#ROW80 Update and an online class review

How the week does fly by. Mission reset my sleep schedule has been total fail so far. Let’s face it: I like to sleep in. And it’s not even so much that I like to sleep so much as I like to laze around in bed in that half-dream state. Which is why that’s such a good time for getting into writing that I should really seize the opportunity. I’ll keep working on that.

So as far as getting back to my blog schedule, Sunday’s usually the day when I publish my weekly recommendations for articles that I save for you during the week. Only I haven’t been reading many articles this week and find I have no list.

There are, as I’ve mentioned, a ton of things I put off while finishing Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And it wasn’t so much about time–after all, I can only write so many words a day. (One day toward the end of the book I wrote 8,000 words and still found I needed to take some time to do something to wind down again.) Some of the things I put off were just an exercise in self-denial. Anyway, once the load of the draft was off my shoulders, one of the first things I found myself doing was signing up for Stephanie Japel’s Fit Your Knits course.

This wasn’t something I had looked for or looked into before. It was more something that popped up in my mailbox at a time when I just longed for something fun, something I could learn from (which is fun), and something that was not about writing or superheroes or teens or supernatural anything. (After I finish a Talent Chronicles piece, I always have to binge on period drama because it’s completely different. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Lark Rise to Candleford.) Anyway, the course was and still is, at the time of this writing, half price. So I gave it a go.

(Note: this post never comes back around to writing or fiction, so those of you who couldn’t care less about knitting are dismissed.)

Since I know I have a few knitters who stop by the blog, I thought I’d talk about it a bit. The production of the course is very well done and wholly professional. Craftsy.com is a nice platform, I had no technical problems, and it has some nice features. Stephanie Japel is a good teacher. This is obviously not her first time teaching. She knows what she intends to present, she’s clear, and the pace is good. Plus she’s personable, warm, funny, and a pleasant person to spend eleven videos with.

Another thing I’ll add about the way Stephanie was in course, with regard to measurements, is that she was really down to earth about it just being numbers. Just work with your numbers and let go of the hangups about what you or anyone else might think they should be. She talks a lot about how bodies are just bodies, they’re all different, the standard measurements we work with are–not reality. There doesn’t need to be shame involved and really, it shouldn’t be involved in the fitting process at all. Just get on with making something that fits the shape you are. I guess that as a former dressmaker I just really appreciated her attitude and that she tried to get that across to the audience.

The course itself is suited to those who have a good grasp of knitting basics and want to know more about taking charge of their own knitting. With regard to fit, however, it’s mainly just about shaping below the bust–covering both darts and side-seam shaping, and altering the length and taper of the sleeve. She says, more than once during the course, that alterations that will affect the sleeve cap are beyond the scope of the course. There is a bonus segment that deals a little with the concept of altering armhole and sleeve cap, but it’s mostly about why it’s so complicated. The other bonus segment in the program was about adding short row bust darts, something I hadn’t read too much on simply because…erm, I don’t need any extra room there.

The course materials mostly consist of a chart for recording your measurements and two of Stephanie’s patterns from Knitty.com (that is, patterns already out there for free). I supposed I would have liked to have gotten my hands on a pattern I otherwise would have had to pay for, like something fabulous designed especially for the coursework, or perhaps if the publishers of Fitted Knits had been willing allow something from that book to be used, it would have felt like added value.

One of the nice ideas present in the course was that Stephanie brought in a few different live models, pairs of women with very similar measurements around the body, yet were very different in height and build. That demonstrated clearly why simply choosing a pattern by bust-waist-hip measurements alone is hardly a guarantee of a good fit. I wish it had been possible to show finished knitted garments on those models. We were shown a number of sweaters which employed different types and degrees of shaping, but they were all shown on hangers. I think it would have been beneficial to say, “Here is Garment X, knitted according to the directions for Size M on Model A. Here is Garment X on Model A as it should fit, and this is how we did it.” I realize that would have taken a lot more work, more materials, etc., but it was something I felt the lack of as I watched.

As a long-time knitter, someone who buys books to read about techniques without intention of doing the projects, someone who knows how the math works, I was a little disappointed not to learn anything new. I wouldn’t recommend the course to experienced knitters who are confident and already comfortable making adjustments to patterns. I think what’s presented here is stuff most of us who can be described that way already know whether we’ve learned it from other sources or figured it out ourselves. Still, I found it very enjoyable and don’t at all feel like it was a waste of $30 or of my time.

For those who haven’t read empowering books about taking charge of your knitting and don’t yet feel confident making changes to patterns or developing your own, I’d recommend it enthusiastically, especially at this price. Yes, all of the information covered can certainly be mined free from the internet. But if you spend any time at all in knitting forums (or anywhere) with people constantly popping up to ask the same questions, you may get the idea that Googling for stuff is just not always fun. This course puts it all together in a quality production. If I had a knitter friend I felt was at this level, I would definitely consider giving the course as a gift.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “#ROW80 Update and an online class review

  1. I know what you mean about lolling around in bed in that half awake state. I love that state! But I have to get up no later than six to get to work on time, so Saturday is about the only day I can really do that.

    Although I don’t knit, it’s interesting to learn about some of these online classes. They have classes for a lot of different things, so maybe I’ll find one for decorating eggshells. :0)

    It’s good to see you back online. I know what you mean about needing to do something a little different after you’ve written something. I know you put a lot of yourself into everything you write, so you really do need some downtime.

  2. I keep wanting to learn to knit. I got about a four inch square started on a scarf, but got distracted and I’m not sure I remember how to pick up where I left off. And I agree with Lauralynn – good to read new posts from you! 🙂

    • There are some things I probably need a class to learn. I’m really good at learning things from books or online, but sometimes in cases where practice–actually doing it–is really necessary, I’d do better in a class rather than left to my own devices. Maybe because I lack motivation to struggle a bit with things I’m not already good at. I’m like that with things like drawing and painting. I’d love to be able to draw, but as many times as I’ve decided I’m going to sit down and make just a little sketch every day or spend just a little time every day, I never get around to it. I need someone to make me do it. (Okay, yeah, I’m like that with A LOT of stuff, we know.)

      Anyway, Craftsy has a beginning knitter course, same instructor. Maybe if you sit down every day and work a lesson you’ve paid for, it will be easier to keep going until you’ve really got it down. Alternatively, maybe decide you’re going to give a scarf as a gift and start that project with a deadline. Or decide you’re going to host a Harry Potter party to give yourself a deadline for your own scarf in your house colors.

  3. I haven’t been following along lately. I’ve been a bit self-absorbed. If I’m understanding this correctly, you’ve finished Heroes ‘Til Curfew. I’m so excited. I’m really looking forward to reading this. Woot!

  4. Thanks for the review Susan. I’m such a bad sewer that I usually steer clear of sweaters and cardigans and things. Then a few years go by and I think, I should knit a baby cardigan for my niece or goddaughter or some thing. I finish the project and remember all the sewing involved and panic! I try it, fail, and pass the sewing on to my mom 🙂

  5. @Reena- Yes! The draft is done and is with my agent now. I’m not sure when it’s going to be available, but it’s a huge step closer.

    @Deniz- I consider myself to be an expert at the sewing thing since I’ve had all kinds of jobs and education there. And still I don’t like to sew knits. Sewing is sewing and knitting is knitting. I’m very much one to pick projects that are knitted in one piece, or to figure out how to pick up stitches to avoid making separate pieces. I do a lot of knitting in the round.

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