I considered buying a book to help fill in my knowledge gaps -- and I probably still will, in fact, buy one or more embroidery books -- but in the meantime I had another resource available to me. In my round-up of my 2014 spending on craft projects, I mentioned that over the last few years I have bought but never used several Craftsy classes and, as I had concluded that they were poor value for money, I had sworn off buying any more. The last one I bought before I made this decision was "Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery" presented by Jessica Marquez, which I had never even started. From memory, I saw this reviewed extensively on someone's blog (probably someone who got paid by Craftsy for the doing so) and because this whole embellishment/embroidery thing has been rumbling along on my wish list of things to try for quite a long time, I bought it when it next came up cheap in one of Craftsy's (many) sales. (I should add that I am in no way affiliated, paid by, or even a fan of Craftsy. I'm not going to link to Craftsy/the class directly so that there's no question about this.)
|My set of ineptly embroidered samplers|
|Sampler 1: Flat stitches (I really liked the multicoloured stitches in the middle)|
The class is divided into five lessons, each of which deals with a group of stitches and has a sampler attached, plus a class on designing your own simple embroidery templates. The stitches are (from left to right) flat/straight stitches, chain stitches, knitted stitches, cross stitches and fill stitches. You're encouraged at the end to turn your samplers into a tiny mini quilt thing for framing but, uh, no.
|Sampler 2: Chain stitches (I really liked the couching stitch and the bottom and the daisies)|
|Sampler 3: Knotted Stitches (I like how some of these look, but omg, I hated doing them)|
|Sampler 4: Cross stitches. (I liked the stars and the multi-coloured stitch best)|
As far as the Craftsy class itself is concerned, I found that the presenter was actually very good. She's very clear and gets a good balance between showing what she is doing and talking about it. She also makes mistakes/fumbles a bit in places but what's good is that she talks about how to fix the little problems that come up as you embroider (like the skein working loose, or thread getting pulled in from the back). I actually found her soothing to watch because she seems much more comfortable with being silent than many Craftsy presenters, who seem to feel the need to fill the empty air with a lot of useless words. She does shill for her book quite a bit, though, and she needed to find new words other than graphic and textural since she says both about a million times.
|Sampler 5, Fill Stitches (with terrible, TERRIBLE Cretan stitch at the bottom in blue)|
I am not really walking back from my original position that Craftsy classes have mostly been a waste of money for me, given that I made such limited use of the classes I've bought. However, I am actually pretty happy with this particular class and how I was able to use it. I don't doubt I could have replicated the content with various free YouTube videos, but the pre-packaged content of the class and sampler templates was very convenient and easy to follow. I think the big problem with the YouTube approach is that you have to know what it is you don't know in order to look for the content. Since I was starting from scratch, this was far easier.
In the end, my conclusion is rather specific: if you can get the class in one of the Craftsy sales, you have very little embroidery experience and don't really know where to start, I actually consider this particular class to offer decent value, not least because the presenter is clear and her presentation style is easy to watch.