Wither Woolwinding?

Bear with me, if you don’t mind…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Woolwinding; it feels a little as though it’s lost its focus – or perhaps it’s me that’s lost my focus, or maybe I’m out of kilter with the focus the blog has developed all by itself. Maybe it’s got the two-year twitch. When I started Woolwinding, I didn’t want it to be another knitting blog (among many) packed with projects – for one thing, I couldn’t knit very much due to injury. I wanted to explore some of my specific interests such as colour, history, archaeology – and all though the filter of textiles. I wanted to celebrate working with fibre, and I still do.


But now I want to do a bit more than that. Yes, I want to claw it back from the ‘look what I’ve knitted’ territory it sometimes seems to be straining towards, but I also want to broaden it in other ways. Due to formative journalistic training – don’t use the first person too much, and preferably not at all – and the sometime presence of a cyberstalker, I am not inclined to add too much more of my private life. And, above all, I do not want it to become what a blogging friend calls a ‘perfect life’ blog. You know the sort of thing: perfect husband (emphatically not partner), perfect house, perfect children, perfect garden, perfect baking on perfect tablecloth, perfect bunting and perfect pictures that could come from Country Living. The sun always shines but not so much as to mess up the photos with awkward contrast; snow is picturesque and not slushy; even the writer’s adolescents are delightful and never answer back, have smelly feet or smoke dope. I know just what my friend means. There are loads of them out there, and I always suspect that they’re slightly fake, on ‘methinks the lady doth protest too much’ grounds.

Enough already.

Then there’s the essence of blogging: it’s immediate. As a trainee I once messed up a funeral report but was comforted by the sub who reminded me that it would be round someone’s cod and scraps by the following lunchtime, and everyone would forget that I’d matched the wrong wife to the wrong man – he was actually unmarried but widely suspected of having an affair with the woman in question (oops). Obviously the chip-wrapper analogy is not exactly true these days, with online archives and search tools, but I’d like to be able, for instance, to find the post I wrote on retired pirates and the dye trade without riffling through various tags or trying to remember when I wrote it. The immediacy is great, but I’d like some of my posts to have a longer life, for my own convenience (and to respect the research involved) if not for anyone else’s interest.

spinner snogging

I had thought, fleetingly, about merging Woolwinding with Beangenie, my gardening blog. But that won’t work – for one thing, Beangenie has a tight focus and an equally focused readership. Many of them (I know) are also interested in textiles and quite a few are knitters or spinners, but garden blogs are garden blogs, and wittering about plant choices, speculating about soil conditions or seed selection doesn’t always transfer over, and vice-versa. And I know, too, that the woolly element would soon be submerged beneath a tide of trowelling, tomatoes and the type of trivia which interests only gardeners. So that’s not an answer.

But what do I want to do?

Well, I want to introduce a bit more variety. I’m not just inspired by wool, I’m inspired by the landscape around me, by the people I know and love and respect, by the country in which I live, by fact that when I’m stuck in a traffic jam behind an idiot driver who failed to understand the meaning of a large sign reading ‘unsuitable for caravans’, I can gaze out of the window and watch a heron flying down to land. I want to include more images, photographs of things other than wool. I want to make it easier to write a post when I’ve lost my woolly mojo, something that happens to all of us (OK, most of us), from time to time. At times I have done this, perhaps bringing in a winter walk or a stay in Shetland, and it’s gone down well – but I’ve always felt that I’ve not stuck to the brief, as it were. My inner editor is breathing down my neck again.

So I’m going to give my inner editor a sabbatical, I think. Probably about time. She can go and carp about colons somewhere else.

I’m going to try and broaden the focus, bring in more Wales, more colour, more images, more history, more – well, more generality. I’m also going to create some specific pages referencing particular topics and linking to relevant posts. There’ll be one, for instance, for vintage: vintage patterns, vintage buttons, vintage garments like snoods (is a snood a garment?). There’ll be one for history and archaeology, everything from spinning prostitutes in Ancient Greece and maids spinning in eighteenth-century Wales to the iniquities of the truck system in Shetland. There’ll be a page where I can link to my posts on colour. And there’ll still be a lot of knitting and spinning, a lot of fibre, a lot of wool and quite a few sheep (try keeping them out). It’ll take a bit of time but I’ll get there.

At least that’s what I think at the moment. What do you think?

I’ll end with a quick and completely unwoolly shot. Happy Easter, everyone!



35 thoughts on “Wither Woolwinding?

  1. Pia

    I think I’ll definitely be interested in reading about other things besides knitting projects. I don’t think you have to make separate blogs for separate topics (I do get the one about the gardening audience though), I mean, all the things you do and think about are parts of the whole you.

      1. Pia

        I’ve had similar thoughts – but I’d rather post frequently about most of my interests than have 5 blogs with 5 readers each where I post once a month. I want the continuity, the conversation. If a few can’t sort the content they want and ignore the rest, they will leave, others will replace them.

  2. ohdebs

    I think that is a great idea Kate! I look forward to reading it. My own blog http://olliffstudio.com/category/musings-from-the-studio/ is a sad little neglected thing at the moment. I often think that no one is interested in what I have to say about my “stuff” (i.e. painting, knitting, spinning and the occasional glimpse at the hummingbirds that like to nest in our breezeway) so I am lazy about keeping it up on a regular basis. You are an inspiration though. By the way I think your blog name will still work. 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      Thanks Debs, yes, I’m looking forward to it. I knew I needed to address the issue when I found myself thinking ‘damn, better do a wool winding post, now what can I talk about…?’ rather too often. After all, blogs aren’t obligatory – we should do them because we enjoy them.

      More hummingbirds, please – can’t imagine anything further away from life here in Wales right now. Sunny, but -1C. And tonight clocks go forwards onto BST – British SUMMER time. Hah!

      1. ohdebs

        Just been reading a book called Blogging fro Creatives and she talks a lot about this stuff. There are very few blogs out that I follow that I look forward to as much as yours and I don’t care if you talk about sheep, 1980s fashion or knitting…I just enjoy your writing. 🙂

        1. kate Post author

          That sounds really interesting – I was right to think it’s a dilemma many of us face. Thanks for the compliment – let’s hope I can live up to it!

    2. Pia

      I think otoh the only way to get readers is to keep updating and showing up yourself. But I know it’s hard to get people to participate, I sometimes pose questions in my posts and nobody has anything to say. But there’s no way to control that.

      1. ohdebs

        Thanks Pia. And Kate. I had a few days here that got away from me…speaking of keeping up with things. I only follow a few blogs for that very reason. You (Kate), Annie (Knitsofacto) and Stephanie’s Yarn Harlot mostly. I played a lot with names and decided that Musings from the Studio encompassed a lot of ‘me’ versions.

        As for hummingbirds, Kate, we have another (brood?) about to hatch from the same nest so hopefully some pics shortly. I noted on the calendar when the eggs appeared so I can keep track of how long the incubation period is. Thanks for saying something about it.

        1. kate Post author

          I’ve had wrens getting it together under the bird feeder, but we’re back in arctic-wind territory now…. maybe my amorous wrens are as exotic to you as your hummingbirds are to me!

  3. Lydia

    Well, I think what you have in mind is a great idea. I am a knitter and spinner but also have many other parts to make the whole as indeed do we all. I love to read about life in Wales too – the weather – nature – just being there…. So, here’s wishing you an interesting turn of direction…

  4. croftgarden

    As a wool gatherer (not the textile kind) with a gardening blog that meanders among the highways and byways of my my island life, I’m a great advocate of listening to the inner muse and writing about whatever drifts into focus. So go with the inspirational flow – the spontaneous blogs are always the best.
    I’ll be dropping in from time to time – being curious (polite term for nosey) and to enjoy your prose.

    1. kate Post author

      Well, your blog is one of the ones which made me think about what I was doing – its eclecticism is catching! I’m sure you’re right about spontaneity – there’s nothing worse than reading something which feels forced, and I was worrying that I might be straying into that territory if I stayed with my (comparatively) narrow brief. But it will still be somewhat woolly… literally and metaphorically!

  5. paulinebellingham

    That sounds like a perfect mix. If you enjoy what you are posting, then we, your readers, will enjoy it too!

  6. islandthreads

    hmmm, I still don’t understand this one subject blog thing that so many seem to have, a blog is an online diary, a diary is about whatever the writer has done, seen, anything they want to make a note of, thankfully I’ve never come across the ‘perfect life’ blogger and if I did I would just take the view it’s false, life isn’t perfect,
    my blog is mostly garden just now as that is what interests me, I started blogging 8 years ago about textiles as that was my main interest then, like you I do not post about family much and am careful about posting photos of my grandsons even if I post about visits, I do though post about anything else I fancy writing about though recently I went though an ‘I don’t feel like writing’ period,
    Kate it’s your blog post whatever interests you, I enjoy both your blogs and find them interesting, onwards and upwards, Frances

    1. kate Post author

      I think a blog is whatever you want it to be (steer clear of the perfect life blogs for as long as you can – don’t know how they’d affect you but they make me want to throw things). I always appreciate your comments (and your own blog) Frances, they’re so considered and thoughtful!

      My rethink has been caused by a slight case of writer’s block and a less-than-slight case of whiplash. Latter gives me time to think, especially as I can’t do much else, like bend my head much, or the headaches strike. The one thing I’m not going to do, though, is go on about my health in either blog because that’s a) boring and b) just encourages obsession, as can be seen in loads of health-related blogs – now, they are worrying….. Plus lots of people much worse off than me, and at least we’re finally reaching an answer to all my nerve-related health problems. And that’s my last word on the matter. A definite resolution about what the blog is not, at any rate. That and a ‘perfect life’ blog…

      1. islandthreads

        thanks Kate, sorry the whiplash is giving pain, I know what you mean about not going on about health and understand, I didn’t realise there are health-related blogs I am obviously not up to date on the blogging scene. I often make decisions by a process of elimination,
        I hope you get a good satisfying answer and things improve healthwise, Frances x

        1. kate Post author

          Me too. And don’t go near the health-related blogs – they’re quite sad and depressing. There’s so much more to life!

  7. knitsofacto

    My first thoughts … Thank God, it’s not just me!

    I actually nearly named Knitsofacto Woolwinding, but some other canny blogger had already pinched that 😉 Now I desperately regret choosing a name with ‘knit’ in it, despite being instantly recognisable as the only Knitsofacto out there. I do want to blog about knitting, but I’m a writer first and a knitter second (along with a bunch of other things) and I fear I rather overlooked that when I was starting out.

    I want to blog about all sorts of things that have little or nothing to do with knitting and about the only umbrella term that might cover them all is ‘creative’. Instead I have a blog that people look to for knitting info and it’s success is built on that. Not bragging here, but 15,000+ unique visitors a month is a lot of people to keep happy! It’s driving me nuts as I want to start making a wee bit of money from it – why not, it occupies a lot of my time – but just like you I’ve found myself thinking ‘better write a knitting post this time’ whether I’ve been knitting or not. Add to that that also like you I have health problems that I mostly don’t mention but that can limit my knitting time, and some days I am just so bloomin’ discombobulated by it all.

    I too never wanted to blog too much ‘look at me’ stuff – be that ‘look at my perfect knit’ or ‘look at my perfect life’ – but I do use the first person an awful lot which wasn’t my original intention. People don’t seem to mind though. I’m beginning to think I should treat ‘Knitsofacto’ as if it were an unusual family name and just blog about whatever catches my eye. After all by far the most popular post I’ve written was about how to make blackberry vodka!

    I’ll be interested to see what you do with Woolwinding Kate, I’ll certainly always be here reading, even if I do sometimes turn up a week late 😉

    1. kate Post author

      Phew – glad it isn’t just me too!

      My original name was Castonqueen – until the campest of my gay friends fell off the sofa laughing when I told him and nearly squashed his chihuahua, at which point I decided to change it. In retrospect I’m glad I did, but it is a bit vague. No-one’s never satisfied with a blog name is, I guess, the message.

      You’ve put a lot of effort into making Knitsofacto so successful, and I definitely think you should find a way of making it produce some sort of income for you. I agree with you about the ‘knitting post’ thing – that made me sit down and think about what I wanted to do, and was also the reason why I’ve been a bit blocked.

      I’ve been (slightly) restraining my inner stand-up here. I can’t think why, because my inner stand-up was once an outer stand-up who swapped insults with hecklers on the London comedy circuit (oh, bugger, where’s my stalker?). So I’m afraid she’s going to be out of the box a bit more – she tends to appear more on Beangenie; Woolwinding tends to channel my inner academic – and I’ll probably give her free rein for a bit and see what happens.

      And one of my most popular posts (apart from one entitled ‘how to make a spinning wheel from bits and bobs’ which has been clicked on a lot, I suspect to people’s disappointment) was a rant against Tesco’s alleged ‘pain de campagne’…

        1. kate Post author

          She’s got a sore head at the moment, so she’s being a bit subdued. Hopefully meds kick in soon, and this time with no side-effects… ow

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