Getting to know bloggers

Awwwww – I was nominated for an award!

liebster-award

Thank you so much, nerdknitter!

Apparently the way this works is:

  1. Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
    Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
  2. Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
  3. Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers.
  4. Answer the eleven questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make eleven questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions.
  5. Lastly, COPY these rules in your post.

* * * * * *

First, I nominate the following bloggers:

Yards of Happiness

jenknittingaround

Life During Wartime

Knit Me for a Loop

I’m sorry it’s not more, but I’m still discovering knitting/craft blogs, and most of the ones I read are followed by many, many people already.

* * * * * *

Here are the questions I was asked, and my answers:

  1. What got you into blogging?
    That’s kind of a long story… but the short version is that I blogged elsewhere about different things for quite a long time (10 years-ish?). That space no longer worked for me, but I found myself wanting to ramble about knitting and crafting . . . but I don’t know anyone in real life who knits/crafts (enough to want to talk about it, at least). So blogging seemed like a good solution; even if no one ends up reading, I can work out my various craft obsessions.
  2. What does your perfect day look like?
    I wish I were one of those people whose perfect day begins with getting up early, yoga in the early sun or maybe a quick run, then herbal tea with granola parfait before a day of creating beautiful things in a serene, beautiful space. But really, my perfect day is sleeping late, getting up slowly, throwing on jeans and a cosy hoodie, then heading to brunch with fried potatoes in whatever form, bacon, fruit, and fresh-squeezed OJ (maybe with a little champagne in it). After that, sitting in a lovely coffee shop, or on a deck overlooking the water, sipping an iced latte and nibbling cookies or cake, knitting and reading; then a movie, or a walk in the beautiful outdoors, or shopping in fun and funky shops filled with pretty things I don’t need but that are fun to look at. It would be fall, the leaves changing color and the sky brilliant blue, and the right temperature to sit in the sun with a sweatshirt on. I’d end the day with dinner with friends, at someone’s house, with the chance to sit around a fire, either on a lake or at the beach. Toasted marshmallows would not be optional.
  3. What’s your favorite item to knit? Shawls, sweaters, socks or something else entirely?
    Sweaters, by far. After that probably shawls/scarves, and hats.
  4. Are you result-driven knitter or is it more about the journey?
    The results are what get me going; I knit to have the garments I want, the way I want them. The irony is that once I’ve finished a project, I think the pleasure of having finished, and the journey, is just as satisfying as having the garment, so if it turns out not what I’d imagined, I’m still pretty happy.
  5. What’s your favorite TV-show, movie or book?
    This is so hard to answer. I think my favorite books are Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, for its merciless and yet compassionate of childhood cruelty and rivalries, and Willa Cather’s My Antonia, which I picked up on vacation once and read because I thought it was something I should read, and was surprised to love. For TV, right now I’m enjoying working through all the episodes of Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown.
  6. What’s your favorite yarn / fibre?
    Also super hard to answer. I love the look and texture and weight of wool, but often find it uncomfortable to wear (I get itchy and it’s too hot here). I love silk and cotton fabrics, but don’t always enjoy knitting with those yarns – not so much because of the non-elasticity, but more because there are a lot of nubby/rustic varieties, and I like smooth yarns. At the same time, very smooth cotton/silk tends to stretch out and droop. My favorite wool is probably Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light – I feel like I could knit that for the rest of my life and be fairly content. Favorite cotton is Cascade Ultra Pima Fine. For something very different and non-wool, I also love Classic Elite’s Firefly. (My favorite yarn I’ve never actually knit with is Quince and Co Sparrow – I love linen and think Quince is wonderful, but haven’t bit the bullet yet.)
  7. Do you have a favorite go-to pattern? If so which is it?
    I don’t, actually – despite being more results-oriented, I don’t think I’ve ever knit the same thing twice. I’ve considered reknitting Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight cardigan, and Cecily MacDonald’s Dalyla pullover, both of which I adore (I don’t know why more people haven’t knit Dalyla). But new projects always win out.
  8. What’s your favorite podcast or vlog?
    knit.fm got me into listening to podcasts, and I miss it. I also enjoy Woolful and Knit British.
  9. What’s your favorite Etsy shop?
    Hmmm. It changes over time as my interests change, but I do really like the stitch markers by Lady Danio at Exchanging Fire.
  10. Do you have any children or pets? Names, age, pics and all the details.
    No kids. Pets! We have 2 1/2 cats. The first, Harvey, is a blind Japanese bobtail – I think he’s about 11 now. The second, Alice Mary, is a three-legged dilute torti of indeterminate age, but who is probably a cranky old lady. (She was rescued by a vet tech after getting hit by a car, which led to her losing a leg; the vets’ office called her Granny because she was so granny-ish, and we named her Alice Mary after my granny and the husband’s granny.) The half a cat is Stripey, a local feral who lives outside but comes inside for air conditioning and good food.

    IMG_1152Harvey listening to the world.

    IMG_1068
    Stripey being a goof

    I am a bad cat mommy – I don’t have any decent pictures of Alice Mary at the moment; she usually utterly ignores my existence in favor of my husband, whom she adores.

  11. What’s your favorite food?
    Chocolate chip cookies! (Crispy, not soft, which horrifies the husband.)

And I am going to ask the questions that were given me, because I’m bad at coming up with questions, but also because I’d be very interested in the answers!

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Final (belated) Love Your Blog Challenge: Gratitude

A Playful Day

We’re past the end of April and I missed the last prompt for A Playful Day‘s Love Your Blog challenge: Gratitude. Partly this was because I dropped off the internet for a bit due to work pressures, and partly this was because I really wasn’t sure what to say. I’m still not sure what to say. I am grateful – extremely grateful – for the role that blogging, bloggers, and blogreaders have played in my life, but I can’t imagine that anyone participating in the blog challenge doesn’t feel the same way. I’m also grateful for stumbling on A Playful Day’s challenge, and to A Playful Day for hosting it, and the opportunity it provided to roam a new part of the internet and (virtually) meet lovely new crafting people.

While thinking about this post, I stumbled across the following quote:

Feeling gratitude isn’t born in us – it’s something we are taught, and in turn, we teach our children. —Joyce Brothers

I like that – I like the reminder that we’re not born fully-formed, with a complete moral and ethical code embedded in our brains, but that we’re creatures formed by our surroundings and those who love us. It helps me remember that not everyone gets the chance to learn to be grateful, and that such people need to be pitied rather than railed against. It helps me remember, too, that gratitude is something we learn and practice, or choose to, every day.

IMG_1483

The Love Your Blog Challenge: Interactions and Community

Kate at A Playful Day has proposed a Love Your Blog challenge for April 2015. Throughout April, she will post a prompt to explore every Monday, to encourage people to fall back in love with their blog and think about what inspires them and find inspiration in others. The first prompt is Interactions and Community, and my response is below.

IMG_1348This is a very new blog, but I’m not new to blogging. My first blog was born in August of 2004, when I had moved to a new city for a new job, my husband was living elsewhere for grad school, and – though I didn’t realize it right away – I was desperate for community.

While aimlessly surfing the web, I stumbled on a few other people like me: recent PhD grads starting new jobs and figuring out how to negotiate an academic identity. I created my blog only because I wanted to comment on others’, and I thought it would be rude to comment without having an online identity/blog of my own. (I was completely wrong, but it was the early days of blogging and I wasn’t sure how the etiquette worked yet.)

That blog was a godsend precisely because it allowed me to join and participate in a community that I treasure to this day. Probably close to half of my Facebook friends are people I came to know through blogging, many of whom I’ve still not met in person, but would be happy to hang out with at any time. (And those of you who followed me here: so lovely to see you!)

As as important as that community was to me for a long time, much has changed since then, both in blogging and me. The biggest change in me is that I left academia to start a new career. While not everyone in my previous blog community was (or stayed) an academic, that space was particularly focused on negotiating professional identity in a field where the personal and professional are unusually closely linked. One of the things I don’t miss at all about academia is how you were never really not at work – you could always be thinking great thoughts! you didn’t have to be in an office 9-5, which just meant you could work anytime, anywhere! – so in a way, you were never not being an academic.

This blog is part of my current goal to carve out a personal identity that has nothing to do with my employment, and to be able to leave work at work. I want to spend my non-work time on activities that I value and take seriously for their own sake, not just because they will make me better at my job or fill up the spaces in between my work days. My self-worth needs to be based in something more than what my employers think about me. And I need to exercise those parts of my brain that love color, creativity, and visual expression, which don’t get used at all in my day job. Which all led me to knitting: color! creating things! looking at color and how to create things!

I decided to blog about knitting for a couple of reasons. First, my Ravelry project pages were getting ridiculously detailed, and I realized that blogging might be a better format for that information. But second, I valued my previous blog community so highly that I hoped blogging might be a way into a knitting community as well.

needlesI haven’t had much luck finding a face-to-face knitting community. As a beginner, I was shy of getting involved in knitting groups. Now that I’m maybe less of a beginner, I’ve moved somewhere that doesn’t have a really strong history of knitting. There are great Native textiles traditions around here, which I’d love to learn more about, but as far as I know, those traditions center on weaving rather than knitting. (Though I’m by no means an expert on this, and as a gringa I’m not in a great position to talk about truly local and indigenous traditions.) So I don’t think there’s as much visible interest in or support for knitting as you might see in parts of the world like northern Europe or the Andes.

It’s also a region heavily populated by snowbirds, and my sense is that most of the local yarn stores cater to retirees who are only here part of the year, and tend to knit for their grandchildren. That is absolutely a valid and wonderful knitting tradition, but it’s not mine, and it’s not usually the kind of aesthetic that appeals to me. (I’m much more drawn to the kind of aesthetic you find here, my favorite yarn store ever.) On a purely practical level, it means that most yarn classes and groups meet, say, 2 pm on Wednesdays, which means they’re not really feasible for people who work full-time.

But I miss talking to people about what I love to do. I adore that knitting is something I can do on my own, on my own time, that doesn’t require me to go somewhere or schedule something or depend on others. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to interact with other people about it. So for community, I’ve been looking online.

The knitting communities I’ve found are amazingly vibrant, thoughtful, and accessible. Unlike when I started blogging originally, though, there’s an embarrassment of riches out there: not just blogs, but Twitter, Instagram, and especially for knitters, Ravelry forums and groups. When I blogged before, there were few enough of us that just being out there garnered you an audience. Now, the field is much more crowded, and how to find and get the attention of the people you want to talk to much more complicated. On top of that you have the commercial element of knitting communities, where designers and yarn stores have their own communities as well as mingling with hobby knitters.

It’s almost that blogging used to be like walking into a local coffee shop, the kind where people came to sit and read/work/chat for a few hours. Some coffee shops are bigger than others, but they’re still relatively small spaces, and everyone who enters has the same relationship to the space as every other, as a customer of the establishment. In such a space, it’s not hard to see what other people are doing (grading/writing/drafting a resume/playing chess/etc.), and to strike up a conversation if you feel like it. A small community can be a little stifling or homogenous sometimes – I think we’ve all walked into a small coffee shop or restaurant and immediately felt like we didn’t quite fit in with the tone or atmosphere. The plus, though, is that if you show up long enough, you become a regular without trying very hard.

Blogging now feels a little bit like walking into some kind of amazing yarn festival. It’s amazing and colorful and offers a gazillion resources, as well as access to some of the greatest knitting designers and yarn producers. It’s open to everyone, there’s something for everyone, and visited by people of all kinds of shapes, sizes, interests, tastes, and ability levels. But for the average person, it can be loud and crowded and a little overwhelming. And your position as a consumer is different from that of the people running the stalls, who are generally fascinating, kind, knowledgeable people who genuinely enjoy talking to you and want to support your knitting, but are also trying to make a living out of knitting/yarn and thus have different goals for the event than you do.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that one kind of community is better or worse; they’re just different. The nature of the community shapes the interactions that take place, but I still love how blogging makes so many different kinds of interactions possible. I feel a bit like a new kid to knitting right now, but am enjoying writing and thinking about knitting, and hope I will find others to talk to. Even if my interactions end up limited to reading others’ words, looking at others’ projects, thinking about and learning from others’ ideas, and writing here to process it all for myself, though, taking part in these communities will be worth it.

A Playful Day