Friday, July 20, 2012

Challenging Myself

Sometimes I need a challenge.

Yeah...as if parenting and homeschooling my kids, maintaining my home and its responsibilities, and being a wife isn't challenging enough?

But, its true.  Sometimes I find that I really do need to challenge myself to keep the ol' grey matter in shape and my sanity in check.  I just need to get away from ABC's, times tables, and key word outlines and focus on something that is new to me, piques my interest, and keeps my attention.  "Me" time.  These are things that I do to learn something new or otherwise challenge and improve myself and/or my skills.



For me, these "challenges" usually come in the form of something craftsy or artistic.  One year I took classes and learned cake decorating (and gained 10 pounds).  Another year I learned knitting and crochet.  I once picked up a violin and, though I was aiming at much higher skills, learned how to screech out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star like nobody's business.  And, it was all just because I had a strong desire to learn something new at the time.  In most of those instances I did take my new skills and make something to bless another - a blanket, a birthday cake, a scarf.  Though, I think the only blessing I provided with my violin playing was when I stopped.

Can anyone else identify with this?

I know I've probably mentioned these sites before, but here are some sites that I've visited and used when I get such a desire to learn (or relearn, or build upon my knowledge) crafts and hobbies.  I hope you find them useful.  Also, these could easily be used for Home Economics lessons for those high school aged.

Craftsy - A site I've come to know recently.  It hosts online video lessons in various categories: knitting, crochet, sewing, baking, cake decorating, paper crafts, and more.  Sign up for free.  Once in a while there is a free class to take.  The video lessons are very well done.  And, there is no time limit on taking the class; once you purchase a class you will always have access to it.

Pattern Review.com is a  site for those of us who like (or like to attempt) garment sewing.  Their online classes are well done.  I seem to remember the class needed to be completed within a certain time period but I could online chat or e-mail the instructor if I needed help.  Class offerings change every so often and the skill ranges from beginner to advanced.  So, there's something for everyone.  If there isn't a class on what you are wanting to learn, chances are there is information in the "Knowledge Base" tab for you.  Free membership gets you limited access to the site.  A $30 year or $16.50 half-year paid membership gets you total access - well worth the cost if you will be pursuing sewing  skills during the year but haven't a live instructor to call upon.

Knittinghelp.com  I taught myself to knit with the help of books when I was a teenager.  Later, when I decided to re-learn this skill, this website was a huge help.  The free videos are enough to get you started on a project.  Advance skills can probably be found on youtube.

Nexstitch.com I taught myself to crochet as an adult with the help of books and these videos.  Gotta love the internet and the way we can instantly access instructional videos!

Jamplay.com  I once tried to learn the guitar.  I had a coupon for jamplay.com and really thought the lessons were great.  Unfortunately, I'm not a guitar hero due to other priorities at the time.  Maybe next year.

Truth is, with the Internets, we can learn just about anything from the comfort of our own home.  Though, I still think that one-on-one instruction is best.  But, you go with what you can use.  These are just a few of the sites I've personally used.

-A





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