Knitting & Social Media - Reflections 2

This post is one in a series of posts extending the talk I gave at Glasgow University as part of the Handknitted Textiles & the Economies of Craft in Scotland workshop series. Ms Bookish

Social media and knitting are closely connected.

Knitting blogs gave young knitters a space to talk about their craft and enabled them to interact with each other. Ravelry is now the mothership for all online knitters nowadays: we interact in groups, we search the pattern and yarn databases, we amend database entries, we add photos of our knitting, we marvel at others' creations, and we connect.  I use Twitter much more than Ravelry these days, though. Twitter allows me to schedule things, ask/answer questions, meet interesting people, and laugh/cry - and do all these things with ruthless efficiency and a great signal-to-noise ratio.

The trouble with having a visible social media profile is that you need to perform yourself in public.

Despite my online presence, I am an introvert. I find social interaction draining and difficult. I am much more articulate when I type than when I speak. I find a roomful of strangers quite daunting. As you can imagine, working throughout Wool Week has been simultaneously incredibly inspiring and immensely draining.

Social media is a fabulous way of branding yourself. I am not a natural marketeer and I find the "B" word a mite upsetting in some respects - but I view social media in two ways: it is a great tool for connecting with people and it's a way of telling the story of your work.

But I am tired of Karie Bookish. Let me qualify that: I am tired of performing Karie Bookish. She is me and I am her, but I am exhausted. I love knitters and I love talking about knitting (even if I have a complex relationship with the practice) but I get so very tired of myself. After fifty minutes of working my bit of Wool Week, I wanted nothing more than escape and find a sequestered place far away from all social interaction. But how could I do that when I am essentially my own brand? I can see I will need to find a strategy for coping in the future, as I am due to work more big events and I don't want to end up as burned out as I was Sunday afternoon.

(Strategies on a postcard, please).

When you are are so visibly your own brand, social media come with added responsibilities too. I have seen dozens of businesses crash and burn through ill-considered use of social media: bitching about customers, admitting to fraud, blowing off responsibilities or just coming across as very unpleasant individuals. Sometimes ignorant use of social media is worse than no use of social media: if you only tweet adverts for yourself and refrain from interaction, people will unfollow you. There is a reason why it is called social media. I tend to recommend that you set up anonymous accounts on social media sites in order to learn the relevant etiquette if you are completely new to this way of communicating - that way you do not have to worry about potential faux pas affecting your business.

Despite the many pitfalls, social media are important components in making knitting flourish. It has allowed charismatic, enthusiastic people to 'spread the gospel' of knitting not being a time-capsule craft. The new channels provide a way of interacting with other people who share your interest across the globe. Knitting is a craft that is very much alive and kicking - and thanks to social media you can find and interact with people who share your passion.

Addendum: I met a lot of fantastic people this past week - many of whom I had only met online prior to Wool Week. I was lucky enough to have a stall next to Helen of Ripplescraft at The Lighthouse - I can only recommend having Helen as your stall neighbour: she kept me sane and caffeinated. Fellow designer Joyuna and I had coffee in the middle of Glasgow on a sleepy Sunday morning - she's just made the front cover of Interweave's Jane Austen Knits 2012! And I met with book artist Josie Moore following Friday's Glasgow University workshop. I took great pleasure in discussing William Morris over cream tea - I needed that.