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notes on blogland

So with Bloglines disappearing in a couple of days, I've been slowly going through all my saved posts over the last 4(!) years to download my favorite inspiration pics and revisit links to good information one last time before they're tossed out into the internet again. A librarian once told me (in 1999) that the internet is like a great big library where all the books are scattered on the floor. I agree, and bloglines was a really excellent tool to help me organize the masses of inspiration and information that quilt-blogland provides. But my trip down memory lane had other effects as well, and I started thinking about how quilt blogland has changed in the last few years..
First off, there are so many more blogs out there! True Up entered the scene, then there was the Modern Quilt movement, Spoonflower, the Blogger's Quilt Festival, online bees, and the bizarre shift to "follow my blog and I'll give you fabric" and what seemed like a runaway obsession with giveaways. I think I passively witnessed the birth of the one-designer-only trend and as I've mentioned before, that's getting a bit old. Of the blogs I've read, many seem to be more focused on showing finished quilts with only a hint of the story and construction, but well recorded details of the designer fabrics used and the online shop she purchased them from.

When I started blogging there was a trend that if you had a quilt/craft blog, you must also sell your "stuff" on etsy. Then there was a movement to Use What You Have (I really liked that trend, btw). At some point I started following more quilt focused blogs and less crafty ones. For a while there was a "community" of people blogging about quilting and I felt I knew or had at least heard of everyone. Then overnight there were all these new quilt bloggers, and they were selling patterns, offering tutorials, and actively shaping the Modern Quilt movement. I was like, "who are these people?!?" and felt a little bit left back in their dust. There seemed to be a split between "people who quilt and blog about it" and "people who write quilt blogs and quilt because of it." The former group (to which I belong) included people working full time and stay at home moms, people quilting because they loved quilting, blogging included or not. These people would post when they had something to share and you could really get a glimpse of their lives. The other group seems to be driven by some unseen force, posting 3-4 times a week if not daily, spitting out patterns, tutorials, sponsored giveaways, and offering up advice that they don't always have the experience or "internet cred" to back-up. (no offense, just an observation)
I admire the ambition (and envy the free time) of these bloggers, but more than once in the past year I've read something and caught myself saying, "Is she serious? How can she write that? Doesn't she know about X, Y, or Z (i.e. famous quilter, well known technique, etc)?" Or I feel like I'm being talked down to, marginalized, or somehow left out of the "in" crowd. Now I don't mean to be that one quilter in your class who thinks she knows more than the teacher, but I find that this type of blog is not worth my time to read. BUT, you almost have to in order to know what's going on in quiltland (internet based and IRL). Somehow these people (and their followers?) are shaping the community to which I belong and I can't say I'm always happy with the shape it's taking..
So back to the point of my post. I'm going to try to resist following all of the quilt blogs in Google Reader. In fact, I'm going to try really hard not to sign into Google Reader at all. I have pasted a list of my favorite quilt bloggers on my sidebar and I've switched to "following" other blogspot blogs through blogger.com. I do want to know what's going on out there, but I need to be more selective and not get swept up in the drama and the urge to leave a comment just incase I might get lucky and win that jelly roll!
I am going to quilt, whether there's a quilt-blogland or not.  I really do enjoy sharing my efforts and getting feedback or making connections with other women who love to stitch and are also part of the online quilt community.  I feel I need this online community to back me up a bit when I walk into a real life quilt guild meeting, still usually 20+ years younger than everyone else, and try to hold my ground with the quilt police or as I try to make a name for myself in that community.  I value the vast resources available to quilters on the internet and want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write a thoughtful post or share a quilt or inspiration source.  Thank you again if you take the time to read my blog and comment once in a while.  I think the support of blogland has helped me focus my creative energy and become a productive, happy quilter.  I am curious to see where the current trends will lead and what the future of quilting will look like. 

Comments

  1. I'd love to know how much freebie fabric Moda's handing out to some of those bloggers. I am continually boggled at the giveaways, as well as the volume of fabric they are purchasing / receiving.

    I'm hesitant to seek out any RL quilty groups because I have trouble believing I'm going to have much in common with them. (I try not to stereotype, but I don't think I'll find too many early-30s programmers there.)

    Follow your own muse, combine technical and artistic proficiency, and if your recipients love what you give them, the quilt police can jump off a cliff.

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  2. Jessica, you wrote exactly (well, a lot more eloquently!) what I thought this last year. I like blogs from "real life quilters", like yours. I find I am reading the I-quilt-because-I-try-to-make-a-living-blogs less and less.

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  3. There you go thinking again... But I thought, "After that let me see what is on her sidebar."

    Now don't get me wrong, I see what you are seeing & have thought the same things...

    Oh hell, there went my idea...

    On another subject we found a hat that should work at Hanna Anderssen (Or however they spell it) - YAY.

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  4. Great post. Bloglines closing has spawned similar posts throughout blogland, it's good to pause and reflect once in awhile. I've been blogging for four years and have been vaguely aware of some of the trends you mention, but like you, I am selective in who I read and quickly delete a blog from my reader when it starts to feel like a commercial. I have found most of the bloggers I subscribe to by clicking on comments inside a blog I already read. I never did understand blog 'rings', too much work. :)

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  5. Leslie,
    exactly! i have started going through the "followers" pics on new to me blogs and if I see 2 or 3 people i know, i'll read further and usually follow too. while doing this today, i have found a bunch of new-to-me SCRAP quilt blogs! yay, right up my alley!

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  6. I am sooooo out of the loop (I think I have way too many interests) that I've not been involved in all of these trends but they are certainly interesting to read about and watch out for.

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  7. I had just moved my blogs to bloglines after blogger lost my blog roll 5 times..now I have moved it back to READER, and i have a ton of blogs, and I have to say, I skim them and don't comment as much as I used to...I swear it gets to be a fulltime job keeping up with everyone. But the Really cool thing is that, if it wasn't for these tools, I would never have found a community of really cool people that include you! I don't buy this notion of a MODERN quilter, yet I run a MOD QUILT GROUP.. GO figure... it has certainly brought like minds together to sew, and show and tell, does it get any better? ;-) love your new header pic. Toes are the best!

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  8. A big yes to all of the above, Jessica. I quit the feed readers, and (yes!) put my favorite blogs in my bookmark, which feels kind of like going back to 2004, in a good way. . It is a small list, your new blog is on it (yay!), and who knows, maybe I will get back into blogging one day...thanks for the comment on my spools sewing kit, too!

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  9. Thank you for this post, for verbalizing (well, writing) what I have definitely thought/felt but not really been able to articulate well myself. I have fallen out of the blog loop with my move (okay, I mean it was a year ago, but still...) and it is kind of a relief to sort of "start fresh". Well put.

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  10. Great post. I came across your blog through a comment you left on a friend's blog (Grey Cat Quilts, on her WTF Wednesday post). Both posts are making me think about how quilting is being dumbed down as it's being commercialized. I often find myself ignoring my blog (and quilting) for months on end in part because I feel such pressure from the "semi-professional" quilt bloggers to produce more.

    By the way, if you decide to use Google Reader at some point, you can create folders and sort your subscriptions. I have a Must Reads and a Round 2, as well as a Probation. If too much accumulates, I know which folders are worth reading, and which I can delete without missing anything.

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  11. I'm still here reading...and quilting...maybe I'll do a blog again someday. Until then, happy stitching!

    Peggy E...

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  12. Folllowing blogs is a great way to feel part of a community...but it's too easy to spend time trawling the net when you could be quilting!

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  13. I am a fairly new blogger and I agree it seems that so many quilters out there are into it for the business ,I quilt because I am crazy about it I think about it,I dream about it ,I jot down little diagrams and notes on diff patterns,I wake up ataa 5:30 in the morning to do it, I do agree that there are to many quilters extradinaires out there that are just to commercializing shall I say there blog with the giveaways that they host ,believe me I got swept into it ,I had to spend at least 1/2 hour trying to follow all of there instructions, so I have stopped signing up for give aways , but I have made some great friends that I have alot of things in common, so the bottom line is do what you like follow who you and share common interests and don't feel like you have to leave a comment on everylittle post you read,I never leave a comment if I don't really have something to say ,if I do I write a letter of a comment , so long and to all a goood night

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  14. i know this comment is a bit late to the party, but I have been reading through your archives (got here through flickr!) and it really spoke to me. I know exactly what you mean about the proliferation of "giveaway" blogs, and single-designer focused bloggers, and how suddenly putting out a quilt a week, or more, and posting tutorials is the new thing. It has become overwhelming. I am glad I am not the only one who feels this way! And now, I'm going to go through your sidebar links, because I have a feeling I will find some stuff I really like.

    Anyway, keep up the great work!

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