Rock buns (what else?), one for each year of blogging
Yes, that's ten whole of years of blogging. I started in February 2005 when I was half-way through the first year of a PhD on Charles Dickens and earning some money through wine tastings and wine education. I'd discovered knitting blogs a few weeks earlier and couldn't believe how direct and creative this new way of publishing could be. It took you straight to the author, knitter, enthusiast, photographer, whoever was making these amazing, colourful, illustrated pages that inspired and entertained, and cut out the middle men. And it could all be accessed for free. Incredible.
I can still remember the evening I came up with 'yarnstorm' for my new blog's name, and in no time at all I'd set it up on TypePad (which I still think is the best blogging platform). I didn't really know what I was doing, had no goals other than to see if I could manage it, but felt the most important thing was to just have a go. So I did, and connected with a wonderful group of craft bloggers who began around the same time (Amanda Soule, Alicia Paulson, Alison Brookbanks, Amy Karol, Blair Stocker, Jan Burgwinkle, Lisa Congdon, Stephanie Congdon Barnes) and connected with readers. I learned how to take photos with a digital camera, I developed a writing technique and discipline, and I started to see the world with new, blogger's eyes. The blog quickly became a place for good things and soon turned into a kind of daily therapy amidst the chaos of work and living with three teenagers. I counted my blessings and wrote about colour, flowers, yarn, books, art, architecture, films, knitting, quilting, family life, and wine.
latest quilt/'Collection Quilt'
Ten years on, although my life still contains all these things, the blog has seen several changes. I could perhaps have carried on posting about the same things week in, week out, year in, year out, but it would have become stultifying in the end. I know some bloggers don't alter or vary their content and people love visiting them for this reason, but I have regarded my own blog as a place to experiment and try out new things and subjects. I'm too curious and uncool-ly enthusiastic to repeat endlessly.
latest interest/stained glass
No matter what I wrote about, though, the deal with myself was that the blog would be a positive place, not one for being controversial or critical or unpleasant, although I've had to cope with some personal attacks and upsetting stuff, including one particularly weird episode with a well-known blogger which affected the whole family and made me very angry. On the other hand, the blog has brought immense rewards: writing books and articles, selling photos, speaking at events and on BBC local radio, giving talks, teaching quilting. But probably the best reward is meeting people I would otherwise have never encountered; as a result of blogging I have made some very good, real life friends and some very good on-line friends.
From time to time, I've thought of giving up the blog (thank you to anyone reading who has come through these vacillations with me). These haven't been whims or moods but serious thoughts. Blogging requires a lot of time, energy, creativity, and blind faith, and sometimes it can become overwhelming and difficult. At these points I take some time away, but usually it doesn't take long for me to realise I want to write about something I've seen or read or done or discovered, and the minute I open up the 'compose post' page, it starts all over again.
still a favourite artist/Cumberland Landscape with Flowers (1946) Winifred Nicholson
I've seen lots of changes in the world of blogging since I began. I'm pleased I was there at the moment when blogs took off, before they were monetized, before every company had to have one, before they were filled with product placement. There were no rules (but rules seem somehow to have been invented - ignore them), but there was lots of support and communication, and I think we knew we were in at the start of something pretty good. Too many blogs now are written by people who want freebies and/or fame. A little while ago I went to a Cosmo event on blogging with Phoebe and the thing everyone was interested in was not 'how do I write a good blog?' but 'how do I make money out of my blog?' The answer to the second probably requires working out the answer to the first. And blogs have become part of a social media package which every man jack is expected to produce to support a new business or book or clothing line. It's a long way from the early blogs which were written because the blogger wanted to say and share things mostly for the sheer fun of being able to reach, at the click of a few buttons, like-minded readers and an interested audience..
still growing bulbs/'Jan Bos' hyacinths
As the blog approached its tenth birthday, I read a fair few articles about the death of blogging. Yet there is still life in the old dog yet. As well as many of the blogs which started when mine did, the past ten years have thrown up all sorts of amazing blogs with new ones appearing all the time. Poor blogs disappear, but there is still room - and a need - for independent, free-thinking, inventive blogs written by individuals with knowledge, passion, and lots and lots of different interests.
I don't think it's time to call time on blogs just yet.
(Not while there are photos like this to be shared.)