Just under 5 years ago I gave up work and moved half way across the country for love as a result the real life and virtual community that I had been heavily involved in up until that point began to dwindle. Being newly in love I didn’t really notice that much to begin with but when I did I decided to do something about it and joined a couple of local knitting groups. A brilliant way to get out and make friends with some like minded people from all backgrounds and a wide range of ages, I took part in crafting events locally and began to feel part of a community again. Then came 2 children in quick succession, cue dropping out of a community once again whilst my days revolved around changing nappies, washing and arguing with 2 year olds and trying to squeeze in the odd bit of crafting around this.
Part of my mindful approach to 2016 was to focus more on self care and taking time to do things for myself rather than just the children, a very alien concept to me as a mother. One thing that I wanted to achieve in relation to this was to start building up contacts in the knitting and crafting community again. With the children I do get out and about to various mother and toddler groups and get to meet a whole range of people as part of that but I wanted to build connections with people with whom I had interests in common other than children so that I could talk about issues that gave my brain some exercise and allowed me to think and talk about something other than what the main focus of everyday was for me as a mother.
My initial approach was to just reach out to people on Instagram but I quickly fell in to the habit of just clicking like on a post and moving on to the next image, not the best way of building a community. I found joining in conversations on forums relatively clunky and awkward so in the end I settled on the idea of joining in with knit-alongs. You have something focussed to chat about and you get a finished product at the end of it, what is not to like? Well there is one thing that irritates me, or possibly even 2. The biggest thing is the people that join in knit-alongs purely for the prizes so just post finished object pictures with no commentary and no contribution to general chit chat. The second thing is not having enough time to comment/ engage in discussions as often as I’d like to but that is part and parcel of being a mum and something that I will just have to put up with.
With this in mind I am currently taking part in 2 knit-alongs, the first is #16pairsin2016 hosted by The Passioknit Spinner podcast with the aim of knitting 16 pairs of socks in a year. I am already on my 11th pair and have been inspired by other members to knit more socks with handspun. The second is #letsknitsockskal hosted by the Itchigo Abroad podcast. I have also signed up for a creative challenge #30daycreativeyou is hosted by Fall for DIY which sets 10 minute daily challenges to boost your creativity. Admittedly I’m still a world away from being part of a large, strong and cohesive network or community but it is giving me practice at speaking to adults not just toddlers and I am having fun being creative.
Do any of you out there struggle with developing links to networks or even better have any tips for building communities?