New Workshops (& a confession)

So it turns out I'm headed to Ireland in May to teach A WHOLE WEEKEND OF WORKSHOPS. 

*breathes into a paper bag*

First up, let me share those details before I clean pass out and then I'm going to reassure you all why it's going to be ok. There will be 3 workshops for anyone looking to improve their writing, photography and social media skills. The dates are 13th-14th May and tickets are selling, now. This is a weekend focusing on making the best of what you put out there in the world whether you're a blogger who really wants to take better photos or a business owner determined that you're going to nail online marketing. I'll be hosted by the good folks at This Is Knit, based in Dublin. I hear there will also be some sort of partying and such. This pleases me enormously. 

Feeling vulnerable online

So now you know the details, let's get back to that paper bag moment. Putting yourself out there, whether it's online or in real life, can be pretty scary. You tell yourself all kinds of lies that one day, it will be easier. You tell yourself a magic number of Instagram followers that will mean you've made it. You tell yourself that when that blogger snaps herself clutching your product, you'll find marketing a complete breeze. Landing a feature article in that magazine you love so much? Oh it will all be so, so much easier to be out there because by then, you will be A Thing. 

I hate to break it to you but that's not a thing really. Some of the most insecure people I've worked with are some of the most prolific, talented, well known and respected people. We are all still working at it and trying to make it through the day without digitally falling flat on our face. Heck, I'd settle for just not spilling coffee down my front most days. 

Coffee

So you know what? I'm saying I'm going to be in a room full of people who feel just like me and my paper bag and that's going to be great for all of us. I'm going to be listening to what really makes people tick and what makes them feel they can't ramp up. In return for that, I'm going to be sharing all my experiences as a blogger but also as a brand manager and freelance journalist. It is hard. We can make it easier to feel less vulnerable when we share online and I'd even say, feel good when we do.  

Just know I'm right there, still working at it too. 

(Then come book those tickets because that helps immensely in getting this feel good out there. Here's those workshops again: Discover Your Writing Style; Telling Your Story Online & Getting to Grips with Visual Storytelling). 

 

Slow Blogging

It's Sunday and once again I'm sat, music on (today Nina is telling me birds are flying high for those interested) and I'm gathering my thoughts. I've realised I always want to blog on Sundays lately. It's possibly because I take most of my photos at the weekend and have time to think outside of the frantic busy pace of the working week. I can't help but feel there's something else at play here though. There's something to be said about giving yourself time to think about what you want to share with the world. 

Slow Blogging via A Playful Day

That's what got me thinking about Slow Blogging. Slow Blogging is a movement to reclaim these online spaces and share thoughtful posts that we feel more invested in. When you blog or work in an industry that exists predominantly online, it can feel like you must keep up with the fast pace with which your creations are consumed. Bigger follower numbers, regular blog posts, new images and quick fire Twitter chats seem vital to your continued success. The level of burn out I see from people who lose themselves to beating the stats is so heartbreaking. 

Slow Blogging

Yet, I've noticed something lately that gives me cheer. The content getting the deepest interaction and engagement, is the content telling the most heartfelt stories. I'm not necessarily talking about huge emotional moments, more a sense of investment from the person publishing the blog post or image. I sense that the online world has started to hit 'Peak Click' and now we are looking to root our experiences in real life too. Events and gatherings springing up from online hangouts are happening with more frequency. Also I'm fairly sure that the posts that go viral lately are those which speak to us as people not consumers. 

Is it just me?

Slow Blogging

It's meant that I'm really looking forward to the next workshop I'm teaching in a week at A Yarn Story in Bath.  We'll be exploring how to tell your story online if you're a creative business owner or blogger. There's a few spaces left and I would love to sit and hear what makes you tick as a creative person and then help you to get that story online.

It's not about stats and it's time we stopped being consumed by them. I understand it's frustrating to feel there's a vast echo of nothing when you post and believe me, I've caught myself feeling like I need to churn out content for the sake of keeping my voice heard. What I'm advocating is a gentle storytelling combined with some serious reflection about what you truly want to achieve. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. My own experience has been that Slow Blogging builds an audience much more effectively. I love to see regular commenters and chat on Twitter with people reacting to what I've chosen to share. It feels more like a flow of conversation between long distance friends. 

If you would like to join us to think about how you're presenting your story online, you can join us at 10 am on Saturday 6th February 2016. All details can be found on A Yarn Story's website here, including tickets. 

If you want to read more about what others have to say about the Slow Blogging movement, you can find some thought provoking posts pinned on my Pinterest board, Love your Blog. If it has struck a chord, I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

 

~ xx

Photography For Knitting & Crochet

Just a quick blog post to let you know that we have a few spaces left on our popular photography workshop next weekend and we would love to see you there.  You can join myself and Emily Quinton for photography, practical sessions and inspiration at her beautiful Makelight studio. 

Whether you have always wanted to take better pictures of your finished objects or are a designer thinking about getting the best images for your patterns and social media, this is a morning dedicated to celebrating stitches and your craft.

Photography for Knitters & crocheters2.jpg

The morning will include:

  • Finding inspiration and developing your style
  • Learning to use and find the best light to really show your stitches and accurate colour
  • Composition and styling- how to take pictures of whole pieces vs small details such as lace or colourwork
  • Getting the best from your camera phone
  • Shooting in Aperture Priority mode on your dSLR (if you have one)
  • Basic editing on your phones and computers
  • A goodie bag for each attendee 
Photography for Knitting & Crochet

After the workshop, there will be a couple of hours to share food, knit, crochet and practice what you’ve learned. During this time you will have plenty of time to get hands on with props and share ideas. Emily and I will be on hand to answer questions about:

  • Tips and tricks for visual social media and using photography on your blog
  • Story telling through visual social media, so that people want to connect with you and if you’re a designer, buy from you!
  • Tips for building your social media following.
  • How to create a visual social media presence that really represents your brand or tells the story you’ve always wanted to tell.

After the workshop you will be able to join the private Makelight Facebook group for continued support, inspiration and networking.

Photography for Knitting & Crochet

Essential Details:

Date: 16th January 2016

Cost: £85 (includes lunch, drinks and cake)

Workshop running time: 10am-2pm

Coffee & settle in: 9.30am

Lunch, practical sessions with props & making time: 2-4pm

Tickets here

Please bring your camera(s) - whatever that is and remember to charge it up and clear your memory cards. We will have plenty of props and inspiring things to photograph but if you want to bring some of your own things then please do.

We can’t wait to spend the day with you all! x


Let's Get Together This October?

Announcing a Special Workshop for Bloggers and Creative Business Owners! 

Creative Blogging Workshop

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting to Carmen from local yarn store, A Yarn Story. We were pondering the dilemma of work life balance when you're self employed and how to put your best foot forward online. Whether it's keeping up (or not) with a blog, doing your accounts or growing a real life local community, it can all feel a bit frantic. 

We hatched a plan

On Tuesday 13th October you can join Carmen and I at her store in bath for a 2 hour workshop aimed at Bloggers and Creative Business owners. The focus will be positive and creative (as always), but also provide lots of practical tips and tricks to try afterwards. During the workshop we will cover:

- Finding your voice online

- Branding vs story telling

- How to create an engaged community

- A look at social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter (and others if people wish)

- Newsletters for business

- Blogging and working with bloggers

- Collaborating and developing a support network

- Measuring impact 

- Maintaining balance and focus 

Creative Blogging Workshop

The session runs from 5.30- 7.30pm with half an hour Q&A afterwards. The session will be a mix of hands on or worked examples with some information sharing by myself. We've also allowed for a little down time after for some further questions should anyone need. 

This is a ticketed event to help you carve out time to pause and reflect about some of your goals this year.  Tickets cost £25 and can be purchased here. We recommend booking in advance as spaces will be limited for this session. 

If you're wondering about some of my experience as a professional supporting small business owners and creating online, you can find out more on my About page.

 

We hope to see you there!

The Muse Connection Volume 2: Beginnings

When Helen and I dreamed of an event where we brought like minded people together for some quality knitting time, treats and inspiration, I don't think either of us could really have known the amazing reaction and love that was shown towards it. The Muse Connection has flourished thanks to so many people wishing to attend, sharing their joy at meetings and joining in the knitalongs. 

 Volume 2 goodie bags in all their glory

Volume 2 goodie bags in all their glory

Today I'm sat looking through the photos that our talented friend Tom Legge shot on the day of Volume 2. I couldn't be happier to be reliving the smiles, the excitement and general togetherness that I felt that afternoon. 

Making friends
Making friends

On the day we explored the theme of beginnings- new friendships and yarns, taste testing Signature Needles, new opportunities and projects. I would like to share some of the inspiration that I took away with me from our speakers Rachel Coopey and Lydia Gluck too. It's been resonating ever since and this is just the impact that I hoped these two talented women would bring to the event. They didn't disappoint. 

 Lydia Gluck, co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Lydia Gluck, co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Lydia is the co editor of Pom Pom Quarterly and someone I've had the pleasure of watching her change the dream an idea of a magazine and grow it into a highly successful business with her friend Meghan. Their friendship has only become stronger and now they have a growing team around them of equally inspiring women. Lydia shared an insight into that journey and one clear message was that there are lots of different kinds of beginnings. Many beginnings are like a plaster we rip off and start whereas some, the kind Lydia described, are more slow burning. The change evolves, momentum builds and pieces fall into place. We learn so much during these kinds of beginnings and often new mini journeys cascade from them as we find new obstacles and skills we need to learn. Lydia admitted that while she still feels that she is at the beginning, she is now comfortable in that position. It really shows. 

 Rachel Coopey giving her talk at The Muse Connection

Rachel Coopey giving her talk at The Muse Connection

The talk Rachel Coopey shared truly resonated for me. She talked about her love of a blank notebook but the fear of putting your mark on that very first, clean page. I too suffer from blank page paralysis where the fear of committing to the whole thing can be daunting. Rachel encouraged us to think of beginnings in multiples: cast on more projects, mark more pages and try things out. In making many beginnings a reality, it might be that we find the journey that we were meant to be on. I think I might have been the loudest applause in the room at this point. It really did speak to me!

Yarn squishing!
Needle tasting

It was bitter sweet. Both Helen and I are moving on to new projects and collaborations. Helen has collections to design and release and I have an Autumn that quite frankly excites and terrifies me in equal measure. Picking a date for Volume 3 has been hard so we've held off for now while things come together. 

If you want to see more photos from Volume 2 you can find them here

Unravel and everything after

Sleepily I'm typing in a sun spot of the house, pondering a gorgeous weekend. This weekend was a big one to say the least. I might be over tired as a result but Unravel was completely worth it this year. What a rush!

Highlights for me:

- The Sweet Georgia girls completely fangirling Victoria from EdenCottage

Susan Crawford's stylish booth and winning smile

- Fyberspates new yarn, Cumulus, sitting like little tribbles at the stand

Plume by Lisa Mutch in The Uncommon Thread yarn

- The way my shawl was an instant point of conversation each time I made a new acquaintance. 

Coopknits just next door with her explosion of pompoms

- Eliza Conway gleefully telling me stories of vintage knitting finds and the wonderful reactions they cause. 

- Emily from Tincanknits campaigning for me to attend Edinburgh Yarn Festival (haha)

Knitted Stuffed Heads!

- The knitting decorations

- So much banter, good will and fun from all the vendors. It was truly a brilliant event.

I'm going to be blogging about a few things I brought home and editing 2 podcasts worth of audio this week because sometimes you just don't want something to be over. 

Although my fourth cup of tea begs to differ. 

London Calling

Some time last Spring I noticed a tweet looking for someone to help with a new enterprise, an app and website dedicated to hooking (pun intended) crafters up with crafty connections in London. As with many freelance projects, I had the joy of watching an idea grow into a realisation but as is often the case, only glimpsed a small part as I worked through edits and emails back and forth. It's only now it's launched that I can see the overall picture and wow, I love it. 

The project was 'Craft Candy', a free online website listing of crafty suppliers and happenings around London. I can't speak for the app as I've not yet downloaded it to use in the wild but I'm already super excited by the website and have bookmarked it to help me plan my crafty-ness when I get back in the game. 

The website is easy to use and browse and has that magical balance of white space and great graphic design that I so love in an information website (I get confused and cross easily when it's too busy). What I like the most is the many aspects that are joined up: social media, blogging, listings, well known resource bases such as Ravelry.... it makes sense to me to have these things all in one place. 

So why have I broken my golden rule about not discussing work projects on my blog?

Because I hope to see you at an event soon. So go check it out!