on interactions and community

The title of this blog post is the first theme in the brand new “Love Your Blog” challenge hosted by A Playful Day.

love your blog creativity challenge with A Playful Day

I don’t often get involved in blog challenges, but this one clearly speaks to me.  I think there have been many knitting bloggers reflecting on how our blogs have been falling by the wayside, sometimes as life gets in the way, but also pushed aside as we all interact on quicker, more immediate social media platforms.  Well, no more!  Let this be the start of a knitting blog resurgence!

The theme is also particularly relevant to what I wanted to post about anyway, and ties in very neatly with what I’ve been thinking about.

I’ll mention a couple of events that I’ve been to in the last few weeks that are definitely all about community.

First up was the recent Edinburgh Yarn Fest where I ran the p/hop stall, fundraising for Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders.  I think one of the major achievements of the organisers (Jo and Mica) was the way in which they were able to facilitate a real sense of community at the event.  There were plenty of spaces for people to meet and relax informally (such as the Podcasters Lounge) as well as a hilarious Ca-Baa-ret on the Saturday evening.  Social media has been abuzz for weeks now with people sharing their experiences of the weekend, whether stash enhancing or selfies of meeting knitting heros and the like.  It was the sort of event that absolutely brought people together.

phop at eyf

My own experience of the event was shaped by my work in running the p/hop stall.  Somehow I managed to not leave the stall for more than half an hour over the whole weekend, which meant that my interactions were based entirely on whoever stopped by.  Luckily I had a wonderful team of volunteers helping out, and I got to meet loads of p/hop supporters.

I had loads of help from Heather, who was an absolute gem and was great fun to hang out with.  We had a brilliant time getting creative with the stall layout, using only what I had in my suitcase and what Heather could find the Asda next door.  Mop handles for the win!

It was the first time that we’d met “in real life” so as we were getting to know each other, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Heather:  So you knit then?

Me:  Well yes, sort of, in theory, but not so much in reality these days.  I don’t seem to find the time for actual knitting any more.

Heather:  I see (looking dubious).

Me:  I do lots of knitting-related things though.  I dye yarn, I organise two knitting groups, I co-ordinate p/hop, and I go to lots of knitting events.  I don’t knit much anymore, but I still seem to hang out with knitters a lot.

Heather:  Ah, so you’re a knitting groupie then!

(much chuckling followed).

It was a funny conversation, but there’s also an element of truth behind it.

I do find myself somehow very actively involved in this thing that we call the knitting community.  Pretty much all of my online interactions of any kind revolve around knitting, whether on blogs, Twitter, or Ravelry.  My so-called “free” time is also largely spent on knitting activity.  I organise two knitting groups here in London, both of which I set up as a way to bring together knitters from different sections of the community.  You might think that going to two knitting groups gives me lots of dedicated knitting time, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way!  Co-ordinating p/hop involves a significant part of my week, with much of this time spent connecting with other knitters around the UK and around the world, whether online or face to face at various knitting events.  I feel pretty privileged to have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many inspiring people.

Somehow being involved in the knitting community is something that really resonates with me, and has turned out to be something I devote a great deal of time to, even if it means I don’t have much time left to knit.

Where I don’t quite make the grade as a “knitting groupie”  though is that I’m really rather shy, and I’m horrendously bad at taking the first step to introduce myself to people, especially if they’re a designer or dyer who is well-known.  I have that little voice that questions “why on earth would they want to speak to me?”  So there are no knitting celebrity selfies for me, I’m afraid.


Spring Break

Last week I helped out at the wonderful craft night, The Make Escape.  If you don’t already know about it, it’s a fantastic (and free!) evening for adults to get creative and crafty in East London – think paper, glue and sequins!  Each event has a theme around which the crafty projects are based, with this event being Spring Break.  Regardless of the theme, there is always a space for knitting, and this was where I spent the evening teaching people how to knit.

The Make Escape

It really was a whole heap of fun!  Also teaching that night were the lovely Kareem  and my good friend (and incredibly talented) Sarah.  I lost count of how many people we “recruited” in to the wonderful world of knitting, but it was certainly a few.  I was quite chuffed to be able to teach continental to a couple of knitters too; one who was left-handed, and another who was struggling to grasp English-style throwing when it didn’t connect with her memories of watching her mum knit.  I showed her how to hold the yarn in her left hand (just like her mum) and so  it made a lot more sense for her.

Not bad for a knitting groupie eh?

I think that this post has helped me start to make sense of where I fit in this amazing knitting community.  While you may not be seeing many WIPs or FOs on this blog, I’m starting to think that it’s OK.  There might actually be a place, and a space, for me in this great big knitting community whether I “actually knit” or not.


here and there

It’s been a bit quiet over here, largely due to illness and subsequent exhaustion, but my absence over the past three weeks has had a much more interesting reason: I’ve been back to Australia!  I had a great time (as always) and once I get used to being on the other side of the planet again I’ll post about my craft-related exploits.

In the meantime, I’d like to open up this blog to suggestions that you might have on the topics of travelling and/or knitting.  Is there anything you’d like to find out about?  Perhaps you’re interested on the thorny topic of knitting on airplanes, or you’re wondering what to pack for your next trip, or trying to decide on a location for a next crafty holiday, or maybe you’d like to know where the best button shops are.

Whatever your random queries are, please post a comment and I’ll address them all in upcoming blog posts.

lazy or busy?

A little while back, the WordPress Daily Post asked the question, “Are you too lazy or too busy?”  It’s clearly something I need to address, as the amount of spam I just cleared out is evidence of how long it’s been since I logged in to this poor little blog.

I’ve had a particularly crazy run of work/uni stuff, so in a sense I’ve been busy.  However it would be a great big fib to say that I couldn’t find the odd hour or so to put together a blog post, because I still manage to find the time to mooch around on Ravelry and whatnot in the evenings.  It’s rather more the case that my poor brain has been so full up with other stuff, there’s no space left to do anything that requires cognitive capacity, such as compiling a blog post.  So it’s not quite busyness, but not quite laziness either.  More like exhaustion, which has also reached the point where I haven’t been knitting, I haven’t been dyeing, so there’s also not much to blog about.

Of course, I’ve been so exhausted that immune system has now given up the ghost, and I’ve spent the past week looking rather like this:

from the hilarious Hyperbole and a Half

Well, I look like that except that I haven’t made it out of bed to even reach the couch for the past four days, but that’s a good goal to have for tomorrow methinks.  I’ve been ill now for so long that I’ve even run out of internet stuff to look at! (I am however very grateful for the large food shop that I did last week, but there’s not much left.  Not sure how to address that).

But I have good intentions, I fully visualise myself bouncing back (er, maybe next week) and carrying on with life as planned.  In the meantime though, if you wouldn’t mind sending me a new immune system in the post, or suggestions for internet sites to keep me amused, that would be great.

getting photos

As Ewenique so cheekily pointed out, my new year’s resolution to blog at least once a week hasn’t quite been going to plan.  One reason for this has been work-related; I’m working, studying, and now supervising a student, plus I’ve been applying for a second job lecturing.  My evenings have mostly been spent reading up on practice education and what-not.  This was going to be the year that my career takes off, but I’ve just been advised that ‘my’ job at the uni no longer exists, so I haven’t quite reached the dizzying heights that I’d hoped for.

That’s only one excuse; the second excuse is that I find it so damn hard to get photos to include in posts.  And I don’t want to post without photos, as who wants to read what I witter on about anyway?

My first problem is that I’m notoriously shy at pulling out my camera.  I generally carry it about with me all weekend on my wanderings, but nine times out of ten it stays firmly in my bag.  Case in point: last weekend I had sushi for lunch with Jen, and wasn’t brave enough to pull out my camera until Jen did (but I’ll spare you the evidence of how much we ate…)

The second difficulty with photos for a knitting blog, is getting pictures of me actually wearing my knitted stuff.  I’ve tried using my auto-timer, but that was a bit haphazard.  I’ve taken the occasional self-portrait at arm’s length, but that’s somewhat limited in usefulness too.  I’ve tried asking workmates, but they think I’m bonkers for even having a knitting blog!  Last summer I tried to rustle up a bunch of knitting friends for a ‘FO photo shoot’ but we couldn’t seem to get it together.

The much-more-prolific blogger Fridica has invited knitters to post photos of themselves wearing their knits in everyday situations.  Great idea, but I’d like to ask: just how do you get photos of yourself wearing your own hand knits?

it’s a new year

I’ve never been one for making new year’s resolutions, crafty or otherwise.  The years just seem to roll around without much of a marker.  This year however, I’ve decided to set myself a few resolutions to aim for, and perhaps you can encourage me?

In the interests of being hopeful without setting myself up for certain failure, I’ll set only three craft related goals:

  • To finish 11 projects in 2011.  My emphasis in this goal is to clear out some old lurking UFOs, and I have plenty to chose from.  If I really can’t face finishing them, they need to be frogged.
  • To get my hand-dyed yarns up for sale.  I’ve been thinking about this for, oooh, maybe the past year or so, but if it’s here in writing, then I actually have to do it, right?  I’ve realised that I actually like playing with woolly stuff more than just knitting it, and dyeing yarn captures what I love most: texture and colour.

Wish me luck!

blog hub swap – days 6 & 7

It feels a bit sad really to be finishing up this swap; I’ve had so much fun.  Factoring in the weeks spent blog stalking, shopping, making, and putting together the package for Ewenique, plus the week spent opening little parcels from Stitch4Love, it’s been the best value swap ever!

Even though I opened the last of the packages ages ago, I’ve only just managed to get a picture up.  I’ve combined the last two days, which both have a travel/holiday theme:

A handknitted travel pillow cover!  And it’s knitted in the softest, silkiest Patons Silk Bamboo. What a genius idea; I never would have thought of something like that, and I expect it’s much more comfortable than trying to sleep on a scrunched up jacket! In the picture it’s surrounded by assorted summertime beach accessories; given the dreariness of the weather at the moment, summer seems a very long way off. However it does remind me that it’s time to plan my next trip home.

Thanks to both my swap partners; it’s been brilliant.

blog hub swap – day 5

There’s been a bit of delay in my blog swap posts, but that’s not because I haven’t been opening pressies!  I just haven’t been able to take any photos as it’s dark by the time I get home from work.  So even though I’ve now opened them all, I’ll keep spacing the posts out as planned.

I really didn’t know what to expect from day 5’s treat – the note said something to do with Disney.  Huh?  I couldn’t really think of how Disney would relate to anything…

But this was what it turned out to be….

Mad Tea Party Tea!  What a great idea… officially for unbirthdays!  I haven’t tried it yet (need to get my hands on a tea pot) but it contains, amongst other things, “ginger bits and apricot bits” so it definitely sounds very interesting.

I need to get drinking it, not least so I can make use of such a fabulous tin.