October 7, 2012

The Dilemma of Classes

If any of you went to VogueKnitting Live New York last year, you probably received an email stating that you could pre-register a couple of weeks ago (turns out, you can only pre-register for the crazy expensive all-inclusive packages, so the rest of us are stuck waiting).  Ok, cool, I thought.  Now I won't sign up last minute...hm, class list; maybe I should take a class this time...

As I was looking down the list of classes, I noticed a lot of them are of the vein 'learn a this technique' or 'learn more ways to cast-on and off'.  Which is all fun and good...except I could find you instructions for ten different ways of casting on in ten minutes just sitting here at my computer.  I could even find a couple of videos for some of them if written instructions aren't your thing.  What's the point, then, of spending around $50-$60 to learn something I could just Google, or even spend at most $25-$30 for a book that has that has ten times more information that I can refer to indefinitely?

Now, I do get that there are people out there that need or want the physical presence of the instructor and the interactive instruction to learn something in knitting and crocheting, no matter how simple.  The point of this post isn't to behoove them, or make fun of the fact that the classes exist. No.  My dilemma, as an active self-teacher, is at what point is taking the class worth it?  At what point is what is being taught too complicated to detail on a web site, show on a YouTube video, or follow from a book?  What wisdom can only be found by paying $60 for a class?

It's not an easy question, though I have some notion of the answer.  You see, a couple of months ago I decided to make a mini-vacation out of Rhinebeck, partly as a gift to myself for last July (see, I *can* sign up for these things before the last minute). Since I earned overtime for that month, money wasn't so much of a concern.  So, the first thing I did was decide to take a class.  Unlike VogueKnitting Live, however, I looked through the class list for Rhinebeck once and immediately found what I wanted to take.  I'm going to be learning how to design a sweater.

Of course, I've already technically designed a sweater.  Two, if you count this disaster.  So why that class?  Because I haven't been successful in actually getting a pattern down, and I'm hoping that learning some techniques for designing will help me knock out my half-assed design-on-the-fly methodology that isn't working as well as I'd like.  Also, unlike cast on techniques or how to do stranded color-work, learning design and pattern-writing isn't a concrete, step-by-step process.   There's no 'do x, then y', so it doesn't lend itself to online tutorials, nor does it benefit designers to over-think themselves and explain it for free.  Sure, there's books out there.  I own a couple and have more in my (private) Amazon wish list. But what I've done obviously isn't enough.

So, is my self-teaching limit at the point of designing from scratch?  No, I don't think so; there's more books I can read, and I could benefit from a good stitch dictionary right now at least.  But it is the point where self-teaching becomes experimental and frustrating; where there's no straight how-to and over-researching is paralyzing so I do too little of it, ending up stuck.  It makes me realize how little I know of this craft.  So, when money isn't an object and I'm treating myself, it makes some sense to take the class.  Who knows, it may help, and hopefully it's fun.

But that brings me back to VogueKnitting.  Can I justify even taking a class on design when I have to justify spending the money?  Can I justify any of them?  That's my dilemma, and at this point that depends what I end up using from any class I rationalize myself into taking.

Knowing me, I'll end up signing up for something anyway.  It's not like I needed to attend a lecture either, but I've been to one of those already (it was more due to the pricing structure and wanting to get the hell out of my apartment that time).  I have into November 27th to decide before it costs more.

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