I am no stranger to lace, but when the opportunity arose to take Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Craftsy class, New Directions in Lace: Hats, I jumped at the chance.
As a teacher, my most profound lesson was that I am always learning. A new technique, a helpful little trick, or even just another way to explain how or why to do something in the craft is always, always, always just around the corner when you are in a classroom. I always said, teaching knitting is not about being the best knitter in the room, it’s about being able to explain & demonstrate with versatility in order to reach each student effectively. Having my background in brick & mortar classrooms as both teacher and student, I will not blow smoke — I was skeptical as to how effective a web-based class would be, especially in something as technical as lace knitting. I went into this class to investigate not only this class, but the Craftsy platform itself. Here’s what I found.
Lace was always one of the more challenging subjects for me to teach. In designs, it is unforgiving — you simply have to count and be accurate for the patterning to turn out — and I often struggled with translating that into the classroom. As I said earlier, intrigued with how this would work in an web-based class, I logged in and starting watching. Now before I tell you all about this particular class, let me share some general thoughts about the Craftsy platform. Since I was busy working on another project that was on a deadline, I actually didn’t start the class projects right away. Instead, I pre-watched the class. At first I felt a little silly, but now I actually think I may do it more often. Pre-watching allowed me to take notes for future reference as I went, to mentally take in the whole process before undertaking it in my own hands, and it also made the inevitable interruptions I have here at home less frustrating. Knowing I could start and stop the class at will and get back to it when it was convenient using my notes as an added guide was simply awesome. I think this is a real advantage of the Craftsy platform and its lifetime access to classes — I can start and stop and repeat as much as I want. I can pre-watch and then take the class proper. It is entirely up to me — how awesome is that?! People used to always tease me at the end of class that they wished they could take me home with them so they wouldn’t forget those techniques. Well, this is sort of what Craftsy’s lifetime access does! This skeptic was starting to see the value here. I was starting to fall in love with the Craftsy platform.
As a very visual person, I really need to see my notes written out. The note-taking function in class allows me to put it writing not only for my memory, but also to reference my notes quickly and easily once I got knitting.
The notes actually show up in the class timeline as it runs, too, so you can see right away where you’ve added them and if you let your mouse hover over the little note balloon on the timeline your note pops up so you can easily read it. And there is a print option, too — so you could even print out your notes if you want. This was a big wow for me. Other fantastic features are the 30second repeat, variable speeds (especially handy when you want those skilled teachers to slow down just a bit), and the discussion and Q&A forums available for the class.
All this being said, how was the actual class? I thought the teaching team of Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn was fantastic. They explained techniques thoroughly and effectively at a pace that was really comfortable. They were fun and personable and knowledgeable. They also designed beautiful projects to set their lessons in motion. First, the Spiral Lace Hat…
Second, a top-down hat, the Medallion Crown Hat, with the most rad cast-on ever…
Meant to be a simple beret, I did an extra repeat in the body section to accommodate my big hair as well as the cold Wisconsin winters. Thankfully, the instructors take the time in class to touch on how to modify lace patterns (including when not to).
And lastly, the True Lace Hat…
For this, I used a skein of Plucky Knitter Primo Aran I had in my stash. It is a great match for this pattern as it has excellent stitch definition. It’s a bit heavier than the yarn used in the pattern, but this makes it a bit more practical for me here in the northern climes.
This class walks you through everything you need to know to make these hats — from how to make a proper gauge swatch — including a lace gauge swatch — to how to read charts, to how to do simple increases and decreases, to how to make basic modifications, to proper finishing — it’s all there. All you really need are basic knitting skills and this class will show you the rest.
The beauty of Craftsy classes is that they happen wholly in your time. When you find the time — whether it’s at 5am when the kids are still asleep or over your lunch break — your teacher is already waiting as are your note and projects. If you have questions, teachers are there to answer your questions, too, although keep in mind that unlike a traditional classroom you can’t just raise your hand and have your questions answered. In my experience, it did take some time for a response, but I think it’s part of the give & take of this platform. You get a nationally known, very skilled teacher on-demand in your home who will answer your personal questions. In exchange for this huge benefit, a little patience might be required when waiting for a response. I think that’s more than a fair trade-off — after all, these teachers are busy, too!
All in all, if you are new to knitting lace, Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn’s New Directions in Lace: Hats class is a fantastic place to start. You will undoubtedly pick up a loads of new skills & techniques and have three beautiful hats to show for it. I’ve been knitting lace for years and I picked up some really great tips & tricks and had a blast with this class, so veteran knitters, you can benefit from it, too! If you’re interested, you can use this link to get a discount on your class fee. I’m sure you’ll love the fun, knowledgeable approach of these wonderful teachers as well as the fab hats you get to create!
For more information on my Spiral Lace Hat, see my Ravelry project page here.
For more information on my Medallion Crown Hat, see my Ravelry project page here.
For more information on my True Lace Hat, see my Ravelry project page here.