Sunday, January 14, 2007

Community.

That was my primary goal when I started this blog, to meet people on line and develop some kind of friendship with people. Specifically, knitters. I'd joined the local Stitch and Bitch (Summerville chapter) when we moved here, and had an extremely bad experience with them (they meet at private homes and un-invited me after I skipped a couple meets due to being eight months pregnant - among other things they kicked me off their PUBLIC Yahoo e-mail loop). My experiences with Knitty had been almost entirely positive, and so I figured the on-line knitting community HAD to be friendlier. I was right. (I got one or two snarly e-mails after the history of knitting article, that was about it. And even then, they stuck to the subject and didn't make it a personal attack.)

I kept telling myself that I needed to get out and meet people here in Charleston, but that voice in the back of my head (you know the one) kept saying, we're only going to live here four years, so what's the damn point? (Yes, I'm aware that's a really unhealthy attitude. Like you've never had one?) So, I started up the blog, and between occasional Knitty articles and blog searches and the like, I now know more knitters in Australia than I do in my home town. I am goofy enough to think this is cool. Regardless of where I move to, if I've got an internet connection, I'm in touch with my community. No more losing my entire life when I move, like happened when we left Hawaii.

Now, the idea of moving still pisses me off, but it doesn't fill me with dread like it did. What's particularly nice is, the people I've met IN Charleston, I've met through the internet, so I know that even if I move, odds are good we'll stay in touch. There is a point.


So, anyway. Blogging and community. The way knit-bloggers interact seems to be completely different than any other blog type; I do read a few other blogs (mostly cooking blogs) and generally, the dynamic isn't the same. No swapping, no hooking up in real life, no meeting at festivals or whatever, no private e-mail conversations, just a blog and some friendly (usually) comments. Which is FINE, but in comparison knit-blogging is amazing.

I've always thought that when you expect good of people, they usually rise to the occasion. The on-line knitting community is a shining example of that. I do not envy the Yarn Harlot her blog (300+ comments per day? Does she have time to DO anything else?? She can't possibly keep all her regular commenters straight in her head), but I am impressed by how she manages it and what she uses it for - mostly networking, education, and of course charity fund-raising. A quarter of a million dollars for Doctors Without Borders. That is unreal. Particularly when you consider that the majority of that was probably raised in donations of $100 or less at a time.

I've seen a little of that here, too, the determination to be positive and kind. While I refuse to discuss religion and politics as a nod to community spirit (I'm a moderate in both areas, and somehow manage to offend BOTH sides of every issue), I've still produced some major rants and of course the language is not what you'd call polite. And yet everybody is cool. I've never had a negative comment. Disagreeing opinions are expressed politely and reasonably, and can be discussed. When you consider I've posted about once a day for an entire year, blasting it out to anyone with an internet connection, that's quite a record.


I think I've rambled on long enough. At any rate, I'm going to start adding links to blogs I read regularly over in the side bar. (If you've ever left a comment here that I could track back to your blog, I put you in my regular read folder. Community, dudes.) Give me about a week to get the whole thing together. If, after that, you're a regular reader with a blog and I don't have you linked, drop me a line and I'll put you up.

Hats off to all of us, and yay for community.

26 comments:

NeedleTart said...

Amen!

Sheepish Annie said...

I'm an incredibly solitary sort of person and there are those who think that my on-line connections represent a further withdrawing from society at-large. Nothing could be further from the truth!!! My blogging friends are some of the kindest and most loyal people with whom I've ever connected. And, in the year that I've been doing this, I've had but one comment that I considered negative and that was really more about the commenter being young and not understanding that I might consider her thoughts a bit crass. I can live with that! People in my "real life" are rarely so considerate.

Blog on!!!!!!

del said...

I completely agree about the knit-bloggers. I don't regularly read other type blogs but knitters are truly amazing. I don't attend regular meetings where I live at all, but I've "met" so many nice online knitters that I still feel part of a wonderful community.

Vivienne said...

I'm sitting in Norfolk (in England). It's dark, but for the first night in a week it isn't raining. With a few mouseclicks I can be invited into the homes of men and women across he world, made welcome, admire their work, learn from their skills, and hear new opinions that make me consider my own and why I might hold them. How can that not be good?

In any situation I tend to think, if you offend both sides you're getting it about right.

Keep on going, Julie.

Vivenne (blogless - I really don't need an excuse to avoid my dissertation this year)

Catie said...

well, I'm relatively new to where I live (6 months) and have a job that is time consuming. I'm a graduate student at the University of Calgary. I love blogs, as Julie said, they moved with me. But I crave people interaction too. So to solve this I'm going to take classes at a LYS. The yarn is a bit expensive, I think, it might be regular in terms of cost, but the atmosphere is phenomenal. The owners and employees are so knowledgeable and helpful and kind. The lighting in the store is bright (I have a bit of seasonal affective disorder).
Right now I'm working on setting up my blog. Where can I find tutorials for blogger about the basics - like posting links within the text and pictures?

Lisa said...

Well typed. I've had the same attitude about meeting new people too, especially now. My fiance is in the Navy and we're moving in a few months. At least the online community is a constant, and they move with me. I like my imaginary friends better than the real ones anyway, I think it goes both ways actually.

Great post, thank you.

sienna said...

Brings a tear to me eye! :)

I seriously *can't* believe you were disinvited for not showing up! In our group people sometimes show up once a year or less...they're still always invited and made welcome. If you're ever in Ottawa you'll have to come by too - it's a great & creative group of knitters.

Bells said...

Well said!

You know, I think you might just be tapping into a slightly different group.

I remember when, on her podcast, Brenda Dayne was ranting about the copyright of SnB and made some comment about the guy behind it having a small dick. She had to grovel in the next show in response to all the people who got offended by that. Unreal.

I think it was your cussing that got me to come back in the beginning. It made me laugh.

I love online communities. I've made real life friends out of a couple. Even spent Christmas last year with an online friend who's now a real life friend. The cross over is fantastic.

And I too read food blogs when I'm not reading knitting blogs. And sometimes infertility blogs but none of those are quite the same for me as the knitting blogs. You're right. Not as much interaction. I need the interaction to make me come back. And I love that in the best online communities, I can kind of keep real life and online life separate. I get to hang out here and in a few other places with people who know nothing, or very little, about the shit that goes on in real life for me. It's a haven.

Hey, you know, you did get politcal once. The PETA thing. And look at the great response you got. Loved that one.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Jilly Bean said...

This expressed some of the thoughts I've been having about internet communities better than I could have expressed it myself. I'm slowly starting to be involved in the knit-blog community, but most of my real life friends are people I originally met through livejournal. We realized that Bellingham had a pretty big lj community and staged a couple of meet-ups. That was four or five years ago, and some of the people that I met that way have since become my best friends.

Unfortunately, there's almost starting to be a slight backlash where I find myself asking how much involvement is too much, but I still marvel at the depth of relationships that are formed with people we might never meet in person.

Brewgal said...

Community- that was the promise of the internet. If you have become part of a community, great or small, then the promise has been fulfilled. Blog on!

Lola LB said...

They kicked you out because you couldn't show up bdue to your pregnancy? I'm gobsmacked.

Julie said...

I'm still boggling about the SnB deal myself. The argument seemed to be 'it's creepy to meet people off the internet', which I suppose is valid except they were running a public Yahoo group. Kind of like saying Europeans are creepy and going on vacation in Paris.

Bells said...

WTF??

I wouldn't have met my local SnB friends if it wasn't for the internet....

Some people.

vsoul said...

I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoy reading your blog (you're in my 'favorite blogs' folder in my bookmarks). I check it at least once a day and am always pleased to see when you update. I like the fact that you talk about your life as well as your (awesome) knitting. Thank you!

Alwen said...

I'm not going to apologize any more for being an introvert.

I love the definition of introvert that says an extrovert is charged up by being with people, while an introvert has to re-charge from being with people. It sounds so much nicer than "anti-social", which is what they used to call me in high school. I'm not anti-anything, I just like my solitude.

That said, the internet and the blogosphere is ideal for introverts like me, because it gives me complete control over how much recharging I have to do. It doesn't mean I spend my days in complete seclusion. My real life lace group even started up as a result of joining the online lacemaking community.

Online knitters are certainly interesting people in real life!

Amy Lane said...

You're right--knitting blogging is unlike any sort of community I've ever met. My house is a wreck--we don't entertain, and I'm actually sort of shy when it comes to actual peer interaction. The knitting blog has been the one place I can go and feel like a part of a community, without feeling like I'm too wierd to actually interact.

Laura B said...

You read my blog?! Cool! I read yours too! I'm just too ... what's the word... lazy to comment most the time. (In my defense you're a very prolific poster... seriously, I can't keep up with you.)

Amy Boogie said...

I call my knitting blog, my Happy place. Really knitters are some of the nicest people. Stinks about the local group, what a bunch of crabs.

Being a SAHM makes it tough to meet other people. Especially if the man is out on a boat half the time, and you have no one you know to sit for you. The internet is a realy life line somedays.

Lynn said...

We are an amazing group, aren't we? :)

FairyGodKnitter said...

Julie- You are what I call a community leader. We all rely on your frequent knit talk, baby talk, life talk. And I know that you make every effort to read your readers. You have been there when I've needed your support, especially when I hurt my hand and you could share your own experiences with a knit threatening injury. It is the SnB's loss that they haven't valued what you bring to the party. Sometimes face to face groups can be like that. I have shied away from joining any knitting groups in my area because I 'm not sure I would want to go through the getting to know you phase and it's awkwardness. However, I've gotten to slowly know the owner and staff of my LYS and count on them for the knitting face time I need. I do have a friend who knits with me whenever we can but other so called knitting friends have not stayed with it. Beyond that, it's my online friends that I cherish and feel the most authentic with. There is so much more validation in the written correspondence that happens on our blogs. Well worth the effort.

Pearls Mother said...

I agree with you, blogs have changed our knitting lives,
we meet, we share, we enjoy our new cyber friends and their talent.
Plus, we love seeing the baby grow.
Lindy

Louiz said...

I was going to leave a comment saying how much we value you, and how we knitters are different, but everyone else got there first!

Theresa said...

From me to the group that tossed you out - a giant raspberry! they don't understand the spirit of knitting together or knitting in public either.
Internet friends are guaranteed to share at least one of your interests now aren't they? So what's wrong with that? How else are you supposed to meet knitting buddies?

Rae said...

Aw man, I'm so bad at blogging on my own site! I love reading yours and others, and you so aptly capture the spirit of knit bloggers. An amazing bunch.

But I SUCK at blogging. Reading, I can do. Commenting, I can do. Knitting I can do. But writing? Ack.

I know, I know. Writing is the only way to have a community. Writing is sharing. Writing is putting yourself out there and saying, "Hello world. I want to talk to you, and I want you to talk back so I can listen and converse." it's all so time consuming!

I guess this is why I actually have lots of friendly, warm acquaintences but few in-person friends -- friendship takes a lot of work, just like a relationship. It's hard to keep going.

But I love your blog. Love the community. Thanks for putting your thoughts, accomplishments, frustrations, ideas, and questions out there. It's a delight to read.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked about your experience with your knitting circle. What is the point of a knitting circle with that attitude? I found a great knitting circle on meetup.com in the South Bay of Los Angeles. They meet in public places around the area and go out of their way to be inclusive. It took so much nerve for me to join them, but they made it worth the effort - to join in COMMUNITY - as you said.

I have just discovered on-line blogs & knitting blogs are my favorite. I love to read what all of these wonderful people have to say and sometimes it is easier to write out your thoughts than to speak them. It is definitely easier to really understand someone through their written word. It forces you to really absorb what another person is thinking in a way that other contact doesn't.

-Jennifer

Crazy Colorado Knitter said...

That sucks about the knitters you met, but Southerners can be rather insular.

Full disclosure: I was born in Columbia SC, and raised there and Augusta GA, then moved to Union SC, and to Landrum SC before moving to San Jose CA, then Escondido CA, then finally Colorado Springs CO.

Also, there can be things that break knitting groups apart -- I had that last year, and it turns out it was just two people who plotted against the rest of the group (which has mostly re-formed, a much stronger group than in the beginning).

Knitbloggers are an interesting mix of people, and there is a sense of community within the knit-blogosphere. My bloglines is fed with a TON of knitbloggers, with my comics and a few photography blogs within. Many are Knittyheads, but I love to read everyone's progress on projects. It gives me inspiration and uplifts me to see such pretty things all over being knit with love for friends and family. :)