Tuesday, December 9, 2014
For the last couple of weeks I've had the pleasure of playing with a gorgeous new toy - the Kindle Fire HDX! The lovely lightweight tablet is made by Amazon but this particular one came from Argos as part of this tablet range. It allows you to access over 240,000 apps, emails, documents and music as well as your ebook library. As a keen crafter I was particularly interested to see what apps are available that could help me learn a new skill or inspire a new project and I'm here today to tell you about what I found!
I'm already an enthusiastic knitter but so far the art of crochet has totally eluded me. Back at uni (when I had plenty of time on my hands...) I bought a little instruction guide at the local yarn shop with the intention of teaching myself how but wow - that book was dry as dust! I tried my best to copy the step by step photos but just couldn't get it. Some things are much better taught in person rather than read off a page but if you're not lucky enough to know someone with time on their hands to teach you, the next best thing is a video! With this in mind I downloaded ProTube (a YouTube viewing app) and dived right in!
The screen of the Kindle Fire HDX is crystal clear and super bright which makes viewing any kind of video content a pleasure. I curled up on the sofa with my crochet hook, yarn and cup of tea and got ready to learn! I decided to begin my journey into crochet with a simple granny square as they're nice and small, look pretty and best of all, you actually get something at the end of it rather than just producing endless rectangles (like in my early days of knitting!).
After a bit of browsing I came across this fab video from Sarah-Jayne at Bella Coco! I found Sarah-Jayne's instructions really clear and I liked the way she talks you through every stitch rather than jumping ahead and assuming you know what to do! It was really easy to balance the tablet in my lap so I could see both the screen and my crochet at the same time - Sarah-Jayne understandably works a lot faster than me so I found it best to hit pause whenever I needed some time to catch up before moving on to the next section. The tablet connected easily to my wifi and the video streamed beautifully. It was really easy to spool forwards or backwards through the video to re-watch a section or skip ahead if I needed to and best of all, whenever I paused the video the picture was really clear so I could see exactly what I needed to do with my yarn and needle!
Here's my first ever Granny square - not to bad eh? I'm very tempted to embark on a whole blanket as I like the way you can make the squares here and there when you have little pockets of time and then connect them up into one big blanket later! YouTube and the ProTube app get a big thumbs up from me and I'll definitely make them my first port of call the next time I want to pick up a new crafty skill.
If you're interested in learning knitting and crochet or even if you're already a pro, another app I would definitely recommend is Ravulous which is the app version of the super popular online knitting and crochet community Ravelry! If you don't have an account already you'll just need to hop over to their website first of all to register, then you can use the app to access thousands of knitting and crochet projects. I find Ravelry really useful when choosing a new knitting project because no matter what the pattern, you can guarantee that hundreds of Ravelers will have made it already and generously shared their photos and experiences. I find it really helpful to see how a garment looks on real bodies as well as getting inspired by other peoples yarn choices and colour combinations. If there is a particularly tricky bit in a pattern or even a mistake you can guarantee that someone will have picked up on it and there will be a forum post on the subject.
The Ravulous app works particularly well on the Kindle Fire HDX as you can search through hundreds of projects easily, using keywords to find what you're looking for. If you see a project you like you can then add it to your queue for quick reference later. Ravelry also allows you to create a database of the needles and yarns in your stash which is handy when you're out and about shopping - you can pop the tablet in your handbag and, providing the yarn shop has wifi (hello John Lewis!) you can use the app to quickly check what you've already got back at home. There's nothing worse than getting home and discovering you already have two pairs of bamboo 5mm straights! If (heaven forbid) the shop is all out of that yarn your pattern calls for, you can also take a look at other peoples projects to get ideas for yarn substitutions. I've been a member of Ravelry for many years and I think this leap from website to app makes perfect sense - the database function especially is so handy when you're out and about.
If I find myself in a bit of a slump creatively or just in need of some inspiration, the first thing I do is settle down to catch up with my favourite craft blogs! There are so many crafters all over the world making wonderful things and sharing their projects and ideas on blogs. Checking out new craft blogs always leaves me feeling inspired and I love trying out other peoples DIYs. If you're a craft blog fan too then the app 'Find and Craft' is handy to have up your sleeve - you can browse through tonnes of DIY tutorials by category, skill level or keyword search then once you've found something that takes your fancy, the app then directs you to the blog where you can read the full tutorial! Some of my favourites are this cute DIY cardboard box sewing machine by Little Red Window, these geometric planters by Homemade Ginger and these fabric coil bowls by The Red Thread!
Do you have a favourite crafty app? If so I would love to hear about it!
This post is written in collaboration with Argos - thanks for reading!