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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Carol Feller's Celtic Cables

 I'm really honored to be part of Carol Feller's Celtic Cables blog tour. Celtic Cables is an online class available on Craftsy. If you haven't heard of Craftsy then spend some time exploring this amazing site. Craftsy, as the name implies, is an online craft community and the main thing they offer is online classes professionally filmed. They offer classes in various knitting techniques by various well known designers/teachers, spinning workshops, photography class (I'm taking this one too - it's 'Shoot It' with Caro Sheridan) and a variety of other crafty classes. Craftsy also supports independent designers and has a pattern sales section too where independent designers can sell their patterns for free.
Carol is a brilliant designer from Ireland. She has designed for all the big mags like the various Interweave mags and lots of others and has also published books. You can check out her website here. Carol's signature style is knitting garments in one piece either from the top down or bottom up.

As you can probably tell from the title of the course, Celtic Cables, this class is about cables but Carol doesn't just teach you how to work the cables and read cable charts, she also takes you through an entire garment.
 The Celtic Cables class includes the pattern for the Portulaca cardigan. Carol takes you through how to measure yourself correctly and choose your size, how to work tension swatches and why they are important, how to cast on (I learnt a new cast on - the alternate cable cast on which looks fab with a 1x1 rib), how to work the various stitch patterns and how to substitute cables. She then knits through the entire garment with you, showing you step by step how to work all the different elements and shaping included in the pattern. So if you've never knitted a garment before or have only knitted a basic garment this is your chance to get some expert help while knitting your garment. There's even a bonus section on how to fix mistakes in cable knitting.
 The Craftsy platform is great. The videos are professionally filmed and you keep indefinite access to the class which means you can go back and re-watch as many times as you want to. You can work at your own pace, ask Carol questions, have conversations with your fellow students, post pics of your progress and comment on other students pictures. 
 I've been running some online classes on the Ruzuku platform lately. I film my videos myself and the majority of them are filmed using a table top tripod to film my hands close up. Unlike me, Craftsy has a really professional set up. The videos consist of the teacher talking to camera and close ups of the teachers hands demonstrating the techniques.

When I started filming my videos I was really nervous and especially hated the sound of my own voice so I asked Carol about her experience during filming.

Carol: I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as nervous in my life as I was before filming!  I have taught plenty of real life classes but I’ve never had a class filmed before.  Combining that with transatlantic travel and a 7 hour time difference made for very interesting experience.  To calm my nerves I over prepared as much as possible before I travelled.  I spent lots of time recording at home with my ipad to get a feel for the class dynamic and timing.  This also meant that I knew what knitting was best prepared before the class and what needed to be done on film. 

Even though there is a very clear plan and class outline the actual class is unscripted.  I think this really helps the class dynamic; you can talk very freely and naturally and once you start to relax you find yourself throwing lots of little bits of information in about the knitting process.  If it was fully scripted this would all be lost. 
I had a full 5 days of recording for the two classes.  Each morning started at 7.45 being picked up by their lovely make-up artist.  The whole preparation process was very relaxing to calm your nerves.  It was quite a novelty for me also as I don’t usually wear make-up and hate visits to the hairdresser! After all the beautifying I was introduced to the crew; 3 people in total, with two of them operate the cameras.  They were so nice to deal with, and very tolerant of my lack of filming experience!
By the end of the first day I was exhausted.  However my nerves had calmed down a little bit and I had a good idea of what to expect the next day. Drucilla Pettibone was also in Denver at the same time recording a spinning class so we went out that first evening and spent a few hours dissecting the experience!
However it wasn’t really until the end of the second day of filming that I felt as though I’d hit my stride.  I knew how to work the technical side of the process so I was able to just relax into it and make sure that I was getting the information across as clearly as possible.

 Anni: Can you tell me a bit about the filming process? How did you find the transition from talking to the camera to close up of your hands demonstrating the knitting techniques for example?

Carol: The Craftsy crew were just great to work with.  They are used to instructors like me, experienced in their field but total novices with filming.  They walk you through every stage of the process and are happy to repeat it 10 times if you need it.  There is a lot of information about the Craftsy platform that you have to transmit as well to make sure that all knitters can get the most out of their class. 
It takes quite a while to get used to moving from camera to camera for different shots, then waiting while they relocate a camera over your shoulder for a close up of the knitting.  We spend many hours the first day figuring out the best position for me to sit in so that I wasn’t casting a shadow on the knitting. This eventually involved me sitting sideways, leaning forwards with my elbow on the table.  I felt a bit like a knitting contortionist.  The process does start to feel a little more natural as you work through the class.  Each day got a lot easier. 
You may also have noticed me getting pretty warm on any day I was wearing wool.  While filming the air conditioning had to be turned off because of the noise, under all the lights I felt as though I was melting!

You can find more info about the Celtic Cables class here, watch a preview of the class and sign up here. The list of other stops on the blog tour is here. Check out the other blogs as we all talk about the class from a different perspective. 

If you're not sure if an online class is for you, why not try out Carol's free Short Row Mini Class? I signed up for this class and I've learnt quite a lot and haven't even finished the class yet. This is a mini class and there is no teacher support but you can still talk to your fellow students and it is free and is the perfect opportunity to find out more about how the Craftsy platform works.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Thanks for the review of Carol's class. I signed up for the Pattern Writing class & it's great.