First up was the Amy Herzog class 'Knit to Flatter' on Craftsy. I'm watching this on my iPad after downloading the Craftsy app. The app seems slighly less 'buggy' than the PC version, although still annoying as at the end of every lesson it closes out the app and returns you to the desktop instead of letting you move on to the next lesson. So you have to start from scratch every time, repeatedly selecting the course, manually selecting the next lesson, and yet again tilting the iPad to turn it from the default portrait display to the preferable landscape display.
Apart from the minor technical annoyances, I am enjoying the class. I'm on lesson six of ten. I really like Amy as a presenter, and I have followed her instructions to take my own photograph and analyse my body shape (bottom heavy, no surprises there). There have been some good tips on what type of necklines / sleeve lengths / hem lengths will suit my body shape, and some discussion of shaping the fabric to suit my own curves. It's been interesting enough that I have now ordered her book which apparently includes more detail plus patterns that are easy to customise. On the con side, I don't feel we've covered very much yet considering I am on lesson six of ten. Also, I found that I didn't always agree with Amy when she was displaying different sweater styles on different body types as to what flattered the models and what really, really, didn't. Also, so far Amy has used three models, two of whom have flat stomachs and curvy waists. The third model is bulkier but also very busty so still not having the issue of a prominent belly. Obviously Amy couldn't have a model for every body type but I think given the majority figure type that I see at knitting shows, I think a model with a spare tyre or an obvious belly would have been good so that she could talk about how to deal with that. But I have four lessons to go so perhaps I am jumping the gun on judgement.
The other course I have started is 'Design your own Hawaiian Quilt' with Nancy Chong on Quilt University. When we went to Hawaii a few years ago, I really liked the Hawaiian quilts and bought fabric to make a double size. The Quilt U course was recommended to me by another tour participant as being a really good introduction. I always meant to take it but hadn't got around to it, but I'm on their mailing list so received the latest newsletter announcing that sadly they will close down at the end of this year following the death of their founder. So I got off the fence and signed up for the Hawaiian course which coincidentally was starting the same evening.
The format is quite different from Craftsy. The lesson is presented as text and images on a series of web pages. A supply list is also provided which includes tips on fabric selection and preparation. Course members are given access to a private Yahoo discussion forum where Nancy Chong is also participating, and to a photo gallery to share photos. Unlike Craftsy, the lessons will be released once a week and will remain available only for a limited time (about two months I think) so I am printing them off.
I enjoyed the first lesson which talked about how to draft the 'snowflake' type design and talked about the history of the Hawaiian quilt. Our homework this week is to get our fabric ready (mine is prewashing today) and to start creating our design. I bought a deep blue fossil fern batik and a white flowery background, and the backing is a lighter marble blue.
While I have my doubts about my ability to complete a double size needleturn applique quilt, given my track record with my 25 block Baltimore-style quilt which has languished for years, I am hopeful that doing all the prep up front will encourage me to get on with the applique. I think part of the reason I've dragged my heels on the Baltimore album blocks is that it is such a faff to get each block to the point where it's ready to applique.
TV knitting this week has been the Alice Starmore pullover vest. I finished the second armhole band but subsequently realised that I had somehow knit it 12 stitches smaller than the first band, so that will have to be redone. In the meantime I had picked up for the bottom band and knit a few rows, decreasing evenly all the way around to pull in the excess width. After a few rows I tried it on and realised I hadn't decreased it enough, so I had to pull back and start over, decreasing even more. Hopefully it is alright now. I think I want a deeper band than on the armholes and neck so I am knitting some extra rows in each colour change.
I've booked the re-carpet job for mid-May, the oven's getting cleaned on Monday and someone is coming in a week to quote on washing the windows and jetwashing the path and forecourt. I also will have the fun job of varnishing 38 replacement kitchen cupboard knobs and then switching over all of our tired worn ones. But it's coming together, just the kitchen left to redecorate now. The hack job I did in the garden hasn't in fact killed the shrubs, and we've planted a few new ones to fill in bare spots.
I hope that somewhere, someone is doing this much work to get their house ready for me to buy!