A really good way to keep on top of new trends and unfamiliar techniques in the areas where you craft is to subscribe to the e-mail newsletter of a Web site or publisher. In my case, one site in particular, Interweave, provides a wealth of information about crochet and mixed media, two areas where much of my creative energy is concentrated. Interweave describes itself as “one of the nation’s largest art and craft media entities with businesses in magazine and book publishing, interactive and social media, television and video programming, directories, and events for craft enthusiasts.” More specifically, if provides content about:
- Beading and jewelry-making
- Mixed media art
For me, Interweave is also the publisher of Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines, two magazines to which I subscribe, as well as Stitch and Crochet, both of which I pick up occasionally from the newsstand. Recently I switched my paper subscriptions to iPad versions to save space. Most of the Interweave magazines are available as individual issue downloads or collections of one or more years. You can count on intermittent sales; this month I purchased several CDs of past years’ magazine content at half-price, a very good bargain indeed.
Interweave’s newsletters, which are admittedly marketing tools, are filled with excerpts of magazine articles and links to useful products you can buy, but they also include links to free e-books that are wonderful little gems, such as:
- Wire & Bead Crochet Jewelry Patterns: 4 Free Crochet Necklace, Bracelet, and Earrings Designs
- 4 Free Articles on Handmade Books: Learn How to Make a Book Using Mixed-Media Techniques
- 4 Free Sewing Projects for the Home: How to Make a Duvet Cover, Pattern for Fabric Coasters, Sewing Placemats and Quilts
- Beaded Wedding Jewelry: 5 Free Projects for Handmade Bridal Jewelry
- Drawing Faces: Learn How to Draw a Face with Attitude, How to Draw Eyes with Impact and How to Draw Lips with Structure
Last week I was alerted, through Interweave’s newsletters, that they were holding a free four-day trial of their video tutorial service, with access to all videos. The catch was that you did have to provide a credit card number that would not be charged if you canceled your account before the end of the four-day trial. The ordinary cost of the video subscription, which gives you access to more than 200 videos (I counted 230), as well as specific PBS television series, is $19.99 a month. If you don’t need access to all videos, but just a certain category (such as mixed media or jewelry making, for example), you can subscribe for $11.99 a month for the category you want, or pay $119.99 yearly ($10 a month). The part of Interweave that offers this service is called Craft Daily.
I don’t think that a video subscription is for everyone, but if there are a lot of videos in the category or categories that interest you, it may be worth your while to subscribe. After my free trial that I started on Day 4 of the four-day weekend trial, I canceled the subscription. I did note that every video on the Craft Daily site has a preview window that gives you an idea what to expect, and most of these videos are available in the Interweave Store, either as a download or a DVD. The categories in which I am most interested are mixed media, crochet and sewing. I discovered that most of the 32 mixed media videos contain content found in the magazines or books I already own. There were only 12 crochet and 6 sewing titles, however. Still, at some point I may subscribe for one month only, just to see what titles are really worth purchasing. One of the advantages to a video library like this is that you can watch videos anytime you wish, but a couple of the downfalls are that if your Internet goes down, streamed videos are not accessible. Also, you only have access to the videos as long as you subscribe. At a site like Craftsy, in contrast, any videos to which you purchase streaming rights are accessible for the life of the site.
What about the quality of the videos on Craft Daily? Visually, they were excellent and streamed very well. I do have a very fast Internet connection, however, so I can’t say how well the videos stream if that is not the case for you. Content-wise, they ranged in quality, but I think this largely depends on the instructor. Here are the three videos I watched either in entirety, or partially:
- I felt that Handmade Book Essentials: Learn to Make Folded, Side-Stitch and Signature-Style Books,” with instructor Dea Fischer, is excellent for new to intermediate bookmakers. One of the really interesting tips I learned is that cotton, rag and pulp paper has no grain, which is important when you are cutting, tearing or folding pages, since the grain is supposed to run parallel to the spine of a book. This is one video I am seriously considering purchasing.
- Backgrounds to Bindings, in contrast, with instructor Kara McKnight-Holbrook, is less useful to me because it spends two-thirds of its time on paper treatments for art journal pages, and I am more interested in bindings, especially bindings that are of a more permanent nature. The mixed media books and magazines I own provide this same information, often in more detail.
- The Crocheter’s Toolbox: Lily Chen’s Techniques and Tricks for Savvy Crocheters is absolutely amazing. It is filled with more than 3 hours of tips and techniques for the experienced crocheter. I have been crocheting for 36 years, and could not believe everything I learned during just the first 20 minutes of this video. The video, which is not cheap at $31.95 for a high definition download, is well worth the price.
I began this post, saying that Interweave, as an art-and-craft media resource, provides a wealth of information, especially if you subscribe to its newsletters to keep abreast of its offerings. Especially useful are the magazine article excerpts in its newsletters that point you to related products on the Interweave site, as well as free e-books. The Interweave store, as well as Craft Daily, provide video tutorials that likely will appeal to the visual learner. For me, however, I think the previews of the videos are more useful than a four-day free trial subscription to the site, mainly because I want to have permanent access to what interests me, instead of having to pay $19.99 a month for repeated access. What has been your experience with video tutorial subscription sites? Would you pay for a long-term subscription?
© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.