Kon Mari-ing blogs until it hurts

I’m Kon Mari-ing the blogs I follow so hard that it hurts.

Where have all the craft bloggers gone?

Actually, it really does hurt, as I delete women’s words, women I once almost thought of as friends. They stopped posting maybe 2008, 2009 … or they lasted a little longer, stopping 2011, 2012 or 2013.

They wrote craft blogs, intertwined with glimpses of their lives. Are they still sitting there, behind their screens, just like me? Not knowing where to go now that most of the amateur craft blogs have professionalised, found their schtick and SEO-ed the heck out of themselves?

Did professionalism kill the craft blog?

Do they still have things to say? Probably! I followed some of those women onto Instagram, and they’re still thoughtful, funny women. They’re still making things, whenever they find the time.

Is there something about the professionalisation of blogs that makes amateur, non-commercial efforts seem pointless now? Is their style of blogging no longer supported, respected? And have the tools, the technologies behind blogging, moved on without them?

Is social media the problem?

Blogs need readers, of course. Without Google Reader, readers only find blogs via social media promotion. Re-tweets and Likes. Quiet, personal blogging isn’t something that’s easy to promote on social media – how do you ask people to re-tweet your confessions of craft failures? Can you ask (generally friendly) readers to like your musings on the difficulties of parenting? Particularly if you don’t offer a glib solution at the end, or push a product?

I know what you’re thinking: Instagram

I know what you’re thinking: Instagram killed blogs. Maybe it did. I’ve always wondered if Ravelry killed knit blogging – my main reason for reading knit blogs was to find out what patterns looked like on a real person, and Ravelry does that. Ravelry does that so very, very well. There isn’t a sewing Ravelry (yet), but it’s true most of the crafting action has moved to Instagram. I’ve been Instagramming myself, since August 2012. Six hundred and sixty-four posts so far. I guess it’s easy.

I’m still not convinced Instagram is the full answer, ‘tho. In its heyday, Flickr co-existed with blogs. Sure, Flickr allowed links in a way Instagram doesn’t, a significant change in technology. But is that the full explanation? Was it the double-whammy of the end of Google Reader and Instagram’s rise?

Maybe. But I’m not convinced blogging platforms have tried or succeeded in being as easy to use as Instagram/Tumblr/Facebook. And culturally, I feel, we haven’t found a good format for short, easy but still insightful posts. Except perhaps Buzzfeed (which has a good reputation in Australia) – more on that later…

Fashion blogs vs. craft blogs

In contrast to craft blogs, the fashion blogs I followed have sped up astonishingly – posting not once, not twice, but many times a day. But many of their posts are simply link lists, re-worded press releases and the like … the voices of the authors are gone now, replaced by a sanitised, corporate voice. Quirks and strong opinions erased. Advertiser-friendly.

No, I don’t know what the solution is either.

I stopped reading

Confession time: I stopped reading blogs about 18 months ago. In contrast to my previous 100 per day skimming habit. Maybe I got busy? But I was busy before. Maybe I missed Google Reader? But I was already surviving without it…

I just didn’t want to read blogs anymore. I was overwhelmed. The shallow fashion posts were drowning out the dwindling craft posts. I couldn’t find what I wanted in my reader, even though I still liked most of the blogs I was following.

Making room for the future

Hence the brutal Kon Mari. Rachel Hauser has discussed the changes to blogging recently, and I was really struck by what one of her commenters said. Maybe I’ve just missed out on following the next wave of bloggers. So I’m making room for them. And thinking about my own blogging … and planning a Buzzfeed-style, short, easy and casual approach.

As casual as I can be, having written something as long as this!

Rib as decoration: SABA AW 2011

I love knitting, so I’m always keeping an eye on knitwear in the shops. I guess the shops I’m walking past each day would be classified as the Australian ‘high street’ (whatever that term really means) or perhaps contemporary designer? Must say the knitwear I’m seeing has improved, compared to around 5 years ago when I first started taking note. I’m not seeing so many knits stretching and sagging off the hangers, these days.

Clever knitwear always makes me smile. Here, I like the idea of ribbing used as contrast and decoration, not just as utilitarian edging. The ribbing’s curved, even along the shoulders in a kind of boatneck style. I often appreciate fashion ideas that might be somewhat awkward to wear … but this isn’t one of them. The ribbing gives a little more style to an otherwise simple, neat jacket.

The photo is from SABA, about a month ago. The next day they covered the mannequin with an even bigger scarf, so I couldn’t see the knitwear detail anymore. I suppose the jacket’s probably on sale now or even sold out (I can’t see it in their online store).

Crafting together

I went to a Crafternoon, and made this little skull. But it’s not the important bit… I loved it, the chance to talk with some great women.  About adult things.

I didn’t know anyone else there, except the hostess.  So it could have been really akward. Instead, it was affirming, to find out how much we had in common. To explore where our perspectives met, and where they divered. We talked like adults, I’ve missed that! We didn’t talk in the coded way parents must, when they know children are nearby, listening. And yes, we did discuss our children, amongst other things.

Best of all, we were able to move from the personal to the political. So often, with mothers I know well, who I see everyday, we just swap anecdotes and personal stories. Without drawing the political conclusion, making the link to what’s going on in society. I’m sure we all see it, but we don’t say. This Crafternoon, it was refreshing to say it.

I spent quite a while deciding whether my skull badge should have googly eyes. It looked cute with… but scarier, more real without.

Yes, I’ve changed the blog again. New background, new name.

What I’m actually doing

…is writing out words in Mandarin Chinese again and again.  And again.

I’m normally pretty skeptical when Chinese teachers (or Japanese teachers) tell you to learn the characters just by writing them out, many times over. I assume that’s how they learnt as a child (all my teachers, so far, where born overseas). It might(!) be OK advice for a child, but I’m really doubtful it’s applicable to adult learners, who don’t have the reinforcement of hearing the language around them, everyday.

I much prefer to make up stories about the characters, to help me remember them. And understand their origins (pictograms) and components.

But this exam, we have to answer everything in Chinese (the questions are in Chinese, too). We even have write down, in characters, the conversations we hear in during the listening test. So I’m practicing speed writing – I’m thinking it’s like muscle training.  And yes, my writing is a bit messy.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing the characters.  I think they’re beautiful.  They’re a big part of the reason I wanted to learn Japanese, then Chinese. But wow, there’s a lot of them! Over 2,000 just for daily use. I know around 600…

Guilt knitting

I’ve been starting to think about writing down the knitting patterns buzzing ’round my head. I did once before.

This means, for the first time ever, I’ve bought wool just for swatching. I feel irrational guilt about it. You see, after swatching, some wool turned out too thick, or the slubs didn’t look right, or the whole idea won’t work, at least not now, not easily, not ’till I think about it some more.

I’m not a big stasher, I’ve 2.5 average-sized plastic boxes full of wool. (Ok, technically I should say “yarn”, but most of it’s actually wool). That’s my everything, all my half begun; abandoned; dreamt about but still untouched knit projects as an adult. I pretty much always have a plan for the wool I buy, even if that plan changes like, 5 or 6 times!

So I’ve been feeling really guilty about my just for swatching wool. And hurrying madly to find a project for it. Yeah, I fully agree that’s irrational, but it’s how I feel.

Mustaa villaa’s hat pattern is perfect for this situation, especially since it calls for 8ply/DK. If you’re Aussie you know that’s the most common weight here … by far. I’m really enjoying mixing the colours for the band, and looking forward to a guilt free knitting future. And to finally telling the kids, when I’m near the end: “Oh, yes, this one’s for you”.