And so just like that, it seems, it's 2016. This post is not going to be a reflective look back on 2015, a recap of all that I achieved or didn't achieve in that year. A post to revel in glories and admit to regrets. Instead, I'm going to start this year with what will possibly be quite a disjointed ramble about lots of things that are floating in my head at the moment.
There's something about the new year, the fresh page on the calendar that seems to plant so many ideas and plans in my brain. I'm ready to write lists and sketch images and swatch and get into any thing new. Any thing really that doesn't involve finishing those lingering WIPs and jobs from the last year. It just has to be fresh and new. I'm busting to cast on all the things and starting writing and swatching new patterns. I want to drag out all my fabric and sew up something straight away.
I'm not alone there, am I?
One thing I am going to drag over from last year, even the last few years, is the plan to blog more. There's this thing about blogs at the moment that's got me thinking a bit more about them and trying to re-focus and find the time to keep this one going. One of those reasons was a series of blog posts that I was super keen to follow up on last year but it didn't quite happen. I've also been thinking about the concept of the blog a bit lately and where the format is headed. All these new social media platforms seem to have almost brought about the demise of the blog and I have to admit for awhile there I really wasn't reading blogs in the same way I once did. I certainly wasn't blogging on this one either in quite the same way, and I'm not sure that readers were engaging in quite the same way. I know that I'm not alone there and I've seen a number of big name bloggers either cease blogging or drastically decrease their blogging. Whether that's a consequence of the changing landscape of social media or other factors come into play it's hard to know, but blogging is definitely currently on the outer. Google "the demise of the blog" and you'll find countless blog posts (ha!) and articles written about this. The quick fix of social media platforms that allow you to engage with more people and give you approval with a simple click of a like button has had quite an effect on the comments sections of most blogs.
But, and this is a big but, I think the potential is there for a swing back, and this is why.
Facebook is definitely the platform that is killing off blogs. It's massive, incredibly so. With this growth however, more and more restrictions and unseen controls on content has eventuated. There has been a lot of chatter behind the scenes on Facebook lately about the declining reach of Facebook posts, particularly those that contain words like "discount", "sale" and links to outside pages. You can almost guarantee that a post around the same time from the same page with a link to another Facebook page will get at least double the reach of the first post, It seems that Facebook is filtering out of people's feed the very information that they want to learn from that page! To test this out earlier this week I posted two posts on Facebook within two hours of each other. The first post was a "marketing" post with the naughty words "20% discount" and "coupon code". The second post linked to a post on another Facebook page with a much much smaller audience than mine. The second post had four times the reach of the first. What that does highlight is that if you want your marketing posts to get out there, the ones that your customers often want to see, you have to pay the boosted post game that Facebook traps you into, because they're not going to show your readers your post otherwise.
As far as preferred social media platforms go, I much prefer Instagram. It's a procession of the pretty and lovely. It's a quick and easy engage and generally it doesn't have the negativity factor that seems to encompass Facebook at times. At the same time, however, Instagram does perpetuate more than any other social media platform the idea of the celebrity of perfection. If anything, the last year in Instagram land has taught us that there are Instagrammers who are actually PAID to promote goods and companies in their posts (did this shock you a little as it did me). We've also become ever-questioning of the portrayal of perfection that rings out from staged photos. The Socality Barbie account demonstrated that so very perfectly!
So where does this leave blogging?
I wonder if blogs are going to be a bit like book shops. The advent of the Kindle and e-books took a heavy toll on bookshops, particularly those small independent ones. Some "experts" even predicted that books would one day become a thing of the past. 2015 however, saw the opposite happen. People are going back to physical books. There are definitely e-book lovers out there but physical book sales actually increased in 2015 and it looks like a trend that will continue. Books are real and physical; tangible - and a new book smells so good in a way that a Kindle never can. They're also prettier in an IG photo (just kidding).
I do wonder if the return of the book is echoing an embrace of a simpler way of living. Ironically enough, I see so many photos on Instagram that speak to me of people looking for that simpler way or life, yearning for some of the simplicity that we perhaps romanticise about from our own childhood; or in the very least, attempting to portray an embrace of that lifestyle. Maybe because social media is so so busy, that in our "real life" we need to embrace the simple, the wholesome and the less. I don't know. Maybe physical books offer far more of an escape from the world of social media than an e-book can. Maybe we just yearn for the tactile feeling of actually turning the pages of a book.
So my thinking about all this lead me to consider and ponder whether we're going to see a similar revival of the blog, because while yes, there are a great deal of bloggers who have simply become yet another promotional tool for business, (one of my previous favourite blogs is now basically just full of sponsored posts) there are those genuine ones who open their heart and soul to their readers, or who offer terrific information, tutorials and discussions in a way that other platforms on social media simply can't. And realistically, blogging has been around for so long that some of those original blogs still in action almost can claim vintage status. A blog is like a home that a writer invites you into. It becomes a friendship where you can drop in any time unannounced. Where it doesn't matter if you haven't seen each other for quite some time, you still just pick up the friendship where it left off. There's a depth to a blog that you just can't get in a Facebook post, tweet or Instagram photo. And when you offer depth, it much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.
So I don't know, I think I'm going to persevere with my blog this year.
I'm going to post that series of blog posts I didn't end up posting last year because I thought blogs had lost their way. I'm going to continue to share my crafting and designing journey with you, talking about the good bits as well as the struggles. I'm going to continue to share the good bits that I know about crafting that I think will help other crafters out - because at the heart of it, that is the most important aspect of the crafting community - the sharing of knowledge.
What I'm knitting: My Favourite in Shilasdair Luxury DK, Winter Loch colourway
The yarn on my desk: Adagio Alpaca Mills 8ply (the yarn from my Kickstarter reward)
What I'm working on: A series of knitting patterns for an art project
What I'm reading: South of Darkness by John Marsden
What I'm dreaming about: cooler and slower days and camping in my much loved tent
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Who am I?
Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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