I have been working a lot with undyed yarns recently – one mossy green has crept into the Doggerland collection but otherwise I am using all natural fleece colours. I really enjoy it – of course I do – but I do yearn for some colour in my knitting. Just a little pop of something decadent.
A bit of birthday yarn arrived yesterday. My lovely gran sent me 1100 yrds of 2ply merino wool from Danish company, DesignClub. This red is marvellous – it has unusual depth to it and the yarn has some great bounce. It was spun at Henrichsens Uldspinneri, a Danish woollen mill dating back to the 19th century. I’ve used the yarn before and I am looking forward to using it again ..
I thought I’d also show you the necklace pendants which my friend Paula made for my birthday. They are so pretty.
I was recently sent a link to Craftypod – specifically an episode which discussed the idea of “the knitting celebrity” and internet jealousy. It is a really interesting podcast and if you can spare 30 minutes, I recommend you give it a listen.
First, though, some words from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. He was asked about being “internet famous”
Right now, I’m sitting in a public library minding my own business taking a break from what I was working on. No one is likely to recognize or notice me here..
But I am, as the question asks, “Internet famous”. That phrase is vague and could mean a lot of things, but for me what it means is that Wikipedia is very very very famous and Wikia is very famous, and so I’m a little bit famous as a result..
Because of this, I’m able to meet with government officials all around the world to put forward my views on the importance of freedom of speech and openness and transparency. I find this useful, and I believe in many cases I’ve had an impact. (It is never easy to be sure.)
Back to the Craftypod podcast. I was struck by a couple of things.
1) Craft is HUGE. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of segmented markets and niches: knitting, crochet, scrap-booking, quilting, embroidery, dress-making.. These days knitting can be divided into a lot of niches too (I have written a bit more about that here).
Vickie Howell may talk about being a leader in the craft industry – but it is her corner of the craft industry in which she is a leader (gatekeeper is probably the better term). This probably makes me a bad person, but I had never heard of her before I listened to the podcast. I googled her subsequently and she’s done craft TV in the States, works for a US yarn company and fronts her own yarn line. She looks like a cool person – but she is not part of my knitting landscape. And that is okay. I’d hate to have a totally uniform definition of “cool knitting” and what I “should be knitting”.
2) There was also a lot of talk about “the 2005 generation” and marketing. The podcast served up a massive dollop of nostalgia for the good old days when you could upload a simple scarf pattern and people would go nuts for it.
I think there will always be people talking about the “good old days when things were simple”. It is a generational thing and on the internet a generation is a very small, finite thing (maybe 2 years? 3 years?).
2008 was the year when I got back into knitting in a major, major way. I remember when the February Lady Sweater was published via Ravelry and it was a huge thing. Do we have that sort of knitting landscape these days? No.It is probably harder to get noticed across the board, but incredibly talented people do manage it. Designers have to up their game and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Knitters everywhere are the winners in this scenario.
(Also, the segmented knitting landscape means that if you are really into designing crazy intarsia dog coats, for instance, you will find “your people” pretty quickly.)
3) I wasn’t a fan of the whole cross-channel “hustling” mentioned in the podcast- but that’s because I am one of those people who tune out people who endlessly promote themselves on as many channels as they can. Maybe I am just old in social media terms but there is a whole signal-to-noise thing which I think many marketeers often forget. Social media isn’t always about quantity – quality plays a huge part too. But that’s probably a whole ‘nother topic. (Psst, this is a great blog post about using Twitter)
I’ll be honest: that podcast made me feel very cynical and I don’t like feeling cynical – especially not about knitting.
I am left here still thinking about Jimmy Wales’ words. The Q&A I linked above also included these lines:
I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t have a lot of power in the top-down command-and-control sense. But I do have a lot of influence. I like that part of it.
Jimmy Wales is a lot more famous than any knitting “celebrity” and wields a lot more power and influence than I can begin to imagine. Yet he speaks with humility and a wry sense of humour. I think we could all take a lesson from him.