Thursday, June 25, 2015

Needlepoint Flix: A Review WITH IMPORTANT UPDATE

BREAKING NEWS!  BeStitched has a new ad campaign about their Needlepoint Flix service, with a special coupon code of  CH100 which will allow you to subscribe for free for a month's trial, just to see if you find this interesting.  Lisa also says three new videos (including Basketweave for Left Handed Stitchers) will be uploaded this morning after she has a chance to check them.

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BeStitched has a new video service called Needlepoint Flix, a sort of online movie rental for stitch and technique videos.  For $9.99 a month, subscribers have access to BeStitched's short videos.  The longer videos which are actually filmed for their classes, are Pay Per View.  They cost $1.99 each and are viewable for 24 hours,  or you can rent the entire set for $19..99 for a month's viewing.  You can read the basics here--
http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-needlepoint-video-channel.html

Lisa of BeStitched invited me to try out their service and report back to you, so here goes!

To start, you go to this URL to either sign up for the service or to log in once you are signed up.
http://www.needlepointflix.com/H4g/how-to-subscribe-to-needlepoint-flix/

Once you are there, watch the How To Subscribe video.  At the end a window opens to allow you to set up your account. If you have done this already there is another button to log in instead.

Your login is an email address you gave the service when you handed over your credit card number.  You set a password at that time.  Once you log in, you'll see a blank video screen and a list of current items you can view at the bottom right corner of the page.  When I tested the service, there were 78 total videos, including eleven Pay For View ones that cost extra and the Subscribe Here introductory video.  (Lisa tells me they hope to have 100 videos uploaded to view by August.)  There are four complementary instructional videos so I decided to start with those.  I clicked on the link to them and a new window opened with all four videos laid out so I could choose the one I was interested in.  These videos are probably visible to anyone who goes to the How To Subscribe link I listed above if you want to try them out, particularly if you have a slow Internet connection and want to make sure you can play a video without lag.

The complementary instructional videos talk about opening a skein, how to do a bead lock, how to create an away waste knot, and how to use a flat iron on threads.  I choose the video about using a flat iron since I've never done this before, being blessed (or cursed) with hair that is straight as a stick.  A box opened asking for my name and email address.  I typed them in and clicked on the Send and Continue button.  It takes a second or two for the video to start.  You will find yourself looking down on a table with the threads to be straightened laying there and with Lisa's hands and arms also visible.    It's a lot like standing behind the table in a room and looking over Lisa's shoulder as she demonstrates the process.  The video and the audio are both crystal clear.

Once the video is over, scroll down a bit to the lower right corner where the list of videos is located to pick something other than the four complementary videos.  Or you can choose another of the four displayed on the page in the Complementary section.  Remember, if you want to see something in another category than these four, you will need to have an account set up.

The other categories are:
Beading Techniques (4 videos)
Byzantine Stitches (3)
Cross or Tied Stitches (5)
Ribbon Techniques (5)
Knots (5)
Straight Stitches (6)
Felting (1)
Eyelet Stitches (1)
Decorative Stitches (22)
Basic Needlepoint Stitches (8)
Thread Painting (1)
Blackwork Stitches (1)

To see if this video service might be helpful for a beginner without a shop nearby to help them learn, I choose the Basic Needlepoint Stitches section for my next exploration.  The videos cover two types of Mosaic Stitch, two types of Cashmere Stitch, Encroaching Gobelin, Alternating Continental,  Diagonal Scotch and Alternating Smyrna.  In other words, this is for someone who has already mastered the basic tent stitch and is interested in learning a few fancier stitches.  I wouldn't recommend this to a rank beginner trying to learn the basics like threading a needle or putting a canvas on stretcher bars, in other words.  HOWEVER, since I wrote this last week, BeStitched has added nine more videos, including one on basketweave for the Basic section.  So don't assume that things are just the way they were last week.  Check to see how many videos are there before you make up your mind whether this will be useful for your purposes.  I am told the goal is to add 12-20 videos each month.  Eventually this will be a huge resource.

I chose to watch Encroaching Gobelin.  This video is over four minutes long.  Once again you are looking down over Lisa's shoulder as she stitches but in a much closer view.  You can very clearly see the canvas, the two plies of thread she is using, and exactly where she places the needle to work the rows.  While she stitches, Lisa explains where this stitch comes in useful (fur, thread painting, bones), and she demonstrates several variations of the stitch such as stitching it horizontally instead of vertically or slanting it in mirror image.  Lisa uses pink thread and white mono canvas to demonstrate the stitch so things stand out well.  If you have vision problems, however, try out the complementary videos first as a friend of mine with vision problems found all the white and the high contrast with the pink thread bothersome.

Next I choose Felting which is in a category all its own since it is a technique and not a stitch.  The video is over 9 minutes long.  (By the way, I noticed that in the lower left area there is a little summary of the video, which might be helpful if you are unsure what the video you choose is about.  Many of the videos are self-explanatory but a few are not if you haven't heard about the technique online or from stitching buddies or your local guild.)   Lisa shows you how to use wool roving and a felting needle to create a fuzzy look on your canvas.  The video makes several really good points about how to best use this technique, but I found the order in which things were introduced odd. I would have introduced the tools used in this technique first but Lisa jumped right in and started needle felting without showing the tools.  You do get a glimpse of them; it's just I like to show all the tools first when explaining something new.  This video may be from one of the classes the shop teaches and folks may have already seen the tools by the time they are shown the video.

Thread Painting always frightens stitchers so I thought I would look at this video next to see how Lisa explains it to students.  The video is almost 9 minutes long.  She works with a bird canvas from Vicki Sawyer/Melissa Shirley using two plies of thread in what she calls a three pronged approach.  Lisa talks about laying threads, railroading, how bird feathers lay on top of lower feathers, working in layers, working a color at a time, what threads look good for birds, etc.  I think the video would help folks understand this technique but I may not be the best judge as I don't find it that difficult to do personally.

Since Decorative Stitches is such a big category with 22 stitches, I thought I would explore it next.  There are so many videos that only 10 are shown when you select this category.  You have push the More button at the bottom of the video list to see the rest but when you do, the first 10 are still there.  The rest of the videos are added to the bottom of the page.  For a second I thought the More button hadn't worked until I realized that the top selection hadn't changed but more videos had appeared under them.  None of the videos were for stitches unknown to me (they included Nobuku, Slide Stitch, Helen's Lace, etc.) but they are all stitches that create distinct patterns.  I choose to look at Darning Pattern (a little carrot shape) and Buttonhole Wheel.  Darning Pattern is over 7 minutes long.  Lisa explains how to untwist threads in this video; it's not just about how to create the stitch.  Buttonhole Wheel is a demonstration about how to do buttonhole stitches over a plastic ring to create a wheel.  It does not demonstrate buttonhole stitch, just shows how to add a plastic ring to canvas covered by the stitch, so this is a technique video, not a stitch video.  If you don't know how to do buttonhole stitch, you can probably learn by watching but that's not what this video is about.   This video is also over 7 minutes long.  I found it interesting that Lisa explains how to tie off a length of thread in the middle of covering the plastic ring--this is very useful information for those who aren't that experienced with buttonhole.  She also talks about how to cover a round shape with buttonhole fully and talks about threads that work well for this technique.

Next I took a look at the Pay Per View video area.  Remember, these cost $1.99 to watch each for 24 hours or $19.99 to look at the entire series from a class over a month's time.  This allows people to watch the entire class or just pay for the parts they are interested in.  There are currently 11 videos (more will be added this summer as there are going to be six classes on this piece and only two have had videos posted to date), all from the class BeStitched is doing on Tapestry Fair's "The Last Tango" canvas.  Each is marked Part One, Two, etc.  They were created for the class as a visual stitch guide, which is BeStitched's signature way of doing classes for folks who didn't take the original class.  (Original class participants get a DVD with the videos on it.)  Instead of the written instructions being the main instructions for the class and the videos supplemental information, BeStitched does this the other way around.

I looked at the video for Part One from "The Last Tango" class. This is what the canvas looks like.
http://bestitchedneedlepoint.com/the-last-tango-class-at-bestitched-needlepoint/

This section talks about the stitches for the floor under the dancers' feet.  It is nearly 9 minutes long.  The video is clear but because the painted canvas shows, you don't have the stark contrast between thread and canvas that you see in the stitch demonstrations. The thread color blends into the color of the painted canvas so it is harder to see where the needle goes. (Making the video full screen helps see what is going on.)  The carpet is done in a Nobuku variation and tent and basketweave stitches, and although Lisa shows how each stitch is done, this alternating Nobuku variation is complicated enough that you probably want to look at a stitch book or the diagram in the class instructions to make sure you get the stitches right.  The video talks about compensation quite a bit as you will have to compensate the stitches in the curves of the flooring pattern.  Lisa also gives you counting tips to make the Nobuku easier and explains how to stitch with the white knitting yarn also used in this area as well as general tips on stitching with a white fiber.

Once you are done with a viewing session,  it's easy to log out using the Log Out button in the upper right corner.

After checking out five videos from the site, this is what I think about the service.

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The Pros:
The videos are beautifully done and the ones I watched explained everything well and often had tips on how to create the stitch or use the technique better.

Perfect for the visual learner.

Logging in, setting up an account, and using the service is very well explained.

This is great for the intermediate stitcher who wants to learn more stitches and where to use them.
Also great for folks who are not close to a shop or who are homebound.

The stitches cover a wide variety of types and there are techniques such as silk ribbon embroidery and needle felting included among the videos.

The video controls are familiar ones for anyone who has used online videos on other sites such as Netflix or Hulu.

The Cons:
Not for an absolute beginner right now (but this may change) as some basic knowledge is necessary to understand the videos.

$9.99 per month is rather expensive for only 78 videos unless you plan on watching them again and again.  (Remember, more videos are planned and BeStitched added 9 more this week.)

$1.99 for a Pay for View video available for 24 hours is expensive unless you are having real trouble with the area.  The $19.99 price to view all of a Pay to View set for a month is probably a better deal for a student taking a BeStitched class via mail order.  However if I were taking a class long distance I'd expect to have access to the videos as part of the package.  Original class participants get a DVD with the videos on it as part of the class.

I didn't see anything I didn't know already so a really experienced stitcher like me probably won't learn a lot that is new.

The video play button sometimes doesn't start the video.  I occasionally had to push the play button a second time to get things moving.  That might be because I am not precise enough with my mouse cursor.

Folks with vision problems or a slow Internet connection will need to watch the Complimentary videos before signing up to make sure they can watch them successfully.  I was pleased BeStitched offers complimentary videos to help folks make up their minds if this is a service they want to pay for.

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I have to say I was really impressed by the professionalism of the videos and how quickly the shop is adding to the total number of videos available.  BeStitched is breaking new ground here with their use of video instructions and the Needlepoint Flix channel in general.  The instructions are excellent, although I didn't watch every video.  I simply didn't have time to do that.  Whether this is a service you want to pay for depends on the type of learner you are and how experienced a stitcher you happen to be at this point in your stitching career.

Many thanks to BeStitched for offering me the opportunity to explore what they have to offer.  It's unique and very very interesting.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com
© Copyright June 15, 2015 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

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