How much can you really learn from Professor YouTube?

Learn ALL the things!

A while back, I was struck by the overzealous, stingy enthusiasm of a new homeowner and decided to tile my own kitchen. Because I was too cheap to even buy a DIY manual, I took myself straight to YouTube to look for tiling tutorials.

I’d taught myself to knit from YouTube a couple of years earlier, and that clearly meant that I could learn anything I wanted to. Hell, I could find a video and refit the entire kitchen if I wanted (I didn’t, thankfully.)

And I still a little bit believe that it’s true – these days, you can find a video on YouTube that will teach you whatever you want to learn. So, I decided to test the theory.


Ah, the task that started it all. I can’t remember exactly which video I used, but it was similar to the one featuring this nice man. And it started off well enough; I did an entire wall of the kitchen and felt very smug when it looked semi-decent.

But then I encountered my arch-nemesis – plug sockets. A few desperate searches later I found another video telling me what to do, but it featured fancy tools I didn’t have. So I did what all the best people do, and completely winged it. I’m now having to pay someone to come in and fix what I messed up, and he actually laughed when he saw what I’d tried.

Success: 4/10. I would’ve been fine if it weren’t for those pesky plugs.


I was cocky about this one. Super, super cocky. I knit all the time, and that involves two needles. Crochet only uses one hook, so by rights it should be half as hard.

It is not half as hard.

I decided to crochet a Granny Square (no, I’ve no idea either) using this tutorial for beginners. And what I learnt is that crochet is some kind of magic. A kind of magic that involves having incredible control over all of your fingers and a brightly coloured stick. I could not keep up with this magic. I had to pause the video every ten seconds and I still made endless mistakes.

But I did manage to make something that looked about right, even if I ended up abandoning it because I thought my right hand was turning into a claw.

Success: 7/10. Would try again.

Gluten-free Scones

Before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, scones were the only thing I could bake. And I baked them a lot. I actually had to be banned for a month because I baked so many. So of course I was going to try and learn how to bake gluten-free ones.

Making them turned out to be pretty simple, and soon I was harbouring delusions of being the next Nadiya. Then a sneaky taste of the dough suggested they maybe weren’t going to taste that great.

And when they came out of the oven they looked a bit odd; they were kind of flaky looking, which isn’t really a word you want to use to describe your scones. But they tasted good, so just as long as you ate with your eyes closed and didn’t grope the scones too much before consuming them, you’d be fine. I’m blaming the lack of gluten. It’s clearly that which messed them up, not my baking.

Success: 8/10. Points deducted for flakiness.

Repairing my vacuum cleaner

I own two very inconveniently coloured cats, whose fur shows up on everything. And helpfully, my vacuum cleaner recently decided it couldn’t be arsed to work anymore. A cursory Google suggested the filter might be clogged, so I found this video to tell me how to fix it.

Turns out it was insanely simple, although I still tipped dust all over my black jeans after 3 seconds. Perhaps a more logical person might have thought “hey, taking a vacuum apart might get a bit messy”, but alas, I am not that person. And I have no idea if it’s actually fixed the vacuum, because I had to run the filter under water, and apparently putting a wet filter back into a vacuum cleaner isn’t a plan.

Success: God knows. So long as I don’t electrocute myself when putting the vacuum back together I’ll count it as a win.

Nail art

Nail art has now replaced plug sockets at the top of my “most hated” list. For so many, many reasons.

Doing ombre nails just seemed doomed from the outset; the sponge absorbed all the varnish, which the cheery American woman failed to mention. Every time I tried to apply any varnish, I wiped the previous coat off. I couldn’t make the stripes work so had to just dab each colour separately and at random.

And in retrospect, brown was not a great colour scheme to choose. I just ended up with looking like I’d had an encounter with something deeply unpleasant.

Success: 2/10. Nothing will ever make up for a lack of basic skill and a questionable colour palette.

Does my theory hold up?

Not really, no. It seems the teachers of the world need not panic for their livelihoods yet. Sure, I learnt some of the stuff I set out to, but I comprehensively failed at the rest. So maybe I’ll just stick to things involving yarn. Yarn and scones. They’re my friends.

Main Image © iStock/LorraineBoogich