Category Archives: blogging

Blast from the past

This week I’ve been spending some time sorting out some small ‘invisible corners‘ in my bookshelves, pulling out books that I don’t need or use anymore, and ditching papers that don’t need to stick around. There are a couple of shelves of knitting stuff in this area that I haven’t touched in years.

Friends, I found treasures. Well, not all of it was treasure. I cleared out a LOT of paper. Did I really think I needed to print out all those patterns I found on the internet nine years ago? Did I think I was never going to be able to access the internet again and I would need several dozen backup patterns in hard copy, in different styles and project types? Did I really think I needed to keep every single marked-up pattern copy I was finished with, even when I did still have the original magazine or PDF or book? I am pretty sure a lot of us did this back in the deep dark ages of 2005, oh man.

Patons booklets

I discovered some old (by which I mean, 10 or so years old – practically ancient) Patons booklets, and oh man I remember these. The Street Smart booklet was a big thing. So many people were knitting the Must Have Cardigan, and I remember when the Yarn Harlot knitted it, so many people were scrambling to knit it and going on desperate searches for the pattern booklet because at that time (2008 by that point) the digital revolution was still in progress and PDF downloads were not quite the norm yet. Brooklyn Tweed knitted the Urban Aran pullover as a cardigan and then everyone started doing the same thing. Oh, the memories. I also still really want to knit the Cabled Hoodie from the cover of that booklet, just like I did when I bought it. (It turns out now that those patterns are all available for free downloads from the publisher, so nobody needs to get into LYS fights over the last Street Smart booklet anymore. We live in crazy times.)

Also, part of me still wants to knit that Blanket Poncho on the cover of that other booklet. Remember ponchos? Have we circled back around to ponchos? Anyway I remember once seeing a knitter in the wild in an LYS wearing that poncho and was a little starstruck for a few minutes. It’s hard to let go of those patterns you’ve been coveting.

Interweave Knits back issues

I also still had a couple of dozen issues of Interweave Knits magazine, from about 2005-2008. There was a while there that I subscribed to it, before I had a couple of years of living at a different address every year and stopped subscribing to things. Then after that it turned out I preferred to just pay to download individual patterns when I wanted them (because that became a reality a few years later), and then I stopped subscribing. I’m so glad I did subscribe for a while there, because now I get to leaf through the back issues I do have. There are so many modern classic patterns that came out of these issues. So many of us salivated over the Ivy League Vest and Venezia Pullover (well, I definitely did – I’m thinking about doing a 2nd Venezia sometime in the future now). I remember all the knitting podcast chatter and blog chatter about things like the Tilted Duster, the Lotus Blossom Tank, the Cobblestone Pullover, the Sunrise Circle Jacket. So many of us knitted Swallowtail shawls, and I remember that was the first time I did nupps. (The first row of them didn’t go so well. The next few rows were better).

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It’s also pretty amazing how much change has happened in knitting world in the last ten years or less. I know sometimes we talk about the ‘before times’ in knitting as though everything was different fifty years ago, but friends, so many things were also pretty different eight years ago. Ravelry was just starting up, Twist Collective didn’t exist yet, Knitty was still pretty new, and it’s boggling how many yarns I knit with on a regular basis that either didn’t exist yet at that time or were very new on the scene. IPads and tablets didn’t exist yet. Smartphones were like crazy talk, for the super tech savvy people. Buying yarn online still felt like a new awesome thing to be able to do.

I’m not entirely sure what the moral of all of this is, but it’s not going to be me saying that everything was so much better/so much worse in the past than it is now, because neither of those things are entirely true and I have no patience for generalizations like that. Some things are better, some things are more challenging, and some things are just plain different. But I do think that if you ever have moments – particularly if you are a new knitter just starting out in this brave new digitally flattened knitting world, dear God I have no idea what that feels like – of feeling like there is so much out there, more than you will ever get the hang of, it’s okay. There is so much out there, there always will be so many things to knit and so much to learn and choose from. I’m pretty sure a lot of us still felt that way before the digital knitting world exploded the way it did. And we don’t know what changes will happen in another nine or ten years.

It’s okay to go towards the projects and yarns and skills you love, and not towards others. Do the knitting you enjoy. You get to choose, and isn’t that great?

May you have a knitting-filled weekend ahead! I’m just going to flip through a few of these pages one more time. And, uh, queue up a few more things on Ravelry. Until next time!

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A sort of mission statement

Every so often I have occasion, as a blogger, to stop and take stock of a) exactly how long I have been doing this, and b) why exactly I do this in the first place. It turns out that I have been blogging for more than four years (which is longer than an Olympiad, longer than some people take to change careers, and at least as long as the minimum assumed time to complete a PhD dissertation, and certainly longer than a lot of other hobbies people decide to take up on a whim). And as far as why as I am doing this, well. I started this blog as a part of a pretty simple mission statement (although at the time I hadn’t actually stopped to verbalize it in a specific form):

1. This blog is about knitting.

2. This blog is about my own pleasures, challenges, thoughts, and idiosyncracies about the knitting that I do.

3. This blog is a way to contribute to conversations about knitting within the contemporary blogosphere.

I mean, I could get more specific and detailed and go into things like why I like posting about Works in Progress, or why I like being able to blather about my designs, and why I feel much more comfortable posting photos within posts as compared to making photo-less posts, but in the end, everything really goes back to those 3 things. I knit. I like to knit. I like to talk about knitting. The blog is a way to extend this to a wider group of people. And sure, there are the occasional non-knitting posts like, say, when I run a half-marathon and want to tell you about it. (But honestly? If I do something like run a half-marathon, I’m telling everyone i know.)

Also, I would like to say that in the four and a half years that I have been blogging, the purpose of this blog has not changed. I still like to knit, I still like to talk about knitting, and I still like using this blog as a way to do that. Some things have changed, obviously, that affect the context of my blogging. I am no longer a graduate student, but a PhD-holding member of the labour market currently longing for a permanent job. I am no longer only a knitter, but a knitter as well as a designer, and I find myself challenged by this whenever I have knitting projects on the go that I can’t blog about yet. (Seriously. I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks finishing a sock pattern for the Indigodragonfly yarn club, and I can’t blog about it yet because, well, it’s a yarn club and that means secrecy, despite the fact that I love the pattern and I would really love to blather about it.)

Another thing that has changed in the intervening four and a half years is the number of people who read this blog. I have somehow managed to garner a much larger audience than what I started with. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tickled by this. None of us wish to toil in obscurity and I read absolutely every single comment that comes across this blog – good ones, frustrating ones, spammy ones – regardless of whether or not I have the time to respond to all of them. It also fills me with a certain amount of anxiety, because believe it or not it is extremely easy to go on blogging as if nobody is ever going to know who you are. I write posts on my little laptop and submit them to the internet, and if I’m lucky, other people will read them, and if I’m very lucky, other people will read them and find them meaningful in some way.

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I actually believe very strongly in this process. I blog very infrequently about my blogging or my blogging frequency because I firmly believe that an independent blogger is in control of her blog and is under no obligation to post or not post according to any external demands or expectations. I do have occasional weeks where non-blog-related life or temporarily unbloggable things get in the way of me being able to post as often as I would wish, but those are compared to my own expectations, not anyone else’s. I also believe that my record speaks for itself. My blog and my Ravelry projects are there for public record. They are clear evidence of my pattern design process, my personal skill level and interests, and the yarns that I love to work with and choose on a regular basis. There is very little mystification going on here, and I would not tell you about a yarn or pattern I was working with if I didn’t have a personal affection for it.

I point this out now, because I want to mention that some times a lack-of-blog-posts here is not a reflection of me not having anything to blog about, but a reflection of the fact that I have chosen not to blog about some things. And I point this out, because I’ve recently gone through one of those occasional periods where I receive a large number of unsolicited suggestions/offers/requests related to my blog or knitting life, in which someone else tries to influence my blog content or knitting life in some way. This is a strange and bizarre side effect of having a blog with an increasing readership that I didn’t expect in the beginning and for which there is no real training or preparation. I’ve had to figure these requests out as I go. Often, such requests are quite fine. The fact that I’ve done book reviews in the past and have a few more book reviews coming up in the future is a reflection of this – book reviews fit into my three criteria listed above. They relate to knitting, my knitting, and knitting-related conversations, and often coincide with giveaways. I love giving stuff away. It’s awesome. And I love knitting books and analysing texts. Of course I like to do knitting book reviews on my blog.

Then, there are some of these requests that do not fit into the three criteria of my blog mission statement. They are either not about knitting at all (I am continually surprised that this happens), or not about knitting things that relate to my evident pursuits (if I have never ever blogged about children’s knits, have only very rarely knitted anything for children, and do not have any children of my own, chances are high that I don’t have an interest in blogging about children’s knitting-related things), or which are overly demanding that I take part in their blogging/networking/publishing/yarn-related project that will probably benefit them more as opposed to contributing to my own. These kinds of requests often leave me feeling awkward, uncertain, and occasionally offended or taken advantage of, because they are a reflection of the fact that someone who I would never ever recognize on the street even if they smacked me across the face is trying to capitalize on the small portion of the blogosphere that I contribute to. These kinds of requests, I address one at a time, and sometimes not at all, depending on where they fit in with the above descriptions. If it fits, I go for it. If not, then I won’t.

(I used to think that I had to say yes to everything. I don’t think that anymore.)

Anyhoodle. What I am trying to say is that I want you, my dear and lovely knitterly readers, to know that I care a great deal about the fact that you are out there, and to know that I am very protective of what blog content is going to reach you. And that if you’ve read all of this, then I thank you. And I want you know that I will continue to thank you for your readership by continuing to post content and the occasional free pattern, because that’s part of why I’m here doing what I do.

And if you are a self-centred/publicity-grabbing/clueless schmuck who happened to read one or two of my blog posts and assumed you know everything about what’s going on over here, please. Stay a little while. Think again. And if you want me to ask my blog readers to pay attention to you, know that you should at the very least ask nicely.

And also, that the Pi Shawl (pictured above) is going really nicely, but that I’m a little worried that I’m about to increase from 200-and-something stitches to 500-and-something stitches, and that it’s quite possible I’ll be knitting it until the end of time, but that I’ll try to be OK with that.

Sound good? Awesome.

Keep being awesome, knitters. Because you are.

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