Classes are available for all skill levels • The app offers a wide range of classes • not strictly limited to crafts
Because classes aren’t taught sequentially • instruction sometimes feels shallow • Too many classes may overwhelm the novice crafter
Bluprint is an entertaining, user-friendly app for crafters and hobbyists on the go, but the cost might be prohibitive for some.
For most of my life, I’ve lived in fear of crafting. While some people have a natural gift for sewing and knitting, I categorize myself as a “lost soul.” No one and no thing, not even the most basic of instructional videos, could teach me otherwise.
So it was with considerable trepidation that I approached Bluprint, an app designed for crafters and hobbyists at all levels of skill development. The recently released app, a product of NBC Universal and a new version of an earlier app “Craftsy,” offers a wide range of classes including: knitting, cake decorating, cooking, crocheting, drawing, quilting, painting, writing, sewing, photography, woodworking, fitness, jewelry, cake decorating, paper crafts, healthy eating, yoga, entertaining, and more kid-friendly crafts.
I approached the app as a pure novice. As it turned out, I didn’t have too much to worry about. There are just enough classes to make me feel good about myself (as a reporter, I sped through the writing classes) and enough to make me feel challenged/terrible (I stabbed myself twice during the knitting workshop). While most of the workshops are user-friendly and fun, I’m not sure if the subscription will be worth it for more casual users who can find similar content for free online.
Artists, bakers, and hobbyists can already find a wide range of accessible instructional content on the web. Want to make a hairy penis cake? There’s a YouTube video for that. Always dreamed of knitting your own fanny pack? Well then check out this DIY fanny-pack knitting tutorial. Interested in learning more about healthy eating? There’s an entire content industry that wants to get you hooked on acai. Don’t even bother googling.
Even though so much of this content is available for “free” (or paid for with advertisements and your data), it can be hard to comb through all these videos to find premium content. You wouldn’t want to waste your time on a low-quality penis and balls cupcake tutorial — you need highly sophisticated edible testicle content.
That’s where Bluprint comes in: It features only high/higher-quality instructional videos, available on mobile and on desktop, made for people with a range of abilities and time to dedicate to crafts.
I chose to explore two craft tutorials, one in knitting and one in drawing. As a total amateur in both areas, I wanted to see how the app would serve beginners. I can barely tie my shoes or cut a snowflake out of a paper. Could Bluprint save me?
Time-sensitive, skill-sensitive instruction
My first Bluprint class was in knitting. I was hopeful that, despite never having successfully completed a craft project in my life and nearly failing out of Home Economics twice, I could at least get through a lesson in mittens. Maybe bring home a misshapen hat or two.
It was an ambitious undertaking, and reader, I failed. Dramatically.
It wasn’t entirely the app’s fault. I was, with relative ease, able to filter through the dozens of knitting classes available to find the most basic instructional videos. I ultimately settled on a series, “Jump into Knitting,” led by a mother-daughter team, Kristy and Olive.
Kristy and Olive were extremely enthusiastic about knitting and had real stage patter. That’s more than you can say for the majority of YouTube instructors, who insist on staring into the most distant corner of any room and aren’t familiar with the concept of “indoor voices.”
Kristy and Olive attempted to teach me how to do the most basic of knitting functions: a slipknot. And despite their careful, moderately paced instruction — you can easily rewind the videos if you get lost — I failed to complete this elementary task.
Other YouTube videos I found online weren’t much more successful. I was only able to successfully complete the knot after following written instruction, complete with photos.
Perhaps the pair (and the app) would’ve been more successful if their instruction was slowed down even further – instead of relying on video footage, they could have used a series of photo stills (which makes step-by-step instructions easier to digest).
Other videos were far more successful. Even though I also nearly failed out of art and am consistently the last-picked player for anyone’s Pictionary team, a class designed to teach me how to draw cartoon birds — “Ready Set Draw” — did exactly that, and quickly. I was able to successfully draw a bird in a scarf in just two minutes.
To be fair, I do think I’m a far better (though still talentless) illustrator than I am knitter. I just wish Bluprint’s knitting instructional videos were slower-paced and at an even more basic level. Most adults were given at least some art instruction in childhood and are likely starting at a higher skill level than they would be in knitting. The instruction should reflect that educational disparity.
I can’t wait to put this on the company refrigerator. My drawing actually resembles a bird, a revolutionary artistic feat on my part.
Whether the classes are in writing, knitting, yoga, cooking, or party-planning, Bluprint has chosen instructors who know how to present a concrete lesson and speak to the camera.
If only there weren’t so much content to consume.
Navigation is easy. Over-saturation is a problem.
Bluprint offers hundreds of videos of differing lengths, anywhere from under a minute to over an hour, and of varying skill levels. I patted myself on the back for selecting the more advanced cooking class and hid my failed beginner’s knitting project under my desk, where I hoped no one could see it.
For a novice, Bluprint’s expansive selection can sometimes feel overwhelming. I wanted to take a beginner’s workshop in knitting but there were 20 different videos to choose from. If wanted an intermediate knitting class (which I did not), I could choose from 121 different videos.
And while each of these videos is likely to be anywhere from decent to good, I didn’t know how to weed out the best videos. Which knitting sock video was the best knitting sock video for me? Why did I have to choose from 121 different intermediate projects instead of just, perhaps, 10? Couldn’t the app make filtering out these projects a little bit simpler?
That being said, it didn’t take that long for me to find a video that matched my interest: a 7 hour, 38 minute series about handmade Christmas decorations, “Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas.”
Navigation was a breeze. I’m just not sure if paying for a good navigational experience (as well as a quality educational one) is worth it for dilettante crafters like myself.
If you’re an active crafter in search of high-quality instructional videos (and are willing to pay for them), Bluprint is the app for you. There’s an excellent selection of content to choose from.
If you’re a beginner crafter, Bluprint’s options may seem a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, the app gives you a grace period before you’re required to subscribe, so you have a chance to explore the app and decide whether Bluprint (or crafting in general) is the right choice for you. The app attempts to work at a beginner’s pace, even if it doesn’t always get it right.
I may never learn how to knit. But I’m thankful to the app for at least giving me the opportunity to try. One app can only do so much.