craftsy classes are generally affordable and certainly a much better deal than the short, non-interactive and totally over-priced video offerings over at Threads. To whet your appetite, Craftsy offers free “mini-courses,” which are just as good as the “real” ones…and sometimes they aren’t actually that short!

Here are two I highly recommend:

Know Your Wool: This is an extremely in-depth class that I am surprised they did not charge for. You learn all about wool and where it comes from. You even get to visit a sheep farm!

Micro Torch Basics: This a class on how to make jewelry with a micro-torch. Do not be intimidated. The teacher makes it really easy and she’s funny too! Now I need to add micro-torch to my long craft shopping list.

Craftsy also offers free courses on cake decorating (which frankly I’m not interested in, but you might be!), knitting, and one I’ve signed up for and looking forward to – it’s about making homemade pizza! Yeah! I’ve also enjoyed the free bag-making classes…and actually used one class to help me make some Christmas presents.

Overall, Crafty’s production and interactive community make it hands-down the best video craft instruction I’ve discovered so far. So you might as well take advantage of the free classes, but be forewarned, you will want to pay for more once you sign up!

Check out all of the other free Craftsy mini-courses by clicking here.

Book Review: Getting Started Knitting

Book Review: Getting Started Knitting

Now that I’ve gotten into knitting, I just like reading knitting books. Sometimes the reading is more fun than the knitting itself! (Ssshh!) Getting Started Knitting by Jennifer Worick is a great book for beginning knitters – with the caveat that I wouldn’t use it as my sole beginning knitting book.

I regularly go to the library and I check out tons of knitting, crochet and sewing books. What I find is that most books have something of value to offer, and between the bulk of them, you get a pretty good education. Personally, I might have never learned knitting without video training and an in-person class to help me. So the books should ideally be a supplement to classes, unless you love learning by diagram.

So don’t get Getting Started Knitting if you think this book alone can teach you all the ins and outs of knitting. It probably can’t. And it’s not as in-depth as it could be. But it is a really good book that teaches a lot of basics that a beginner needs to learn and understand.

On the plus side, Getting Started Knitting has lots of aforementioned diagrams, and they are usually pretty clear, with a few notable exceptions that had me scratching my head. I particularly liked the section with the list of increases and decreases. Increases scared me at first, but with the combination of classes and books I am now feeling more comfortable.

On the negative side, I found the projects in the book to be pretty uninspiring personally. After reading a bunch of knitting books, it seems like everyone teaches basic scarves and this book happens to have a scarf way into the projects section – at the point at which you might be relieved to be beyond scarves! – and this scarf is simply a plain scarf with knit “corkscrews” at the ends.

I’ve found a few other beginning knitting books with better projects that I am more inclined to keep in my library. But Getting Started Knitting was certainly helpful to me, and it may be helpful to you as well!

First Knook Impressions

First Knook Impressions

A few thoughts:

One, I really hate the hooks that come with the commercial knook kit. They don’t grab the yarn at all. I ended up taking my drill and carefully cutting into the side a little bit to give the hook a bit more depth. This helped significantly, but it’s still not ideal.

For some reason my loops (on the string) shrink down to where they are almost impossible to put the hook into. Once again, a better hook might help, but I must be pulling on the yarn too much. Still, I’ve ordered some knook hooks off Etsy to see if they will help.

The directions in the booklet are confusing. I had to go online and look at some videos. Still can’t see how this will be faster than regular knitting, especially now that I’m getting pretty good at continental style.

I do like the idea of being able to easily switch back and forth between knitting and crochet in one project.

The new knook needless will hopefully arrive next week. I’ll experiment more then!

Free Know Your Wool Online Video Class

Free Know Your Wool Online Video Class

Craftsy has some great free online video classes. If you are new to knitting or crochet (or even an old-hand at it), you might enjoy Know Your Wool. This class covers breed-specific wool and even includes a field trip where we get to meet real sheep! Now, I’m not a “wool geek.” I am really not a huge fan of wool (not that I dislike it). But I found the class to be really interesting and informative. It is a bit “dry” in terms of presentation. And it may be “too much information” for some folks (like myself) who simply want a simple overview of the different types of basic wool. However, I would recommend this class for anyone working with wool as it will help you get a better understanding of what goes into making wool and how that affects your projects.