Since a few e-learning craft sites were offering free stuff to help amuse people during quarantine, I decided to try a couple of courses on Bluprint and Knit Stars. This is mostly notes for myself in case I decide to subscribe to either of these later.
What did I take?
- Bluprint: Spinning Dyed Fibers with Felicia Lo
- Bluprint: Drafting from Woolen to Worsted
- Knit Stars: Meghan Fernandes’ Finishing Workshop
- Knit Stars: Beata Jezek of Hedgehog Fibres on Colour
- Knit Stars: Meet the Alpacas
I had the run of all possible courses on Bluprint so I focused on spinning, where I think I have a lot to learn, and I’ve been practicing a few times a week so I’m not too out of shape to apply the knowledge. Knit Stars it was just whatever they’d chosen to run on a week when I had a bit of time.
All of the videos I watched were a real step up in video quality from my usual free youtube stuff. Good focus, editing, colour, lighting, sets. The production quality was really lovely.
The courses were well designed. There were obvious spaces for practice, and especially in the spinning the instructors explained things in multiple ways with different visual aids. Lots of best practices in evidence.
Obviously the courses that I selected myself were more relevant to what I actually wanted to learn. And while that’s definitely true right now because of the way Bluprint offered everything free at once while Knit Stars offered specific courses per week, it’s also true generally because Bluprint you choose each course or subscribe for access to all of them (streamed only?) while Knit Stars has them bundled into seasons.
I learned something new from every single one I took, though! And it was pretty cool to have something more like an instructor led experience even in the middle of social distancing. I’d *rather* take a class when I can, but… I could do this at random hours without taking away time from my toddler. And that’s pretty neat even if I wasn’t in the middle of a global pandemic.
Bluprint was, I think, severely overloaded by the free trial. I had to load videos multiple times before they’d play, the interface was so slow that I resorted to editing the url to go to the next video. It was frustrating. Plus, their video player only had a tiny play/pause button in one corner, which is particularly annoying when you’re watching and spinning at the same time and may have fiber in one hand! I don’t know if the downrezed videos were a load issue or settings or what, but they definitely were bad enough to be noticeable and make it hard to see what the spinning instructors were talking about.
Bluprint also constantly touts their “platform” which I guess is kind of comments/forum with the instructor expecting to participate regularly for a live experience. I’d mostly known about this because they screwed up a bunch of notifications and upset a lot of instructors (back when they were Craftsy, I think?), which made the constant exhortations that one should share photos on the platform seem kind of sad. (Especially since these courses were likely recorded before the technical snafu.) I didn’t use it because I didn’t have enough time for that, but I guess it’s a neat idea?
Knit Stars has nice big next/previous buttons that actually work, fewer loading problems, and didn’t tend to downgrade the resolution as badly, but it was a bit hard to tell because I wasn’t looking for the same tiny details in those courses.
I think Knit Stars also does live stuff when the courses are on, but again, I didn’t have time for that so I didn’t investigate if any of that was a thing for the older recordings.
I liked all the courses I took and learned a few new things from each one! I’m particularly excited about practicing the spinning techniques and had to go out and buy more fiber.
I disliked the Bluprint technical blips a lot, enough that if all else were equal I’d check Knit Stars first for any courses. But the Bluprint selection and lower pricing really does makes it appealing despite the tech problems. And honestly, next time wouldn’t be in the free trial period so it’s possible that a lot of the site’s sluggishness wouldn’t be an issue any more.
But will there be a next time? Probably not any time soon. Honestly, finding time for videos in my day was kind of a pain right now: I’ve got full time childcare for an active toddler, a full time job, and a pretty busy volunteer job (that will quiet down in a few weeks, at least). It worked out well on days where I’d set aside time to do something like dye my hair and had to sit still for 20 minutes or so. It worked less well when I was feeling cooped up and instead used my every-other-evening toddler-free hour for a walk. And even learning spinning while doing my complicated lace mkal wasn’t great. But it was cool to do courses without having to travel or coordinate schedules with my husband, so “not soon” is not a polite “never” in this case. I’m not sure when life might change to make this work, but I can definitely see that it could eventually. If I loved video learning it might be a sweeter deal, but it’s not my preferred learning method even with better production quality.
Overall, I’m really glad I tried it out but I think maybe this isn’t the best pandemic activity for me!