Post-Blogging Break Updates

Hello! I decided to take January off from blogging—just because I thought it would be nice to have a little break. I meant to start up again at the beginning of February, but I’ve been sick, busy with work, tired from being up at night with a sick baby (I mean, toddler) etc., etc., etc. All the usual stuff.

I also decided to take a break from Instagram about half way through January and, unlike blogging, I’m not interested in going back. Instagram had started to feel a lot like Facebook before I quit that. It felt like I was investing a lot of time and energy into something that didn’t really feel like it was adding any value to my life. It had started to feel less like something I genuinely enjoyed and more like something that I couldn’t opt out of, which is ultimately what made me feel like it was time to get out.

It was weird to listen to the recent episode of Love to Sew, “Sewcializing 2.0” that was basically all about Instagram—it had the effect of underlining for me all the reasons that Instagram doesn’t resonate with me anymore. So I’m just going to continue to focus on my blog as my way of participating in some small way in online knitting and sewing circles. Even though I’ve taken breaks from blogging and have often questioned why I keep up with it, I continue to enjoy writing about and reflecting on what I’ve made. I enjoy having an easily searchable record of my projects, and I enjoy making this record available for other makers who might benefit from it.

Anyway. I’ve still been sewing consistently during my blog break and managed to finish a second weighted blanket, although I failed to take any pictures of it. Lol. This blanket was for my 8-year-old godson, so significantly bigger than my first toddler-sized blanket, but it really didn’t take much longer to make. I followed the same procedure for the first blanket (which I now realize I archived on Instagram, so maybe I should reproduce it in a separate blog post), but invested in a 6×18” clear gridded quilting ruler this time, which was totally worth the $20.

IMG_6454

No finished photos, no in-progress photos, but at least I thought to take a picture of the fabric I used for the top of the blanket? (It’s a Minecraft print from JoAnn’s and I used a coordinating Kona solid for the back and binding.)

I’ve also finished sewing a few garments that I’ll blog about shortly, but I haven’t been doing much knitting at all. I’ve been in a major knitting slump since mid-December that has largely related to a failed project. I finished my Carbeth cardigan and found that I just didn’t like it at all and that I had no idea what to do with it, which was really disappointing. But it also felt like yet another sweater failure in a long line of sweater projects that just haven’t worked out for me at all.

So instead of knitting, I’ve been been spending a lot of time trying to determine what makes a sweater work for me—and those key factors have been surprisingly difficult to identify. I think I have a good idea of what I want and need from a sweater, and plan to write a post about those ideas and another post about my Carbeth cardigan (which is still in limbo because I’m still not sure what I want to do about it). In the meantime, I’ve ordered some new yarn to get me back to my knitting needles, although I’m keeping things safe by working on a baby sweater that will be a gift for someone else.

I think those are all of my craft-relevant updates since the last time I posted. I’ll have some finished project posts up soon and will be trying to find some time to get modeled photos of some of the garments I’ve finished recently so I can get caught up blogging all of the things I’ve been making. Yay for blogging!

Blogging: Do I Still Care About This Thing?

It’s been several months since I last blogged. This isn’t one of those posts where I intend to apologize for disappearing for a while. I don’t have the kind of blog readership that I think warrants that kind of post, and I knew well before Jude was born that the blog was one of the things that would end up on the back burner when my free time was radically condensed by the demands of an infant.

I’ve had other long blogging breaks before and there’s always a point during the break where I wonder whether it’s worth keeping a blog at all. It takes a fair bit of effort and can seem a little silly and self-serving in the abstract. Obviously, in the past I’ve gotten over this moment of doubt and just started posting again. This time, I found myself spending more time thinking about why I blog, whether or not I’m happy with how I’ve been approaching my blog over the last couple of years, and what I might want to do with my blog if I decide to keep going with it. (All those late night nursing sessions leave you with a lot of quiet time to think. Better to spend my time thinking about fairly light things like blogging and knitting and sewing than, say, indulge all my anxieties around mass shootings.)

IMG_4108.jpg

Brief updates in pictures: I knit a sweater and it’s a major fail. More details to come.

I think the challenge in blogging for me at this moment is fairly obvious: writing posts and taking blog photos just takes time and I’m short on time. But the bigger question I’ve been mulling over in terms of deciding whether or not to continue blogging is whether blogging still feels relevant. Is it relevant to me and my craft life? Is it relevant to potential readers?

I feel like I’ve been seeing a trend of craft bloggers asking: are blogs still a thing people care about or have we all just rerouted our attention to Instagram? And the typical answer seems to be that people still really like the depth of information that they get with a blog post versus the more limited snapshot you get on Instagram. But a lot of what I seem to read on blogs, and nearly all that I’ve written on my blog over the past few years, seems to have a pretty limited focus on just sharing finished projects. I like seeing what other people have made and I like sharing the things that I have made, and it’s nice to get and give reviews of patterns. But I find myself wanting more, both as a reader and a writer.

IMG_3118.jpg

I got an Amish-style swift, and I totally love it.

I’ve started watching a lot of knitting podcasts* over the past few months. I reached maximum tv burnout while spending a lot of time on the couch nursing and ended up turning to YouTube as an alternative. There is a good bit of time spent sharing finished projects on knitting podcasts (and a lot of sharing “things I bought,” which I feel kind of complicated about) but there’s also a lot more talk about process. People share the things that they are working on and talk about how things are going, in addition to more informal moments of sharing feelings and reflections about their knitting or how they choose projects or decide when to trash a project or talk about why they still like or never wear something they made a long time ago. I think it’s those conversational, reflective bits—people talking in a fuller way about their crafting lives and all their crafty thoughts—that really have me hooked on podcasts.

IMG_3096.jpg

I wore my Drachenfels Shawl constantly this winter (and am still wearing it thanks to this year’s “spring” weather).

I actually started wondering if I should trade text for video, but doing so involves a whole set of new logistical concerns (set up, time, editing, etc.) that I don’t have the mental bandwidth for. Plus, I have zero desire to actually be on camera in that way. There are also limits to the podcasting format—there’s a lot of great information being shared, but it’s harder to search or pinpoint the little tips, tricks, and ideas that come up and you have to actually have the time in your life to sit down and watch an (on average) hour long video to get the information in the first place. I have that time in my life because I’m stuck pumping at work three times a day, but I can imagine it being much harder to keep up with when this particular phase of my life is over. I like Instagram stories, but this is also why I don’t get much out of stories where people are talking about their craft struggles or reflecting on their projects—not only are they time-sensitive, but a lot of the time I’m not in a position to have the audio turned up on my phone.

IMG_4187.jpg

Swatch for a future sweater. More details to come.

I still have a desire to blog because I like having a searchable record of the things that I’ve made. I basically use my blog posts on my finished projects as a notebook for recording all of the adjustments and tricks I used to make the thing, and I reference those posts all the time when I make a pattern again or attempt a similar project. I’m also drawn to blogging because I enjoy writing but I feel a lot of pressure around the writing I have to do in my professional life—the blog is a no-pressure space where I can basically write for fun. But the other big reason that I like blogging is because it’s a space to reflect on my knitting and sewing, and reflection is a key component of learning and improving. Reflecting on what I’ve done and how well it worked is a useful exercise for me, but I also hope that sharing those reflections might occasionally prove useful to other people.

All of this is to say that after many months of trying to figure out what I want to do with my blog, I’ve landed on trying a slower approach of focusing less on just sharing finished projects and working more to share the larger process around making things—sharing my crafty thoughts, the decisions I’m mulling over, my plans, the stumbling blocks I come across, the new techniques I’m trying, my reflections on things as they progress and not just once they’re finished. The added benefit of this approach is that it will give me more opportunities to blog at a moment in my life when I’m not in a position to crank out finished projects at a regular pace.

IMG_2138.jpg

A modeled shot of my Mireille Pullover. Maybe I should just start taking all my blog photos in the mirrors at Kohls?

I know this isn’t a new approach to blogging—the knitting and sewing blogs I most enjoy are ones that, I’ve realized, do exactly this kind of thing. I also know that no one really cares what I decide to do or not do with my blog. But I’ve been finding other people’s reflections on blogging helpful as I think through this, so I thought I’d share mine as well.

The post-baby fog has cleared and my semester is wrapping up, so I’m excited to knit something other than socks, get back into sewing, and write about all of it.

 

*Aidan is an avid podcast listener and this phrase (“watching a podcast”) drives him crazy. Lol. To be clear, these knitting podcasts are videos where knitters talk about and show the stuff they’ve been working on, so it’s an idiosyncratic use of the term “podcast,” but what is language if not plastic and occasionally irritating?