Why, oh why, do knitting videos have such BAD production value?

11:07 PM 1 Comments A+ a-

This drives me crazy - knitting and crocheting videos with horrible production value. Maybe I'm a snob about this, but in this day and age of great cameras, affordable sound equipment, lighting, etc., to say NOTHING of readily accessible courses on video making and foundational camera work, there is no excuse for bad videos! Yet desperate knitters (like myself with no local yarn store and therefore no expert classes) have to resort to them. And it's not that there isn't good information on there. A decent closeup of hands, enough to give you an "ah-ha!" moment after reading the pattern directions a gizillion times is worth the not insignificant expense of the DVD. But I have some peeves:

1. Fingernails! They should be clean, neat and undistracting. Nenah Gelati, who taught me to knit socks on circular needles (thank you Nenah!) has major nails - the kind with little pictures and rhinestones on them. I'm constantly distracted from her technique into thinking, "My God, is that a cat?" while attempting to decipher the artistry of her local nail salon. Great backyard barbecue conversation starter, but keep it out of the video.

2. No personality. God bless her, I love Bev Dillon to bits, she is a maestro, but she has a nun quality on camera and not in a good way (hmmm, is there a good way?). Being really low key is terrific in teaching an in-person yarn class as it keeps panicky knitters calm, but is death on camera. You could quell prison riots with Bev, she's so mellow. Even Lucy Neatby, who has pink dyed hair and crazily knitted garments, hardly ever smiles and seems to be coming right from a funeral. Now, I know someone with that hair cannot be that serious. Lighten up, people! Nenah has some sparkle and not just with her nails. Elizabeth Zimmerman had this compelling personality in her videos, but since those same videos are now older, they seem a little dated (she doesn't though - you can tell she was sharp as a tack and a whole lot of fun).

3. Sound problems. Either the sound is too low, or (more likely) it is TOO SENSITIVE. I love the click of needles as much as the next knitter, but when they begin to resemble the assault of Omaha Beach, it means you should turn it down, people! My other major issue - mouth noises. Clicking, saliva noises, swallowings. Gross. Really gross. Poor Lucy has this problem and she's not alone.

I'll put up with the only okay lighting, the atrocious things people are wearing (Stacy & Clinton, where are you?!?) because in the end, it's great information put out by caring people. But I can't help but wonder if this is one of reasons so many people don't take needlework seriously - because who can take someone's aunt in a basement seriously? It comes off as rank amateur work.

And speaking of rank amateur, can I mention the PBS series out there? The ones I've seen are no better. Half-hour shows (so you know that you've got about 22 minutes, not nearly enough time to cover really learning anything) with people blathering and being sycophantic with authors (who are just normal people and want to show you their darn technique already) and then four minutes of some really rapid handwork from too far away. The hosts often have a saccharine quality like anyone edgy will scare off people from the Midwest. Shay Pendray, the host of Needle Arts Studio, is the worst offender in my opinion. She seems very nice, she seems extremely knowledgeable, I'd love to take a class with her, but that show, with it's dimly lit studio, epitomizes what I'm railing against here. The episode with her grandchildren was absolutely painful - they didn't want to be interviewed and were really nervous so half the show was wasted with Shay attempting to coax them into giving one word answers, while a knowledgeable author was standing right there, who probably could have actually told us something. Not cool, Shay.

HGTV is the only network that has gotten this (Knitty Gritty or Simply Quilts are two really good shows I'd watch all the time) because they have compelling hosts (although Alex Andersen sometimes smiles like a maniac) and good production value. They also manage their guests really well so they can mention the book WHILE the technique is being demoed (what a novel idea) which saves time and helps you learn.

But even then, I wish there could be a show that combines the can-do spirit of the HGTV shows with the beautiful production and educational value of the old Martha Stewart show - you know those awesome 6 minutes forays into some craftsman's studio with an informative voice over. The bigger picture is often missing that what so many people do just isn't fun and relaxing, but an art form. And even if we'll probably never get our work in a museum, it's still nice to know that we too can be considered artists. But not with sucky videos.


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June 26, 2008 9:09 PM delete

Mrs. Lewis, I was totally thinking of you today because, right now I'm in Cape Cod (area), Massachusetts and I came across a beautiful yarn shop. Well, it seemed wonderful, but I'm used to JoAnn's and Michael's so this was basically incredible- a little pricey, but the colors and varieties were just so above and beyond what I'm used to!
They had this absolutely gorgeous green color that had flecks and gradients which was just wonderful- I was basically drooling over it, but I decided to not get it because; one, I already have so much started; two, I will want to immediately start working but I don't have any crochet hooks with me; and three, did I mention it was a bit pricey? Besides, maybe I'll find some yarn shop in North Carolina, and I'll treat myself to it when I finally learn to knit!

I hope all is well! =)