One of the things that I really enjoy about crochet is learning new things. So when the folks at Annie's Catalog contacted me a few months ago and asked if I was interested in reviewing one of their on-line classes I jumped at the opportunity! If you're not familiar with Annie's they're a cornerstone in the crafting industry. Their first catalogs were mailed to homes in 1975 and crafter's have been turning to them for patterns, supplies and instruction since.
There are on-line classes for crochet, knitting, card & paper crafts, quilting, sewing and beading & jewelry. In each category you'll find several different topics to choose from. The classes range in price from $19.95 to $24.95. Once you pay for your class, it's yours forever. You can access it as many times as you want, anytime you want. I chose Crocheting with Beads. It's something that I've been wanting to try and this was the perfect opportunity.
The class includes the video instruction which is broken down in segments for each technique and project. It has a total running time of just over an hour. There is a downloadable / printable PDF file that contains the pattern for each of the projects. There is something called "My Notebook" which allows you to record your own notes as your watching and practicing. I used this are to keep track of what yarn and hook I was using and what kind of beads I chose. I also used it to note the projects I liked the most and the things that I had trouble with. There is also a place to "Ask the Instructor" with several FAQs that get immediate responses. I did ask a question that wasn't on the list. Later the same day I received an email letting me know that Ellen had answered my question! I logged back into my class and sure enough there was my response! That's pretty cool. Overall the course is easy to access and I had no trouble navigating through it or downloading my patterns.
Now, let me tell you about the class. First of all, it's very well done. The audio and video are clear, the instructor, Ellen Gormley, is easy to listen to and does a great job showing you what to do and how to do it. Like many of you, I've watched plenty of videos on YouTube and while the intention may be good, the end result often leaves a lot to be desired and you can never be sure of what you're going to get. I feel confident that all of the videos in Annie's series are the same caliber as this one.
In this class there are 6 projects. Ellen shows you how to make each one of them from beginning to end. Each one uses a new beading skill. Every skill is demonstrated step by step using heavier yarn and large pony beads. By practicing with the bigger beads you can really get the hang of it before switching to the smaller beads the pattern calls for. In addition to beading, other techniques like joining motifs as you go, making button holes and using jewelry notions are also covered in detail.
So what did I make? After watching the video all the way through, I decided that I was going to try to make the beaded bracelet which is basically a tube with a bead in every stitch. It's the second project in the class and Ellen made it look so easy!! Actually, the technique itself wasn't too bad with the pony beads - but I know myself well enough to realize that I needed to start with a different project. No sense in getting frustrated right off the bat. Next I decided to try the beaded scarf. This is the third lesson. Again the technique was easy to pick up. I really liked that I could start and stop as much as I wanted. After making one pattern repeat with the pony beads I got started on my scarf. I didn't have the yarn the pattern called for so I made do with what I had on hand. This was much easier going! The hardest part (most tedious?) part was stringing the beads. Mainly because I didn't have the right tools. I think with the proper weight yarn and beading needle it would be much faster. I haven't finished the scarf, but after completing about 2 dozen rows I was ready to try something else. Not because I didn't like it, but because I wanted to actually finish something to show you!!
Which brings me to my final project - the Wristlet Clutch. How cute is this?! This is actually the first project in the class and as it turns out the one that I should have started with! It's a small project and if you want you can use pony beads like I did. We have a big pile of these wonderfully fun skull beads. John has been making stitch markers with them, but I was able to grab a few in order to make my bag.
As with my previous class experience, this technique was a snap to master. Ellen shows you how to do everything from making the handle and the button hole to creating the button itself! I made this little beauty in two afternoons and everything about it was fun and easy.
The best part was putting it to use! I often ride my bike to the country store and I always have to make sure I have pockets. Not any more!! Now I just slip my little bag over my wrist and I'm good to go!
There are 3 more projects that I haven't tried yet. The beaded shawlette uses the "hooked on" technique. I'm looking forward to seeing the difference between pre-stringing them vs. adding them as you go. I feel confident that I'll be able to follow other patterns that include beading, especially knowing that I have my class available to me if I need a quick refresher.
In case you're wondering, Annie's hasn't paid me for my endorsement. I was given the class in exchange for my honest review. That's it. Happily this is a fun and informative program that I feel good about recommending. Especially if you take advantage of the coupon code they gave me to share with you! Just click here and you can take 50% off any of their on-line classes. Now that is a great deal. Unfortunately, the code expires soon so you have to act fast. The good thing is once you pay for it you can watch it whenever you want - so even if you don't have time right now, it will be ready for when you do.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me.
Until next time friends,
Be blessed and stitch & read (& bead!) with love!
Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls:
22 Knitted Designs with Their Special Techniques
by Sarah Hatton
St. Martin's Griffin
February 26, 2013; 136 Pages
Scarves and wraps are the perfect canvases for experimenting with new stitches and practicing new techniques. From well-respected Rowan Yarn designer Sarah Hatton with Sharon Brant as the technical editor, Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls offers over twenty easy-to-make and fun-to-wear designs that explore a range of knitting techniques—from gorgeous textured and cabled stitches, to intricate openwork and lace patterns, to interesting and appealing shaping. A gallery of designs features the garments photographed in full color and includes a helpful and inspiring "How to Wear It" section, showcasing the myriad ways to wrap your shawl, twist your neck warmer, or tie your scarf. Making these popular accessories even more versatile so you can wear them over and over, and still keep them looking fresh! (from Amazon.com)
Welcome to a new review and an awesome giveaway. First, let me tell you about the book. As most of you know I'm a lover of books - that includes all kinds from fiction to dictionaries and everything in between. As a crocheter and more recently a knitter I love browsing through the pages of pattern books looking for projects and inspiration. Having checked out many titles from our library I fancy myself a bit of a connoisseur. So how does Scarves, Shrugs & Shawls measure up? On a scale of 1 - 10 I give it a solid 8.
The book is set up in sections. Right away I was drawn in by the full page photographic spreads featuring each item. So often in pattern books you get one little picture. Not here. After you've had a chance to view each piece from a variety of angles it's on to the patterns. Again there are more (different) pictures that really show you what you're making. Along with the line by line instructions charts have been included allowing you to use whichever format you prefer. Now I haven't made any of these items, so I can't speak to the accuracy or ease of following the patterns, but I did read through several and it appears that they are well laid out and complete.
As the publisher promises, there are a variety of different techniques featured in the patterns providing an opportunity to try new things. As a beginner I feel like several of the patterns are more advanced than I am, however the technique section at the back of the book seems to offer good insight on the skills needed by covering everything from how to avoid holes when doing two handed fair isle work, how to string beads using a needle and thread, to making a no-turn bobble. I'd say the projects are best suited for those with knowledge of the basic skills and some experience under their belt. A confident beginner should be able to handle many and might be inspired to give some of the more complicated designs a try. Intermediate and advanced knitters will be pleased with the options available. There really is something for everybody.
I'd say my favorite part is the "How to Wear It" section. What a brilliant idea! As a scarf and shawl enthusiast I'm always struggling to find new and interesting ways to wear them. While this section is showcasing the garments from the book they make it easy to see how it would work on any item of similar shape and dimension. In addition to the pictures they tell you what to do to achieve each look! For the fashionably challenged like me this is important!
The paperback book is nicely bound and lays open fairly easily. It's 9.7" x 9" size makes it big enough to see things clearly, but small enough to fit in your bag if you wanted to take a project on the go. I like the matte finish of the pages, too. Overall I think this is a well done book that any fan of shoulder and neck wear would be happy to have in their collection!
Now, for the fun part - the giveaway!!
I love giving things away! I'm so blessed and thankful to the people at St. Martin's who send me all kinds of books to review. It only seems right that I spread the joy and share them with you. I've been collecting little trinkets to put together a fun knitting prize package. In addition to the book, there are stork scissors!! These are a classic item and a huge favorite of my Facebook friends. This pair is 3.5" tall making them perfect for home or on the go in your travel bag. I have a 5" pair that I use every day - they cut beautifully! Next I found a pair of Rosewood knitting needles from Boyd. They're US size 6 and 14" long. They're quite lovely and while I've never tried them, I know that my Rosewood crochet hooks feel warm and natural and seem to get better every time I use them. Finally there is a set of handmade cobalt blue glass stitch markers. They're one of a kind and will help you keep your place in style! So there you have it! All the tools you need - just add your favorite yarn and you're on your way to knitting nirvana!!
Enter now for your chance to win!
Thanks so much for stopping by and spending a bit of your day with me. I hope that you'll take a moment and throw your name in the hat. I've tried to come up with lots of different ways to enter giving you plenty of options. This time I'm opening the drawing to everyone everywhere! If I can send you mail through the US Post Office than you're welcome to enter. If you're a crocheter and are feeling left out - don't! I've got something special planned for you coming up towards the end of the month! I promise you're going to love it!
Until next time friends,
Be Blessed and Stitch & Read with Love!
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My name is Robin. I am a wife, mother and strong believer in the power of faith. I'm a maker, a crafter and an artist. I love exploring new mediums and sharing my adventures with you.
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