Thursday, February 20, 2014

On Free Knitting Videos. You know, on that free video website. The one whose name begins with 'You' and end with 'Tube'

Although I teach a lot of classes for more experienced knitters, at least once a month I find myself in front of a room full of newer knitters. I love these classes - I adore seeing newer (or indeed, lapsed) knitters taking on a new challenge, expanding their skills, seeking out new types of projects. It's immensely gratifying to instill confidence and excitement in newer knitters.

Invariably, at some point in these classes, the topic of YouTube comes up. Newer knitters (most especially the younger ones, not to demographically profile) report going to YouTube to learn to knit. Experienced knitters of all ages go to YouTube to review a stitch or technique they're unfamiliar with.

And invariably, I stop the discussion.

I am in the habit of warning knitters away from YouTube for knitting skills. Do not go to YouTube for knitting videos, I say. I often have to say it twice. (Fully acknowledging it makes me sounds like a total crank.)

My rationale? YouTube is the wild west. Everybody and their dog can put a video up on YouTube. And I don't know about your dog, but Dexter is really not very good at telling ssk and k2tog apart...

There's no moderator. There's no-one checking the videos to make sure they're right. But more insidiously, perhaps, there's no one checking the videos to make sure that they are good. You know, actually helpful. (Because knowing how to do something doesn't mean you know how to teach it.)

I've had knitters led horribly astray with YouTube videos that are outright wrong. I've also had knitters led just as wrong by videos that aren't helpful.

If you do a search a phrase like "how to knit", you get "About 615,000 results". Yes. Really. How on earth are you supposed to know what the best one is going to be? If something is new to you, how on earth are you supposed to know what's a good and helpful video? It's asking too much of newer knitters to be able to evaluate videos.

As with free patterns, I encourage knitters to seek out a "reliable" source. Someone they can trust to know what the heck they are talking about and - more to the point - know how to explain it well.

I highly recommend There's tons and tons of videos, and they're all right and good and well explained and helpful. In addition, I love that on the increases and decrease pages, there are photos of each of the stitches so you can see the results and compare. She has both Continental and English style videos for many stitches. Fab!

Knitty has recently added a video techniques column, "The Neurotic Knitter". Kristen is building a great library of all sorts of techiques.

There are some teachers doing excellent work on YouTube. I love Lucy Neatby's no-nonsense approach. Very Pink Knits has a lot of great videos covering the fundamentals, and Cat Bordhi does excellent tutorials for many 'more advanced' techniques.

So yes, it's not that all free online videos are bad. Far from it. And goodness knows there are thousands and thousands more - and better - knitters because of these videos. But I just want to make sure that these knitters are learning right.

Now, this isn't to ignore my own "Learn to Knit" video class. But that's sort of a different beast: it's a full, paid, multi-hour class that takes you through a series of lessons and projects. Here, I'm talking about quickie, one-technique, short-form free videos.

So, readers: are there any sites or videos or teachers you'd particularly recommend? Anyone missing from my list?


Jane said...

I think this is excellent advice, there is nothing like taking a class from an experienced knitter. The little tips you learn, the discussion and the exchange of ideas and the life long friendships made from sharing in live classes.
Online tips are great, but live classes are so great for so many reasons.

Unknown said...

FYI, "How to Knit" was the number 5 most searched DIY topic on Google last year.

MichL said...

I admit to using you tube but it can be time consuming. I watch at least two videos to be sure that they are doing the same thing. If the two teachers do the stitch differently I'll watch a third video. Sometimes I'll watch four or five different videos before I'm sure I understand.

bmcg said...

I am not sure I agree with you saying "do not

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I agree with telling people not to use YouTube, as it isnt really much different than asking a friend or family member for advice on how to do something. They may or may not give you good advice. And for us folks who live in the back of beyond it may be the only advice we can get when we need to learn something in order to carry on with our project. However, I agree that there are often better sources and thank you for making a list. And the suggestion to check out several different videos is also good.

Julie Herrscher said...

I agree that if you have never knitted searching out advice on youtube can be risky business, but I have found some really good posts. A couple other sources on youtube are pleasantseas and iknitwithcatfur. I think Very Pink Knits is very good. I like how she explains things as well as Cat Bhordi. Interweave Knits is a good source for videos.

Sarah said...

Hope this doesn't come off as harsh but I totally appreciate the Real Talk going on here. YouTube can be tricky and I've definitely been confused by things I've seen there. Sorry to the DIY video-makers out there! (I shoot videos for a living so I appreciate the hard work!) I am often frustrated by videos that are lower quality where the sound isn't very good or the lighting is too dark and the yarn is not photogenic. (I can own up to being a film school snob here. But I like to think I'm not just nitpicking.)

I like to use New Stitch a Day along with the sources you've mentioned. When I'm looking for a technique, I like to look for videos by a brand/company that I trust. Yarn companies and magazines have good resources!

ZeeKnits said...

The internet is the Wild West for much info, knitting, medical etc, etc. know your source is good advice. However, some of the best, albeit paid, videos of knitting techniques I've seen are from Elizabeth Zimmerman. Absolutely no "production" techniques, but when I saw EZ drop her needle doing the cast on for a centre start shawl, my frustration with this new technique evaporated and I got on with it. Love Lucy Nearby too, both free and paid - always sound advice.