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Entrelac Online: Part 2 (or, Who Knew It Could Be This Easy?)

August 27

Gwen Bortner, entrelac, infinity neck cowl

When I last posted about Gwen Bortner’s online Entrelac Knitting class , I was just getting to know my way around Craftsy. Now I’ve had a chance to dig in and actually start taking the class.

Gwen’s wonderful in-person teaching style translates well into her videos. She’s really upbeat, and she anticipates things that may prove challenging for the student.  Her class uses three projects to teach entrelac; a neck warmer introduces the student to basic entrelac technique, next a scarf and then a cape build on those skills with more complex patterns.

Working on the first project, the Infinity Neck Warmer, I learned how to make the triangles and blocks that form an entrelac pattern. Gwen’s directions were so clear, and presented in such an organized manner, that I had no problems at all. One of the super-cool things about Craftsy classes is that you can post a question to the teacher, attaching a photo of your work. For forever, my ssk’s have been wonky as heck. Every other tier of entrelac blocks uses ssk’s, and true to form, my ssk columns of stitches were all crooked. I posted a photo of my crazily-tilting stitches, and Gwen wrote back to me right away with a suggestion for how to fix it.

The only thing I found the teeniest confusing in the class so far was the way the downloaded homework assignments are presented. If you take the class, be sure to start with the right pattern – go by the name on the pattern, rather than the number in the corner or the order they’re presented in the list of homework downloads. (The first pattern pdf has a “2” in the corner, while the second project is labelled “1”, which I found confusing).

Gwen’s lessons are filled with helpful tips. Who would have guessed I’d be learning how to knit in both directions as part of this class? It makes working all those squares faster. I’d always been interested in learning this technique, but  felt intimidated. Having it as part of the class was like getting a bonus class-within-a-class. And typical Gwen – her instructions are clear and she anticipates where things might prove to be challenging. (She warns that at a certain point your brain will stop, and she was right on – my brain stopped!) The video was so good, I only had to watch it once and was able to apply it. (I’m glad I have it to go back to when I need a refresher, though!)

I was so excited to get started on this project, I turned to my stash for the yarn. My stash pretty much consists of one ball of everything, since I had a lot of yarn samples left over from my book. So I grabbed the only stuff I had enough of – a solid Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran  and a gently striped Classic Shades by Universal Yarns. I think it turned out to be a serendipitous combination.

Gwen Bortner, Knitting Entrelac, entrelac, infinity neck warmer

 Normally, I love to block my projects. For this one, I chose not to block it, so it would keep its textural quality.

knitting, entrelac, Craftsy, Gwen Bortner, cowl

 

Bottom line? If you’ve had any curiosity at all about learning entrelac, I highly recommend Gwen’s Entrelac Knitting class. It was fun to learn and much easier than I thought! I look forward to continuing the next two phases of the class – the textured scarf and eventually the cape.

 

 

Entrelac Online: Part 1 (or, Craftsty – My New Best Friend)

July 23

When I heard that Gwen Bortner now teaches her Entrelac Knitting course online, I was excited to check it out. You may remember I took a fantastic workshop from her in Cambria a few months ago. Gwen clearly loves to teach and her sense of humor make her classes fun. Her book Entree to Entrelac helped transform entrelac from esoteric to wildly popular.

Since this is the first online class I’ve taken, I’m going to write a series of posts for this topic, sharing with you some of the super-smart features of Craftsy as I discover them for myself through taking Gwen’s online class.

I’ve always been curious about entrelac; I’ve oohed and ahhhed over everybody else’s’ entrelac projects. But it scares me –  I’ve sat with many a  knitter trying to tackle entrelac on her own, and it usually involves swearing and ripping. Along comes Gwen’s class on Craftsy. If anyone can teach me entrelac, it’s bound to be Gwen. But could an online class be as informative and fun as her real-life classes?

I’ve only recently discovered the world of Craftsy. One thing I love is that they post sample videos so you get a sense ahead of time whether you want to take the class. When I think about the money I’ve spent on travelling to knitting events, and then paying for classes, I realize that the cost of $39.99 is very reasonable. The process for joining Craftsy and signing up for class is super easy.

What’s really cool about the online course is that, unlike when I get behind in a real-time class, I can go back any time to any of the video segments to refresh my memory or review a tricky technique. Once I buy a Craftsy course, it is mine to keep forever.

I was worried that without actually being in the same room as Gwen, I’d be unable to ask questions or get help when I got stuck in my knitting. There’s an area right next to the video for posting questions, which Gwen responds to. While there isn’t the instant gratification of an immediate answer, there is the advantage that I can see everyone’s questions and answers,  which add up to a broader range than would be asked in a typical class. That means I get to learn even more. I can even attach a photo of my knitting if I get stuck and need to show Gwen where I went wrong. That’s comforting!

When I take a real-time class, I scribble all kinds of notes as the teacher explains things. I can do the same thing with a note-taking section under the video window; I love that I can pause the video while I type, meaning I won’t miss a word.

The projects and instructions for the course start off with the basics of entrelac, and then build skills from there. Now that I’ve learned the ropes with the Craftsy format, and have sorted out the downloaded instructions, I’m off to dig through my stash for some project yarn. In the next post, we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of the class.

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