We truly do love our members over here at Craftsy. And, the amount of talent and joy in our crafting community never ceases to amaze us. Imagine our jubilation when we found a member who not only shows great crafting but also serious dedication to Craftsy! Clocking in with over 95 Craftsy classes, Miss Cara has gusto, and the passion and loyalty to handle the bright lights of our inaugural Craftsy Member of the Month member spotlight.
We loved having the chance to chat with Miss Cara, and can’t wait for you to get know this special gal a little better too.
What are you best at when it comes to crafting?
I’ve not mastered one area but my strength is to continuously explore and develop a variety of creative arts. I can’t help but love them all, equally.
And that you do with projects ranging from sewing to cake decorating, you truly do have your hands in many crafts. What has been the biggest struggle with your craft?
Perfection the first time around is unrealistic. I wish I could sew, knit, and bake a perfect item on the first attempt. But, a perfectionist attitude toward crafting turns into another frustration rather than a relaxing, heartfelt venture. Keeping my perspective to continuously make incremental improvement is what I’m aiming for.
Miss Cara’s Classic Cabled Cowl
We absolutely love your projects and the fact that you are sharing them right here in the crafting community too. How did you start your crafting?
I crocheted my first lopsided blanket in kindergarten. I took money out of my piggy bank, walked down the street to an estate sale, and outbid an aggressive grandmother for a box of mismatched yarn for $5. I crocheted dog sweaters, washcloths, towels, pot-holders, socks and many other items throughout my childhood with that endless, magical box of mismatched yarn. During the same time, I taught myself to knit using a knitting manual, but couldn’t figure out how to bind off. Twenty-five years later, I figured out how.
We love that story! You are certainly keeping the magic alive here at Craftsy. We couldn’t be more honored. Who first taught you how to craft?
I was adopted by a German family and grew up in a tiny German farm town — Schleswig, Iowa. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother were my inspiration, but really our entire community crafted. We had pottery makers, cake decorators, seamstresses, crocheters, knitters, bakers and woodworkers. There was no age barrier in a small town; we all hung out together and we knew each others’ crafting pursuits. We learned from each other, surprised each other, and bought each others’ creations. Living in the middle of a German village on secluded farmland, we resourcefully learned to make use of every single thing, new and old.
Miss Cara’s Couture Dress
Wow! We love that you started in a unique community and have now shared your talents with ours. You are an inspiration. Have you taught others?
I taught my colleagues how to knit when I worked in corporate finance. After college, I moved from Iowa to Los Angeles. To keep my Midwestern roots, I’d knit alone during lunch break. Suddenly, I’d have professional women — analysts, consultants, statisticians and executives — popping their heads into my office, asking me for advice and mini-tutorials on knitting.
What an unexpected group of crafters. That just goes to show that crafting can be for everyone. Have you met others through Craftsy?
I check up on my Craftsy friends and provide moral support from time to time; I’ve not met anyone in person, but sometimes I come across a profile and think, “I could be friends with that person!” You can see the soul in people’s work, which is so beautiful. I think if we all got together for a visit someday, we would experience something like heaven on Earth.
In what way do you benefit from crafting at Craftsy the most?
Craftsy reminds me how to be of service to the people I love and how to grow my skills to provide a beautiful, peaceful home. Men, children, friends, even colleagues, look up to many of us to add comfort, peace and beauty to their lives. While we may not charge them for excellent customer service, the medium of exchange is love, the reward is bonding, and the priceless benefit is a healthy, close relationship.
Providing a birthday cake for a special someone, comforting a loved one during illness with a homemade blanket and soup, wearing a glamorous dress to a special night out, or making a beautiful holiday roast turkey and pie for the family may not save the world, but it adds an unforgettable beauty to it. At the end of our lives, studies have reported that our family and friends are our biggest regrets — that is, not spending enough time with them.
Crafting helps to cultivate our love for others and our own love for life. Everyday living becomes an art. The home artist uses head, heart and soul. For me, crafting is the closest expression of my soul. Bringing my soul to my loved one’s lives makes for a deeply meaningful life.
A quick birthday cake Miss Cara created for her father
We can tell that you have made the world brighter with your crafting. What instructor at Craftsy impresses you the most?
It’s not fair for me to exclude instructors I’ve never taken a course from; most are excellent at what they do. From the courses I’ve personally taken, I love Colette’s croissant and French pastry class because I got over my fear of sugar and flour. Colette loves her students. She’s professional, detailed, and responds quickly to questions. No question is beneath her and no pastry is left unacknowledged. She has an unforgettable humbleness and demonstrates respect toward her students and her craft.
We couldn’t agree more. What class/es were you happiest to take at Craftsy?
Certainly all the Craftsy courses bring tremendous value and instruction, so I consulted with my family to answer this one and they responded with: “the food courses.” It’s true, with food courses, no one is left out of the creative process, when there’s a warm pie cooling on the oven, or when there’s a tormenting scent of a fresh, buttery croissant lingering in the air, or when there’s a surprise fresh fruit tart to share with afternoon tea. Every food course I’ve taken not only has made me happy, but other tummies very happy too.
Miss Cara’s Yummy Truffles
We can tell from your wonderful projects that you have a knack in the kitchen. What advice would you give to a large group of Craftsy beginners?
Some classes can be intimidating as a beginner. Selecting the right beginner courses to provide basic building blocks will accelerate your skills and build toward advanced courses and techniques. For example, Diana Rupp’s course (Sewing Studio) and recommended book is an excellent starting point for a beginner sewer. Colette’s croissant class will make sense of flour and yeast, so you can advance to bread making or advanced pastry. Lion’s Brand My First Sweater will empower you to get an idea of what sweater pieces look like so you can take Stephanie Japel’s Fit your Knits class and build on ways you can alter your pieces to achieve a different fit and look. The more courses you take, the more you’ll build on your confidence in the future to develop more advanced techniques.
Also, some classes require special tools to get started. Craftsy provides a list of tools you’ll need before purchasing the course. If you don’t want to invest in a large capital outlay toward a hobby, you can tailor your learning. For example, I wanted to start quilting but I was traveling a lot and didn’t want to invest in a quilting machine, so I signed up for Andi Parejda’s hand quilting course (Hand Quilting: Heirloom Design & Technique). All you need is a needle, thimble and thread to get started — items I already had.
You don’t need to make a big investment to begin most of these classes, and many tools you purchase are tools you’ll use over and over again. In the end, collecting the right tools over time and making smart purchases based on your lifestyle will make crafting easier, less frustrating, and look more professional, all within your unique budget.
That is a wonderful way of explaining how to make crafting work for you if you are just getting started. What project did you create that makes you most proud?
I’m most proud of knitting my first sweater. Something changes after knitting a wearable, functional garment. While I love sewing, knitting is different than sewing. You don’t need fancy equipment to get started and knitting needles are ultra portable. When I go on vacation, I throw my knitting needles and notions into my suitcase. I can’t do that with my sewing machine.
Miss Cara’s First Sweater
We did interrupt your vacation for member of the month. So, we think it is only fair to ask what Craftsy classes you would most like to see in the future?
A woodworking class would be of exceptional value. Both men and women are capable of building quality furniture for their home and garden. If we can figure out a sewing machine or a fancy kitchen appliance, I know we can figure out a jig-saw and drill.
We always love hearing member’s feedback and a woodworking class is actually on the horizon! Where do you find inspiration for new projects?
I like to make things that another person would like to wear, use or eat. If it’s classic, traditional or functional, it’s caught my eye. I’m drawn to the traditional more than the trendy.
For example, there was a movement toward eclectic fusion foods, like Pacific/Asian/Mexican fusion, but I also think there’s something glamorous in traditional haute cuisine and traditional cultural cuisines. Why not learn the basic techniques and flavors first? Same thing with fashion, why not sew or knit garments that won’t go out of style in two years? You don’t necessarily have to fuse random, chaotic ideas together to be creative.
There’s something special about genuine quality — maybe because it’s rare to find, and that’s what makes a crafting lifestyle so special — as crafters, we can create and live with beautiful, high quality, handcrafted items every single day of our lives, while sharing our love with others.