Posts tagged blogger
Blogging, 9 Years On

Last week marked the 9th year that I have been blogging. I started the blog as a way to keep in touch with my family in America as I was pregnant with Ellis.  With each season of my life, the blog changed and morphed - from documenting our early days in parenthood, to exploring my creativity, to being a crochet blog full of patterns and tutorials, to being a portfolio of my broad work, a promotional tool, to becoming a task on the to-do list of the thing I "should", but didn't necessarily want to, do.

Its that last evolution that I found myself in recently.  Dutifully I would write "Blog" on my daily task list, never quite making eye contact with it and hoping inspiration would strike so that it would feel less like a chore.  From the sparseness of posts the last few months, you can see how successful that was. 

There is a certain irony to the burden that blogging became - I purposefully  have never taken on sponsored content precisely because I never wanted the blog to feel like work - but it still did.  My head was filled with all of the shoulds "You should set up a regular schedule" "You should analyse your traffic to see what your most popular posts are" "You should create how-tos and tutorials to bring traffic" etc etc.  All of those things are undoubtably true, but the truth is having 100s of thousands of visitors a month is great, but it is nothing if you just can't face getting yourself to the computer to write.

And so, I took some time off.  I laid in bed and drank tea. I planned our veg garden. I baked up a storm. I played Uno with the kids. I hung out with friends. I worked 9-4 three days a week and only did work that would fit in that time. I spent endless hours watching swimming lessons. I spent A LOT of time on Instagram. I even let my domain expire, thinking I would just quietly let Slugs pass into the night.

And then yesterday, I stumbled across one of my favourite Mary Oliver quotes:

"Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it." 
— Mary Oliver

I used to cite this as my blog mission's statement - forgotten somehow in endless redesigns. With its rediscovery, I found myself back at my desk thinking of all of the stories I want to tell and the love letters to my family I want to write. 

In the last 9 years, blogging has changed beyond anything I could have imagined.  In those early days, most of the blogs I read told stories of our families or shared our makes with other like-minded folks.  We have moved into a world of aspirational lifestyles, DIYs and curated feeds - things I love, but very different from the personal tales of life that used to fill my reader. And as much as I love to read them, I have come to recognise that those kinds are posts are not something I do particularly well or enjoy creating.

They say that comparison is the thief of joy - and for me this is so painfully true.  Not because I get wrapped up in what other people have or are doing, but because I feel like there are things I "should" be doing. I try for awhile, then get so fed up, everything stops.

I feel like I should end this post with announcing grand plans of what is to come in this space for the next 9 years, but the truth is, I have no idea. There will be posts or there won't. There will be photos. There will probably be pie and gardens and the adventures of three not so little people. And making, always making.

What Happens on the Blog, Stays on the Blog

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Generally speaking, real life acquaintances who read the blog fall into 2 camps: those who never mention it and those who do.  And those in the second camp have a tendency to mention it a lot!  I have one friend (you know who you are) who rarely lets me get out a sentence before interrupting with "oh yeah, I read that on your blog".  Conversations with these people tend to be a bit stunted and awkward because of one simple truth:

My life isn't so interesting that I have a whole world of things to talk about that I don't write about here.  In fact, some weeks I struggle to find anything to write about, let alone bring into a conversation (which is obvious when you consider that last week I blogged about getting a new vacuum cleaner).

In these instances, I have asked friends to treat me like a person with short term memory problems and just indulge my repetitious anecdotes with nods and chuckles in all the right places. 

Up until recently, this was a fine and controllable situation.  I don't have that many friends that a quiet word didn't resolve it. Even other articles didn't really cover anyone I know in real life. However, last week an article about the blog was in the local paper as well as the local free paper delivered to EVERY HOME IN THE COUNTY.

Every time I have left the house for the last 3 days, someone has mentioned it.  "Nice article in the paper.  Every little bit helps," said the woman in the post office. "I think I want an aviator hat" said my neighbour, the truckdriver, to Kevin. On the street. At the grocery story.  The postman. The mothers at the school gate. Each and every time, I wince a little bit.  Not because it isn't fantastic for business, but because there is no hiding.  My life is here in these pages, the ups and downs, the successes and failures.  

When I told my mother about the article, she responded, "You know you have to be nice to people now," not because I am not nice (ok, I am mostly nice) but because I am the face of my business, more so than ever.

And so, if you are reading this and I know you in real life, lets make a deal: I'll be nice, if you promise not to mention the blog.

first stop the Alloa Advertiser, next stop Time.

 

And its not like I hide behind an enormous hat so no one recognises me...

I Seem to Have Blinked

...because there is no way possible my baby girl is ready for a big girl bed.

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But whether I want to believe it or not, Miss Georgia Grace moved to a futon underneath her brother over the weekend. The decision was quite sudden after she found a thrifted duvet set I'd bought and declared "Mine!"

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She is so pleased with her bed and every guest has been brought to see it.  She carries around the spare pillowcase. The babies are all put to bed about 50 times a day. When a bout of late night wakefulness caused me to suggest that she go into a cot, tears and sobs followed with her broken declaration:

"No! Me! Bed!"

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She's only been in it a few days, but it is alrady littered with her most treasured things. Baby dolls, toy cars, trains and every book she can drag up the stairs and into the bed.

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And as Ellis used to sleep with a 10in omlet pan at this age, we are counting ourselves lucky.

 

Folksy

You know when everything that can possibly go wrong of a morning, does?  Well, that is currently the situation here at HGHG.  And so, I am going to turn off the computer this morning and head out into the wilds of Clackmannanshire for the eating and discussing of cake. Its a hard job, but someone has to do it.

But if you feel you can't get through your day without knowing a bit more about me (rolls eyes), check out Folksy's blog for an interview.  I am also Folksy's featured seller this week!!  Very exciting...

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Yarn 'N' Stuff

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If I had to pin down the 2 questions I get asked the most they would be:

1."How do you do it all?" and

2."What yarn do you use?"

The answer to number 1 is quite simple:: I do not do laundry or vacuum, but the answer to question number 2 takes a bit more explaining.

Finding the right yarn for the Etsy and Folksy shops has been a bit of a challenge.  I tried a number of different weights and brands of wool, but really sruggled to source options that met my standards for quality, affordability and colour. Plus, with the amount of handmade goods I produce, heavier weight yarns are a necessity to get through the orders in a timely fashion and the UK is a DK nation.

I tried a ton of yarns...ordering samples of most every commercially available chunky yarn in the UK (ok, that may be an exaggeration, but I did order the samples I was recommended on Facebook).  It seemed like everything I tried would hit one target but not others.  Cascade 220 has a great range of colours and wears well, but I was unsure of its wearability for newborns and its thinness. Wendy Merino Chunky was lovely and soft, as well as reletively affordable, but the colours are too limited and muted. The same goes for King Cole's equivilant.  Texere's chunky wool has beautiful colours and a great twist and bounce to it, but is soooo scratchy, I couldn't see many baldy babies being comfortable.

For a long time I was a bit of a yarn snob of the "I just can't work with acrylic" variety. This lasted until 2 things happened-- number 1: my money ran out and number 2: my children beat the heck out of some lovely and expensive single ply merino, resulting in a sticky felted mess that looked worse when washed. 100& acrylic still gives me the heeby-jeebies, I must admit...its the squeaking on my crochet hook that puts me off. However, I've found that with the wool content high enough, the acrylic element is hardly noticeable.  

Ultimately, I have settled on 3 main yarns for my hats: Wendy Mode Chunky and Ice Yarn's Bellone, with a bit of Paton's Shadow Tweed thrown in. All 3 are about 50%wool.

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The range of colours in Wendy Mode Chunky is great. They have really expanded this recently and offer a good range of basic colours, as well as some unexpected ones. Another bonus it that it wears really well, there is still a bit of pilling from heavy use (for  example on Es slippers), but not nearly as much as many other chunky yarns I tried.  It is a very soft yarn, being 50% merino, so I am happy to make items for the newest of babies.  Another bonus is that my local store sells the yarn for those last minute dashes.

Another recent discovery is Yarn Paradise/Ice Yarns.  They are a huge yarn distributor in Turkey who offer balls of wool at ridiculously low prices.  Given this, I find the quality good.  I have recently started using their Bellone Chunky/Bulky weight for a few items and I must say I am impressed.  It is a single ply chunky with low twist, but it holds up extremely well to wear and tear and blocks up very soft. Their postage is expensive, but it still works out at very good value and they ship faster than many UK suppliers I deal with, with yarn arriving in 2 days.

For the owl hat and the mane of the lion, I use Patons Shadow Tweed.  I love this yarn.  It is so nice to work with and each ball has such a lovely range of colours.  It is single ply as well, and again holds up remarkably well to heavy use.  I live in fear of this yarn being discontinued as I feel it really makes both of those designs, adding depth and richness to the Lion's mane and the Owl.

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Ok, geekery over.  I'm going to do something cool.  Like floss or read my new book about knitwear design.

Morning Person?

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When I was little, I was the ultimate morning person.  I used to wake up at 3am, ready to start the day.  According to my mother, I would play quietly by myself until the rest of the house joined me. I loved mornings.  My favourite thing was to watch the National Anthem on the TV as they started programming for the day. I remembering shivering in anticipation as the clock ticked closer and closer to the moment when the American flag would wave on the screen and "Oh say can you see" would play.  Wasn't I special, I would think, that I was up before everyone else...before even the TV woke up.

Some time in the last few years, mornings have become loathed and dreaded.  Waking up well before 5am to the sounds of "MUMMY! COME ON!" or having a 4 year old lean over me, breathing heavily into my face as I sleep, are not the sun salutations with which I would like to greet the day.

A lot happens in our house before 8am...breakfast and second breakfast, cartoons, races, grumping, lego, drawing, emails, getting dressed, laundry, coffee and more coffee.

Maybe if we started singing the National Anthem, I'd be more pleasant about it all...