Lessons from 10 Years of Writing a Knitting Blog

Wow. 10 years, I feel super old. I thought I would commemorate by writing a little bit about the history of my knitting blog.

The Beginning

My first blog was Amigurumi Knits/Knit Me, and I based it off a blog I loved called Lazylaces. Lazylaces linked to free point and click adventure games, and I wanted to do something similar for knit toy patterns. Knit toys were not that big of a deal then, there weren’t a lot of patterns out there at all and many of them were not professionally written. Folks like Anna of Mochimochi Land, Rebecca Danger, and Susan Anderson were writing knitting blogs, but relatively unknown. Ravelry didn’t exist yet, which meant that there was no easy way to find patterns.

So, every day I would go online and try and find a new knitting pattern. Through google. That’s right, I would literally google “Knit Toy Camel” and “Knit Octopus.” Every so often I would find a stumbleupon bookpage or a link library of lots of patterns, but much of it was my own google-fu. I would usually find home-brew patterns from blogs, and then email or comment on the post asking if I could feature that item on my blog.

I only featured things with people’s consent. Sometimes there was a little drama over this, which is funny now, because people are now super interested in “going viral” and having links to their patterns or blog post shared. Back then, it was incredibly bad form. Now, buzzfeed does it all day long and makes a bunch of cash over it 😉 I would usually post with the title of the pattern, a link to the blog, and link to the pattern, and a photo from the blog’s owner with them credited. Very rarely did I have problems, but once someone totally removed her pattern because I mentioned that it looked like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, and she was afraid of a lawsuit!

Anyway, things were good. I filled my time making posts to different patterns all over, and knitting. But then…

Ravelry Happened.

Ravelry changed how you find knitting patterns. Now, there isn’t really a need for Knit Me, because you can go an find whatever you want on there. So, I slowed down on the link posting and started posting more of my own things. I moved all the posts about my own knitting trials and tribulations out to a separate blog, Alyoops!, which I hosted on Blogger. My own patterns are really where all the “traffic” in my knitting blog goes – my posts about knitting are ok at best, but they’ll never be so strong that people will just want to read them. I’m no Yarn Harlot, even though for a while in high school I really wanted to be.

Alyoops! was to be my bouncing off point into knit design stardom. (HA) It’s kind of funny now, but I was so sure that I would be a successful independent designer. I followed other designers, read blogs, and even ended up buying a book about it. A few of my designs totally flopped – especially the much-hated Dino the Dinosaur. Someone actually emailed me and told me she would never knit again because of my terrible pattern. One day I’m going to overhaul the pattern and post much better pictures. For now my designs are on hold, so that I can make sure that the Dino Debaucle is never repeated!

And Now…

Now, here I am, on my own domain! I actually never dreamed that I’d be able to afford my own domain on the ‘net, but now that I have a day job, it’s easy to spend $10 a year on Bluehost. Now my blogging is mostly just my knitting trials and tribulations. I don’t care much if I “go viral” or become a famous knitwear designer, I just want to have my knitting blog where I post what I’m doing, what I’m up to, and where I can keep up with my friends on the internet.

I still have patterns for sale, but they will probably never be a huge source of income. Right now, I make $5 every 6 months from pattern sales – definitely won’t be able to retire on that! I’ve never gotten a check from Google Adsense or Amazon Associates, but I don’t “work hard” at including these into my posts. At the moment I have a balance of $23 in my Adsense account and $0 for AA.

So here’s to 10 more years, with all the changes and trials and tribulations that come with that.

What a Way to Start the New Year!

A pretty sky photo

As of today I can officially say that I have taken a record amount of time off from my job. On New Year’s Eve, I had a series of seizures. They weren’t sure what caused them at the time, but now my awesome team of medical folks that care about me (including my doctor, therapist, and personal nurse that I usually call “Mom”) are pretty sure it was from withdrawling from a drug that I had been taking.

I really got to see how the other side lived, though – or, well, how the other side was treated by emergency medical staff.

Because I was mostly out of it, I answered every question with “I don’t know.” Apparently, I was a pretty broken record when I wasn’t rolling my eyes back into my skull and wiggling around.

If you’re familiar with emergency medicine, you’ll probably figure out where this is going. One of the common questions that you get asked by EMTs is if you’ve had any illegal drugs. Of course I answered with “I don’t know” and everyone assumed I OD’d.

So, I sat in the hospital alone for about 3 hours (having said “I don’t know” when they asked me if I felt safe at home, which effectively kept Dan from coming in to see) seizing and remembering very little, except that people were pretty annoyed with me for wailing and wriggling uncontrollably. Sorry, ER nurses.

Thankfully, though, a social worker came in and talked to me and realized that maybe I wasn’t lucid, Dan came to sit with me, and eventually I got an IV and fell asleep.

Then I had a wonderful week of recovery. Even though I thought I was better by Tuesday, when I went into work on Wednesday I had trouble doing just basic work stuff – like, comprehending the emails I was reading or typing out my thoughts. Luckily, my job is awesome and they had no problem with me taking the time off – but I still feel kind of guilty.

Oh, uh, knitting? I did knit a bit, another one of my side effects from the medicine I was taking was random muscle clenching, and now that I’ve stopped taking it my hands feel so much better! Obviously I’m still going to keep doing stretches and strength training, but I can do a push up without pain! Whoohoo!

For 2017 I’m going to finish off my 16 in 2016… because why not? My main crafting priority is stuff for the wedding – none of which is knit – but I still have so many ideas!

 

Change of Address

My ymail account has been hacked.  AGAIN! So, I’m just going to stop using it.  If you need to contact me, send me an email at alyoopsknitting AT gmail DOT com.

Boo yahoo! 🙁

Being sick blows! (A Whiny Post)

So, I’ve been putting extra hours in at work.  And I work an hour from home.  So, assume I work a 10-hour day, plus two hours of commuting each way.  Then, of course, I need around 8 hours of sleep.  And an hour to get up in the morning and get ready for work (Shower, put on makeup, dress myself, pack a lunch).  What does that give me?
Three hours.  Three hours of free time.  I was griping to a coworker about this, and she said “It does seem like that sometimes, doesn’t it?” 
… WHAT? Lady, it is that.  Those are the numbers.  I have 3 hours a day of “leisure time,” and if I want more, I either have to work less or sleep less.
So, needless to say, I’ve been running myself ragged between stress and not sleeping (because, there’s fun stuff to do guys!) and not really eating too well, either, and it finally all came to a head Saturday when I spent the entire day vomiting whatever went into my stomach because I had messed up my sleep schedule and made risky food choices.
I spent Sunday sleeping and trying to eat small amounts of food because the vomiting had been replaced with terrible hunger pains. I couldn’t straighten my body to walk to the bathroom or even lie flat on my back, or else the cramps were so bad I would cry.
Today, I am sitting home on the couch.  I don’t really have any more pain, but my brain is so dead that I’m not comfortable going to my job… because I’m working on a lot of really important (to me) things and I’m afraid of making a mistake.
Anyway, there’s no point to this post other than me whining.  Sorry about that.  I think that when I started writing it, I meant to give an excuse of why I haven’t been around… but all the words just started pouring out.
Things will get better soon.  Dan and I are looking for apartments that are closer to work.  I’m going to finish these projects and they will be replaced with other, less stressful projects. 
And I’m never, ever, ever going to eat a sandwich that I found in the back seat of my car again.

Red Right Ankle

Okay, so it’s my left ankle, but whatever. 
IMG_1763
Saturday I fell on ice and twisted my ankle really bad.  One of the ligaments is torn.  The picture above was from last night – today the area is still swollen, though not as bad.  It is all yellow and there is a black spot blossoming in the center.
On top of that, I’m travelling for work.  So pain + homesickness + overwork = grumpy.
Thankfully it’s not broken. My life would be so miserable right now if it was.
I have some happier, knitting-related posts coming up!

White Sunday

I woke up this morning and all the windows were frosted over… and there was a foot of snow on the ground! 🙂
IMG_2650
It was actually fun shoveling our 3 flights of stairs.  I’m sure in early March it’ll be obnoxious when we’re gearing up and trudging through the snow for the ninetieth time, but today it was like a celebration!  We even walked down to the corner store and bought the paper and some beer.
IMG_2649
IMG_2638
It was nice just sitting around knitting and watching movies and stuff.  We also made Christmas cookies… but just baked them.  Hopefully we’ll ice them sometime this week… maybe not.  We decorated for Christmas, got a tree, and put up some greens in the flower boxes, but didn’t so much.  Our big Christmas purchase was a cute little snow globe with a fox in it.
IMG_2657
And, even better news… my orchid that Dan got me for Valentine’s Day last year is blooming again! It even has some new little shoots coming up. Did you hear about the color of the year? It’s Orchid! The color of my orchid, the color of my sweater and the color of my socks.  I’m actually a little sick of seeing this color with two projects with it!
IMG_2652

Blocking

IMG_2075
I finally got to block my shawl! I used the wig pins that my friend Kate gave me, and blocked it on the floor of the hobby room.
Of course, I had to clean the room first so that there would be room to block the shawl, that took way longer than I thought it would!
IMG_2076
IMG_2077
Aside aside, it looks amazing.  I love blocking things – the ritual behind it, pinning each part out symmetrically… If there was a paying job blocking people’s handknit work, I would apply today! I love the feeling of a project stretching out, being pulled into its final shape, teasing it and pinning it just so that it looks the way I want it to look. 
Sometimes I feel like I’m being blocked by other people.  You know the type – people that try direct you, stretch you to your limits so that you can discover who you are and what you’re made of.  I had a teacher in elementary school that definitely “blocked” me! We had to have our homework done, every night, the exact way that she told us to.  I hated her – but, you know what, because of her I learned that I had to do my homework, because it helped me understand the material that we talked about in class.  And, when I got to college I still did my homework (yes – even the readings!) and I got excellent grades – because I had built those habits when I was a kid.  Mrs. D had blocked me into the shape of a student.
And just like a lace shawl or a hat, we can relax and forget our shape.  Then someone else comes around and helps block us again.

Let it Snow!

IMG_1474
This big snowstorm has been my first one in New England.  Although there has been snow, it hasn’t been this big yet.
IMG_1465
Because I have a long commute, I played it safe and worked from home yesterday in case things got really bad. Dan even came home early! When we went to bed (shamefully early in the night) the snow has stopped, and we wondered if all the hype was for nothing.)

Then we woke up to this.

IMG_1481
Oh hai, snow, how’s it going?

Hope everyone is safe and warm! I know the areas south of here are even worse off.

 

My Halls Are Decked!

Although I still haven’t unpacked all my things, we decorated for Christmas last weekend and I’m so excited.  We got our own live tree, ornaments, etc etc etc.  We even have the glade plugins in a Christmas theme! I haven’t done any crafty stuff, really, but I still thought I’d share. 
First up was the tree, of course.  Boyfriend wanted a teeny tiny one in a pot, but I managed to convince him to get a bigger one in a tree stand.  It’s still small – exactly my height, but small.  Here’s a size comparison:
IMG_1227
We went to Walmart, Target, the Dollar Store, and Home Depot to get all the lights, tinsel, and glitz.  I really wanted mistletoe and a nativity, and found a nativity at Home Depot.  I got bells to hang up in the doorway…
IMG_1230
… Little bulbs for my lavendar plant…
IMG_1283
IMG_1280
We searched and searched for mistletoe, but couldn’t find any at any of the places we went.  Luckily, my mom sent a care package of Christmas ornaments, candy canes, and… MISTLETOE! It looked like someone has spray painted it green, and half of it crumbled apart when we tired to take it out of the box, but gosh darn it we put it up! It makes me think of Charlie Brown.
I also made a little display on one of the shelveswith old jars of pasta sauce, candy canes, and extra tiny bulbs that we couldn’t fit on the tree.  Oh, and pretzel M&M’s. 
IMG_1286
Here’s our tree in all it’s glory! The presents underneath are for Boyfriend, his birthday is today.
IMG_1279
And one from last night:
IMG_1233
How are your Christmas/Holiday preparations going? 

Treat Yourself

Yesterday, amid a ridiculously stressful situation my Dad told me that I needed to “take a few deep breaths and treat yourself.”

Well, today I stopped at the organic market down the street from my school and bought this stuff:

IMG_1137
It seriously WAS a treat.  If you’ve never had fromage blanc, I highly recommend it.  I tried it at a farmer’s market about a month ago and all I knew it as was “sweet goat cheese that you eat with dessert.” It’s so delicious!
Then, I started thinking about all the other treats that I give myself.  It seems like everyday I do a little thing to “treat” myself – not something big or expensive, but just something that I’d like to do.
1.) When I bought groceries last week, I bought a bouquet of flowers for $6.  Yep, those flowers are a week old! I have a ton of special tricks to stretch cut flowers 😛
IMG_1136
2.) A bit of expensive chocolate that has witty writing on the label… Isn’t it true though!?
IMG_1138
3.) I also like to describe the sunrise to myself as I walk to work.  When I travel to work I leave the house before sunrise, and watch the sunrise as I drive east to work.  My favorite was Tuesday, where the dark clouds slowly moved north, revealing the orange and red sky.  It was like watching the curtains get pulled aside at the start of a ballet.
4.) Reading blogs on my phone in the in-between times during my day.  Walking to class, in the elevator, whatever.  By the way… blogs that only display previews in their RSS feeds are obnoxious.  Why do people do that? It means that I essentially can’t read your blog.  I was good enough friends with someone or liked the blog enough I would click through, right? Apparently not. I just skip right over it and never read it.
5.) Of course, there’s also knitting time. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t knit and watch my favorite TV shows.
What do you do to treat yourself, Internet? I want ideas!