How blogging expanded my world

I’ve always made things, but I have had several periods of hiatus in my life, usually brought about by life changing events. When I had children I loved making them clothes and I made clothes for both my husband and me, then we all grew out of my home-made things, and I channelled my creativity into some exciting research which resulted in my PhD. I divided my life between my family and my work and lost the urge to create at a personal level.

Then something happened, I don’t really know what the catalyst was, but I started knitting again, then a couple of years later, I started sewing again. These activities led me to spend time on the internet looking at patterns, wool and fabrics and, best of all, other people’s makes, and I discovered the power of blogs. I taught university students about how I used communities of practice and social media in a business context, but I hadn’t really engaged in a personal way. Suddenly I was obsessively following other bloggers, lurking on their sites, waiting breathlessly for their next post, almost living my creative life vicariously through them, and certainly taking inspiration and motivation from them. I was a consumer and began to get an urge to be a contributor and become a member of what looked to be a vibrant and exciting community.

Where to start? Well with a name of course. I was on holiday in New Zealand at the time and conjured up several very clever blog titles, only to find that other people had claimed them before me. I tried making a play on my name – “Stoneybrokeandwindswept” didn’t quite have the ring that I wanted, so I thought about the fact that certain of my friends think I have fads and thought I could turn this trait into a name, and so “fadanista” was born and I was on my way!

I put my first post out there and then thought about who was going to follow me? Hmm, I invited some unsuspecting family and friends to follow me, but few of them ever made comments, so I was pretty lonely – I think I was considering “the loneliness of a long distance blogger” as a post title at one point, but it made me sound a bit needy, so I powered on regardless and decided that I was blogging for me as a way of keeping a record of what I was doing and journaling my journey, as it were.

I realised quite quickly that if I was going to be a contributor I had to do more than write blog posts, I had to actually engage with the community and this changed my life in all sorts of ways. I became a joiner. I accepted every challenge I could manage, given work and family commitments, commented on posts that I loved, instead of just privately oohing and aahing, and changed my attitude towards Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Instagram (I’m still not wonderful at these).

I found that I really wanted to share what I was doing and invited anyone who even looked at one of my makes sideways to follow my blog. I have renewed old friendships, found that my poor Mother-in-Law who lives in Hobart can finally get regular photographs of her son and grandchildren via my posts, my sister and niece in the UK can see what I’m up to, and best of all, I have made new friends, mostly virtual, but I have met some in real life and to a person they are warm, generous and quite delightful.

I think the most rewarding part of all this is the fact that I know that my blogging has inspired others to start their own blogs, or to make something that they wouldn’t otherwise have attempted. Indulging my fads has helped me get my work/life balance back, and I get more pleasure from the comments on my blog than I can possibly say. In short, I would exhort everyone to have a go – at something, anything, and then find a way to tell the world what they are doing, even if it’s just a photograph on a comment.

Why have I suddenly put up this post, which has nothing to do with what I’ve made and which doesn’t contain a single photograph? Well, I’m responding to a post by Karen of “Didyoumakethat?“, on the Power of Story, where she issued a challenge to have a go at a practical exercise for a story for a blog post.  As I said earlier, one of my strategies has been to accept challenges where I could, and so here is my short story, which I hope has the added effect of helping push a reader over the line and into writing for themselves if they are teetering on the brink.


31 thoughts on “How blogging expanded my world

  1. I’ve fairly recently found your blog and find it delightful! My blogging journey has some similarities to yours, except I’m not at the place of accepting many challenges right now and also I have kept my blog quiet around most of my real life people (with a few exceptions). I think my reluctance has been that I have enjoyed being able to express myself without having to explain what a blog is, why would someone put their thoughts out there, why would someone take photos of themselves in their clothes, yada yada yada. I enjoy having this part of my life just for myself at the moment. Perhaps I need to change my opinion on that, though.

    On another note, I hope you won’t think this is weird, but I actually had a dream about you and in it we were wonderful friends:) It was a bit of a surprise to me, too, but I think at the least it is indicative of the general warmth and kindness that we enjoy in the online sewing community.

    1. I can understand keeping your blog secret from people close to you. Some of my followers work for me and I have to be mindful of that when I write. Thank you so much for your warm comment, Angela, I love the fact that we were wonderful friends in your dream, and perhaps we might become so in real life one day 🙂

  2. This recess is inspiring. It is really nice to get to know the blogger behind the blog. That is interesting to share directing your creativity and end up with a PHDS. That’s awesome.

  3. Lovely to find out a little more about you Sue. I have enjoyed following your blog ever since I discovered it. Love your sewing enthusiasm which I find contagious. Keep up the great work.

  4. What a fantastic story – thank you for taking up the challenge! The way that community builds as reader and writer is one of the fascinating aspects of blogging and it’s something I hope to touch on in the series. Keep blogging, friend!

  5. “Virtual sewing friends” is probably the best way to express what I feel about my favorite bloggers. As far as I’m concerned, I think I will never start blogging, though my 14-year-old son is urging me to do so and even offered me to manage the technical aspects of a potential blog. Thanks, but no! I feel about sewing the same as I feel about playing piano. I’m passionate to learn and to interpret challenging parts, but I do not aspire to play in front of an audience larger than my close friends and family. However, I get great pleasure and motivation when I go to concerts, big or small, as I get good inspiration when I read talented and friendly bloggers like you. I enjoy my place here in the front row, where I can applaud to your sewing and writing skills. Bravoooooo!

  6. Wonderful post! My blogging story is very similar to this. I found Carolyn’s Diary of a Fabric Addict blog by accident and was instantly hooked. Then I began searching for others and decided I had to be a part of this wonderful community too! Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Lovely post. I’ve only recently discovered your blog, however I agree on the warming power of this online community; and every blogger that I’ve met IRL has been wonderfully warm and generous, I’ve made some lovely ‘offline’ friends through being online.

  8. Wow, what a great (true) story! It is so impressive that your creativity led you to earning a PhD and a sewing blog — isn’t it amazing how flexible the creative urge is?

  9. It was great to read your story Sue! and yes it’s so nice to meet people with similar interests, we always have something to talk about! I don’t ever come forth to anyone in my real life about my blog, so am always a little surprised if someone finds it, or recognises me.

  10. I just found you! Thank-you Closet Case Files 🙂 Yes, yes, yes I love this post! I am resonating with everything you are saying. I’ve just discovered blogging and it has changed my world. I read a comment on another sewing blog today “blogging is the new poetry, it is amazing and wonderful in so many ways”. Oh and I loooooove your style.

  11. Sue, what a wonderful post! You were one of the first bloggers that started following me when I launched my own blog, and I feel really close to you even if we are on different continents and of different ages and styles. So nice to get a further insight into your world, though you totally got me at ‘glamping sewing’. I’m running off to write a story of my own now :).

  12. What a great post and your story was lovely to read and to get to know you a little better. I so enjoy the online sewing community it makes the solitary world of sewing so much more enjoyable.

  13. Yes! Same feelings here although I haven’t participated in as many challenges. I’ve really enjoyed your participation in the Stashbusting sew along and my blog!

  14. Sue, you have just inspired me make my first blog comment! I have been enjoying lots of sewing blogs over the past few years but have always been a bit too shy to get involved. However, I have been so encouraged by everyone’s generosity in sharing their skills and projects that I am going to take the step of launching my own site and blog very soon. I also love the Sew Retro FB group and am taking part in Vintage Pledge. So thank you, it’s so fantastic to get encouragement from those who started in the same place!

    1. It’s a funny thing, I’ve had a 40 year career, but a message like yours gives me more of a thrill than all the accolades I’ve received professionally. I even read it out to my husband! Please let me know the name of your blog (Amazing Grace, perhaps?), so that I can follow your progress.

      1. Thank you Sue, that’s so lovely to hear! It’s called Beyond Measure and I will send you a link when I am up and running.

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