Craftsy & Me: 1 Year Later – A Review

Well, it’s more like 1 year and 1 month later. I think a year is a good amount of time to evaluate the situation. Here’s what I’ve learned.

THE COURSES
All told, I signed up for 7 Craftsy courses. Here they are in the order I signed up (annotated with my thoughts on the course):

1. Sew Retro – This was the course that introduced me to Craftsy. I first watched the lessons on my work pc with no problem at all.  I never worked with a downloadable pattern before; I don’t think I like it so far.  I’m still working on getting the bodice to fit.

2. The Couture Dress– This course is excellent.  A Vogue pattern is included in the course (V8648).  Susan Khalje is very detailed in her presentation and provides step-by-step instruction on constructing the class dress in a couture manner.  I took a ton of notes on the lessons.  Susan was very responsive to the questions I posted.  I’ve completed 3 muslins on a modified version of the dress pattern and now well on my way to having a TNT sheath dress pattern.  I hope to have My 1 Dress in 2012 project complete in early fall!  Yay!

3. Jewelry Workshop with Max Goodman – I signed up for this course for The Little Miss.  Alas, it seems her jewelry-making fervor has subsided.  Watching the lessons was ok work diversion.  And I completed the headpin necklace using the instruction which is good.

4. Jean-ius – This is another excellent course.  Well worth every cent for the sign up.  I like Kenneth King’s teaching approach most; he is funny, his advice is sound and practical for everyday sewing.  In my work diversion watching, I took a raft of notes on his course as well. I completed my draft pattern and am at the test garment stage.

5. Tunisian Crochet: Revolutions in Color and Style – I have one of Jennifer Hansen’s crochet patterns from StitchDiva Studios so when I saw she had a Craftsy course, I signed up.  Until I watched the lessons, I forgot how much easier crochet can be than sewing!  I completed the spa cloth project and just need to figure out a color scheme for the multi-garment project.  When I get around to it… 🙂

6. Thread Art – I signed up for this course right away when I saw that Craftsy had it’s first African American instructor.  Unfortunately, the platform problems described below impeded my progress in watching all of the complete lessons.  I think I’ve been able to get the gist of the lessons in the fits and starts viewing I’ve been able to do.  Lola Jenkins is funny and an engaging instructor from what I could view.

7. Torch-Fired Metal Clay – I have not accessed/been able to view this course at all due to Craftsy’s platform problems.

THE PLATFORM & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
I got to watch the Tunisian crochet course all the way through with no problem on any of the machines/devices I use. It all started to go downhill around June 14. I don’t know what the Craftsy folks did around that time, but none of the 5 courses I had purchased played properly anymore. I sent  help at craftsy(dot)com an email about my problem. They poo-pooed my concern and said I shouldn’t have a problem if I was using a high-speed internet connection. Really, watching anything online with dial-up would be like pulling my eyelashes out one at a time.  Not a good look or something I care to do.

Then I bought Thread Art and the Torch-Fired Metal Clay courses ( metal clay was with a $25-if-you-order-another-course deal email). And the games were totally on. I couldn’t watch a full lesson of Thread Art on ANY machine: not my smartphone, not the older work pc, and not my 3-month-old laptop. So I sent help at craftsy(dot)com a number of follow-up emails about my problem. It was on like Donkey Kong then! The woman who responded to most of my emails thought I was some kind of computer-illiterate; at one point she even sent me the same text from a previous email. How insulting!

I recorded my difficulties, did all of the computer tests they recommended (which no one bothered to look at or respond to).  Here are the videos I took:


 I was pretty bummed about the entire situation. And I didn’t even get an apology or an explanation – until I asked for a refund for the class I hadn’t accessed at all. (I had to come to my own conclusion —
Craftsy dramatically changed it’s platform & didn’t notify anyone.)

Here are some of the error messages I’ve received or found on the site in the last week or so. These error messages came through on my brand-new laptop vs. the videos above of my older work pc.

Honestly, how is that possible on a brand-new computer with a high-speed internet connection!!?

At least it’s not just me having problems with Craftsy’s new platform

BOTTOM LINE
The content of The Couture Dress, Jean-ius, and Tunisian Crochet were great. What I learned about fitting alone in Susan Khalje’s and Kenneth King’s courses were worth the price.   I learned a lot and took a bunch of notes. My limited access to Thread Art showed me a pretty neat class. Unless you are a  teeny-tiny thing don’t bother with Sew Retro; there just isn’t enough transferrable, useable info there.  Getting a taste of jewelry making at my own pace/reasonable price was good too.

Like anyone who’s ever been in a relationship that we go into with high hopes that get dashed by the other party, I feel like I should have seen the signs. But I don’t think there were any signs until June 2012. At this point, I almost feel foolish for being such a Craftsy cheerleader before. The platform changes/problems and disingenuous “technical assistance” provided did it for me. Unless Craftsy gets a functional Android app and makes their platform easily useable again, I will not be signing up for any more Craftsy courses. Youtube is free and plays on any machine I’ve ever used. The Netflix app works great on my phone as well ;).

I will try to get as much use out of the courses I’ve paid for and accessed as I can.  I am unsure if I will be able to download my video notes, which stinks. For sewing-related diversion at work, I think I will take Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic’s suggestion in a post from February and sign up for some of Sandra Betzina’s videos. I love her books.

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4 thoughts on “Craftsy & Me: 1 Year Later – A Review

  1. Craftsy Jenn

    Hi Juli, My name is Jenn and I'm part of the Craftsy Team. I wanted to reach out to you personally to see if I can help. I completely understand your frustrations. I would be just as frustrated if something I used to use suddenly stopped working as well. I see that you have been in contact with a couple of our support team members and the tips they've provided still weren't able to get things running better for you. Each and every one of us here at Craftsy will continue to do everything we can to help you!I'd like to do my best to provide some background on the changes we've made to the platform to shed some light of your experience. When you first joined Craftsy and started watching your classes we used a flash player to play the videos. Early this summer we experience a more than normal amount of issues with our video provider who store and host our videos. Our tireless engineering team worked quickly to help code a new technology (as the pop up message you saw indicated) so that we could play the video on what is called an HTML5 player. This is an internal player found on most browsers. Unfortunately it's not currently available for us on all browsers, which is why we recommended that you try Chrome or update your current version of Internet Explorer. Those on unsupported browsers could potentially still experience abnormally slow loading times, "media clip not found" bugs, or the equally poor experience of being jumped to the end of the lesson that occurred on the old flash player. In your last correspondance with us, I'm unsure if you were able to give our last tip a try: adding ?noHtml5=true&fromError=true to the end of the URL in the video player. I know we had suggested something similar before this, but the exact characters in this URL addition do make a difference and will allow you to begin your video, then press pause to load it to load for a while before you press play again. Just like you would for a YouTube video. We know this method has helped other Craftsy members, and I'm really hopefully it will help you as well. Since I can't guarantee it will (and I wish I could) I have sent you a PayPal payment to act as a refund for the remainder of the classes you have purchased on Craftsy that we haven't already refunded. (PayPal wont allow a seller to issue a refund after 60 days, so this will show up as a payment from Craftsy in your PayPal account). Regardless of the refunds, you'll continue to have access to all of your classes on Craftsy.Juli, I'm so sorry for the trouble and truly hope we can work things out for you!

    Reply
  2. JuliN

    @ Craftsy Jen: Except for the explanation of what the new technology is, everything you referenced was communicated in my numerous emails to support. I tried to access Craftsy courses on 3 different hardware (Android smartphone, old PC with IE8, and 4-month-old laptop with Mozilla Firefox). I cannot fully access courses on any of the technology.Before I wrote the main body of this post, I re-read the Craftsy site claims that courses can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Unfortunately for me, that's not true.Finally, I am not a cheat: I only requested a refund for the 1 course I did not access.

    Reply
  3. Toni

    I have to agree. Craftsy is now terrible. It was a wonderful idea and I thoroughly enjoyed my craftsy classes for about four months at the beginning of this year (2013). Now the videos don't play, lots of chopped up starts, stops, endless buffering, voice and video are never synchronized. Their tech support does not provide any more help than the help screens and their "solution" is that your ISP or your device is to blame. I will keep my existing courses but I absolutely won't buy another one. That is the only way to get businesses to listen these days – stop buying the product.

    Reply

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