on interactions and community
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.
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.
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.
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.