Sunday, August 5, 2012

Celtic Cables Blog Tour

I'm thrilled to be today's stop on the Celtic Cables blog tour. If you're just now joining us, there are several other blogs you should check out (click here to view the tour itinerary!) for class reviews and interviews with the instructor/designer, Carol Feller.

I have been obsessed with Craftsy for quite some time now, having signed up for several classes and workshops, bought countless skeins of yarn via their daily deals, and even purchased some patterns, too! I think it's a really exciting way for crafters to learn & share their know-how, and I'm excited to promote it in any way I can.

The designer modeling the class
project, the Portulaca Cardigan
Once I started watching the preview videos of Carol's class, I was hooked and signed up right away! I'm pleased to offer my dear readers a special discount on this class so you can join in the fun - the link is at the end of this post.  

I consider myself an experienced knitter and am no stranger to cables, but there is much to learn in this comprehensive class, no matter your skill level. Carol's in-depth lessons on measurements, swatching and gauge, casting on, shaping & garment construction, and finishing will walk you through the process of knitting a perfectly-fitted sweater from start to finish. There's also a bonus lesson on fixing cable mistakes, which I found particularly exciting. Carol explains each concept thoroughly - for instance, I think this was the first time I really understood ease. Plus, not only does she tell you about something, she shows you!   

I had a chance to interview Carol via e-mail - here are the seven questions I asked her (if they seem a bit random, it's because I didn't want to repeat any of the questions asked on previous blog tour stops!):

1.      What was your learning curve like when you first started designing? 
When I first started designing I was so fascinated by the process that it never felt like learning!  The easy part was envisioning the idea and knitting it, nothing is more exciting than seeing an idea come to life. Then the harder part comes later. Learning about grading, pattern writing and schematics was the most involved part of the process. I got huge help from test knitters and tech editors on my first few patterns. It’s amazing what basic mistakes you make when starting out, fortunately you don’t need to make them more than once!

2.      What made you decide to start publishing patterns instead of knitting existing patterns?
Once I had mastered the basics of knitting again (I had learned as a child) I wanted to see how I could manipulate it. I started out by just making small changes to patterns, adding a cable into a basic baby pullover or changing the waist shaping of a garment.  From there I just kept taking it one step further and seeing what I could create. I had no intention of publishing my patterns when I started designing. I was just doing it for me and the kids. It was actually the online magazine Knitty that got me thinking about publishing a pattern. Amy made the whole process seem so accessible on her website (pattern template, links to grading, etc.) that it seemed like something exciting to try.

3.      Do you have any advice for designers who are just getting started?
Have fun with it!  If you do intend on moving into more formal design, you need to be aware that there are a lot of very different skills that are needed. The most obvious one is of course an overactive imagination and knitting skills, but if you’re going to design garments you’ll need to be very comfortable with numbers and maths also. I probably spend as much time number crunching on excel as I do knitting! Fortunately as I started life as an engineer this part of the process is also an enjoyable one for me. I would advise any would be designer to become comfortable with calculations so that you can really take control of your design.
As with any other business you also need to spend a lot of time promoting yourself and designs.  It doesn’t matter how good you are at designing if no one hears about you! This is always a hard one, there are many days where it is much more appealing to sit and knit instead of spending it on the computer marketing. 

4.      What attracted you to the Craftsy platform? 
When Stefanie Japel asked me to teach some classes with Craftsy a few months ago I began looking at how the platform worked. I was hooked from the start; it really seemed like a fantastic way of combining the best of a video class with teacher interaction. All of the classes are professionally filmed which means that you know that the video quality is really good. They’re set up as streaming video so it it works well even in relatively poor broadband areas. Because they’re online you can access them on any computer whenever you want and even put video notes for yourself in areas you know you’ll want to rewatch.
The classes are set up to be fully interactive, but still in your (student and instructor) own time.  Students can ask questions at any point while they’re watching the video and then either I or other students can answer them. This also means that when you’re watching the class for the first time you may actually find full conversation threads already there on an area you needed clarified also.

5.      What was the process like to develop the class from concept to filming? How long did it take? 
It took several months of work to develop the Celtic Cables class.  I had a clear idea of how to structure it but breaking each part down into a manageable ‘chunk’ and making sure every swatch and section of knitting was ready took a lot of planning. I spent a lot of time doing mini recordings on my iPad to get a feel for how the class would work on film and for the timing. This was my first class being recorded so I was very nervous about how to translate real life teaching into a video class. In a face to face class a lot of the class is student led with questions and queries often changing the course and dynamic of the class. When it was just me and the camera recording I tried to anticipate questions from students so that it would make sense to them. The producer was a big help as well, she was a knitter but hadn’t done cables before so I was able to double check with her if what I was saying would make sense to a new cable knitter!

6.      Your class is packed with tons of information - while it's approachable for beginning knitters, there is plenty info that an experienced knitter will also find helpful. What skills do you hope both groups will gain after taking your class?
I really do hope that this class will appeal on several different levels. Ideally I would hope that a more novice knitter could take the class and initially just use it to learn cables and chart reading. Then when they feel ready to tackle a bigger project they can come back and use the measuring and modifying information to knit a well fitted garment for themselves. For more a more experienced knitter who would like help customising a pattern to fit them well I’ve given lots of information throughout the videos on measuring, gauge and different points in a garment that modifications can be made. Often even very experienced knitters avoid knitting garments for themselves!

7. One more fun question: What are your must-have items for you knitting bag? 
It’s not really strictly a knitting item, but I have lots of ziplock bags that I put each cake of yarn in while knitting. It’s vital for me in this house with dog hairs everywhere; otherwise I’d end up knitting with only dog hairs!

You can find out much more about the Celtic Cables class and Carol's knitting background on previous blog tour stops. Click the image below to check out Carol's class on Craftsy and watch the preview; you'll also have a chance to save 30% off your class registration! 

Be sure to follow my blog for more reviews of Craftsy classes and deals. I also have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for. Thanks for stopping by!

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