Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Teaching Ourselves New Tricks the Twenty-first Century Way

If life these past few years (weeks?) has taught me anything, it's that we have to keep learning. Constantly. That's fine with me. I love the high of teaching myself a new skill (or having someone on YouTube teach me something).

Just today I had to figure out how to have two different Google Chrome windows open side by side (something I've done before, but so long ago that it clearly didn't stick). And I needed to know how to make some of my older blog posts invisible to Google's crawlers. Also, my husband's computer wouldn't start, so that always involves learning a few new skills or revisiting ones that have grown rusty from disuse. 

I'm betting that most of us are putting old skills to use these pandemic days (cooking skills, craft skills, do-it-yourself skills so that we don't have to call someone to repair something, just to name a few). 

And now with the extra time I have, I'm back to republishing more of my older books where the rights have reverted. That means practicing skills I hadn't used for awhile and also learning how to do them in new and better ways. (I still remember when I set out to republish that first book and I wanted to know how to do it all myself rather than hiring anyone. It was such an involved process, and I knew that I didn't even know which questions to ask. I was totally nervous and wouldn't have been a bit surprised if the on-line publishers threw that book back at me with an email simply marked NO!).

But, of course, today we have it easy compared to prior generations. Yes, for work skills they often had apprenticeships we don't have, and there were night classes (or maybe community college classes). There were neighbors or family members to learn from. There was the library (it's how we learned to tile a bathroom before the existence of YouTube). And while we still have most of those sources (sadly, not so many apprenticeships or jobs where they taught you your skills onsite), we also have the internet, the fabulous, sometimes maddening internet. It's what most of us turn to when we don't have an expert source at hand where we can make our inquiries. YouTube can show you how to fix a car, bake a cake (and decorate it), learn a new craft, use involved photo-editing or graphic art skills and a thousand other things. And there are so many other people online sharing their skills. I love it!

Here are some of the things I've looked up lately (see above):

How to Make A Washable Shopping Cart Handle Cover

There are numerous sites dedicated to teaching us how to do things we want to learn. Some of them are obvious, such as YouTube (so many things to learn there). There are others I'd visited in the past and then forgotten about. If you click through on the links above, they'll take you to Do It Yourself, All Recipes, eHow, Make, Instructables, Tasty Thin (just one of many cooking sites), and Craftster. 

There were so many other sites and skills I wanted to mention (ones that I might not use or be capable of using myself but that others would find helpful), but for today that's enough. I'm hoping to have a Part 2 down the road.

I hope you enjoy learning new things as much as I do. Until next time, have a wonderful day!


Laney4 said...

Yes, YouTube has been wonderful during these times.
I reviewed MANY videos to learn how to make curtains for my living room window, as well as valances for the living room and dining room windows. (Yes, I know valances aren't in style at the moment - but will be at some point probably - but they enabled the two rooms to "match" AND give everything a finished look.)
Funny thing(s) ... I'm NOT a seamstress (I feel like saying, "I just play one on TV", LOL). Yet I learned that in order to use the pulley system to open/close my drapes, I had to have pleated drapes (rather than using grommets like sold today - unless I wanted to stand on my love seat and end tables plunked in front of said living room window to open/close them every morning/night). I went from having triple pleats to pencil pleats, even though I'd never heard of either of them before I started. I also went from a simple pocket rod seam to something slightly different (with an extra seam in order to cover up my existing hardware).
Two weeks later, I now have beautiful expensive-looking window coverings (plus I covered a corkboard with cotton batting and this material too) that cost me a total of $146.90 with taxes. If I'd had someone make them for me, there's no doubt it would have cost me over $1,000.
Couldn't have done it without YouTube.

Myrna Mackenzie said...

You are brave. I sew...rarely, and it's been years since I made anything that had to be shaped, much less pleated. That is a major savings, though, and I do far prefer draw drapes to the newer ones with grommets. When we repainted and carpeted our family room a few years ago, I kept my fingers crossed that my draw drapes would withstand dry cleaning (and wouldn't cost a fortune to be cleaned) because it was going to be so expensive if I had to buy new ones. Plus, it's really difficult to even find pleated drapes anymore. (Also, I like valances. I have them in my bedroom and in my kitchen).

Laney4 said...

Yes, it IS difficult to find pleated drapes. There were zero locally; I would have had to order online. What if they didn't work? Didn't fit properly? I didn't like the color? All that money wasted. I figured it was better to "waste" the money trying to make them myself instead. Material was expensive to buy, so I bought 38"x96" panels from Giant Tiger. They were supposed to be $20 each, but I had a 38"x84" panel mixed in so was charged $15 each. I didn't even REALIZE they had 84" lengths, as that was the length I preferred anyway! I ended up going to four other Giant Tigers to buy even more of the panels, now with 84" lengths so I wouldn't have to hem them. I made the decision to turn the grommet panels upside down so the grommets were at the bottom, out of sight behind the love seat and end tables; even if they were slightly visible, they make a nice "design element". I still have several panels to return to the store, but I'm trying to think of other things to make with them since they're so cheap. I've thought of table runners in 3 lengths (since I have 2 leaves to my table). Might make table cloths in 1, 2, or 3 lengths; not sure; drapes ARE machine washable with lots of ironing afterwards, and I don't have plastic to place over it, meaning the tablecloth would be for show only. I'm not a "for show only" type of person, so I'm leaning towards just the table runners. I have some blue tassels here that I might add to the ends of the runners; still thinking about it.... Do YOU have any suggestions for what I could make with royal blue silk-like thick material? I'm trying to think outside the box, LOL!
We have coordinating valance (with a blind) and table lamps in the master bedroom, which is preferred over drapes.
We have a light blue blind in the guest room (where I sleep), but the room is painted yellow with brownish wallpaper on one wall. I am NOT opening/closing drapes every day in there, especially with the head of the bed directly beneath the window, up against the open closet (as it's a tiny room with a queen-size bed that shouldn't be in there).
My son's room is in the Toronto Maple Leafs' blue color for walls, so technically the curtains would work in there, but honestly? He wouldn't appreciate the work I'd put into them, and I'm too lazy to climb over all his stuff continually to measure, etc. (He too has a queen-size bed in a tiny room, but he has a desk, a dresser, and a couple little tables, so not much space to move in there.)
I like my white/peach curtains and matching wallpaper in my office.
The basement curtains are see-through, which we like when trying to see who is ringing our doorbell (because we can see them but they can't see us during daylight hours).
Decisions, decisions....

Myrna Mackenzie said...

You had me at table runners! LOL Seriously, a few years ago, I had to replace an old recliner we'd had since 1977. I got a deal on a lovely tweedy gray one, and I immediately went to Target and bought 3 placemats in a (mostly matching) gray tweed. I placed those on the arms and headrest to protect the upholstery, but a few months ago I noticed that the seat was showing signs of wear because...well, you know, it gets a lot of wear. I remembered that the gray placemats also had a matching table runner. I ordered one (this was after lockdown) and when it arrived, I didn't even bother cutting it. I just folded it, tucked it under the back part which flips up a bit and smoothed it into place. Admittedly, I have to smooth it out at least once a day, but I'm happy. I love the color of the chair's upholstery, I don't have the skills to reupholster something that complicated, and I certainly didn't want to spend the money to have someone do it, especially not during a pandemic. So, all is well.

I hear you on liking to see who is ringing the doorbell. About a year and a half ago or so, I gave in and ordered a relatively inexpensive door camera with a very small solar panel that powers it. It doesn't require any further cost (no subscription--there's an app on my phone that connects to my home wifi) and we've gotten hooked on checking it before we open the door. I hadn't wanted to go that route, because I didn't like the whole subscription service plan, but this works for us. (I have sheer under-drapes in my living room, which is what I used to use to check who was at the door, but the position of the window to the door is such that sometimes I'm too short to see who is there if the person is already under the door awning).

Peach and white sounds lovely! My office is a mess (besides a bulletin board, I have bits of paper taped all over the place so that I can easily see whatever instructions I need (what type of font I used on my website and/or books, grammar rules, computer tips I need to know, and so on). But other than that and a couple of pictures, the room is pretty plain. I have top-down, bottom-up shades I got on sale, but they were only available in beige, so...I have beige shades. I do love being able to lower them a few inches from the top, so I can maintain my hermit status while I work, though. LOL

If you think of something other than table runners, I'd love to hear the rest of the story, but table runners would be nice.

Laney4 said...

Just for sh**s and giggles, I went back to an older post to see if Blogger would pop up again (yup).
My news update is that I decided I had had enough of the drapery material. Would I ever USE a table runner? Probably not. So I made the executive decision to not make anything more, and I returned the 7 unused drapery panels to the store for a full refund.
By last count, the panels in the front living room window curtains, plus the panels I cut down to make valances, etc., all added up to just over $100 including taxes, so I think I did just fine. Am thrilled not to have the sewing machine out anymore....

Myrna Mackenzie said...

That's a pretty good deal! Also, I so hear you on being thrilled not to have the sewing machine out anymore. Years ago I made a few dresses and altered some shorts. I've since made wall hangings, Halloween costumes, curtains, coasters and masks, but these days my rare sewing adventures fall into the "have to" category. I do it out of necessity, but I no longer feel the thrill of creation.

Still, as in your case, it certainly comes in handy at times to know how to sew (also economical, given the cost of things). And having admitted to my lethargy regarding sewing, I've been eyeing some floor pillows that need recovering...might have to drag the machine out yet again. LOL

Laney4 said...